After a brief pause, the Land Cruiser is back in the U.S. and better than ever; and we just got some Quick Spin first drive time in Southern California.

The first thing we notice is that the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is certainly slimmed down. It’s a much more purposeful design, replacing big and bloated with lean and mean. That includes the three trim levels, from a basic blank canvas 1958 to a limited First Edition, with simply Land Cruiser in between. All sport 18-inch wheels, the base 1958 with tires that are a little narrower at 245 versus 265 for the others.

Power is a major change. All J250s come with the Tacoma’s i-FORCE MAX 2.4-liter I4 turbo hybrid rated at 326 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, 16% more than the old V8; and all work with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Off-road capability was, naturally, a priority, with full-time four-wheel drive standard, along with a two-speed transfer case, locking center and rear diffs, front stabilizer bar disconnect, 8.7-inches of ground clearance, and a host of off-road specific driving aids as part of Multi-Terrain Select, plus a Multi-Terrain Monitor camera system.

BRIAN ROBINSON: “I’ve done plenty of off-roading in Land Cruisers over the years, and while they’ve always been incredibly capable, the last few gens did get a little heavy-handed with the electronics kind of relegating you to just being along for the ride. This one definitely has an old-school feel to it; almost some FJ Cruiser vibes. In other words, I’m diggin’ it.”

Pricing starts around $56,000, with First Editions beginning at about $75,000; 2024 Toyota Land Cruisers will be rolling into dealerships later this spring.

And we’ll have more Quick Spins soon.