FJ Cruiser, The Best Toyota You Can't Buy

Mike Stevens | May 28, 2008

Don't get me started on Toyota. The manufacturer that once churned out exciting cars like the budget mid-engined exotic MR2, rally-minded Toyota Celica GT-Four, horsepower-mad Supra Turbo and drift-ready AE86 is now the richest car company in the world, but has somehow managed to cull any semblance of excitement from its lineup. True, there's the upcoming Lexus LF-A and rumored Toyobaru RWD coupe, but the fact remains that as of now, 2008, there is not much to get excited about when driving past a Toyota dealership. Unless, of course, you happen to live in America.

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Yanks have always lamented the fact that all the good stuff goes to the rest of the world, but the rest of the world doesn't get the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Not even Japan, where it's built. When I was there in 2005, an FJ-crazy Japanese friend took me to a location near the FJ Cruiser's Hamura plant west of Tokyo. Truckload after truckload of the SUV rolled by, destined for lots across the Pacific, much to his chagrin.

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Why is this the coolest car in Toyota's worldwide portfolio? It's a dirt cheap go-anywhere off roader that would be the ideal vehicle to own if the events of Mad Max actually transpired. It has a 4.0L DOHC V6 with VVT-i rated at 178 kW at 5200 rpm, and 377 N·m of torque at 2700 rpm. You can get it with a six-speed manual transmission, a locking rear diff, a clutch cancel switch and a high mounted air intake. Everything about it has been engineered with uncivilized driving conditions in mind, and it's based on the legendary Land Cruiser Prado chassis. It's only drawback is an independent front suspension, but with a starting price of about US$23,000, I can live with that.

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And if all that isn't enough, it's got a retro FJ40 Land Cruiser-inspired design, complete with white capped roof (the early Cruisers didn't have A/C, so the white roof was meant to reflect heat cheaply), making it quite possibly the most thoughtfully designed Toyota in existence today. Sign me up.

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[Images: Toyota]

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Filed under: Toyota, Subaru, Lexus, gt, coupe, transmission, japan, EV, supra, lf-a, lexus lf-a, tac, supercar, MG, rs, mad max, ae86, rwd, suv, toyobaru, rumour, is, ve, US, engine, ss, V6, suspension, driving, america, ti, News, new, price, z, sti, TT, motor, Sports, mb, sport, x, performance, car, design, fr, art, rl, Eric, cars, FF, red, tl, Clutch, ice, dealers, report, pc, g, TF, LED, turbo, plant, drift, tokyo, Legend, Truck, mr, portfolio, dent, WES, air, ACR, cruiser, Land, 62, pacific, dohc, enthusiast

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  • Naughtyius Maximus says,
    7 years ago
    Great writeup and so true....sporty numbers are as rare as hens teeth in Toyota lineup. Celica = HOT...GT4 = HOT...MR2 = HOT...Supra HOT. Lets fast forward that thinking til today........Yaris, Camry TuRD, Corolla......................HA HA HA. Iam falling off my chair with laughs as not same svelte style!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! About as sporty as seeing Rudd at 2020 Summit tugging on gabfest! Same end result to............NIL!
  • wheelnut says,
    7 years ago
    Nothing special its just the Japanese version of a Hummer.
  • Bavarian Missile says,
    7 years ago
    I saw several of these in the States last year.......I had to do a double take,especially when I saw one in bright yellow.Toyota the next time you make something that ugly can you pre warns us so we can look the other way. I did ask myself"what the hell is that ugly thing"Then again at least it woke me up unlike the rest of their range!
  • Naughtyius Maximus says,
    7 years ago
    Cross between the ugly Korando and ballsy brash Hummer......East meets West so to speak. LMAO
  • Blue says,
    7 years ago
    When will the Exec's and bean counters at Toyota wake up to themselves !!!

    They may be #1 with sales and the reliability factor is legendary - however Camry has had its day, Aurion is a big brother Camry, the Prado needs and injection of modernism and Rav pffftt !!

    The Aussie market is crying out for and under $50K "modern" 4wd - Why isn't the FJ40 here ??

    There is also a HUGE hole in the market for a compact high performance 2 / 4 door vehicle under $40K - why would you buy a current WRX or Civic Type R ?? Bland to look at as any other hatch ...

    Wake up TOYOTA !! Give the market and alternative.
    • RogerSan says,
      6 years ago
      Hey Blokes,

      I can get you touch with many dealers who are desperately trying to unload their FJ's Approximately $26,500 U.S.D. will get you one. Don't know if you can ship to Australia or not?
  • wheelnut says,
    7 years ago
    The only decent thing is that it appears to have Monaro CV-8 Taillights
  • Tony says,
    7 years ago
    Any Sportivo = All show, no go

    Considering the 2ZZ-GE equipped Corolla Sportivo was as fast (if not faster) than a 6pot Falcodore, I wouldn't say it was 'no go'...
  • Conquistador says,
    7 years ago
    I learnt to drive in a diesel swb BJ42. You could put a dolphin killing plastic bag in the passenger footwell with the foot vent open & it would spin around in the footwell all day. Which was great entertainment because you didn't have a hope of hearing the radio over the mechanical noise. Engine,Gearbox,tyres,rear doors, fibreglass roof you name it it made noise.

