By on July 17, 2017

2017 Toyota Land Cruiser, Images: Garrett Martin and Seth Parks

There are more than 40 brands offering 230-some nameplates in America today. Not a single one is a direct Land Cruiser competitor. So what is the Land Cruiser’s mission?

It’s not aimed at the towing crowd. A $50,000 full-size half-ton anything can tow more than the Land Cruiser’s 8,100 lbs. It’s not for hauling people. A Sequoia, or any other full-size SUV, offers more interior volume, with at least $20,000 left over. It’s not for brand snobs, as Toyota offers the nearly identical and vastly more popular Lexus LX for those people. And no, it’s not even for the radical off-road enthusiast. There are Wranglers, Tacomas, 4Runners, and Raptors with off-road capabilities to match the impressive Land Cruiser.

The market analysis justifying the Land Cruiser is contained somewhere deep inside Toyota’s North America’s product planning offices in Plano, Texas. But until a disgruntled employee or careless contractor leaks the file, we will simply need to speculate.

The Land Cruiser appeared in commercial quantities in the 1950’s and from there went on to earn its reputation for go-anywhere durability. I can personally attest to the utility and capability of the 70-Series Land Cruiser based on my time in a high-roof troopie that shrugged off poor driver decisions in Malawi (always check water crossings before going wheels wet) and baboons (there is a fine line between curiosity and malevolence). But today’s North American spec Land Cruiser originated with the J50, which bifurcated the Land Cruiser lineup back in 1967. Thereafter, the Land Cruiser badge would be placed on a growing range of light commercial vehicles (J20/30/40/70), as well as on easier to live with yet highly capable passenger-oriented SUVs (J50/60/80/90/120/150/100/200).

None of these products were designed for the North American market. And today’s Land Cruiser is no different. It receives minor adaptions to confirm to the peculiarities of our market. But at 112 inches, its wheelbase is four to 10 inches shorter than other full-size SUVs. And its width and overall length are likewise three-quarter size. Sure, it has Toyota’s 381 horsepower 5.7-liter gas V8 and a speedo that reads in mph, but these alterations hardly conceal a vehicle as close to African spec as you will find on a dealer lot in North America. This is one of the few unadulterated foreign market vehicles journalists and enthusiasts pine for.

The average Toyota dealer sells seven of these rigs annually. (Read More…)

By on July 22, 2016

Seventh-Generation Toyota Hilux

Toyota SUVs and pickups are popular with insurgents in overseas conflict zones, so why shouldn’t the U.S. military kick the tires on some?

The U.S. Special Operations Command just placed an order for up to 556 vehicles outfitted for “unconventional warfare” use, most of them Toyota Land Cruisers, Military Aerospace reports. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2016

1974 Toyota Land Cruiser in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Toyota Land Cruiser has been around since the Sengoku Period (OK, since 1951), and all varieties of this truck tend to have plenty of obsessively devoted single-interest fanatics here in Colorado. You’ll see the occasional FJ60 Land Cruiser in junkyards here, and I’ve even seen a well-stripped FJ40 in a Denver yard. Today’s well-thrashed Junkyard Find is the first example of an FJ55 Land Cruiser I’ve found. (Read More…)

By on January 6, 2015

06 - 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe FJ60 Land Cruiser is still a common sight on the streets of Denver, where I live. These things are not anywhere near as comfortable or fuel-efficient as modern SUVs, but they are just about impossible to kill… and that counts for a lot with your FJ-driving demographic around these parts. Being so prized, however, means that you don’t see many of these trucks in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards, and when you do see one it tends to get picked clean in a hurry. I went to a local yard on a typically freezing-ass Half Price Day sale last week and spotted this remarkably un-stripped ’82. (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2014

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The Lexus GX seems to truck along in the American marketplace with little fanfare. Aside from a brief rollover scare, the GX’s most notable achievement appears to be as the ride of choice for family members of Lexus dealer principals and Central Asian warlords. But Ward’s Auto reports that a bit of magic by Lexus product planners has helped double sales in just over a year.

(Read More…)

By on June 3, 2013

2012-Mercedes-C63-AMG-01

In my rant about the Holden Ute, I qualified my cynicism with a caveat; my tastes are not representative of the broader market, or what makes good business sense for an auto maker. Some of you suggested that I should start injecting more of my own opinions/enthusiasm into these sorts of articles. I am reluctant to mix business with my own automotive fantasyland (after all, everyone with access to a keyboard does just that that), but this post isn’t supposed to be informative or insightful, just pure fun. I am limiting myself to new cars on sale outside the United States and Canada, as there are far too many used cars out there that I’d love to own.

(Read More…)

By on August 12, 2012

Toyota Land Cruisers don’t last long in self-service wrecking yards, as we saw with this ’85 earlier in the summer. When I saw this ’71 FJ40 a few weeks later, I could see the scavengers circling overhead. Now look at it! (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2012

While the regular junkyard visitor might run across the occasional FJ60 Land Cruiser in a cheap self-service yard, especially here in 4WD-centric Colorado, there are some Toyota trucks you just don’t see in such junkyards. One is the 4Runner (I’ve found exactly one so far) and another is the FJ40 Land Cruiser. But wait— look what I just found! (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2012

The Land Cruiser is one of those vehicles that washes up in self-service junkyards only after its body and interior become so thrashed that even bottom-feeder truck shoppers can’t stand the idea of being seen in the thing. Contrast this with the legions of great-looking 1980s Jaguars you’ll find in the very same yards. (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2011


Well, here’s a truck you almost never see in junkyards. In Colorado, FJ60/62s have been considered sufficiently desirable that even beat ones mostly get snapped up at pre-Crusher auctions. Perhaps that’s all changing now, what with gas prices knocking down the prices of newer, more modern/less “truck-y” SUVs. (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2011


In my first Denver winter after a driving lifetime in coastal California, I’m now experiencing my first real taste of driving in snow. My ’92 Civic is doing pretty well (i.e., I haven’t crashed or become stuck yet), but I’m starting to eyeball Craigslist listings for IHC Scouts and FJ40 Land Cruisers. After spotting this Toyota in my neighborhood, I may have to forget about the Scouts. (Read More…)

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