How much would you pay for exclusivity?
There's virtually no good reason to buy the 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser. There are better, more comfortable vehicles that are nearly as capable, full stop. But with the legendary Land Cruiser, you get two things: exclusivity and the perception that you are a connoisseur.
Toyota Land Cruisers are rarer than hens' teeth. Let's put it like this: according to car sales tracker Good Car Bad Car, in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz sold 43,000 GLS-Class SUVs between 2018 and 2019. Toyota has sold about 46,000 Land Cruisers… since 2005. That also happened to be the Cruiser's best sales year, when dealers sold 4,870 units. Because of that, though, spotting this hulking SUV and its driver means you've seen someone that knows. They're aware of the legend and bought not because they were looking for a status symbol or because it was the obvious choice – they bought a Land Cruiser because it's a Land Cruiser.
The 2020 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition is even rarer, limited to 1,200 units for the U.S. market. Features like its classic D-pillar badging will tell other drivers you're rocking a special Land Cruiser, while its gold wheels add flair and its Yakima rack real-world functionality. But Toyota didn't tap as much of the Land Cruiser's rich heritage as it could have.
Yes, this is something that bears repeating: the Land Cruiser is incredibly cool. Big, brutish, and packing a throaty V8 engine, it's purposeful without looking like it's showing off its abilities. There's none of the tinsel or clutter that you'll find on a Range Rover or GLS. Instead, the Land Cruiser has a boxy, hewn-from-granite design. In the cabin, there's a huge array of buttons and knobs for the off-road systems, too, so from inside or out, this SUV reminds you it can handle much more than trips to soccer practice.
The Heritage Edition's touches are modest, all things considered, but they still improve the overall look. The gold BBS wheels are gorgeous, as are the classic badges on the D-pillar. The Yakima roof rack looks a bit silly and creates too much wind noise at highway speeds, but it's yet another reminder that this vehicle is more than ready for the great outdoors. Beyond these big-ticket features, there are smaller touches that contribute, like the black accents in the grille and dark chrome around the lighting elements. It feels special, even if Toyota could have gone further.
Toyota's cabin game is on point nowadays, with newer offerings like the Highlander improving on the strong foundation the Camry and Avalon established. But the Land Cruiser is a cut above with nice leather on the dash and center stack and attractive contrast-stitch highlights. It simply feels more premium, to the point that it's easy to recognize the relationship between the Land Cruiser and the Lexus LX 570, the Toyota's posh sibling.
TireRack.com classifies the Land Cruiser's Dunlop Grandtrek AT23 rubber as a “highway all-season” tire, and they look out of place on a vehicle like the Land Cruiser. In fact, they look like the sort of thing you'd find on a Toyota Highlander. This is particularly frustrating considering Toyota has put more aggressive off-road rubber on its TRD models. The RAV4 TRD Off-Road gets a set of tires classified as “all-terrain,” for crying out loud. We aren't asking for 35-inch mud tires, but the Land Cruiser's rolling stock here seems woefully inadequate for its mission.
Speaking of Toyota's TRD line, the only way we'd improve on the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition's styling is to ditch the standard grille and attach the big “TOYOTA” lettering and blacked-out mesh from the brand's other off-roaders. Considering the original Land Cruiser FJ40 got that particular touch, it'd certainly be in line with the Heritage Edition's, um, heritage.
And now the obligatory complaint about the price. The Land Cruiser is absurdly expensive, starting at $85,415, and considering the few touches attached to the Heritage Edition, the fact that it adds $2,330 to the price tag feels like salt in the wound. There's nothing wrong with paying for exclusivity and capability, but we have to draw the line somewhere. Nearly $90,000 in a segment where the Range Rover and Mercedes GLS exist is just too much.
Gallery: 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition: First Drive
2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition