Toyota Land Cruiser history is a bit scattershot. There are several good websites out there, including one from Toyota’s worldwide website, that covers the history of the Toyota Land Cruiser. Over the next few months, we’re going to work on providing as much history as we can on vintage FJ25, FJ30, FJ40, FJ42, FJ45, FJ55, FJ60, FJ62, FJ80, and other Land Cruisers.

Here are a few links to the websites out there that have already covered the history of the Land Cruiser

Toyota’s Worldwide Website

Toyota’s UK Blog



Expedition Portal

Edmunds (for newer Land Cruisers)

Land Cruiser Series Chronology / History / Timeline

Here is the timeline, according to Toyota (with a few snarky comments added by Red Line)

1950 – Development of the BJ model prototype begins in Japan
1954 –BJ takes on name of Land Cruiser
1955 –F-series 3.8L 6-cylinder engine adopted
1958 –CY September, 1958 – Land Cruiser introduced to United States
1958 –First hard-top version produced
1961 –Pickup truck and wagon Land Cruiser version  introduced in Japan
1961-1965 –Land Cruiser is the best selling Toyota in the U.S.A
1967 –New station wagon version introduced – the FJ55 (and the Iron Pig is born!)
1968 -The 100,000th Land Cruiser is sold worldwide
1972 -The 200,000th Land Cruiser is sold worldwide
1973 -The 300,000th Land Cruiser is sold worldwide
1975 –4.2L engine released
1980 –Second-generation station wagon introduced – the FJ60
1980 –The Toyota Land Cruiser is named “4×4 of the Year” in Off-Road Magazine
1981 -The 1,000,000th Land Cruiser is sold
1983 –The last year the  FJ40 is sold in the USA (if you have one…email us…we want it!)
1988 –Minor updates made to the FJ60
1990 –The Land Cruiser is named “Best Buy,” Consumer’s Digest
1990 – The 2,000,000th Land Cruiser is sold
1991 –The FJ80 is released – it’s the third generation station wagon
1991 –Full-time four-wheel drive introduced
1991 –Land Cruiser a “Best Buy” according to Consumer’s Digest
1991 –Land Cruiser called the “Best Full-Size SUV in Customer Satisfaction”  by J.D. Power & Associates
1992 –Named “Best Full-Sized Sport Utility” in IQS, CSI, and J.D. Power
1992 –Among “Best Buys” – Consumers Digest
1993 –The 4.5L engine introduced
1993 –Named “Best Full-Sized Sport Utility” in IQS, J.D. Power
1993 –Among “Best Buys,” Consumers Digest
1994 –Among “Best Buys” – Consumers Digest
1995 –At mid-year intro, the FJ80 receives updated grille, standard dual airbags, and ABS
1996 –J.D. Power calls the Land Cruiser “Best Full-Size SUV in Initial Quality”
1997 –Land Cruiser called “Luxury SUV Best Buy,” Four Wheeler
1997 –“Best Overall Truck:  Resale Value After Three Years of Ownership” – ADP Autosource Survey
1997 –“1997 Top Three Vehicles in Initial Quality-Full-Size Segment,” J.D. Power
1998 –The FJ100 is released. It’s the fifth-generation Land Cruiser and is  powered by Toyota’s first-ever V8
1999 – “Best Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle Segment,” J.D. Power
2000 –The FJ100 receives Active TRAC, VSC and EBD as standard equipment
2000 – Among Consumer Guide’s Recommended Premium Large Sport-Utility Vehicles
2001 – A DVD-based navigation system is available (wives everywhere rejoice)
2001 – Among Consumer Guide’s Recommended Premium Large Sport-Utility Vehicles
2002 – Consumer Reports“Most Reliable Large SUV
2002 – Intellichoice named “Best Overall Value Full-Size Sport Utility Class”
2002 – Among Consumer Guide’s “Recommended Premium Large Sport-Utility Vehicles”
2003 Receives minor interior, exterior and mechanical changes
2003 “Most Wanted Large SUV Over $45,000” Award by
2003 – Among Consumer Guide’s “Best Buy Premium Large Sport-Utility Vehicles”
2004 – Backup camera is now available with Navigation system.
2004 – Consumer Reports“Most Satisfying” – Large SUVs, April 2005
2004 – Among Consumer Guide’s “Recommended Premium Large Sport-Utility Vehicles”
2005 –Among Consumer Guide’s 2005 “Best Buys Premium Large SUVs”
2005 – Consumer Reports“Most Reliable Sport-Utility Vehicles.”
2006 –Among Consumer Guide’s 2006 Best Buys Premium Large SUVs
2006 –“Four Wheeler of the Year,” Four Wheeler.
2006 -The FJ Cruiser is released. (It’s cool…and we love it…but they should have sprung for a removable top.)
2007 –Land Cruiser carries over with no exterior changes.  Driver and front passenger
seat-mounted side airbags and front and second-row side-curtain airbags become standard.
2008 –All-new seventh generation Land Cruiser is introduced for the 2008 model year.
2008 “4×4 of the Year” 4Wheeler & Off-Road Magazine
2009 – “Best overall Value of the Year” award – Utility SUV segment

