1st Gen Tundra vs. 80 Series Land Cruiser

GTV

Active member
I've always loved 80's (first car I ever drove was a then brand new 80) and I was considering upgrading from my '00 Tundra that I've had for 14 years to an 80 series. In my short search I found that it has almost entirely become a hobbyist vehicle. You have to be really dedicated to have one as an only car. By modern standards it's primitive, archaic and slow. As for the Tundra, even though mine is an early 2000, it is so much more refined than an 80 from just two years prior. It's 100% livable as a daily driver, comfortable, and that 2uz has legendary reliability and adequate power. The aftermarket is sufficient, not a ton of choices but you can get what you want some how. The 80 is a legend but I came to the conclusion that I couldn't live with one as a daily driver, I couldn't go backwards. So I recently picked up an 05 Sequoia. It will go anywhere I want to go in total comfort and reliability with plenty enough power and capability for me.

In the end, Tundra vs 80 is really an apples to oranges comparison. Drive them both, see what suits you.
 
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tennesseewj

Observer
Aside from the daily driver aspect, which do you prefer as an overlanding vehicle, and just as importantly which vehicle do you trust more when in the middle of nowhere? My current truck is scoring pretty low on the trusting side. I've been trying to travel from Vancouver to Alaska but I cant seem to get my current truck in a state that I trust the 3L. So that is also going to be a big deciding factor for me.
I'm by no means any level of Overland Extraordinaire and the level of overland travel available to me in the southeast US doesn't seem to compare with what you Canucks have available (side note, this reminds me I really need to make it to Canada one of these days), but I can pass on some thoughts for your consideration.

As far as reliability goes, I can't complain with either rig. Neither the Tundra nor the FZJ have arrived home on a tow truck in my tenure. I can't say the same for my wife's Jeep, which is WAY newer but has had several mechanical failures. The 80 series is stupidly reliable and overbuilt, and nearly every component is so beefy that worn parts can be replaced with plenty of warning. Unfortunately, they're also over 20 years old and eventually things just wear out. I spent lots of time wrenching on the Cruiser just to stay caught up. It leaked oil, took on rainwater, toasted an A/C compressor, and had plenty of little things that needed my attention even though they didn't strand me. I averaged over $100 a month in nitpicky little things that needed to be worked on despite the rig being rust free and fairly well maintained. That's by no means unreasonable cost of ownership, but the Tundra has required way less babysitting.

Even though I trusted the 80 to take me anywhere, I found myself choosing not to drive it on road trips due to it's lack of fuel range and lack of power on the interstate. Some of this could have been remedied by using 33s instead of 35s and of course you could always carry extra fuel, but those annoyances combined with its lackluster highway manners, weak brakes, and noisy ride were just enough to encourage me to take the wife's Jeep or rent a car for longer trips that didn't require 35s, solid axles, and lockers.

If I'm being honest, pretty much none of my trips require that level of offroad capability. In my area, I would have to take the Cruiser to an offroad park or drive it several states away to find a road that can challenge such a capable rig. I'm admittedly way risk adverse, but I can't enjoy beating on a rig in highly technical trails when I know that rig has to make it home AND make it to work on Monday.

The truck vs SUV dilemma is tough. I love trucks and really hated not having one while I had the Cruiser, but man that Cruiser can swallow a lot of camping gear! I used my 80 on a camping trip with my wife and 1 year old daughter and I was able to pack every single piece of unnecessary gear that my wife suggested into that Cruiser and I still had room for fishing rods. I was amazed!

At the end of the day, though, I'm still happy with my decision to swap for the Tundra. It just hauls people and gear so effortlessly that I don't even question driving it places.

I would encourage you to test drive both, and maybe consider adding a 100 series Cruiser to your list as well. I don't really think there is a wrong answer to this question and I love seeing all the different rigs on this forum.

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idriveabox

Member
Tundra. Your dads truck is a known quantity and you have the background on maintenance and upkeep. Plus being in the Van area I wouldn’t be as concerned with rust, just keep up with it and spray the frame before winter. With 130k on it, tons of life left.
 

35xj

Adventurer
as a guy that essentially has both. I have opinions.
actually an 05 tacoma. DC, LB Total Chaos +2 long travel, geared, skidded, chopped, decked system. alu cab shell, fridge, RTT 37's winch, bumpers
97 lx450. triple locked, 35's 2" OME lift winch bumpers fridge.

