Toyota Land Cruiser Surprising 13 Best and Worst Years Revealed: A Year-by-Year Scoop

As someone who has spent years in the trenches of automotive repair, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with various vehicles.

The Toyota Land Cruiser, a name synonymous with durability and off-road prowess, stands out in my memory.

Known for its robust towing capacity and exceptional off-road abilities, this vehicle has rightfully earned its place in the automotive world.

Toyota’s reputation for reliability is not just a marketing gimmick; it’s a reality that I’ve witnessed time and again in the garage.

From my experience and based on industry insights, certain model years of the Land Cruiser shine brighter than others. The 2002, 2009, 2012, 2019, and 2020 models are often celebrated for their superior performance and fewer issues. These years represent the pinnacle of Toyota’s engineering excellence, combining reliability with advanced features.

  • 2002 Model: This year marked a high point in terms of reliability. It’s a model that rarely showed up in my workshop for major issues.
  • 2009 Model: Known for its improved design and functionality, the 2009 model was a hit among off-road enthusiasts according to Consumer Reports.
  • 2012 Model: This year introduced refined features while maintaining the ruggedness the Land Cruiser is known for.
  • 2019 & 2020 Models: These recent models are a testament to Toyota’s continuous improvement, offering advanced technology and enhanced comfort as per review of Car and Drive.

Not every Land Cruiser model year is a gem. The 2000, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017 models have been known to present more issues. These years often saw vehicles more frequently in repair shops for various problems, ranging from minor annoyances to significant malfunctions.

  • 2000 & 2005 Models: According to Vehicle History these years were often plagued with electrical issues and some engine problems.
  • 2008 & 2011 Models: Customers frequently reported issues related to the suspension and braking systems.
  • 2013, 2015, 2016, & 2017 Models: These models had their share of recalls and mechanical troubles, which sometimes included transmission and cooling system problems as per Auto Blog has stated.

Key Takeaways

  • Model-Specific Performance: Certain Land Cruiser models, like the 2002, 2009, 2012, 2019, and 2020, are celebrated for superior performance and fewer issues, highlighting Toyota’s engineering excellence.
  • Years to Avoid: Models from 2000, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017 are known for more frequent issues, ranging from minor annoyances to significant malfunctions.
  • Common Problems Across Models: Land Cruisers may face engine problems, shifting issues, body and chassis concerns, transmission failures, and excessive oil consumption, affecting their performance and reliability.
  • Maintenance and Repair Insights: Regular maintenance, including timely oil changes and inspections, is crucial for maintaining the Land Cruiser’s engine health, especially for models known for specific issues.
  • Off-Road Impact on Maintenance: The Land Cruiser’s off-road capabilities require additional maintenance focus, particularly on the suspension, brakes, and undercarriage, to ensure longevity and performance.
  • Buyer’s Guide for Used Models: Potential buyers should inspect used Land Cruisers for signs of wear and tear, check service history, and be aware of common issues specific to the model year they are considering.

The Golden Years

1. 2009 Model – A Budget-Friendly SUV with Premium Features 

2009 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelAs a retired mechanic, I’ve seen the 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser impress many with its blend of affordability and premium features. This model stands out as a cost-effective option for those seeking a reliable SUV without overspending.

Performance and Specifications

  • Robust V8 Engine: The heart of the 2009 Land Cruiser is its powerful V8 engine. According to Edmunds, this engine is not just about raw power; it’s about delivering a smooth and stress-free driving experience.
  • Fuel Efficiency: It’s important to note that this model isn’t the most fuel-efficient, with an EPA-estimated 13 miles per gallon in the city, as highlighted by U.S. News & World Report. This could mean higher fuel costs for frequent drivers.

Safety and Comfort

  • Safety Features: Safety is a paramount concern, and the 2009 Land Cruiser doesn’t disappoint. It comes equipped with airbags, electronic stability control, and safety sensors, ensuring the well-being of both driver and passengers.
  • Ride Experience: The SUV offers a superb ride experience. Its spacious interior and comfortable seating, as detailed in reviews on Cars.com, make long trips a pleasure.

