After a brief hiatus, the Toyota Land Cruiser is back for the 2024 model year with an all-new design that returns to its roots as a rugged adventurer. Many off-roaders looking for a reliable SUV are certainly excited about this development, but others are unsure if it’s the right option for them. After all, there’s still the Toyota 4Runner for sale, and it’s been here chugging along during the years that the Land Cruiser was temporarily off the market. Which one is the off-road champ in Toyota’s SUV lineup now?
Well, don’t worry—we’re going to dive in and sort this thing out so you can rest easy. Let’s take the 2024 model of each rugged ‘Yota and see what it has to offer drivers who know their stuff and really care about performance on-road and off. We’ll zero in on key areas that can make or break an off-road model and see what these two SUVs have in common and what sets them apart.
V6 vs Hybrid Powertrains
Under the hood of the 2024 4Runner, you’ll find a 4.0L V6 powering every trim level. This capable engine delivers up to 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque, giving it the ability to tow up to 5,000 lbs when properly configured. Four-wheel drive is available for extra traction on slick and uneven surfaces, but it doesn’t come standard across the trim lineup. Overall, the 4Runner’s powertrain is solid and reliable, good traits to have when you’re trusting it to get you through unpredictable terrain.
The all-new 2024 Land Cruiser has returned as a hybrid, which shouldn’t be too surprising given that we’re living in the era of electrification. On top of current trends, it’s also important to consider the fact that Toyota is an experienced maker of hybrid powertrains, having been in the game for over 20 years, and has developed a solid reputation for both reliable vehicles and efficient hybrids. The Land Cruiser’s i-FORCE MAX hybrid setup has more benefits than just improved fuel economy. The 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine and electric motor pair up to produce 326 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, a big upgrade over the figures from the 4Runner.
Those increased stats translate to tangible benefits like a towing capacity of 6,000 lbs and a more exhilarating ride on open trails. Electric motors are also better at providing more torque at lower speeds, which is good news for those planning on crawling over boulders or traversing uphill trails with a lot of twists, turns, and obstacles that prevent you from going too quickly. The 2024 Land Cruiser also comes standard with full-time four-wheel drive, so all trim levels can stand up to rainy days and uneven surfaces.
Power isn’t the only thing you need off-road. When you’re leaving the pavement behind, you want all of the advantages you can get in order to stay in control at all times and keep out of harm’s way. One important factor in off-roading is ground clearance, and here, the 4Runner has the advantage. It gives you up to 9.6 inches of ground clearance in its four-wheel drive configurations, which makes for a 33-degree approach angle and a 26-degree departure angle, giving you the clearance you need to tackle steep grades and obstacles. The Land Cruiser’s maximum ground clearance of 8.7 inches is still serviceable, giving it a 31-degree approach angle and 22-degree departure angle. But drivers who need more will have to look into aftermarket options.
On the other hand, the 2024 Land Cruiser comes standard with a center-locking differential and an electronic locking rear differential across all trim levels. That means even the entry-level version gives you the tools you need to move forward if one of your wheels gets stuck in a mud pit or ditch. The 4Runner is available with an electronic rear differential, but it’s not standard equipment.
Both models have available tech features that can up your off-road game. Multi-Terrain Select lets you change the vehicle’s settings to optimize them for different situations, like tackling mud, dirt, or sand. The Multi-Terrain Monitor uses multiple cameras and a touchscreen display to make potential obstacles visible before they become a problem. Finally, Crawl Control is the off-road version of cruise control, letting you maintain a selectable low-speed setting so you can focus on steering when the path gets tricky.
The Land Cruiser is coming back a little smaller than it used to be, but it still has a more spacious interior than the 4Runner. Despite that, the 2024 Land Cruiser is strictly a five-seater, while the 4Runner has an optional third row available. This is likely due to the placement of the battery that powers the electric motor, which is positioned above the rear axle. Because of this power supply, the Land Cruiser is able to offer a 2.4 kW inverter as standard fare, making it easy for campers to bring creature comforts out into the wilderness.
Since the Land Cruiser is freshly updated, it has a more modern interior design than the 4Runner, with a nice open layout that gives you room to breathe, mixing rugged sensibilities with premium materials. Its available 12.3-inch touchscreen makes camera views and vehicle settings easy to see at a glance, which comes in handy if you spring for available features like the Multi-Terrain Monitor. The standard eight-inch screen on the 4Runner is still fairly sizable, but its smaller size does make it more difficult to see small details.
The Land Cruiser also has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (the 4Runner still makes you deal with cables to access your apps) and features USB-C ports instead of USB-A. Once you switch over your cord collection, that means you can stop wasting precious time figuring out which way you have to flip the cable to make it go in. Fewer moments of frustration and more time out on the trails.
A Battle of Style
Let’s finish this face-off with the cherry on top of any vehicle’s list of features: style. The 4Runner’s exterior has a classic rugged vibe––with a big emphasis on “classic.” It’s been a full ten years since this model has had a significant re-design, and it shows. By contrast, the new Land Cruiser returned from its brief hiatus with a complete makeover. The new exterior pays tribute to the boxy shape of past Land Cruisers, but it’s clear that it was built for the modern age with its sleek, minimalist appearance and re-worked silhouette. At the end of the day, this one comes down to taste. If you prefer a purely old-school look, the 4Runner should suit you fine. But if you have more modern sensibilities, then the Land Cruiser is probably going to make you happier.
Which of these models is better depends on what you’re looking for in an SUV. If you’re looking to do some overlanding and want a vehicle that’s a jack of all trades with a comfortable interior, good performance on the road, and rugged off-road sensibilities, then the new Land Cruiser should fit the bill. But if you really want to get down and dirty with some gnarly trails, you might want to stick with the 4Runner, though only if you can afford to upgrade to a TRD trim, especially the TRD Pro. If the newly resurrected Land Cruiser is successful, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the 4Runner get an upgrade following in its tracks, allowing off-road Toyota drivers to have their cake and eat it, too.