In December, Toyota announced that sales for the beloved Land Cruiser in the United States would end after 2021. That’s really a shame because the Land Cruiser has become one of the best benchmarks of what a full-sized off-road SUV can be capable of. Yes, it’s old, and yes, it’s expensive. As the saying goes, though, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
As a swan song for the Land Cruiser, Toyota has introduced the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition for the 2021 model year as a tribute to the Land Cruiser’s more than six decades of being a benchmark in the SUV world.
After spending a week with the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition, I can sum it up right now if you don’t feel like reading the rest of this article. We’re losing one of the best off-road icons ever built, and if you have the means to do so, buy one of these Land Cruiser Heritage Editions before they’re all gone.
Capability To Go Anywhere
If you’re still with me, you’re going to know why the Land Cruiser is one of the best of the best. This vehicle is a no-compromise go-anywhere luxury machine. Every Land Cruiser is equipped with a 2-speed high/low gear transfer case, Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), and disconnecting swaybars.
Helping to grab traction in the stickiest of off-road situations are the Dunlop Grandtrek AT23 285/60R18 tires. These tires are a great compromise for street use and off-road use, being a bit more comfortable than the BFG KO2 A/T tire but with slightly less outright off-road capability. Throw some BFG KO2s or KM3s on the Land Cruiser, and there’s nothing you won’t be able to crawl over or through.
Ground clearance is a respectable 8.9 inches, with approach, departure, and breakover angles of 32 degrees, 24 degrees, and 21 degrees, respectively. The Land Cruiser’s water fording depth is 27.6-inches.
The Land Cruiser features several off-road modes that manipulate the electronic stability control and traction control systems to provide a crawl mode for traversing steep grades. Also trick is the ability for the Land Cruiser to lock up the inside rear wheel for tighter turns when off-roading.
While the Land Cruiser isn’t exactly the off-road modern luxury equivalent of the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class (that honor would fall to a Range Rover or a G-Wagen), this also doesn’t wear a six-digit price tag. At $89,239 as-tested, this Land Cruiser Heritage edition isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s a relative bargain compared to the competition.
Looking at the interior might have you wondering how $89k is a bargain for an interior that looks like it hasn’t changed much since the J200 Land Cruiser’s introduction in 2007 but remember that this is a Toyota. Everything in the Land Cruiser is meant to stand the test of time and work for decades to come. The Land Cruiser doesn’t wear the most modern interior in the world, but it is functional and comfortable, and it feels nice once you’re in it. This is one of the vehicles that earned Toyota its legendary reputation, after all.
The Land Cruiser Heritage Edition is available with an optional third-row, but our tester was the standard two-row model. The front seats are both heated and cooled and extremely comfortable for long stints in them.
The 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment screen looks dated, but it’s easy to use and easy to read. Every touch control in the Land Cruiser has an equivalent hard button or switch associated with it. Again, there are just some things that were better in the older vehicles. Toyota knows that functionality and ease of use is king, and the Land Cruiser is intuitive throughout.
Under the Hood & On the Road
The Land Cruiser is powered by Toyota’s workhorse 5.7-liter V8 engine, making 381-horsepower and 401lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Because of the sheer size and weight of the Land Cruiser, as well as the aerodynamics of a brick, fuel economy is as poor as one would expect. The EPA rates the Land Cruiser at 12mpg in the city and 17 on the highway. I observed an average of 13.4 mpg during my week of mixed driving in the Land Cruiser.
On-road manners are good for a vehicle of this heft. The ride is smooth, and the Land Cruiser is as easy to drive around town as a larger crossover.
To send the Land Cruiser off, Toyota has created the Heritage Edition, an homage to the nearly sixty years of Land Cruiser in the United States. Our tester wore Midnight Black Metallic paint and is also available in Classic Silver Metallic, Blizzard Pearl, and Magnetic Grey. The paint is contrasted by the bronze-colored BBS 18 x 8-inch forged aluminum wheels with a Toyota center cap. A vintage-style Land Cruiser badge sits on the rear pillars.
Also specific to the Heritage Edition are perforated leather seats and a standard Yakima Megawarrior roof rack.
All 2021 Land Cruisers come standard with heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel with power tilt and telescope, power moonroof, keyless entry, and four-zone climate control.
Unfortunately for the Land Cruiser in the United States, there is more competition than ever in this space, many times leading to more features and better efficiency for less money. Toyota, however, never felt the need to push the Land Cruiser along until the L300 series, which will be on sale in the rest of the world next year, but not in the United States. This doomed the Land Cruiser to carry an increasingly large price tag for increasingly aging tech and interior features. The result was only 3,147 Land Cruisers being sold in the United States.
The thing is, the competition has never been as elegant or functional as the Land Cruiser. The Land Cruiser is a classic that has shrugged off the modern world in exchange for tried and tested durability and capability. No one has done it quite like the Toyota Land Cruiser, and we’re sad to see it go.
Ironically, the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition is a hot commodity right now, with units selling for well above MSRP as everyone makes one last mad dash to get their hands on something that will definitely be a future classic. If you can find one and afford one, this is a vehicle that is almost guaranteed to go up in value over time.
We’ll miss you, Land Cruiser.
Toyota USA provided the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition along with a full tank of gas to Speed:Sport:Life for the purpose of review.