Happy Spring Sale

Special Price Only Now

Don't miss out on Happy Spring Sale for our signature models until Apr 27.

See What’s Available

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado: What Sets It Apart from the Land Cruiser?

Land Cruiser Prado Articles

  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado: What Sets It Apart from the Land Cruiser?

The Land Cruiser Prado is known by many names, like the LC70, LC90, LC120, and more. No matter which name you know it by, you can count on it being a dependable Toyota 4WD vehicle.

The Latest Land Cruiser Prado is known as Lexus GX 460 in the U.S.

The Land Cruiser Prado rolled off the assembly line in 1984 as the Land Cruiser J70 and is still produced today. Until the 2009 fourth-generation J150 model, U.S. off-road enthusiasts didn’t get a chance to buy one of these luxurious workhorses because they were all diesel-powered prior to 2009. The U.S. consumer will find these models as gas versions sold under the Lexus GX 460 badge.

2024 Lexus

Photo by LEXUS

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado Overview

Four generations and 38 years of innovation have gone into the production of The Land Cruiser Prado. From its first years as a full-sized 4WD to today’s luxury-minded Lexus GX 460, The Land Cruiser Prado holds a solid spot in the off-roading community.

The Land Cruiser Prado’s Popularity

The Land Cruiser Prado combines its exceptional off-road capabilities with a luxurious interior and smooth ride to become the dream machine of anyone with an adventurous heart, making it a popular 4WD for the Japanese market. In addition to Japan, The Land Cruiser Prado is beloved worldwide, including in Russia and Ukraine.

History of the Land Cruiser

With such a long history, it’s no wonder there are many stops along the way to get to The Land Cruiser Prado of today. The Land Cruiser is solidly planted in the overlanding world, and it isn’t going anywhere but higher up the mountain for a better view of the future.

The Beginnings

You can trace the origins of today’s Land Cruiser back to 1951 with the introduction of a half-ton utilitarian truck built to mimic the Willys Jeep. It had an upright grille, wheel arch-mounted headlights, and a folded flat windshield. It was manufactured under the Jeep BJ model name and was powered by a 2.3L 4-cylinder Type C motor coupled with a 3-speed transmission and a 2-speed transfer gearbox. It was rebranded as a Land Cruiser in 1954 when Willys Company made trademark violation claims against Toyota.

Toyota Land Cruiser in 1951

A Station Wagon Model

1985 saw the introduction of a more family-friendly station wagon that would later become the Land Cruiser Prado in 1990. A 4.2L inline-6 capable of 135HP and a 4-speed transmission powered the 1985 FJ60. It was equipped with a split-case transfer case, ARB air locker, and Toyota axles with 4.88 gears. It weighed in at 4,255 pounds, which may be why many owners considered this vehicle way underpowered for normal driving.

Introducing The Land Cruiser Prado

1990 marked the first generation Prado, which was a rebadged 70 Series Land Cruiser. Toyota’s marketing department focused more on the on-road capabilities of The Land Cruiser Prado rather than the more traditional off-road abilities marked by all of the previous models. The Land Cruiser Prado was built with a body-on-frame structure that made off-road ready regardless of the marketing.

Land Cruiser Prado 70

Are the Land Cruiser Prados not sold in the U.S.?

Unless The Land Cruiser Prado is equipped with a gas-powered engine, it is not available in the States; however, as we’ve noted, the arrival of this vehicle in the States is under the Lexus GX 460 badge, so if you want the same car as the original Prado, check out the GX models.

Other Toyota SUVs unavailable in the United States include the Toyota Fortuner, the Harrier, and the Land Cruiser 300 Series.

Why aren’t the Land Cruiser Prados sold in the U.S.?

There are several reasons why some of the Toyota SUVs didn’t make it to the U.S. marketplace. The Land Cruiser 300 Series was unpopular, and the price tag started at $80,000. Toyota didn’t see the U.S. as a viable market for this model.

The U.S. market knows the Harrier as the second-generation Venza starting in 2020 after a Venza production hiatus in Kentucky between 2015 and 2020. The Venza began in 2008 but became the same as the Japanese Harrier during the generation change. The Venza is being discontinued and will be replaced in 2024.

Another vehicle not sent to the U.S. was the Fortuner due to the lack of demand for another midsize SUV in a saturated market.

In addition to The Land Cruiser Prado being another midsize SUV trying to compete in the North American market, the diesel-only engine configuration did not meet the U.S. regulations.

