"There can be only one", so said the famous line from the 1980s film, Highlander, set in the Highlands region of Scotland. Well, although Toyota has an SUV in its range called Highlander, that claim could now be adapted to the new Toyota Land Cruiser 2024, an authentic off-roader that, unlike almost all of the competition, still retains the typical and indispensable characteristics of this particular category of vehicles, which has now become a niche.

I had the chance and the privilege of driving a pre-series version of the new generation on the roads that, from Ballater, skirt the royal estates of Balmoral and then head into the heart of the Highlands, plateaus that are as fascinating as they are desolate and, in my case, also inhospitable given that the weather conditions have been rather adverse. Or perfect, if you look at it from the point of view of someone inside a Land Cruiser.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024: how it changes outside

The Toyota Land Cruiser has a decades-long history, which began over 70 years ago with the first 'BJ'. Generation after generation it has established itself as a true icon, both of Toyota and of the off-road world in general. The new one, named Land Cruiser 250 and destined mainly for the European market (there is also a 300 version that we tested), is based on the GA-F platform with side members and cross-members and draws heavily from tradition, as far as styling is concerned, with a few touches here and there that exude modernity.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

The shapes are squarer than in the past, the brand name is now written in full on the grille and, in general, the dimensions are consistent. The headlights, however, are LED and contribute, both front and rear, to the idea of a concrete vehicle. For the rest, form follows substance: the raised headlamps are protected from impact, as are the fog lamps, which are recessed. Again, the bumper is made up of several parts so that eventual replacements are more practical (and less expensive) and the windows are designed for maximum visibility, for example with the installation of side mirrors directly on the doors so as not to create a blind spot.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

Goodbye spare wheel on the tailgate, this is now hinged at the top and thus benefits from electric opening. Of course, the boot sill is rather high. A much appreciated touch, then, is the rear window that opens independently.

The dimensions are impressive but not exaggerated. We are talking about a car 4.92 metres long, 1.87 metres high and 1.98 metres wide. The ground clearance, which varies depending on whether the wheels are 18 or 20 inches, is around 22.5 centimetres.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024: how it changes inside

The 'boxy' shapes allow you to make the most of the interior space. So much so that, once again, the Toyota Land Cruiser can also be had with seven seats. On the five-seater version, the boot is enormous to say the least, although the specific volume has not yet been confirmed.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

The second row of seats is super cosy, provided, however, that you help yourself to the handle on the pillar and the footrest, otherwise climbing in can be tricky. Once on board there is plenty of space and on the console are the climate controls as well as various charging sockets.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

The dashboard is made of sturdy premium materials. Both plastics and upholstery are designed to last a long time and to take abuse. It's a good thing that there are so many physical buttons, nice and big and always easy to locate and operate even in the most hectic situations.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

The instrumentation, on the other hand, is completely digital, with a 9 or 12.3-inch screen depending on the trim, while the central display has a diagonal of 8 or 12.3 inches and houses software with internet updates and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless connectivity.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024: how it goes on and off the road

My first contact with the Land Cruiser 250 begins on asphalt. It might seem like nonsense, but the Toyota off-roader wants to perform better than ever on the road.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

This is evidenced by the adoption of a great deal of sound-absorbing material, useful for isolating the ride and conveying a great sense of comfort on board. Lightweight, geared steering provides excellent visibility behind and even below via the Panoramic View Monitor which shows images of where the wheels are. And speaking of aids, the whole package also comes with driving assistance.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

The engine is a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel capable of delivering 204 PS and 500 Nm already from 1,600 rpm. It is mated to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox that also features reduced gears. And here the fun begins.

The Toyota Land Cruiser has a thoroughbred pedigree. We have already mentioned the longitudinal members at the base, with a torsional rigidity of the frame increased by 50%, but this is just the beginning. It is equipped with permanent four-wheel drive, mechanically lockable centre and rear differentials, an anti-roll bar at the front that can be unlocked to increase wheel travel and new electric power assistance that reduces steering recoil in the hardest driving. The typical angles are very good: 31° for the attack angle, 23° for the breakaway angle and 23° for the exit angle.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

Now with the mechanics, or the hardware, out of the way let's look at the electronics. The Land Cruiser 2024 boasts a system called Multi Terrain Select that offers the possibility of selecting various driving modes to best adapt traction and calibration to treacherous surfaces, be it Snow, Mud or Sand, for example. And some of these electronic maps are specific to when the creeper (reduction gear) is engaged.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

Again, in addition to the classic Hill Descent Control, which maintains downhill speed, there is a new Crawl Control, a kind of cruise control for off-road driving.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

This whole package of technology and fine mechanical engineering means that the Toyota Land Cruiser 2024 is capable of exceptional, almost astonishing, climbing and descending, and appears much more agile than its size would suggest. It gives you continuous control over the situation, no matter where you are, whether it's in half a metre of snow, on rocks, immersed in mud or, why not, even in a stream.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

In short, pending a full test, this first contact leaves me sure of one thing: the Land Cruiser 2024 is a little more SUV in the sense that you can use it every day without compromise, but at the same time it has never been more off-road capable.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024: when it arrives

Lovers of heritage and collector's cars, raise your antennae: there is a First Edition that will capture your heart with retro styling, an unmistakable look with circular headlights and specific two-tone colours. Beware though, you should already get a move on if you are interested.

The version in my test, on the other hand, is the 'standard' one, so to speak, and arrives at the end of 2024 with prices yet to be defined.

Toyota Land Cruiser 2024

Gallery: Toyota Land Cruiser 2024, first contact