What Is It?
The legendary Land Cruiser is Toyota’s full-size SUV that not only offers luxurious amenities and latest technology, it also retains the extreme off-road capability of its predecessors. The SUV grew considerably in stature as it evolved from the original Land Cruiser produced in the 1950s, which was a small, lightweight off-roader similar to Jeeps of the era. In 1958 the Land Cruiser became one of the first Toyota vehicles sold in the United States, and now the automaker offers the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition to celebrate the big SUV’s 60 years of production.
Toyota recently provided us with a 2021 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition finished in Midnight Black Metallic with a black leather interior. Starting MSRP for the Heritage Edition is $87,845, and our test vehicle included a few options to bring the as-tested price to $89,689 including a delivery, processing and handling fee of $1,365.
Land Cruiser Heritage Edition
Toyota first offered the Heritage Edition as a 2020 model with 5-passenger seating to maximize cargo capacity, although for 2021 it is also offered with an optional third row. In addition, Classic Silver Metallic and Magnetic Gray Metallic are offered as exterior color options, joining Midnight Black Metallic and Blizzard Pearl. Heritage Edition features a black accented grille, bronze-colored 18-inch BBS forged-aluminum wheels with TOYOTA center caps, and vintage-style Land Cruiser badges on the rear pillars.
The Land Cruiser design has been updated and refined over the years, yet in many ways it remains a modern version of the same vehicle it has been for decades — a tall, square, truck-based utility vehicle with a high level of off-road capability. Toyota updated the exterior design for the 2016 model year with a bold new grille, projector headlights, a sculpted hood and LED brake lights.
Inside, the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition features black leather upholstery and contrast stitching — in a bronze thread that matches the wheels — for the seats, steering wheel, door trim, center stack and console. To complement the exterior design, the Land Cruiser cabin reflects the latest technology including a large infotainment display screen, four-zone climate control, heated / ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
The second row of the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition features large display screens and wireless headphones to keep passengers entertained. The rear seating area also features separate climate control adjustments and two-stage heated seats for the outboard positions.
Under the Hood
The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine producing 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque, combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission and a full-time all-wheel-drive system. For extreme off-road conditions, the Land Cruiser also features a TORSEN limited-slip locking center differential and a 2-speed transfer case with low range. Land Cruiser also features a kinetic dynamic suspension system, multi-terrain select, hill-start assist control and CRAWL control with off-road turn assist. The big SUV can tow up to 8,100 pounds and has EPA fuel-economy ratings of 13 mpg city / 17 mpg highway / 14 mpg combined.
On the Road
Despite all the updates, driving the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition is a deliberately retro experience — it feels like a large, heavy, truck-based SUV because it is a large, heavy truck-based SUV. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — Land Cruiser is simply such a stark contrast to a market now flooded with crossovers that drive more like cars than SUVs — even high-performance sports cars, in some cases.
Smooth and Comfortable
The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition offers a high seating position — one of the main attributes of an SUV bearing this size and heft — and the ride exudes smooth comfort. The supportive seats are finished in perforated leather — in a nutshell, Land Cruiser delivers the luxurious experience intended from this premium SUV.
The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition weighs 5,715 pounds and — despite a big V8 engine under the hood — the massive SUV is neither nimble nor quick. This land yacht needs every ounce of available power it can muster, so it really feels as if it’s lumbering: smoothly, powerfully, heavily. The retro SUV experience of the Land Cruiser gets underscored by a steering system that requires more input than feels natural — another stark contrast to crossovers available today.
Although we did not get the opportunity to drive the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition in off-road conditions, we have tested a similar vehicle from the current generation off-road and it indeed offers extreme capability. Even though most Land Cruiser owners will likely never tap into the full potential of this substantial vehicle, for some the legendary capability remains a key attraction in a world filled with less capable crossovers.
One of the Originals
As one of the original sport-utility vehicles, Toyota’s iconic Land Cruiser has remained in the automaker’s lineup for decades, and it has become long in the tooth. The Heritage Edition is a fitting name, and while piloting this latest version drivers will feel the weight and impressive lineage of previous generations. Although Land Cruiser does not feel like a crossover, it is a luxurious, modern version of a truck-based off-road icon.
End of an Era
Land Cruiser sales in the American market have dropped to a low number — only a few thousand per year — and thus recently and quietly Toyota announced the Land Cruiser’s fate, printed here: “The Toyota Land Cruiser has been a legendary name for more than 60 years. While it will be discontinued in the United States after the 2021 model year, we remain committed to the large SUV segment and will continue to explore future products that celebrate the Land Cruiser’s rich off-road history. We encourage loyal enthusiasts and intrepid adventurers to stay tuned for future developments.”
The 2021 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition offers an old-school SUV experience with all the modern amenities, but with a hefty price tag of nearly $90,000. The 2021 model year will be the last chance to experience the Toyota Land Cruiser in its current form. For those who nostalgically long for this legendary vehicle, now is the time to act.