This month, we’re bringing you the fourth article in a series where we put car marques head-to-head! This time, we’re focussing on two off-road warriors, the Land Rover Defender vs Toyota Land Cruiser. But just as we did for our EV head-to-head, we’ve brought in an expert to help us. Once again, we’ve called on the help of our good friend and client, Matt Crozier, who knows much more about these vehicles than we do! Over to you, Matt…
Land Rover Defender vs Toyota Land Cruiser
To us Brits, the Landrover Defender is very much the American “Jeep Wrangler”. It came out in the late 40s, just after the war, and every farmer or rural resident soon bought them. They were so popular because the Defender was designed to be very much “fit for purpose”. With floors you could hose down, this vehicle may have been slim on luxuries, but it was inherently practical… The rugged utilitarian simplicity gave it many fans, most of whom still coveted this vehicle long after production had finished.
The Land Cruiser is a Japanese workhorse. With production beginning a little later, in the early 50s, it came with a few extra luxuries than the Defender. However, it also quickly gained a reputation as a vehicle with the utmost reliability. This, in turn, also gave it a large following and value due to its almost commercial levels of build quality.
Offroading Capability & Terrain Handling:
The Defender has a straightforward and rudimental 4WD system. It has 4WD permanently but also the ability to lock the centre diff, thus locking the front and rear axles together. This has only recently been surpassed with the invention of traction control systems that mimic and often exceed the mechanical diff locks.
The lack of overhand to the front and rear of the vehicle means the Defender could climb pretty much anything in front of it. This, together with colossal articulation and ground clearance, gives it an excellent reputation off-road.
The Landrover is at home, generally in farm locations. Its simplicity and ability to cope with muddy boots and poor surfaces give it a large following with farmers. Its permanent 4WD system is perfect for muddy fields, lanes, byways, and pastures.
The Land Cruiser’s reputation is less on the natural capabilities and more on the knowledge that the vehicle will not fail. They are very sought-after vehicles in areas miles from any service centres.
The Land Cruiser’s ability to cover huge distances with minimal servicing has given it a large following in the Middle East, Africa, and anywhere remote. It is most at home in harsh environments such as deserts.
Comfort and Interior:
Comfort and Kit are words not often associated with the Defender. Some later models came with air conditioning. But, initially, they came with little more than a heater. Unfortunately, this is not a car to cover large distances in!
The Land Cruiser fares better; it often comes with more of the latest tech, although this can still be slightly behind other vehicle marques. Until recently, they still had a digital clock similar to a Casio watch! However, they can be luxurious vehicles which take large mileages in their stride. Many on AutoTrader are selling with well over 250k Miles!
Reliability and Durability:
Although simple, the Defender does, unfortunately, have a reputation for being somewhat fragile. Simple items often fail, and although this vehicle will rarely leave you stranded, its quirky fragility can be annoying. In contrast, the Land Cruiser is a benchmark for reliability. However, they do like to rust!
Defenders have few concessions to road safety, something you should consider when buying. Many people fit internal and/or external cages to prevent injury in the case of a rollover. This is something to bear in mind when offroading.
The Land Cruiser is very much a 4WD car and has all the up-to-date safety requirements you’d expect.
Maintenance and Ownership Costs:
Due to its simple nature, the Landrover is cheap and straightforward to repair. Parts are readily available, and the cars are well-known in the UK.
Although more complex, the Toyota tends to require maintenance less often. However, they are more expensive to repair, and the aftermarket parts availability is less prevalent.
If you want to get your hands on either of these vehicles, it’s essential to know that both cars have huge followings from offroad fans—the Defender with its rugged simplicity and the Land Cruiser with its enduring durability. So, neither vehicle is cheap to buy!
Land Rover Defender vs Toyota Land Cruiser – Matt’s Verdict:
I am somewhat biased as I own a Defender 90. So, for me, the Land Rover Defender is the winning marque.
I love the fact it’s not a “regular” vehicle. You can get in with dirty boots and not give a second thought. It is a British icon and one I will continue to enjoy.
We want to thank Matt for his help and expertise in putting these vehicle marques head-to-head. If you had to choose Land Rover Defender vs Toyota Land Cruiser, what would you pick? Let us know on Instagram or Facebook!