Choosing the Best Toyota Land Cruiser for Overlanding

Photo By: Anthony Sicola
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The venerable Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the most iconic vehicles in the world for vehicle-based adventure travel. If you’re looking to get into overlanding and thinking about a Land Cruiser, or if you already own a Land Cruiser and want to kit it out for backcountry adventures, you’ll quickly understand why this series of vehicles has more aftermarket parts and accessories available for it (and more fans) than nearly any other vehicle in the world.

Toyota breaks down the Land Cruiser model into a few designations; Heavy Duty, Light Duty, and Station Wagon. Heavy Duty Land Cruisers are the short wheelbase “jeep-style” BJ Series, 20 Series and the workhorse 40 Series and 70 Series. Light Duty Land Cruisers are the Light 70 Series and Wagon (created for leisure travel) and the Prado 70, 90, 120, and 150 – and yes, the Prado is a Land Cruiser – though purists will heartily disagree. Station Wagon-style Land Cruisers are the type we most often see as overland vehicles in the U.S. the 55, 60, 80, 100, and 200 Series SUVs. As of this writing, the 300 Series Land Cruiser is about to be released worldwide (except for North America … sorry Land Cruiser fanatics.)

For the purposes of this comparison, I’m going to highlight the Land Cruisers that I see most often in the wild in the U.S. as well as those that are the most available to the general public. I’m sure to ruffle some feathers by leaving some vehicles out of this article, but this is one man’s opinion.

These are the criteria that I will use to help you choose the best Toyota Land Cruiser for overlanding.

  1. An overland vehicle should not be so expensive that you don’t want to take it out on the trails,
  2. It should be easy-to-maintain,
  3. Parts should be readily available, and
  4. There should be a significant catalog of aftermarket parts and accessories to choose from.

40 Series Land Cruiser

While an FJ40 is by far and away my favorite Land Cruiser, I won’t even be recommending one in this article. The FJ40 is now considered a classic, and is fetching ridiculous prices; like $32,000 on average for a barn find, let alone a fully resto-modded 40, which could command as much as $136,000. That said, the FJ40 is a beast of a vehicle and has a place in the lore of overlanding, but it is simply out of most people’s price range when they’re thinking about a long-term adventure vehicle. Unless you can talk that guy down the street into selling his for pennies on the dollar … stranger things have happened.

60 Series Land Cruiser

Made from 1981 to 1990, the FJ60 is a nearly indestructible offroad monster of a vehicle. With a bulletproof frame, a solid front axle, and a slow, but steady 3.9-liter inline V6, the FJ60 is another amazing Land Cruiser that is starting to hit the same price heights as the FJ40 – with a $22,000 average sale price and a high sale price of $52,000, the market is only going up on these 4x4s pick one up now if you can before they’re unobtanium.

70 Series Land Cruiser

From Maggie McDermut’s super-capable short wheelbase BJ70 (pictured above) to the long wheelbase Troop Carrier (Troopy), or pickup (Ute) the 70 Series is the Land Cruiser everyone in the U.S. wants. Solid axle, powerful, and almost indestructible, the 70 Series is the vehicle of choice for the United Nations, and a good number of militaries around the world. Since the 70 Series was not introduced in the U.S., you’ll be paying import and shipping fees if you want to build out one of these amazing rigs. Prices on the used market average $25,000. If you went this route, you would also need to import aftermarket parts and accessories to fit this vehicle.

READ MORE: 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser Sells for $136,000 on Bring a Trailer

80 Series Land Cruiser

I’m a bit partial to the FJ80 Land Cruiser. The one in the photo above is mine. Built from 1989 to 1997, the 80 Series boasted a solid front axle, a 4.5-liter inline V6, Full-Time 4WD with a locking center differential, and for the first time, this model featured coil springs for ride comfort, factory option front and rear differential lockers, as well as luxury upgrades like leather seating. You can still get into an 80 Series Land Cruiser without destroying your wallet, though these rigs are fetching higher prices of late, with a $24,000 average selling price (though you can get them significantly cheaper) and one 80 Series recently sold for $135,000. The aftermarket accessories catalog for the 80 Series is abundant and you can easily find bumpers, shocks, and racks that fit the 80. Parts, on the other hand, are slowly become more and more scarce – but with so many 80s still on the road, there are a lot of aftermarket manufacturers that are creating parts for this rig. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend an 80 Series as an overland rig.

100 Series Land Cruiser

Toyota introduced the 100 Series Land Cruiser in January 1998 with some significant changes to the platform. Gone were the solid front axles – replaced with independent front suspension, which sacrificed off-road performance in favor or ride quality and a 4.5-liter V6 or 4.7-liter V8 (a first for the Land Cruiser.) Even with the suspension changes, the 100 Series is an incredibly-capable vehicle for adventure travel. Parts and accessories are readily available and you can still get into a 100 Series without breaking the bank. Average sale price is $21,800, but I have seen them for much less. The 100 Series is a solid choice if you’re thinking about buying one.

READ MORE: All-New Land Cruiser 300 Looks Great. And I’m Not Bitter at All.

200 Series Land Cruiser

The current model Land Cruiser is the 200 Series and what a behemoth this vehicle has become. With a 4.7-liter V8 or 5.7-liter V8 in the Lexus and weighing in at a staggering 5,815-pounds (curb weight). This luxury SUV is starting to become a popular choice for overlanders. Though it is much bulkier than its predecessors, the 200 Series is still amazingly capable off road and drives like a dream on the highway. Parts and accessories are abundant and you can get into on for $47,600 on average, though newer models are still in the $50,000 – $60,000 price range.

Hopefully this helped you come to a decision on purchasing a Toyota Land Cruiser for overland travel. At this time, I would go for an 80 Series or 100 Series based on price, parts availability, and off-road performance. What you ultimately choose depends on your bank account. Happy travels!

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Photo by Brett Willhelm

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