Land Cruiser off-road capabilities

With an off-road heritage spanning more than 65 years, the Toyota Land Cruiser has earned itself a rock-solid reputation as one of the toughest, most capable and reliable vehicles ever made.

What makes the latest model so effective off-road? The answer lies in its combination of body-on-frame construction and all-terrain support systems – features that we explore in greater depth below.

Land Cruiser: body-on-frame construction

Within its segment, Land Cruiser is now unique in featuring body-on-frame construction. Compared to the unibody designs of its rivals, this established construction method is known to be incredibly strong and rigid, which allows the suspension system to fully articulate with minimal effect on the vehicle body.

This separation of the body from the underlying frame also isolates the cabin from the most challenging off-road conditions. The two elements are bolted together at the rubber mounting points illustrated above.

Land Cruiser: suspension set-up

All 2018 Land Cruiser models are equipped with independent double wishbone suspension up front and a four-link rear set-up securely located with a lateral rod. Meanwhile, the oil seals and valves within the shock absorbers are optimised to deliver both on-road comfort and robust off-road performance.

High-grade Land Cruiser Invincible models additionally benefit from electronically modulated rear air suspension, which helps the vehicle maintain a level stance irrespective of the payload being carried and allows the driver to fine-tune the ride quality.

Another control system (explained in greater detail here), allows the anti-roll bars to decouple when driving off-road to deliver maximum suspension articulation and ground contact for the wheels.

Land Cruiser: torque delivery

The Land Cruiser offers permanent four-wheel drive, delivering torque through front, centre and rear differentials.

The front differential is an open unit so the wheels can move at different speeds for optimum manoeuvrability, while the centre differential is a torque-sensing device. In normal use this centre differential distributes torque equally across both axles and can be manually locked in this 50:50 pattern. When unlocked, the torque-sensing element can apportion up to 70% of available torque rearwards if it detects an imbalance in traction.

Finally, the rear differential can be specified in up to three varieties: open, locking and torque-sensing. The latter type offers a number of advantages on asphalt but the manually locking differential will likely be preferred for serious off-road use to ensure torque isn’t wasted though the path of least resistance.

Land Cruiser: traction support systems

Enhancing the Land Cruiser’s mechanical traction is a sophisticated electronic traction control system that uses both brake and engine control to distribute torque between all four wheels. Built into this system are four specific features that can be selected for given scenarios.

Crawl Control. This adjusts the engine and brakes to maintain a set vehicle speed without the driver needing to touch the pedals. This feature can help the driver descend or ascend slopes at a walking pace or free the vehicle when stuck.

Downhill Assist. This programme automates brake application to help the driver regulate vehicle descent on gradients that are too steep, slippery or bumpy to be controlled through engine braking alone. Using this feature stops the wheels from locking and allows the driver to concentrate on steering, while speed is kept at a manageable 3-4mph.

Hill-start Assist. This prevents the vehicle from moving backwards during an uphill start. When activated, the driver can release the brake pedal and the system will temporarily maintain braking to all four wheels for a maximum of two seconds.

Multi-Terrain Select. This function offers drivers a choice of five terrain modes: mud and sand, loose rock, mogul, rock, and dirt and rock. Each tailors the vehicle’s traction control, throttle and braking to suit the specific off-road condition.

Learn more: Five things you need to know about the 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser


  1. Are any models of LandCruiser other than the new Utility models available with manual transmission? I’ve had an Amazon VX manual for 17 years and love it and would like to replace with a new model but really don’t like automatics. Thanks.

    1. Hi Adam,

      Thanks for getting in touch, it’s great to hear you’ve had such a positive experience with your Land Cruiser. In regards to new Land Cruisers, yes, the Utility is the only model with manual transmission.


  2. Just been looking at the latest UK Land Cruiser brochure (2019) and just want absolute clarification (although the above article does seem to make it clear); the brochure states that the vehicle is front wheel drive most of the time (!) page 54, then apportions power backwards when traction is lost. I always thought they were 50/50 full time and then some active diff’ movement front and rear as needed. If I am correct, the brochure needs amending; I think some RAV4 text has been dropped in by mistake. Got my eye on a 5-door Utility to replace my ageing Jeep. Additionally, does the current model still have a two speed transfer case, i.e. low ratio?