Overall Experience

The 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser is a fantastic vehicle that offers a pleasant experience without breaking the bank. It’s a testament to Toyota’s commitment to quality and durability, providing a balance of power, safety, and comfort.

2. 2002 Model – A Value-Packed SUV for the Budget-Conscious

2002 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelDrawing from my years of experience as a mechanic, the 2002 Toyota Land Cruiser stands out as a value-packed option for those who are budget-conscious but still seek quality performance. This model is part of the previous generation of the Land Cruiser family, known for its durability and reliability.

Performance and Specifications

  • Fuel Economy: Contrary to popular belief, the 2002 model is noted for its decent fuel economy, especially for an SUV of its size and capabilities. This makes it an economical choice for those concerned about fuel costs.
  • Engine and Power: Equipped with a robust 4.7-liter V8 engine, as mentioned on Edmunds, the 2002 Land Cruiser delivers ample power for both city driving and off-road adventures.

Safety and Comfort

  • Safety Features: Safety is a key aspect of the 2002 Land Cruiser. It includes essential safety features, ensuring the security of both the driver and passengers.
  • Driving Experience: Owners often praise the 2002 model for its comfortable and enjoyable driving experience. According to Cars.com, it offers a luxury car experience with a super quiet interior and refined powertrain.

Overall Experience

The 2002 Toyota Land Cruiser is a perfect choice for those seeking impressive performance without a hefty price tag. It’s a testament to Toyota’s commitment to producing vehicles that are both durable and enjoyable to drive.

3. 2019 Model – A Modern Iteration of a Classic

2019 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser, while sharing its lineage with the 2008 generation, stands out with its modern design and enhanced features. As a seasoned mechanic, I’ve observed that this model has captivated enthusiasts worldwide, not just for its looks but also for its performance.

Performance and Specifications

  • Cargo Space: One of the most notable features of the 2019 Land Cruiser is its generous cargo space. With 16.1 cubic feet behind the third row, 43 cubic feet with the third row folded, and an impressive 81.7 cubic feet with both the second and third rows folded, as reported by Car and Driver, it’s a dream for those needing ample storage.
  • Engine and Power: This model is recognized as one of the most powerful in the Land Cruiser lineup. It boasts a 381-horsepower engine, ensuring robust performance in various driving conditions.

Luxury and Comfort

  • Interior Features: The 2019 Land Cruiser is not just about power; it’s also about luxury. The interior is designed to offer a comfortable and enjoyable ride, as highlighted in reviews on U.S. News & World Report.
  • Driving Experience: While the vehicle offers a pleasant driving experience, some drivers have noted the brakes’ over-sensitivity and the steering wheel’s heaviness. These aspects might require a bit of adjustment for new drivers.

Overall Experience

The 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser is a testament to Toyota’s ability to evolve and adapt while maintaining the core strengths of the Land Cruiser series. It’s a vehicle that combines luxury, power, and practicality, making it a top choice for SUV enthusiasts.

4. 2021 Model – An Enhanced Version of a Proven Classic

2021 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser, an upgrade from its predecessors, stands as a more potent and rugged vehicle. In my years as a mechanic, I’ve seen many SUVs, but the 2021 Land Cruiser is a remarkable blend of power and versatility, making it ideal for challenging terrains, including snow and winter driving.

Performance and Specifications

  • Engine and Power: The 2021 model is equipped with a powerful V8 engine, as noted by Car and Driver. This engine ensures that the Land Cruiser remains a formidable presence on and off the road.
  • Cargo Space: The vehicle offers ample cargo space, with options to expand by folding the second and third rows. This flexibility is ideal for those who need extra space for gear or luggage.

Comfort and Safety

  • Interior Features: The Land Cruiser’s interior is designed for comfort and luxury. It provides a sophisticated riding experience, as highlighted in reviews on Cars.com.
  • Safety Ratings: With an overall reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars from RepairPal, the 2021 Land Cruiser is above average in terms of reliability. This rating reflects its commitment to safety and durability.

Potential Concerns

  • Brakes and Steering: Some drivers have reported issues with the brakes’ over-sensitivity and the steering wheel’s heaviness. These are factors to consider, especially for those new to the Land Cruiser experience.

