Christopher Little

Roughing It: 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser

When most people think of the modern Land Cruiser, they envision a large, luxurious SUV built to Toyota’s high standard of dependability and reliability. In short, the quiet man’s Range Rover. In many regards, that’s what came to our mind last year when the Limited Slip ladies filled it with wine, snacks, and beach chairs for a bachelorette weekend of fun. But the Land Cruiser name is steeped in heritage as a 4×4 capable of remarkable off-road endeavors. After recently testing the Tacoma TRD Pro, 4Runner TRD Pro, and even Sequoia TRD Pro, we wanted to experience that side of the Land Cruiser. Toyota must have felt the same way, launching the 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition as a limited run with some retro perks.

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 1

The Heritage Edition pays homage to simpler times and a simpler Land Cruiser, despite selling for a $2,000 premium. It makes due without the current Land Cruiser’s third row seats and cool box center console, offering more interior storage and cavernous cargo capacity. The running boards and chrome lower body side moldings are also deleted. Adding to that cleaner exterior design, a unique black-accented grille, bronze-colored BBS 18” wheels, and darkened lighting trim set the Heritage Edition apart. There’s also a Yakima MegaWarrior roof rack included to keep cargo you can’t fit inside high and dry on your overlanding adventures. The bronze hue carries inside in the form of contrast stitching for the black leather seats. The final touches, classic “TOYOTA” center caps and the vintage Land Cruiser badging add the requisite nostalgia factor. Only two colors are available, Midnight Black Metallic and Bilzzard Pearl.

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 13

Mechanically, Toyota hasn’t had to do anything to give the Heritage Edition the necessary off-road capabilities of its predecessors. That’s because the Land Cruiser’s 5.7L V8, 8-speed transmission, full-time 4×4 system with Torsen limited-slip center locking differential, independent front and 4-link rear suspension, and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System are already standard. Every Land Cruiser lives up to its name, not just the Heritage Edition. Granted, this Land Cruiser is far and away more comfortable than any other generation in its 60-year history. Heated and air-conditioned seats, wireless charging, dynamic radar cruise control, Toyota Safety Sense, LED lighting…the list goes on. While this generation has been around since 2007, technical and visual changes means this body-on-frame behemoth doesn’t feel asynchronous to current body-on-frame SUVs.

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 15

The Land Cruiser Heritage Edition doesn’t deserve to be photographed in a parking lot or an open field. It needs more than a simple gravel road or state park to show its stuff. We endeavored to throw some mud, gravel, and standing water in the way of the sparkling white Land Cruiser. Armed with some bug spray and hiking boots, plus the Toyota’s standard rubber floor mats, we set out for the back woods with the whole Limited Slip Blog crew. Comfortably seating four adults, the Land Cruiser postures itself like most other full-size SUVs. With a commanding road height and excellent visibility, piloting the Land Cruiser makes me miss big body-on-frame SUVs. The stiff frame, 18” wheels with plenty of sidewall, and more than enough suspension travel provide a comfortable and connected on-road experience. 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft torque are enough to get the big body moving without feeling like it lumbers up steep grades. A 9-inch touchscreen and large center stack of buttons, plus an additional panel for off-road and suspension settings on the center console, are equal parts digital and analog. Our only demerit is the wind noise generated by the roof rack. While it does look cool, it can be easily removed for a quieter ride and so it can fit in your garage.

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The Land Cruiser features 8.9 inches of ground clearance, a 32 degree angle of approach, and an impressive 27.55 inch fording depth. You won’t find another full-size SUV that can handle that kind of standing water. Spring rains had softened our trail and filled the lowest point with only 8 inches of standing water, meaning we could showboat a little. With a full-time four-wheel-drive system, there’s almost no preparation required from the helm. We didn’t encounter any terrain that required locking the center differential and the few rocks we were able to crawl didn’t stress Toyota’s KDSS system, which allows the stabilizer bars to be hydraulically relaxed for increased suspension articulation off-road.

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 14

After being locked down and cut off from each other, the Land Cruiser provided a nice opportunity to get the team together and destress with a drive (and hike for one intrepid photographer) though the woods. Experiencing a full-size SUV navigate narrow paths, lean and roll over obstacles, and splash through some muddy water is quite the departure from our normal on-road tests. It’s another thing entirely as we roll through with air-conditioned seats blowing and Mark Levinson audio playing while the GPS screen shows us well away from any navigable marked road. With all the luxuries of a premium SUV, some limited-edition trappings, and a tried, tested, and proven all-terrain drivetrain, the Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition is the pinnacle of go anywhere do anything motoring.

-Christopher Little

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition
$87,745
Blizzard Pearl $2,220
All-Weather Cargo Mat $100
All-Weather Floor Liners $218
Destination Charges $1,325
As Tested MSRP $89,813

Related: Bachelorette: 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser

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