I find that I drive my 80 series way more than my truck. yes, it gets 12mpg on a decent day, its slow, lumbering. its a more comfortable truck. Taco rides better. 80 has a great feeling To it. Really good off road, stable and predictable, roomy, quiet. good seats for 4 plus gear.

all that being said, they are very different vehicles. if I could only keep 1 of the 2 I own, it'd be the tacoma (mostly due to it being exactly what I wanted to build, and swallowed insane sums of money) if the 2 were closer to stock, and I wanted a DD I could use on adventures. it'd be the 80
 

jgallo1

Adventurer
I have had both.
80 series, well its a tank. Which makes it an amazing vehicle. There is so much aftermarket support, you can drive yourself crazy with mods.
The fuel economy is pretty bad, They can over heat pretty easy, they are slow. They do have typical toyota problems. The cult following has made them pretty expansive.

I am on my second first gen (05-06) Tundra. My first one, was stolen about 3 months after I had got it all built. I have had a few trucks since then, but just recently came back to the the 1st gen. Both of my trucks have been limited's which I think are amazingly comfortable. Both of my trucks have been Access cabs, which I think are the perfect size. They are great on the trail, the fuel economy is decent, I have true 32 skinnys on mine. 255/75/17. I am still organizing my suspension needs. It wont be too crazy the truck is also my DD. I could be wrong but I believe my truck has around 11" of ground clearance. It's a pretty stout platform. The typical problems have been listed through out the thread. They are pretty standard toyota issues. Really stay on top of the truck it will run longer than want it like most toyota's. My biggest complaint is that the ARB bar for the tundra is so ugly. There are a few other options out there. Some guys have even modded a 100 series bar.

Both trucks are great platforms. I think its just comes down to what your needs are. I like having a truck bed. I would buy another first gen tundra again.

equipt one has pretty solid Tundra build:
https://www.equipt1.com/blogs/fleet/our-deceptively-tundra

Really the only Rig that I think could be more fun, would be a 1st gen tacoma, with the the cummins R2.8 and a ute tray. :)
 

dman93

Adventurer
I had a triple-locked 80 for many years, starting when there was no aftermarket support excpet expensive stuff from Australia. Reliable, very effective offroad (1st 80 on the Rubicon in ‘97, went back with another 80 in ‘98). Sold it 10 years ago and miss it. Since then I’ve had a T100, and now a 3rd gen Tacoma. I’d take the Tundra over the 80, no question. Far more modern, better off the shelf repair parts availability ... and V8.
 

PHeller

Adventurer
I had a 2nd Gen Tacoma, Jeeps, a brief stint with a Trooper, and currently I've got a 06 DC Tundra that just surpassed 200k (27k miles in my ownership)

The first thing I noticed about the 1st Gen Tundra is how it is the odd child in Toyota's offroad support lineup. While there are parts for them, they are usually more expensive than Tacoma parts, and even in some cases more expensive than 07+ Tundra parts. Unlike some Land Cruiser or Tacoma parts that make the vehicle more reliable or fix some flaws in the driveability of the truck, Tundra mods are always somewhat more superficial.

The wheels are different. You get access to all of the Tacoma wheel options, only with the 1st Gen Tundra's inherently lower offset OEM wheels, you don't get that massively aggressive look on the Tundra that you do on the Tacoma. It takes a lot more tire and a lot more offset.

Tundra's seem less apt to take a large tire without significant lift. 33's will likely rub in some way without a proper Spring/Leaf/Shock lift.

The DC Tundra is a massive truck for the money. In my case I can fit 4 adults and a child in the center back without anyone complaining. This is why I got it - it hauls lots of people comfortably while keeping the gear in the bed.

It's also long enough to comfortably sleep in the bed.

The later model 04-06 grills are kinda ugly. I may replace mine with a 01 Grill which is more "classic Toyota" in look.

It absolutely destroys fuel. 21gal tank, 15-18mpg highway (if you're lucky), I'm lucky to get 300 miles before I hit E. Depends on A/C and how fast I'm moving. Compared to my Tacoma that would hit 23mpg highway, the Tundra sucks, literally.

I'm going to hang on to mine until it's worthless, and hopefully by that time my kiddo is in a booster seat and I'm no longer shuttling adults around.
 

GTV

Active member
The later model 04-06 grills are kinda ugly. I may replace mine with a 01 Grill which is more "classic Toyota" in look.

It absolutely destroys fuel. 21gal tank...
I agree about the grilles, been considering doing that to my 05 Sequoia. Unfortunately you have to replace a lot more than just the grille to get the early look.