5. 2012 Model – A Blend of Off-Road Prowess and Luxury

2012 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe 2012 Toyota Land Cruiser is a remarkable choice for those who value off-road capabilities without sacrificing luxury. This model is particularly known for its all-wheel drive system, which can effortlessly handle rough terrain.

Performance and Specifications

  • Off-Road Capabilities: The 2012 Land Cruiser’s all-wheel-drive system is a highlight, providing confidence and stability in various terrains. As noted in a review by Consumer Reports, it’s not only capable off-road but also quick and plush.
  • Engine and Power: Equipped with a 5.7-liter V8 engine, as detailed on Cars.com, the 2012 model delivers 381 horsepower, ensuring robust performance in all driving conditions.

Luxury and Comfort

  • Interior Design: The opulent interior of the 2012 Land Cruiser leaves a lasting impression of classiness and luxury. It’s designed to provide a comfortable and premium experience for both driver and passengers.
  • Yearly Repair Costs: While the Land Cruiser is known for its reliability, the average yearly repair cost is around $845, which is relatively higher than some other models. This figure is important for potential buyers to consider.

Safety and Reliability

  • Safety Features: The vehicle is equipped with essential safety features, ensuring peace of mind during travel.
  • Reliability: Despite the slightly higher maintenance costs, the 2012 Land Cruiser is known for its reliability and durability, making it a wise choice for long-term use.

6. 2020 Model – A Luxury SUV That Exceeds Expectations

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser is not just a luxury SUV; it’s a vehicle that surpasses the expectations of most enthusiasts. From my perspective as a mechanic, this model stands out for its blend of comfort, performance, and technology.

Performance and Specifications

  • Engine and Speed: Beneath the hood lies a V8 engine, a feature that delivers remarkable speed and power. As Car and Driver notes, this engine ensures that the Land Cruiser remains a formidable presence on the road.
  • Fuel Efficiency: It’s important to note that the 2020 model has a fuel efficiency rate of about 15 miles per gallon. While not the most economical, it’s a trade-off for its power and capabilities.

Comfort and Technology

  • Seating and Ride Experience: The retro seats in the 2020 Land Cruiser are designed for extraordinary comfort, providing a smooth riding experience. This aspect is often highlighted in reviews, including those on Edmunds.
  • Tech Features: While the infotainment system may not be the highlight, the vehicle’s other tech features are excellent, offering both convenience and safety.

Cargo and Safety

  • Cargo Space: The Land Cruiser offers ample cargo space, with flexible seating arrangements to accommodate different needs.
  • Safety Features: The vehicle is equipped with several safety features, including traction control, ensuring a safe riding experience.

Not So Good Years

7. Why It’s Best to Avoid the 2000 Model

2000 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe 2000 Toyota Land Cruiser model has garnered a reputation for being one of the least reliable in the Land Cruiser series. This model has the highest number of customer complaints, earning it an unfavorable distinction in the market.

Common Problems and Complaints

  • Body and Bumper Issues: According to CarProblemZoo, there have been at least seven complaints regarding the body and bumpers of the 2000 model. These issues relate to the vehicle’s structural integrity and durability.
  • Brake and Powertrain Malfunctions: Owners have reported problems with servicing brakes and malfunctioning powertrains. These issues are significant as they directly impact the vehicle’s safety and performance.

Additional Concerns

  • Structural Deterioration: The chassis of the 2000 Land Cruiser was prone to deterioration, as highlighted on CoPilot. This problem is particularly concerning as it affects the overall longevity and reliability of the vehicle.
  • Overall Reliability: With an array of issues ranging from structural problems to powertrain malfunctions, the 2000 model’s reliability is questionable. This is further supported by the numerous complaints and issues reported on platforms like RepairPal.

8. 2011 Model – Sensor Problems and Engine Shutdowns

2011 Toyota Land CruiserThe 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser, while generally reliable, has been noted for issues with its sensors. These problems have led to some significant concerns for owners.

