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2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Rediscovers Its Off-Road Roots

Toyota's new-for-2020 Heritage Edition model is ready to hit the trail—maybe once it's depreciated a bit.

© Toyota   The 2020 Heritage Edition is ready to hit the trail. Maybe once it's depreciated a little bit.

By Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver

The Toyota Land Cruiser goes way back. Its introduction predates the Porsche 911 and the Ford Mustang. Its 40th-anniversary model arrived in 1997. So, Toyota decided it's time to celebrate the Land Cruiser's multi-decade run with a new trim level, the 2020 Heritage Edition. They named it that because it would've been weird to call it the 63rd Anniversary Edition.

While the standard Land Cruiser is an eight-seater, the Heritage Edition seats only five passengers. Priced at $89,070, it costs an extra $2330 over the standard Cruiser. Fewer seats for more money: What is this, a track car? By nixing the third row and the running boards, the superleggera Heritage drops a claimed 100 pounds versus the eight-seat Land Cruiser. That's drip in the bucket of this roughly 5800-pound ute.

© Toyota   2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition

You'll really feel that in the slalom, we bet. The Heritage also loses two cupholders (10 versus the regular 12), the cooler box in the center console, and the standard model's semi-aniline leather. There are only two available paint colors: Midnight Black Metallic and Blizzard Pearl. On the plus side, the Heritage gets forged wheels supplied by BBS and painted bronze, retro script badges, and a Yakima MegaWarrior roof rack that tells the world you're overlanding any day now.

The absence of running boards underscores the Land Cruiser's height. Its ground clearance—8.9 inches—is only 0.3-inch more than the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road's, yet the rocker panels are full-size-pickup high. The Land Cruiser's breakover angle (basically, a good proxy for the height of obstacles you can drive over without scraping the floorboards) is 21.0 degrees, the same as that of a Jeep Wrangler Sahara. There's the expected roster of legit off-road hardware, like a two-speed transfer case and a locking center differential. There also are a few novel features, like off-road turn assist. That function employs a similar concept as Rivian's tank-steer mode, tightening the turning circle by grabbing the brakes on the inside wheels. Don't try it on your lawn.

© Toyota   2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition

Superficially, you might look at the Land Cruiser's dimensions and powertrain and wonder why you wouldn't just save $20K or so and get a Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro. This ain't a Sequoia. The Land Cruiser is a certified Finer Thing, a rig that feels like it was built to be passed down to your grandchildren's au pair. Like the Mercedes E-class wagon (which carries the highest household-income stat of any Benz model), the Land Cruiser is one of those moderately obscure affluent-person cars that says, "I'm rich, but I don't need to show it off, except that you know I totally am if you know what this is." And although the Land Cruiser shares its 381-hp 5.7-liter V-8 with the Sequoia, this ritzier SUV gets both an eight-speed automatic transmission (versus a six-speed) and hydraulically controlled disconnecting anti-roll bars that help deliver an inordinately serene ride for a vehicle with a live rear axle.

© Toyota   2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition

That solid axle displays impressive wheel articulation off-road, although not too many people buying a Land Cruiser will care about its ramp-travel index score or its 27.6-inch water fording depth or its four underbody skid plates. It's doubtful the audience who can afford a $90,000 SUV are steering it into Scratch 'N' Dent Gulch for a rock-crawling getaway. But with the Land Cruiser, there's a good chance someone will do that eventually. This is a vehicle that's compelling to totally disparate groups of people: those who can buy it now and those who dream of it as a 15-year-old semi-classic, affordable but with plenty of life left. Today, a Heritage Edition's new-car smell might be wafting out onto a bleached-shell driveway on Nantucket Island. But give it a decade or two, and it likely will be lifted, Rhino-lined, and scraping along a trail in Pennsyltucky. And still worth top dollar.

See more at: Car and Driver

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Autos Magazine: 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Rediscovers Its Off-Road Roots
2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Rediscovers Its Off-Road Roots
Toyota's new-for-2020 Heritage Edition model is ready to hit the trail—maybe once it's depreciated a bit.
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