    Emergency stops were not its forte either. It would lean on its front leaves usually favouring one side or the other which would give it a bit of steer (aided and abeted by toyota's standard issue vague stearing) and then swap ends in the blink of an eye.

    Irony isn't it. The toyota we want we cant have. The ones we dont (hi corolla,camry) we get by the bucket load.
  • Al! says,
    6 years ago
    Not too sure what the previous posts are on about here, you are trying to compare cars that are completely different, its not even worth thinking about. I'm currently considering a 05 Sportivo, and comparing more to a Fiesta XR4. I would even except comparing to Civic type R, ralliart EVO etc... but comparing it to an XR6 Turbo.... seriously.. I guess we should compare an XR6 turbo to a 911 based on that!!!! Like most things with cars each has thier own opinion, and for what I need, the Sportivo Rolla is a pretty good choice. Good Equipment levels, decent performance, reasonable suspension (ie firm, but still comfortable). Yeah its not an out and out performance monster, but really thats why I have a heavily modified weekend car.. thats no comprimise stiff suspension, huge performance, and great fun, but a pain in the backside to spend all day on the road in. I guess the sportivo to me is a great car to be in day in day out, without chewing fuel, but offering at least a little fun! PS, enjoy the fuel Economoy of an XR6 Turbo LOL! and if you do wants a Corolla to compare to a falcon.. lets at least look at a 6 pot one! how about 3.5 v6 http://www.themotorreport.com.au/1299/toyota-blade-master-g-golf-r32-challenger/
    Real shame it Won't Make it here
  • BGT123 says,
    6 years ago
    Wheelnut - you're a mug; stick to your Mt Druitt-mobiles (as provided by Ford and Holden (otherwise known as TAXIS!) and leave the judging of modern, reasonably priced alternative 4WD vehicles to the people who would actually buy them

    I've had a drive of the FJ Cruiser and it's terrific - a very sypathetic build and wholly within keeping of the fine FJ40/BJ42 heritage. Actually that's the only real problem; I haven't yet seen or heard of a Turbo Diesel version. Of course that doesn't matter as Toyota - in a fit of epic proportions - have decided not to sell the car in their backyard or, even better, over here. At least if the Japanese did have them then we could import a handful privately.

    This is what happens when companies which frankly cater to people's passions (who's not passionate about cars? They cost a fortune and drive us insane...sometimes) are run by book-ended bean counters!

    And to the Morons who think it looks like a Hummer: Bite your tongues in shame you fools! It's a vehicle with a rich heritage and, unlike the woggy, pathetic Hummer, it's actually good at what it does!

    Sorry - I suppose I am a bit passionate...I really want one!
  • BGT123 says,
    6 years ago
    Christ - I just read what..ahem.."bavarian missile" wrote:

    I dispute that you saw one of these mate - perhaps you just happened to glance in a particularly reflective shop window?

    BTW I forgot to mention above - I currently have a '97 Troopy Diesel (which I love) and I'm about to order one of the new 4 door Troopys that have just been released; much nicer styling but also the real deal when it comes to getting stuff done and especially when peering down at Range Rovers and other fake 4WDs - particularly when you have kids too; the two seat troopy isn't really good for baby seats!
  • Dan R says,
    5 years ago
    I really liked this car, it looks like a modern throw back to the original landcruiser of the 70's something you could take of road and not worry about and based on the U.S. pricing it would be far cheaper than the Prado and Landcruiser it is actually near the same price as the Rav.
    I actually contacted Toyota a couple of years ago and asked if they planned to bring this out and was told no, as they were about to release the new Kluger, I really don't understand this there is now little difference between the Kluger and the new upsized Rav, I see no point to the Kluger and from the numbers I don't see on the road I'm not alone.
    Over a decade ago Toyota virtually created a niche with the Rav but seem to have lost that edge and now just build bland, You would think someone at Toyota would notice that Klugers just a few years old can be bought for almost half price that is a pathetic resale value for a Toyota.
  • navin says,
    5 years ago
    FJ is an ugly duckling no doubt but like all other toyotas it PERFORMS.
  • says,
    5 years ago
    This is the most amazing 4WD I have ever seen and driven. Looking into importing on into Aus via Canada. Australia really needs some new cars and 4WD's in there lineup cause i am getting sick of seeing the same ones on the roads each day
  • says,
    4 years ago
    Please please,i love this car,TOYOTA make right hand drive also for African market,specifically kenya.
  • MJK says,
    4 years ago
    Just Reading the comments and had to sign up, I totally agree Australia is desperatly crying out for an under $50K 4x4 (not a Great wall ). If the FJ comes out under $50k then sign me up but i highly doubt it. If not Ill stick to my 96 hilux, and i can't justify $70k on a cruiser ute.
    One day i might win lotto who knows?

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