Sensor Malfunctions and False Warnings

  • Sensor Breakdowns: Owners have reported that the sensors in the 2011 model tend to break down unexpectedly. This malfunction can lead to false warning signals, causing confusion and potential safety concerns.
  • Hood-Open Indicator Issue: A specific issue that has been highlighted is the erroneous activation of the hood-open sign, even when the hood is securely closed. This problem is not just an annoyance but can also be misleading for the driver.

Engine Shutdowns

  • Abrupt Engine Shutdowns: Some owners have experienced abrupt shutdowns of their engines, a serious issue that can pose a risk while driving. According to Toyota Problems, this is one of the notable issues with the 2011 model.

Overall Reliability Concerns

  • Reliability Rating: Despite these issues, the 2011 Land Cruiser generally maintains a good reliability rating. However, these sensor and engine problems are significant enough to warrant caution for potential buyers.
  • Repair and Maintenance: It’s advisable for owners and potential buyers to be aware of these issues and consider them when planning for maintenance and potential repairs.

9. 2005 Model – Engine and Transmission Concerns

2005 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe 2005 Toyota Land Cruiser, while a robust vehicle in many respects, has been noted for specific issues related to its engine and transmission.

Engine Smoke and Oil Consumption

  • Blue Smoke Emission: One of the notable problems with the 2005 model is the emission of blue smoke from the engine. This issue is often a sign of oil burning within the engine, indicating potential engine wear or damage.
  • Oil Consumption: The engine’s tendency to consume excessive oil and release blue smoke is a concern, as highlighted on CarParts.com. This problem can lead to more significant engine issues if not addressed promptly.

Transmission Problems

  • Rough Shifting: The 2005 Land Cruiser is known for transmission problems, particularly rough shifting, especially during the first shift. This issue can affect the driving experience and may require attention to ensure smooth operation.
  • Transmission Functionality: According to RepairPal, the transmission issues are significant enough to impact the overall reliability of the vehicle.

Overall Reliability and Maintenance

  • Reliability Rating: Despite these issues, the 2005 Land Cruiser generally maintains a good reputation for durability. However, these specific engine and transmission problems are important factors to consider.
  • Maintenance Considerations: Owners and potential buyers should be aware of these issues and consider them when planning for maintenance and potential repairs.

10. 2013 Model – Air Conditioning System Failure and Key Fob Malfunctions

2013 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe eighth generation of the Toyota Land Cruiser, particularly the 2008 model, has its own set of unique problems, with customer complaints focusing on the air conditioning system and key fob issues.

Air Conditioning System Issues

  • Rust in Air Conditioning Lines: A common problem with the 2008 Land Cruiser is the sudden failure of the air conditioning system. This issue often stems from the air conditioning lines rusting quickly, as noted on Vehicle Help. Replacing these lines is usually the best solution to resolve this problem.
  • Impact on Comfort: The malfunctioning air conditioning system can significantly affect the comfort of the vehicle, especially in warmer climates.

Key Fob and Weather-Related Concerns

  • Key Fob Malfunctions: Another issue reported by owners is the malfunctioning of the vehicle’s key fob. This can be inconvenient and may require replacements or repairs.
  • Weather-Related Repairs: Owners living in areas with adverse weather conditions may find themselves spending more on repairs due to these issues.

Additional Problems

  • Other Reported Issues: According to CarComplaints.com, the 2008 model has also faced other problems, including issues with accessories and exterior parts.
  • Overall Vehicle Reliability: Despite these specific issues, the 2008 Land Cruiser generally maintains a good reputation for durability and performance.

11. 2015 Model – Potential Audio System Malfunction

2015 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser, a later version in the series, has been reported to have issues with its sound system, which could be a concern for those who enjoy music or rely on Bluetooth connectivity.

Nature of the Sound System Problem

  • System Failure: The primary issue reported is the potential failure of the sound system. This problem can disrupt the enjoyment of listening to songs, audio files, or receiving phone calls through Bluetooth.
  • Limited Reports: It’s important to note that there has been only a single report about this issue, as mentioned on CarComplaints.com. This suggests that the likelihood of encountering this problem may be relatively low.