From its humble beginnings in 1950 as a development project based on the design of the Willys Jeep, the Land Cruiser has taken its rightful place as Toyota’s flagship four-wheel-drive vehicle.

When the Land Cruiser (then named “Model BJ”) was first tested in August, 1951, it climbed to the sixth station on the trail to the top of Mt. Fuji – the first motor vehicle to perform this feat.  The first orders for the vehicle were from police and forestry departments because of its off-road abilities.  In 1954, when the BJ was formally named Land Cruiser, the vehicle officially entered mass-production, rather than being built on a made-to-order basis.  The following year, the original 85-horsepower diesel engine was replaced with a 125-horsepower 3.8L gasoline unit.

The formal introduction of the Land Cruiser to the U.S. came in 1958, and it was the best selling Toyota vehicle in the U.S. from 1961 to 1965.  During that time the line-up consisted of soft-top, open, and pickup versions.

In 1965, Land Cruiser moved toward the mainstream U.S. market with the introduction of the five-door station wagon.  The wagon was hailed as a vehicle that was competent enough to drive through the back country, yet was comfortable and powerful enough to drive on any public street.  Mid-1967 saw the U.S.-sales introduction of a hardtop version of the two-door, sales of which ceased in 1983 (although production ended in 1979).

In 1975, the 3.8L engine was replaced by a larger and more powerful 4.2L version, making the Land Cruiser easier to drive.  For the home market (Japan), Land Cruiser has almost always been available with a diesel engine – originally 3.2L, reintroduced at 3.0L in 1976, and updated to 3.2L again in 1979 – but it was never officially available in the U.S.

Since 1980, the U.S.-spec Land Cruiser has only been available in one body style – five-door station wagon.  It was replaced in 1991 by a larger, more luxurious vehicle that sported full-time four-wheel drive and a fully independent four-wheel coil-spring suspension.

In 1993, Land Cruiser grew up even further.  Now sporting a 24-valve, DOHC inline six-cylinder engine displacing 4.5L, Land Cruiser produced 212 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, and was more than capable of pulling Land Cruiser’s 5153 pounds of curb weight.

The 1993 Land Cruiser offered optional leather upholstery, available seating for eight, an available compact-disc player, manually locking front and rear, and an automatic locking center differential.

Updates to the Land Cruiser for 1994 were limited to the addition of CFC-free air-conditioning.

In 1995, Land Cruiser took a large step toward additional passenger safety.  Along with a new grille featuring redesigned headlights, the 1995 Land Cruiser included, as standard equipment, both driver- and passenger-side airbags and adjustable shoulder-belt anchors.  These additions did nothing to diminish Land Cruiser’s off-the-road abilities, though, and it continued as the most refined, most capable four-wheel-drive vehicle on the market.

