A Land Cruiser should always be a welcomed addition to your driveway
Let me just start by saying: The Toyota Land Cruiser isn’t cheap, The “base” Land Cruiser starts at $85,415. The Heritage Edition starts at $87,745. However, after the delivery and handling fee, the Heritage Edition jumps up to $89,239.
Now that we have that out of the way, I’ll let you take a moment to digest that. It seems everyone I’ve told the price to needs a second to process that price.
Okay, are we good now? Instead of thinking about price, let us now talk about the fact that Toyota have sold more than 10 million Land Cruisers worldwide since its inception in 1951 as the BJ (Toyota changed the name to Land Cruiser in 1954, and it came to America in ’58). Without the Land Cruiser, the Japanese military, Arctic and Africa expeditions, and the Australian dessert would not be as traversed. In fact, Australia is Toyota’s largest domain of Land Cruiser sales, and it was in the summer of 2019 that the 10 millionth LC was sold. The United States is only good for no more than a few thousand sales for Toyota’s flagship utility vehicle.
In the paragraphs above there is literally nothing that tells you how great the Land Cruiser really is, and what even makes the Heritage Edition so bad ass. So let’s get to it. The ultra rare Heritage Edition is limited to 1,200 units, and it actually features less standard equipment than a regular Land Cruiser.
While you’ll pay an extra $2,330 for the 2020 Heritage Edition Land Cruiser, you will end up losing the folding third row seats, cooler box in the center console, running boards, and side moldings. The latter two give you a little extra ground clearance for maximum effectiveness off-roading. But spending extra doesn’t just get you bits taken off. No, for this special edition you’ll get the choice of Midnight Black Metallic or Blizzard Pearl. Obviously my tester was black. It’s a beautiful pearlescent paint. Continuing with the outside, instead of chrome trim like the regular models, you get darkened chrome around the front grille and fog lights, and the headlight housings are black, and then black and dark chrome sideview mirrors. But adding to the usability factor is a Yakima MegaWarrior roof rack that will hit signs entering and exiting parking garages. It’s perfect for camping, but not for mall-shopping soccer moms. My two favorite additions, though, are the vintage Land Cruiser badges on the D-pillars, and the bronze BBS wheels with Toyota written in their old font.
Moving to the interior, the Heritage continues with the black and bronze theme, with the interior coming only in black leather-everything, and bronze stitching on the seats, door trim, the center console and stack, as well as the steering wheel.
From any seat, the Land Cruiser is very comfortable and will work for any lifestyle you live. However, it is a bit tougher to get into the Heritage Edition, basically forcing you to get a good bounce to hop in if you don’t have long legs. It’s worse for the back seat, I felt. But by far the biggest struggle you’ll have is with the infotainment system that’s straight out of 2010. Holy shit, man. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and the navigation screen is so old-looking. But you know what? It has Bluetooth media, and a wireless charger. So, ya know, at least it has something. Plugging in my iPhone via a USB cable allowed it to be charged and the car picked it up as an iPod, which is even funnier in 2020. The rear seat, while accommodating with its own heated seat and rear-air settings, there is only a single 12 volt jack. I would have expected, and appreciated, a three-prong plug outlet. Most large trucks and SUVs pretty much come standard with that now, so it was surprising that the high end Toyota didn’t. The 2020 Ford Ranger Lariat I tested the week after this had a three-prong outlet, and two USB-A charging ports.
If you do happen to be in the market for a luxury SUV, I have a feeling that you won’t even remember Toyota’s Land Cruiser, and that’s a genuine shame. Because the Land Cruiser is, without any doubt, the least “look at me” of all the luxury SUVs on the market. Instead of showing off with its looks, it drives with the most commanding feeling of any luxury offering in the large sport-utility range. It is far superior of a driving experience than the Cadillac Escalade for similar money. Even with its short-comings, i.e. old infotainment system, not outlet for the rear seats, and lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Land Cruiser is still a vehicle that feels extremely well built, and as if it could be around after the apocalypse. Hell, just go on AutoTrader and look at all of the examples sporting 300,000+ miles, and then be shocked that they still sell for way more than you’d expect.
With its proven 5.7-liter V8 making 381-horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 401 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm going through an 8-speed automatic gearbox, the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition has a pretty linear power and torque delivery. Part of that reason is because 90% of torque arrives at 2,200 rpm. Sure, you won’t feel like you’re absolutely flying when you floor the throttle. Instead you get a kind of waft-like sense, not unlike a Rolls-Royce or Bentley sedan. Granted, it does take a second to jump down a gear or two to kick itself in the rear, unless you have the ECT Pwr button switched on, then it doesn’t allow the vehicle to go into an Eco driving mode at any point, and power is pretty immediate when you put your foot into it. But, it will also absolutely wreck the already bad fuel mileage. The EPA estimates for the Land Cruiser and the Heritage Edition are the same for both at 13 mpg city and 17 highway, respectively, with an average of 14. And, yep, that’s about what I got. Granted, I was driving the Land Cruiser semi-hard throughout the week I had it, mainly because I wanted to see how it really felt compared to the other luxury options from Mercedes, BMW, and Cadillac. And it also tows 8,100-lbs. That’s the same as Cadillac’s Escalade, 2,100 lbs more than Ford’s Expedition, the Lincoln Navigator tows up to 8,700 lbs depending on trim,, 600 lbs more than the Mercedes-Benz GLS450, and 400 more than the Audi Q7.
Speaking of hard driving, the big lux ‘yota is one of the few of its size that actually feels like you can control it. The steering is nicely weighted, and gets a bit heavier as you go faster, it turns respectably, and stops very well. That being said, the brake pedal is a little spongy, and the steering feel is basically not there. But you can place the truck where you want it, and it goes there with no real fuss. Where you’ll notice the authority you feel when steering this one is when you’re in a parking lot. Turning into parking spaces is very easy and even though it’s a big car, the Land Cruiser doesn’t feel its 5,715 lbs (the regular Land Cruiser is 100 lbs heavier) and allows you to kind of throw it around, unlike how sport utility vehicles typically drive.
My biggest driving annoyances at first were to do with the buttons that are hidden by the steering wheel. However, as I kept driving the Land Cruiser, reaching for, say, the mirror button to bring the mirrors in while driving in a drive-thru became second nature. But, by far the biggest, most pointless thing on any Japanese or Korean car is… that damn fuel filler door release button. Why? Seriously, why is this still a thing in 2020? My 2017 Shelby GT350 has a push-lock fuel door. My wife’s former daily, a 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec, had that stupid pull tab for the fuel door. Her 2019 VW Jetta GLI (manual, of course) doesn’t have it. This is not okay.
I regret that I wasn’t able to take the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition off-road to show its actual usability in such situations, but I do have a request in with Toyota to let me get the vehicle back for an off-road-only test. Maybe even a camping trip. Now I think that would be fun, and this Toyota is probably the only large, luxury SUV I would ever trust to do any of that in.
In summary, the 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition is a limited production offering that is more bad ass than the standard, already very bad ass, Toyota Land Cruiser. Either of which will make you happy if you encounter any sort of adventure in your life. And even if you just like to pretend that there’s a daily adventure driving the kids to and from school, sports practices, dance recitals, etc. the Land Cruiser is a damn fine mode of transportation. Regardless of price, the big Toyota will be around when if the dinosaurs ever come back. Seriously, go drive one and appreciate how different it is from the rest of the bunch.
P.S. My wife’s favorite feature of the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition was the double visors. One to block the sun coming from the windshield, and one for the side window. Oh, and the driver-side visor has a convenient slot for your registration and insurance.