The Land Cruiser might be the most essential truck or SUV in Toyota’s history. It was the company’s second SUV after the AK10 from World War II. The Land Cruiser hasn’t been sold in the U.S. for the past three years, which made us miss it.
Now is the right time to bring back the popular SUV, which has a long history in Toyota’s lineup. We’ll look at those nods to the past in the style of the 2024 model, which will take us back through the history of the famous Toyota Land Cruiser.
It Wasn’t Always Called “Land Cruiser”
The Toyota Land Cruiser has been around since World War II, just like the popular Jeep and Land Rover. When Japan took over the Philippines, it also took over a Willys MB or a Bantam G.P., a version of the U.S. Army Jeep.
Unfortunately, history isn’t clear on which one it was, so the empire asked Toyota to make a Japanese version of that military vehicle. The Toyota AK10 was made but used sparingly, with even fewer pictures of it.
After the war, it was still made, but in the 1950s, the U.S. asked Toyota to make a small utility car with the same specs as the Willys MB. The first Toyota J-series was made at that time. It was a Toyota Jeep, but it was more significant than the M.B. and had a bigger, more powerful engine in the form of the Toyota B-series 3.4-liter I-6.
The BJ was only made in small numbers initially, but in 1953 it went into total production. Willys didn’t like how much the B.J. looked like the C.J., so Toyota changed the design and named it Land Cruiser, which we know today. The headlights, which used to be on the bumpers, were moved inside the body and now sit on either side of the grille.
The front fenders also sloped down more. It also had a new 3.9-liter F-series I-6 engine that made even more power and was used in the Land Cruiser F.J. fire truck. That 3.9-liter machine would become a standard choice for cars other than the J-series fire trucks.
The 1958 Land Cruiser
When the 2024 Land Cruiser uses its Heritage Headlight design, we can see how this early J-series Land Cruiser influenced it. The round headlights nod to those Land Cruisers that looked like Jeeps. On the other hand, the 1958 trim on the new Cruiser is a nod to the first year that the Toyota J-series was sold in the U.S. Since it worked and looked like a Jeep, you might think it would be a hit, but Americans were still thinking about WWII.
The first year, only one Land Cruiser was sold in the U.S., but when Toyota came out with the 40-series, people started to pay attention. During this time, the F-series engines were the only gasoline I-6s available for the J-series, so they were called “F.J.” from then on.
The BJ series had a diesel engine, but the new Land Cruiser won’t have one. We also don’t get an I-6 or a V-6 in the 2024 Land Cruiser. Instead, it comes with the same 2.4-liter turbocharged hybrid I-4 found in the new Tacoma.
Even though the 2024 Land Cruiser doesn’t have barn doors on the back, it does have another nod to the original FJ40 and its four-door brothers, the FJ45V and FJ55.
The two-tone Trail Dust and Heritage Blue colors on the 2024 model have a light gray roof, which is a nod to the two-tone options on the J40s. However, it would have been nice to see an entire two-tone paint job like on the early J-series Land Cruisers instead of just a lighter roof.
An Amalgamation Of Land Cruisers
Overall, the 2024 Land Cruiser looks like a mix of every Land Cruiser that has ever been made. All models have arches on their front fenders that resemble the original FJ40. These arches are not different from the front fenders, though.
It’s a Toyota design language that we now see on the Tundra and Tacoma, but it’s more like the J50 Land Cruiser because its front fenders were also joined to the body but still had that forward drop.
The boxy shape also resembles the J40, which had a straight cut line down to the front bumper. Looking at the rest of the front, the small hole above the grille reminds me of the spot on the J40 and J50 that let more air into the engine bay. When you look at the trim on the A-pillar, the window could fold down like on the J40, but it can’t, just like it couldn’t on the J50.
The grille is also a part of the car’s history. The “Toyota” logo looks much like it did on the J40, J50, J60 (which had the last round headlights), J70, and J80 series before the update. The last J-series car to have the “Toyota” emblem was the J80 before it got a facelift. In 1995, the “Ovoid ” symbol replaced the ” Toyota ” symbol.
The “heritage” emblem returned on the J300, but that series didn’t come to the U.S. The square headlights on the basic Land Cruiser are a callback to the J-series that started with the J60s after the facelift and the J80s with their four square-sealed beam headlights. But the J80 would also get an update in 1991 when it got a single set of square halogen headlights. This look is similar to what the 2024 Land Cruiser will have.
The side profile of the 2024 Land Cruiser shows that the rest of it is more like the J60 to J200 line of Toyotas, with the rear quarter windows leaning forward and the leading and trailing edges pointing forward.
Though, the roof and body are separated by a trim piece in the D-pillar, which could be a nod to the F.J. Cruiser’s design in that area. The way it goes below the back quarter window makes us think of a popular Toyota SUV.
Customization Is A Land Cruiser Heritage, Too
Like many J-series, the 2024 Land Cruiser is a new slate for off-road fans. Even though the primary 1958 and “Land Cruiser” trims will have some beneficial technologies that make getting off the road more effortless than ever, it’s the chance to make the 2024 Land Cruiser a unique vehicle from the start that could impress future owners.
Toyota will have more than 100 add-ons for the 2024 Land Cruiser so that you can make it right from the store floor. Off-road recovery gear, storage racks, carriers, and the color-selectable Rigid Industries LED fog lighting that comes standard on the “Land Cruiser” can all be added to a Land Cruiser before it leaves the store and can add to the price and payments of the 2024 SUV.
The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is undoubtedly one of the brand’s most important new cars in recent years. The mix of old and contemporary styles, tech looking to the future, and a hybrid powertrain all look good. If the price is right, this could be the best SUV Toyota has made. We think the 2024 Land Cruiser will come out in the spring of 2024 and start at about $55,000.
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