For 1998, Toyota introduced the fifth-generation Land Cruiser and the first all-new Land Cruiser since 1991.

The new Land Cruiser was larger, heavier, structurally more solid and substantially more powerful than its predecessor.  Yet it delivered improved fuel efficiency, lower emissions and considerably quicker acceleration.  It also featured the first V8 engine in a Toyota Division vehicle.  Its all-new 4.7L 32-valve DOHC produced 230 horsepower, 18 more than its predecessor’s inline six-cylinder, and 320 lb-ft of torque, an improvement of 45 over the ’97 model.

For 1999 the Land Cruiser featured an independent rear automatic climate control system for added convenience and passenger comfort.

In 2000, Toyota again raised the benchmark in SUV performance and refinement by adding active traction control (Active TRAC), vehicle skid control (VSC) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD) systems as standard equipment.  The Land Cruiser also added a six-disc in-dash CD player as standard.

For 2001, the Land Cruiser received a few additions.  It featured an available navigation system with a DVD player, standard auto dimming rear view mirror, an integrated compass in the rear view mirror (on models without the navigation system), JBL Premium three-in-one AM/FM/Cassette/CD six-disc in-dash changer with seven speakers with an available Electro Multi-Vision screen with center console six-disc CD player.

The Land Cruiser entered 2002 with additional equipment and improved value.  Third-row seats, automatic rear climate control system and HomeLink® became standard features.  The only available factory option was a DVD-based navigation system.

Along with an updated front grille, rear bumper, rear turn signals and interior, output by the 2003 Land Cruiser’s 4.7L V8 was increased by five horsepower. For the first time, Land Cruiser had rear seat audio and steering wheel audio controls as standard equipment, and a DVD rear seat entertainment system and SRS front and second-row side-curtain airbags became available.

The 2004 Land Cruiser introduced an available backup camera with the navigation system. New side privacy glass color was changed from bronze to dark green.

For 2005, 18-inch wheels became standard.

In 2006, the Land Cruiser received minor changes to the exterior and engine.  The 4.7L V8 engine became equipped with VVT-i and ETCS-i to produce 275 horsepower and 332 lb-ft torque.  Land Cruiser also gained LEVII status.  Adjustable Height Control and Adaptive Variable Suspension became options, while a Tire Pressure Monitor System became standard.

Exterior updates included a new grille, headlights, LED rear combination lamps, a high-gloss finish on the 18-inch wheels and an available rear spoiler.  Two new colors included Classic Silver and Pacific Blue.

The 2007 Land Cruiser carried over with no exterior changes.  Driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags and front and second-row side-curtain airbags become standard.

For the 2008 model year, the Land Cruiser was completely new, with a redesigned frame and chassis that offered superior strength and rigidity while enhancing towing capacity. Front suspension was a traditional double-wishbone design while the rear used a four-link coil-spring system and a solid axle. Brake rotors were vented and measure 13.4 inches up front and 13.6 inches at the rear, with four-piston calipers up front. Gas-pressure shock absorbers were used front and rear. Sitting atop this was a welded steel body that was 2.3 inches longer and 1.2 inches wider than the previous generation Land Cruiser.

The 2008 Series 200 Land Cruiser was powered by an all-new 5.7L (345 cid) DOHC V8 engine, known as the 3UR-FE, that used direct fuel injection, Toyota Direct Ignition, four valves per cylinder and a variable-length intake tract to produce 381 horsepower at 5,400 rpm and 401 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm. And it did this while burning regular 87-octane gasoline and while achieving ULEV II emissions status.

Toyota’s AB60F six-speed electronically controlled transmission was employed in the 2008 Land Cruiser. It distributed its power through the newly developed JF2A transfer case to provide fulltime four-wheel drive. This lightweight, compact, chain-driven unit offerd a standard 1:1 high ratio for highway travel and a low-range 2.618:1. The transfer case employed a locking TORSEN limited-slip locking center differential.