Impact on User Experience

  • Disruption in Entertainment and Communication: For those who value the audio experience in their vehicle, a malfunctioning sound system can be a significant inconvenience.
  • Consideration for Potential Buyers: While the issue seems to be rare, it’s still a factor to consider, especially for buyers for whom the sound system is a crucial feature.

Overall Vehicle Assessment

  • General Reliability: Apart from the sound system issue, the 2015 Land Cruiser maintains a good reputation for reliability and performance.
  • Advisory for Owners and Buyers: Potential buyers and current owners should be aware of this issue, although its rarity suggests it may not be a widespread problem.

12.  2016 Model – A Range of Issues Impacting Reliability

2016 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser, according to various reports, has a higher incidence of problems compared to some other model years. These issues span various aspects of the vehicle, affecting its overall reliability.

Key Problems Identified

  • Air Conditioning Failure: One of the primary issues reported is the failure of the air conditioning system. This problem can significantly affect the comfort of the vehicle, especially in warmer climates.
  • Transmission Issues: The 2016 model has been noted for transmission problems, including rough shifting, shuddering during shifts, and other related issues. These problems can impact the driving experience and may require attention for smooth operation.
  • Heater and Interior Accessories Failure: Problems with the heater and interior accessories have also been reported, which can affect the convenience and comfort inside the vehicle.
  • Additional Concerns: Other issues include a howling noise when parking and general discomfort in the vehicle’s operation, as mentioned on Vehicle Help.

Overall Vehicle Assessment

  • Reliability Rating: Despite these issues, the 2016 Land Cruiser generally maintains a good reputation for durability. However, these specific problems are important factors to consider.
  • Maintenance and Repair Considerations: Owners and potential buyers should be aware of these issues and consider them when planning for maintenance and potential repairs.

13. 2017 Model – Drivetrain Problems and Driving Experience

2017 Toyota Land Cruiser ModelThe 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser, while a part of a renowned series, has been noted for specific drivetrain issues that have impacted the driving experience of many customers.

Key Issues with the 2017 Model

  • Drivetrain Difficulties: The most significant problem with the 2017 model is its drivetrain issues. These problems have affected the vehicle’s overall performance, making the driving experience less than satisfactory for many owners. This issue is highlighted on Vehicle Help, noting the faulty drivetrain components.
  • Repair Expenses: Due to these drivetrain problems, owners may face unnecessary repair expenses, which can be a significant consideration for potential buyers.

Comparison with Other Problematic Years

  • 2000 and 2005 Models: It’s also worth noting that the 2000 and 2005 Toyota Land Cruiser models are known for their high maintenance fees and lower mileage performance. The 2005 model, in particular, has more engine problems and complaints compared to other models in the lineup.
  • 2000 Model’s Structural and Brake Issues: The 2000 model has been reported to have issues with its structure and brakes, adding to the list of concerns for potential buyers.

Overall Vehicle Assessment

  • General Reliability: Despite these issues, the 2017 Land Cruiser, like other models in the series, generally maintains a good reputation for durability noted by Autotrader. However, these specific problems are important factors to consider.
  • Advisory for Buyers: Potential buyers should be aware of these issues, especially the drivetrain problems, and consider them when evaluating the 2017 model.

Common Problems with Toyota Land Cruiser Models

Toyota Land Cruiser engine problemsThe Toyota Land Cruiser similar like RAV4, renowned for its durability and off-road capabilities, is not without its share of issues. Here’s a breakdown of some typical problems encountered across various models:

Engine Problems

  • Nature of Issues: Engine problems in Land Cruisers can range from minor quirks to more severe malfunctions. These might include engine stalling, misfiring, or reduced performance.
  • Impact on Performance: Such issues can significantly affect the vehicle’s power, efficiency, and overall driving experience.

Shifting Issues

  • Transmission Challenges: Shifting issues are commonly reported, especially in automatic transmissions. Owners may experience rough or delayed shifting, which can be both inconvenient and potentially hazardous.
  • Driving Experience: These problems can lead to a less smooth and more unpredictable driving experience, particularly in situations requiring precise transmission control.