Distinguishing between the Land Cruiser Prado and the Land Cruiser

The Land Cruiser Prado is a smaller and lighter-weight vehicle than the Land Cruiser. A 4-cylinder powers The Land Cruiser Prado, while the Land Cruiser has a V6. Toyota made The Land Cruiser Prado for on-road city driving instead of muscling through mud and over rocks, although it can easily overland.

Land Cruiser J90 Series

Land Cruiser Prado J70 Series

The 1990 Prado began as a 5-door SUV from the Land Cruiser 70 Series family and was powered by a gas or a diesel inline-4 engine. The first gas engine, the 22R, was available with electronic fuel injection or a carburetor. The diesel options included 2L-TE, 3L, and the 1KZ-TE. Transmissions included a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual. It had a 107-inch wheelbase and was 180 inches long. The curb weight on the 2L-TE was 4,167 pounds. It was designed to carry more passengers with less focus on the light-duty capabilities of the original 70 Series.

Land Cruiser J90 Series

Land Cruiser J90 Series

In contrast, the 1990 Land Cruiser was powered by the following gas engine options: 3F-E inline-6 or the 1FZ-FE V6. The diesel options included the 1HZ, 1HD-T, and the 1HD-FT. Available transmissions included the 4-speed automatic and the 5-speed manual. The Land Cruiser had a 112-inch wheelbase and was 188 inches long. It weighed over 4,500 pounds; it was a little heavier in 1993 when it weighed 4,760 pounds. The Land Cruiser kept its sights set on off-roading and being more utilitarian.

During this time, the Land Cruiser was still available as a heavy-duty vehicle (the J70) and a station wagon like the J80 forward. For comparison’s sake, let’s look at the station wagon models alongside The Land Cruiser Prado since the heavy-duty J70 models continued their workhorse mentality instead of the more recreational and family use of The Land Cruiser Prado and the J80 (1990) and up.

The J80 was equipped with full-time 4WD in North America and Europe, but part-time in Japan, Australia, and Africa. It had an open lockable center differential and ABS brakes. The 4.5L 1FZ-FE was introduced in 1993 alongside larger brakes.

The limited edition Land Cruiser Blue Marling (FZJ80) was offered on the Australian market in 1994, and as you guessed, it was equipped with blue marlin logos and was painted blue marlin blue.

The Land Cruiser competed in the Dakar Rally in 1996. For more rally information, see our article on the history of the Land Cruiser.

Land Cruiser Prado J90 Series

Land Cruiser Prado J90 Series

In 1996, Prado’s second generation (J90) was powered by a 3RZ-FE inline-4 or a 5VZ-FE V6 gas engine. The diesel options were 3L, 5L, 1KZ-TE T, and 1KD-FTV T, all inline 4 motors. The 5-door wheelbase shrunk to 105 inches, and 93 inches on the 3-door. The 5-door length went from 180 to 184, and the 3-door was 166 inches. The weight ranged from 3,840 to 4,320 pounds, depending on the model and body style.

Still considered medium-duty, the Japan version of Prado was equipped with a double wishbone and 4-linked suspension, as well as full-time 4WD. It was updated again in 1999 when fog lamps were added to the bumper to comply with new laws. Other updates included AC, roof rails, and other upgrades on higher-end models. The 1KD-FTV was used to replace the 1KZ-TE in the Japanese market.

You can read more comparisons between the J70 and the J90 here.

Land Cruiser 100 Series

Land Cruiser 100 Series

In 1998, the Land Cruiser 100 Series replaced the old 80 Series. A gas 1FZ-FE inline-6 or a 2UZ-FE V8 powered it. The diesel options included the 1HZ, the 1HD-turbo, and the 1HD-FTE turbo. All were inline-6 engines. You could choose between a 4- or 5-speed automatic and a 5-speed manual transmission. It had a 112-inch wheelbase and was 192 inches long. It weighed 5,115 pounds at the curb.

With the new 100 Series came better technology like the Active Height Control, Skyhook TEMS, and other advancements that strengthened this SUV’s off-road performance. 2002 saw the development of the Night View system that delivered an infrared view of the road ahead during the blackest of nights, which greatly improved off-roading after dark. The addition of control logic and roll-over sensors alerted drivers to any potential problems.

The wider chassis and IFS improved its on-road handling but hindered its off-road capabilities, creating the need for a spinoff model. The 105 model was a solid axle version sold alongside the IFS 100.