The 2008 Land Cruiser benefited from Toyota’s full line electronic driving aids, including Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which varied chassis roll stiffness, depending on speed and suspension attitude; Multi-terrain Antilock Braking, which selected the optimal ABS profile depending on the driving surface; Electronic Brake Force Distribution; Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), Vehicle Skid Control (VSC); Hill Assist Control, which aided the driver during uphill starts; and CRAWL, which when activated with the Land Cruiser’s transfer case shifted into low range, controlled engine speed and output, along with braking force, to propel the vehicle forward at one of three selected, and very slow, speeds.

The 2008 Land Cruiser’s interior was upgraded for additional comfort and security, with Optitron gauges, seats designed to minimize whiplash injury in the event of a collision, and a system of eight airbags in the passenger cabin. These included two dual-stage airbags for the driver and front-seat passenger, two front side airbags, two rear side airbags and two curtain shield airbags. The latter employed a roll-sensing function so that should a rollover occur, the curtain airbags are deployed and the seatbelts for driver, front seat passenger, and the passengers in the outer seats in the second row, are pre-tensioned.

The 2009 Land Cruiser carried over unchanged with the exception of factory privacy glass on side and rear quarter windows.

Land Cruiser added a few enhancements for 2010 model year including the addition of privacy glass on the rear hatch and Safety Connect™ telematics system.  The audio system added integrated satellite radio with a 90-day trial subscription to XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth® and an auxiliary audio jack/USB port.  New options included rain-sensing windshield wipers added to the Upgrade Package and a navigation system with XM NavTraffic.

For 2011 Land Cruiser added brake override technology as standard equipment.

Land Cruiser bypassed 2012 model designation due to a January 2012 launch of the 2013 model, which receives significant exterior and interior styling enhancements.   Additionally, Land Cruiser will now come with all features as standard equipment, including new driving performance features, and an array of significant safety and convenience features. Among the many popular features that were formerly available as options, but are now standard, are rear-seat DVD entertainment system, color-keyed rear spoiler, rain-sensing windshield wipers, center-console cooler box, headlamp cleaners, leather-trimmed steering wheel, multi-information display, voice and Bluetooth® hands-free controls, leather-trimmed shift lever and heated second row seats.  Toyota’s Premium Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Navigation with Entune multi-media system and JBL® audio is also standard.

The 2013 Land Cruiser received refreshed exterior styling that included an updated front grille and headlamps with HID low-beams.  Additional new features included LED Daytime Running Lights, chrome side molding, redesigned outer side mirrors and tail lamps.  The design continued to convey an “Advanced and Rugged” theme with enlarged front and rear fenders. The new grille and headlamps maintained Land Cruiser’s steady and confident appearance, while the hood flows gracefully into the grille and beltlines.  One new color, Pearl White was added to its palette.

Complementing the freshened exterior, Land Cruiser received an updated interior available in either Sandstone or Black.  Additional refinements included perforated leather trim with ventilated front seats, a higher gloss wood grain finish, brighter silver instrument panel ornamentation, chrome-plated air registers and updated meter-cluster lighting.  New interior convenience features included a Multi-terrain Monitor with front, side or rear selectable views; a new Multi-information Display; an Eco Driving Indicator light and zone display; a heated steering wheel; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; an additional power outlet (DC 12V) at the rear of the center console; and a rear cargo deck power outlet that was changed to AC 120V from AC 115V.

After it was refreshed in 2013, the 2014 model year Land Cruiser carries over unchanged.

What does it mean?
Land Cruiser:  Land Cruiser is Toyota’s flagship four-wheel drive vehicle.  The name was derived from the ability, demonstrated by the very earliest versions of this iconic brand, to literally cruise across rough ground, and implies its go-anywhere ability.

Where is it built?
Land Cruiser is built at the Araco Corporation plant in Toyota City, Japan.

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