    1. Hi Paul,

      Thanks for getting in touch. The Land Cruiser is permanently in AWD and unfortunately it does appear that the brochure is describing the RAV4 system. Thank you for pointing this out to us, we will pass this on to the relevant team to get this rectified. Apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

      Regarding your other query, the current model does still have a two speed transfer case.


  3. I’ve just been to purchase a new Land Cruiser Invincible, (24/08/19) and have just walked away from purchasing it.

    The sales person at Toyota and then a mechanic told me it does not have a locking rear diff.

    Identified by the missing rear diff lock button below the centre diff lock button.

    All of the brochures especially the current online version show the UK LC Invincible as having a locking rear diff.

    Please can you confirm the situation.

    Also why in the UK does the 220V power supply in the boot have a Spanish socket and not a UK three pin plug socket?

    It will be a bit of a joke if I have to use a £1.50 travel adaptor in a brand new LC at about £55k

    Clearly I am very disappointed with Toyota Sales.

    1. Hi Lewis,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are extremely sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We can confirm the Land Cruiser Invincible does have both a Limited Slip Diff & Rear Diff Lock. Regarding the plug, this has been the norm for these types of vehicles for now, however we have shared your feedback with the relevant teams.

      Apologies again in the delay and for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please feel free to get back in touch if you have any other questions, we would be more than happy to help.


  4. Dear Toyota representative

    Q1-Why did Toyota cancel the rear differential lock from the GxR Land Cruiser 2017 & above (specially Manuel trans.) in GCC, And only have one button showing I believe the central diff lock(the axel in middle of 4 wheel button right beside the steering). Is it considered diff lock like the rear one, or a button only to run the 4 wheel Sys?

    Q2- why the 4 wheel Sys High speed can be turned on with same as the button of central differential luck, is it built in system? I mean when I turn the 4wheel high speed, it automatically turns the central differential luck

    1. Hi Abdullatif,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Every market is different and we would recommend getting in touch with Toyota in your region for further help with this.


  5. Hi, i have just bought a 5 door utility land cruiser (2020). Could you please tell me which type of rear diff do we have in it, open, limited slip or torque sensing?

  6. Hello! Are there any newer land cruisers (2016 and up) that have triple lock diffs? Front and rear locking diffs? Also, are there plans to release a land cruiser with a Diesel engine in the US? Thanks!


    1. Hi Rich,
      Thanks for your comment.
      As we are Toyota UK, we cannot comment on the decisions of other markets, so we would recommend contacting the Toyota distributor in your region for further help with your query.

  7. Are there any off road tyres available that would fit the standard or an optional Land Cruiser Invincible rim? Neither I nor my dealership can find any. I have an Invincible on order but may have to cancel if I can’t find a solution. Strange if the car is being promoted as a capable off-roader. Is there an OEM wheel and tyre combination that might work (eg Hilux rim)?

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Unfortunately, we do not have the information on our system that crosses over with this.
      We would recommend contacting a tyre supplier for more information.
      We are sorry we could not help further.

  8. Hi, I am seriously looking at a new Land Cruiser Active. 2 questions if I may – I think it has a locking centre differential, but what is the spec of the rear differential (I think it is only the Invincible that they are both locking), and is there a difference in the height of the boot floor in the 5 and 7 seat cars (all the pictures I have seen are of 7 seat cars and have a step up just inside the boot, I am hoping that this is flat in a 5 seat car)? Many thanks, Howard

    1. Hi Howard,
      Thank you for your interest in the Land Cruiser.
      Only the Land Cruiser Invincible 7 Seat is fitted with a Rear Limited Slip Differential lock.
      As for the boot floor, unfortunately we only have overall interior dimension figures available to us.
      We would recommend seeing the vehicle for yourself to see which grade suits your needs best.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.

  9. Hi, i have a 5 door commercial Land Cruiser (2021). Could you please tell me which type of diff lock it has please. I just have one button.

    Cheers Brian

    1. Hi Brian, thanks for your question.

      Please provide a Vehicle Registration so that we can look into this.


    1. Hi Brian, thanks for your question.

      Please provide a Vehicle Registration for the vehicle that you would like a dash mat for.


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