Toyota's design team deserves credit, for being some of the few that don't copy the Range Rover with their SUV designs. This was demonstrated with their latest Sequoia, and this week they unveiled the return of its stablemate, the venerated Land Cruiser.
Coming back to the 'States after a three-year hiatus, the 2024 Land Cruiser has been redesigned with a fresh, unique look. The design isn't perfect by any stretch—in particular the front end looks a bit muddled—but the design team is at least doing their own thing, and trying to hit multiple target markets: "Toyota's North American-based studio CALTY Design Research worked closely with the global development team to establish the design direction for the new Land Cruiser," the company writes.
Surface creasing has been kept to a minimum, except for one prominent and welcome line that runs from front to back, in an actual straight line; that's a rarity these days, recalling an honest-to-God beltline of yore.
The angular gestures within the surfacing are mostly rational, though that's not the case in the form: The steep angle of the A-pillar is jarringly close to vertical, but that's fine by me, as I recognize it was done for function. (Vehicles with cab-forward A-pillars might look cool, but sacrifice too much visibility in turns.) And this is one of the few SUVs I can think of where the roof doesn't plunge downwards at the back, which every design team has done since Range Rover launched that first Evoque.
The front end gets a bit strange, with a harsh transition from fender panel to nose. And the prominent body-color panels beneath each headlight are strangely disconnected from the form, as if they're meant to be easily removed to reveal some hidden function beneath them.
One thing I do like about the front is that the designers have eschewed the gaping-maw grille style that every other SUV maker favors these days. Instead a thick black bar bisects the grille horizontally, leaving a slimmer rectangle to connect the headlights, recalling the '80s/'90s LCs I've got a soft spot for. (Buddy of mine owned one, those things are tanks.)
They're also releasing a "1958" trim level, that features throwback round headlights (LED, of course). The circular "eyes" are enough of a statement that they draw your eye away from the side-to-front transition, making the design look a lot cleaner.
The interior is clean and rational, providing an aesthetically-ordered result for the task all car designers are faced with these days: Find a place for all of these buttons, and a gigantic screen. Drivers will be pleased to see that there's a physical, easy-to-reach volume knob to the left of said screen.
The new Land Cruiser will arrive next spring, with starting prices "in the mid-$50,000 range"—another surprise, given SUV sticker creep these days (I'd have guessed $65,000-plus).
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