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Exploring Boundless Adventures in the all-new 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

By Daryl Killian

Uniting families and off-road enthusiasts alike, my journey with the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser began amidst the sun-kissed trails of Southern California where the desert terrain awaited our exploration. Partnered with the seasoned off-roader Kristin Shaw whose experience in the Rebelle Rally proved invaluable, I eagerly anticipated delving into Toyota’s latest iteration of the iconic Land Cruiser.

After a two-year hiatus, the Land Cruiser’s return to the U.S. market sparked excitement and speculation among American aficionados who have revered the overlander since 1958. Rumors swirled, but Toyota decisively quashed them in 2023 by announcing the Land Cruiser’s resurgence for the 2024 model year. Here it was, boasting a rugged demeanor hinting at its heritage while embracing a new ethos.

Our expedition spanned two afternoons, navigating various off-road obstacles to showcase the Land Cruiser’s prowess. From Crawl Control to Hill Descent features, we tested every feature including disconnecting the front stabilizer bar for enhanced articulation. The off-roading was a symphony of technology and raw capability.

“The complete redesign of the all-new Land Cruiser amounts to an incredible evolution of the vehicle. We know this new iteration had big shoes to fill, and I am absolutely thrilled to report it has exceeded our high expectations,” said Mike Tripp, vice president of Toyota Marketing. “This vehicle retains its legendary capability, and now it offers a significantly lower starting price, tons of creature comforts and even more maneuverability on the trails.”

Step inside, and the Land Cruiser’s interior greets you with understated amenities. While luxury appointments have been dialed down compared to its predecessors, the cabin exudes modernity and practicality. Spaciousness is abundant, ensuring comfort for both daily commutes and adventurous escapades. The Japanese truck might lack the opulence of yesteryears, but it more than compensates with functionality. The multimedia touchscreen, designed by Toyota’s Texas-based team, boasts wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and is complemented by a premium JBL audio system. USB-C charge ports dotted the interior, including the cargo area.

Externally, the Land Cruiser commands attention with its rugged, boxy silhouette—a testament to its off-road pedigree. Yet, it wasn’t just for show. Toyota meticulously crafted the front and rear overhangs, enhancing its trail-readiness.

But what about the driving experience? Equipped exclusively with the i-FORCE MAX 2.4-liter 4-cylinder Hybrid Turbocharged powertrain, the Land Cruiser delivered a formidable (326-horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque) blend of power and efficiency that underscored Toyota’s commitment to performance-driven innovation. The hybrid system seamlessly integrated with the full-time 4-wheel-drive system, ensuring traction on every type of terrain.

Toyota’s commitment to safety is evident in the Land Cruiser’s standard Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite, which offers a comprehensive array of active safety features. From the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection to Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, peace of mind is provided both on and off the road.

When I have the opportunity to test drive these vehicles, my initial impulse is to identify the individuals whom I believe would be the most suitable candidates to recommend them to. While the traditional African American family did not come to mind, after speaking with many off-roaders on the trip about their family adventures in nature, it dawned on me that engaging in outdoor activities as a family could be beneficial. For African American families navigating parenthood in today’s digital age, the influence of technology on our children can sometimes feel like a double-edged sword. While screens offer endless entertainment and educational opportunities, they also pose challenges to fostering outdoor exploration and connection with nature—a vital aspect of childhood development.

Historically, outdoor activities may have eluded our community in modern inner cities, but the allure of adventure in the wild beckons with tantalizing possibilities. Imagine the joy of embarking on rugged off-road expeditions and traversing remote trails where cell reception is scarce. In those moments, technology takes a backseat and children will be compelled to engage with their surroundings just as we did in our youth.

The rebirth of the Land Cruiser emerges as a beacon of hope, bridging the gap between technology-driven lifestyles and the call of the great outdoors. When embarking on family road trips to new fishing holes or secluded campsites, the Land Cruiser’s abundance of USB-C chargers throughout the cabin will ensure that children remain occupied during the journey. Yet, the vehicle’s rugged off-road capability truly shines, offering the promise of exploration beyond the beaten path. No longer bound by the constraints of civilization, families can immerse themselves in nature’s embrace, forging unforgettable memories.

As your children revel in the thrill of adventure, their complaints about the lack of cell service will fade into the background. Instead, they can discover the joy of discovery—the satisfaction of scaling a rocky incline or splashing through a babbling brook. In those moments, technology becomes a tool rather than a distraction, enriching your outdoor experiences rather than detracting from them. In a world where screens increasingly dominate our lives, the Land Cruiser offers a reprieve—an opportunity to reconnect with nature and each other. With Toyota’s latest SUV as your trusted companion, the possibilities for adventure are endless, beckoning you to explore, discover, and embrace the wonders of the great outdoors.

With a starting MSRP of $55,950, the 2024 Land Cruiser signals a departure from its lofty price tags of the past, making it more accessible to families and off-road enthusiasts alike. Its three-grade strategy caters to diverse needs, from the rugged simplicity of the 1958 grade to the premium exclusivity of the First Edition.

In a landscape teeming with worthy competitors like the Ford Bronco, Land Rover Defender, Jeep Wrangler, Chevy Colorado, and Jeep Gladiator, the 2024 Land Cruiser stood tall, embodying a legacy of durability, capability, and innovation. As I reflect on our journey through sunlit trails and rocky terrain, one thing became abundantly clear—the Land Cruiser wasn’t just a vehicle; it was an experience, enticing adventurers to chart their paths wherever they may lead.

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