Land Cruiser Prado J120 Series

Land Cruiser Prado J120 Series

The 2002 third-generation Prado (J120) had four gas-powered engine options. 3RZ-FE, 2TR-FE – both inline-4 – and two V6 options: 5VZ-FE and the 1GR-FE. The inline-4 diesel engines included the 5L-E, the 1KZ-TE (T), and the 1KD-FTV. The wheelbase was 96 inches on the 3-door and 109 on the 5-door. The available transmission options were a 4/5-speed automatic and a 5/6-speed manual.

Changes to The Land Cruiser Prado in this generation were made to meet safety standards and equipment upgrades. There were 6 trim levels on the Japanese market where you could choose from heated front seats and heated exterior mirrors, adjustable air suspension, and a central differential lock.

Land Cruiser J200 Series

Land Cruiser J200 Series

The J200 arrived in 2008 after spending years of planning by Toyota for the replacement of the J100 Land Cruiser. This new Land Cruiser was powered by your choice of four different gas-powered engines: 1GR-FE V6, 1UR-FE V8, 2UZ-FE V8, and 3UR-FE V8. There was only one diesel option for the J200: the 1VD-FTV turbo V8. The transmission options included a 5-speed automatic, a 6-speed automatic, and an 8-speed automatic, depending on the engine choice. The wheelbase stayed at 112 inches, and the curb weight grew to 5,302 and 6,041 pounds. It continued to be 196 inches long.

The 200 Series is said to be bland. However, while it may be bland, it does have a newer frame that is said to have come from the Tundra, but with some modifications to make it shorter, thus stronger by 20 percent. It has bigger brake rotors and calipers, and the front suspension is stronger.

The 200 Series is sold as the Lexus LX in the United States and the Land Cruiser V8 in Europe.

Land Cruiser Prado J150 Series

Land Cruiser Prado J150 Series

The J150 – fourth generation – came off the line in 2009 and continued until 2023. The gas options included the 2TR-FE I4 and the 1GR-FE V6. The China market had an optional 7GR-FKS V6 from 2015 to 2020. Diesel motors included the 1GD-FTV I4T from 2015 models forward, the 5L-E I4, and the 1KD-FTV I4-T. The 3-door wheelbase was 96 inches, and the 5-door was 109 inches. The 3-door was 176 inches long, and the 5-door was 190 inches. Curb weight increased to 4,916 and 5,412 pounds, depending on the model.

Those models with removable third-row seats were replaced with fold-into-the-floor seats, but it sacrificed cargo space and only seated two people instead of the usual three. Toyota did upgrade the gas engine to include dual VVT-i, which increased the power output by 7 horsepower.

Land Cruiser J300 Series

Land Cruiser J300 Series

The J300 debuted in 2021 and was available with two gas engines, the V35A-FTS twin turbo V6 and the 1GR-FE V6, and one diesel option, the F33A-FTV twin turbo V6. The transmission changed to a 6-speed automatic and a 10-speed automatic. The wheelbase remained at 112 inches, and the length was between 194 and 197 inches. Depending on the model and equipment, the curb weight was from 5,093 to 5,831 pounds.

Toyota reduced the weight, lowered the center of gravity, improved the suspension, and distributed the weight more evenly in this generation. It was also available as a sport wagon in the GR Sport/GR-S trim level, which is slightly shorter than the other models and has been built with a more rigid structure. It is offered with the front and rear locking differential. Remember, this model is not available in North America.

Who is the Land Cruiser Prado recommended for?

The Land Cruiser Prado is built for families. From a spacious interior to a comfortable ride, The Land Cruiser Prado gives families plenty of room for their cargo and people. It seats seven and has lots of legroom and headroom, making it a great choice for long trips. Plus, it is backed by Toyota’s durable and reliable reputation. It is no stranger to off-roading, either.

The Land Cruiser Prado through the Years

You can see how The Land Cruiser Prado changed throughout its lifespan.

Land Cruiser Prado J70 Series

1993 Land Cruiser Prado 3.0 SX Wide Diesel Turbo 4WD at FLEX in Japan

1993 Land Cruiser Prado 3.0 SX Wide Diesel Turbo 4WD at FLEX in Japan

1993 Land Cruiser Prado 3.0 EX Wide Diesel Turbo 4WD at FLEX in Japan

1993 Land Cruiser Prado 3.0 EX Wide Diesel Turbo 4WD at FLEX in Japan

Land Cruiser Prado J90 Series

2002 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX Limited 4WD at FLEX in Japan

2002 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX Limited 4WD at FLEX in Japan

2002 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX Limited 4WD at FLEX in Japan