Fuel tank is 25.6 gallons. Fuel light comes on ridiculously early.
 

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Stomper4x4

New member
OP your first question was about fuel economy and I'd venture to guess that your current PU will destroy both the LC and Tundra in that department. For instance my 92 4Runner got 22 MPG on a recent trip and a buddies 80 series got around 13 MPG on the same trip.
The 80 series is a legend, one of the all time greats, But I don't need that capability and no way would I want to feed one of those fuel, especially with it creeping towards $4 a gallon right now in CA. And the prices on those, yikes!!!
I'm not sure how good the Tundra is on fuel but as accounted above, not so great. I'm keeping my 4runner but it is a bit small inside so when it comes time to add to the fleet I think a 1st gen Tundra is right up there on the list. Reliable, simple enough I can still repair and maintain it myself for the most part. Somewhat affordable.
I might look at a Tacoma, not sure yet.
 
It definitely seems like more people prefer the overall package of the tundra.

Some of the concerns raised were that the 80 is a fairly outdated vehicle (interior wise) and that it was a pig on gas. In both cases I'm fairly used to that, my current truck is nothing luxurious, as long as the AC blows cold and the radio works I'm fairly content. As far as the mileage goes, I'm currently getting 13-15mpg in my truck so I'm unfortunately quite used to that as well.

The tundra is probably better day to day for my needs, and it is true that I already know all the maintenance associated with the truck for the last 9 years. I think ideally if I am able to keep my current pickup and add an 80 series to the fleet that is the way to go, but if I'm forced to sell the pickup I should replace it with the Tundra.

My dad also just spent some money this past weekend getting the frame sandblasted and coated which is always a plus. There was one trouble area that was concerning me about investing in it, but the guy that worked on the frame seemed to think it was fine. Here's some of the before/after
 

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OP your first question was about fuel economy and I'd venture to guess that your current PU will destroy both the LC and Tundra in that department. For instance my 92 4Runner got 22 MPG on a recent trip and a buddies 80 series got around 13 MPG on the same trip.
The 80 series is a legend, one of the all time greats, But I don't need that capability and no way would I want to feed one of those fuel, especially with it creeping towards $4 a gallon right now in CA. And the prices on those, yikes!!!
I'm not sure how good the Tundra is on fuel but as accounted above, not so great. I'm keeping my 4runner but it is a bit small inside so when it comes time to add to the fleet I think a 1st gen Tundra is right up there on the list. Reliable, simple enough I can still repair and maintain it myself for the most part. Somewhat affordable.
I might look at a Tacoma, not sure yet.
Wow, its's crazy how $4/gal is considered expensive. In Vancouver a few weeks ago it was $1.70 CAD/L which is $6.80 CAD/gal (obviously that doesn't take into consideration the currency exchange, but still). Just south of the border it is about $3.50 USD/gal right now, so all us canadians pack our jerry cans down there to get cheap gas haha
 

The_Dude

Adventurer
I daily drove an 80 series for 7 years. It had 113k on it when bought and 176k when sold. 10k later it popped the head gasket on the new owner. I am now in a 2010 Tundra xtra cab grade package. The mileage sucks but nothing with armor and bigger tires is going to get way good mileage.

I would look at the 3rd gen tundra if possible with the 5.7. Great engine, timing chain. 9” front ring gear and 10.5” out back. Fits 35s with minimal lift. It wheels pretty well too!




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I daily drove an 80 series for 7 years. It had 113k on it when bought and 176k when sold. 10k later it popped the head gasket on the new owner. I am now in a 2010 Tundra xtra cab grade package. The mileage sucks but nothing with armor and bigger tires is going to get way good mileage.

I would look at the 3rd gen tundra if possible with the 5.7. Great engine, timing chain. 9” front ring gear and 10.5” out back. Fits 35s with minimal lift. It wheels pretty well too!




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That's a sweet looking tundra! There are definitely some huge advantages of the 07+ tundras, I'm mainly worried about the 7.5" front ring on the earlier tundras. Unfortunately an 07+ 5.7L 4x4 is probably out of my price range at the moment
 

Dalko43

Explorer
Any old vehicle is prone to rust (even old LC's).

Check to see if the Tundra you're looking at had the frame recall done (or if that recall was even applicable to the given year or VIN). If the frame was replaced, you shouldn't have much to worry about.

10 years of driving in the northeast will see significant rust buildup on any vehicle's frame. The best you can do is slow it down by scraping off the bad spots, painting and applying fluid film. Other than that, rust is inevitable.
 
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