Body and Chassis Issues

  • Structural Concerns: Problems with the body and chassis can affect the vehicle’s integrity and durability. These might include rusting, wear and tear on body parts, or issues with the vehicle’s undercarriage.
  • Aesthetic and Functional Impact: While some of these issues may be cosmetic, others can have a more direct impact on the vehicle’s functionality and safety.

Transmission Issues

  • Transmission Failures: Beyond shifting problems, the Land Cruiser can experience more significant transmission failures. This might include issues with the transmission fluid, gears, or other internal components.
  • Repair and Maintenance: These issues often require professional diagnosis and repair, which can be costly and time-consuming.

Excessive Consumption of Oil

  • Oil Usage: Some Land Cruiser models are known for using oil excessively, which can lead to frequent top-ups and potential engine damage if not monitored closely according to Car Guide.
  • Monitoring and Maintenance: Owners need to regularly check oil levels and be prepared for more frequent oil changes to maintain engine health.


What are the best practices for maintaining a Toyota Land Cruiser’s engine health?

Regular maintenance is key. This includes timely oil changes, using quality engine oil, and ensuring the cooling system is functioning properly. Regular checks for any leaks or unusual noises can also preempt major issues.

How does the Toyota Land Cruiser’s off-road capability impact its regular maintenance needs?

Off-road driving can put additional strain on the vehicle, particularly on the suspension, brakes, and undercarriage. Regular inspections and cleaning after off-road use are essential to maintain its condition and prevent rust or damage.

Are there any specific tips for improving the fuel efficiency of older Land Cruiser models?

Keeping the engine well-tuned, tires properly inflated, and reducing excess weight can help improve fuel efficiency. Additionally, driving at steady speeds and avoiding aggressive acceleration can also contribute to better fuel economy.

What are the common signs of transmission issues in a Toyota Land Cruiser?

Common signs include delayed shifting, unusual noises during shifting, and the transmission slipping. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to have the transmission checked by a professional.

Can the excessive oil consumption in some Land Cruiser models be mitigated?

Regular monitoring of oil levels is crucial. Using high-quality oil and ensuring that the engine is running at the correct temperature can help. In some cases, replacing worn engine components may be necessary.

What should a potential buyer look for when inspecting a used Toyota Land Cruiser?

Check for signs of excessive wear and tear, especially in the suspension and undercarriage. Ensure the engine starts smoothly and listen for any unusual noises. Checking the vehicle’s service history for regular maintenance and any major repairs is also important.

What are the known issues with the 2005 Toyota Land Cruiser’s engine?

The 2005 model is known for emitting blue smoke, indicating oil burning issues. Regular checks for oil levels and engine health are recommended to address this problem.

How can the air conditioning system failure in the 2008 Land Cruiser be prevented?

Regular inspection of the air conditioning lines for rust and timely replacement if needed can prevent system failure. It’s also advisable to keep the system clean and free of debris.

Are there any specific lighting issues in the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser?

The 2013 model has been reported to have issues with its headlights, including breakdowns and instability. Regular checks and prompt replacement or repair of faulty headlight components are essential.

What should I do if the sound system in my 2015 Land Cruiser fails?

If the sound system fails, it’s recommended to check the system’s connections and fuses first. If the issue persists, professional diagnosis and repair might be necessary.

What are the most common complaints about the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser?

The 2016 model has reports of air conditioning failure, transmission issues, and problems with the heater and interior accessories. Regular maintenance and early detection of these issues can help mitigate them.

Final Words

The Toyota Land Cruiser, like Toyota Sequoia, has rich history and robust performance, and it remains a popular choice for off-road enthusiasts and families alike. While certain models have their challenges, understanding these issues and addressing them proactively can ensure that your Land Cruiser continues to deliver the reliability and performance it’s known for. Remember, regular maintenance and timely repairs are key to enjoying the full potential of this iconic vehicle.


Please note that the content provided here is based on personal opinions, expertise, and experiences, as well as information gathered from various online sources. It reflects an individual perspective and should be considered as a subjective interpretation of life. This narrative aims to share personal insights and experiences to offer a unique view of the city, rather than an exhaustive or universally applicable guide.

All Posts


Related Posts