2002 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX Limited 4WD at FLEX in Japan

Land Cruiser Prado J120 Series

2006 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX 4WD at FLEX in Japan

2006 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX 4WD at FLEX in Japan

2008 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX Limited 4WD at FLEX in Japan

2008 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX Limited 4WD at FLEX in Japan

Land Cruiser Prado J150 Series

2023 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX L-package Mutte Black Edition 4WD at FLEX in Japan

2023 Land Cruiser Prado 2.7 TX L-package Mutte Black Edition 4WD at FLEX in Japan

2023 Land Cruiser Prado 2.8 TX Diesel Turbo 4WD at FLEX in Japan

2023 Land Cruiser Prado 2.8 TX Diesel Turbo 4WD at FLEX in Japan

Toyota Will Drop the Name “Prado”

In Japan, The Land Cruiser Prado name will be dropped as of 2023 and known as the Land Cruiser 250.

Land Cruiser 250

Photo by TOYOTA

The Land Cruiser 250

The J250, fifth generation Prado and soon to be known as the Land Cruiser 250, was unveiled in 2023 and offers several engine options, including a hybrid choice. The gas engine options are between the T24A-FTS turbo I4 and the 2TR-FE I4. The available hybrid engine is the gas T24A-FTS turbo I4, and the mild hybrid 1GD-FTV turbo I4 is the only diesel option. Transmissions include a 6-speed or an 8-speed automatic, and the wheelbase is 112 inches with an overall length of 193 inches.

The Land Cruiser 250 Release Date

The ETA for dealership arrival is said to be in the spring of 2024, but there is no hard, fast date on when you can expect them. It will be known as the Land Cruiser in the United States and some European markets. It will carry the name Land Cruiser 250 in Japan, and in some European countries, Australia, and China, it will be known as the Land Cruiser Prado.

According to reports, the J250 will be priced in the $55,000 range, significantly less than the original $90,000 price tag that kept it from the U.S. market.

How to get a Land Cruiser Prado in the U.S.?

Once they are released for sale, you can expect a waitlist to form for this new Land Cruiser. According to Toyota, the release of The Land Cruiser Prado to the United States will focus on the hardcore off-roaders rather than the urban side of the vehicle. It will have retro styling from the 1960s and 1970s and will only be sold in small numbers in the United States.

Buy a Land Cruiser 250

Waiting for the Land Cruiser 250 is one option. However, given the anticipated lengthy wait time or the possibility of being unable to secure one due to limited production, you might want to consider the Lexus GX 460 for a combination of luxury and overlanding capabilities.

2024 Lexus

Photo by LEXUS

Buy a Lexus GX

The Lexus GX is available in greater numbers since it was designed for the U.S. market, but if you’re looking for more of a retro look, as promised in the LC250, you may want to take a different approach to buying your Land Cruiser. You can always buy an older model Land Cruiser and have it retrofitted to get the look you want while equipping it with the latest technology and upgrades available on the market. FLEX Automotive can do that for you.

Import a Land Cruiser Prado

Just because the Land Cruiser Prado hasn’t been available in the U.S. in the past doesn’t mean you can’t get one. FLEX Automotive is the leading Land Cruiser dealership from Japan, located in San Diego, CA. You have access to JDM models like The Land Cruiser Prado either in their inventory or to import from our dealerships in Japan.

FLEX Advantage

We, FLEX Automotive, have been selling Land Cruisers since 1967, which helps us understand the needs and desires of Land Cruiser owners. We bring our expertise in taking an older car and bringing it up to date to the United States, so you can have a piece of Toyota history parked in your garage.

When you rely on us to import your vehicle, you eliminate the import hassles and paperwork since they take care of everything for you. All you have to do is pick out the vehicle you want and let us take it from there. If you’re ready to join the millions of people who own a Land Cruiser, then let us know which model you’ve been longing for today!

Julie Cleveland

Julie Cleveland

Julie Cleveland grew up with an interest in cars, racing and anything with wheels. She even tried her hand at driving stock cars and drag cars, but found out that walls hurt. She has been writing for over 40 years with articles in a number of publications and newspapers, including National Dragster and Daytona News Journal. She spent 15 years working in the F&I and sales department of manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volvo. For 10 years, she worked for newspapers in both the marketing and editorial departments, and she has been freelance writing automotive make and model overviews, parts and “How To” articles, and general articles about the automotive industry for 12 years. She has authored four non-fiction books and enjoys writing trivia. She still likes cars and is always interested in new ideas and technology.