• Jan 17, 2006

Although you've seen the full spate of specs and some pricing guidance here before, this was Autoblog's first chance to get our mitts on the production-spec Toyota FJ Cruiser, so we took full advantage of the opportunity.

First impressions? While not a classically handsome exterior, this is certainly a head-turner, and should do well in a marketplace starved for character-rich "small" hardcore SUVs. At once profoundly aware of its lineage, yet not a wholesale copy, the FJ is a likeable mess of curves and angles. The smallish grille with inboard round headlamps give it an expressive face (not unlike a mountain man with small wire-rimmed spectacles) as do the protruding -- if gigantic, turn signals. In profile, strong elements like the rectilinear wheel openings, oversized door handles and thick-framed mirrors lend additional presence to an intrinsically beefy design (you could hide half the Tour de France behind that c-pillar). Out back, a plastic spare-tire cover with tire-tread relief looks to further abbreviate what can only already be described as daunting rear visibility.

[more impressions and photos after the jump]

Inside, many of the original FJ Cruiser's lovely alloy bits have since been downgraded to plastic, as might reasonably be expected when a vehicle has to be mass-produced and built to a price). The resins in question aren't really up to Toyota's usual standards, but it somehow seems appropriately coarse in a rough-and-tumble SUV. The bluff-faced dashboard is a little jarring in body-color (at least as here on this yellow FJ), and the switchgear lacks the brand's traditional polish in execution and operation, but again, that hasn't hurt sales of likely cross-shops like the Nissan Xterra and Jeep Wrangler. Rear seat access is a challenge even with the rear demi-doors, and it's seriously dark back there, a byproduct of the chopped roofline and hefty pillars.

Visibility vacillations and problematic polymers aside, if the driveline is half as good as we imagine (and if Toyota dealers can resist the temptation to pad the FJ's Monroneys), the automaker should have a blockbuster on its hands among the young and the young-at-heart.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      Tim
      • 8 Years Ago
      Why is the roof a different color? Does that make it go faster? The real FJ had some class, but this thing is a joke.
      • 9 Years Ago
      All I have to say is... that backseat is fit for midget quadralegics with no legs.
      TG
      • 8 Years Ago
      I drove the vehicle. handles very well on tough terrain, much smoother than the Xterra. Those who think it is ugly may continue to drive their Sunbirds or PT Cruisers. the car is cool enuf said. But in this day and age, if we want to hang on the a car like this, they should offer diesel (convertable to bio diesel)or hybrid. This car will be expensive to fuel.
      Frank Falcone
      • 8 Years Ago
      I've had the FJ for a month now with no regrets. Some people are missing the point on the FJ's marketing. It's a serious offroader, with that rugged military look thats oh so popular these days...that does a fair job at an everyday commuter, not the other way around.
      Dr Phil & Oprah.... Please; get a clue as to what this vehicle is for...!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      This car was created by Toyota, not as an "every man's/women's" car, but for the true off road/rock crawling enthusiast. Despite the fact the car can be a daily driver, it is also one of the more capable off road SUV's coming out in the market. Toyota has taken every measure to make certain this rig is more capable than most off roaders, and in fact most that have driven it state that "this is Toyota's most capable off road vehicle" (just ask the Ironman Stewart). This speaks volumes, considering this comes from the same family as the Tacoma, 4 Runner, and the world famous Land Cruisers.

      I love the lines of this vehicle and its peculiar angles... most of which cannot be appreciated until seen up close. I did not think much of this car until I got to see it up close... but when I did, I knew this was a vehicle I have to have... and I'll have mine in April.
      T J
      • 9 Years Ago
      What is it with all the new cars looking like rolling mailboxes? This one and the Element. I'm sure there will be more to follow as the designers have run out of fresh ideas. It used to be that it was no problem distinguishing one car from another. Now with just a little tweeking a Ford design is pretty much the same as a Chevy design which is pretty much the same as a Honda...etc...etc
      • 8 Years Ago
      I own one and have put the rock rails (yes, real iron, not junk), 3" lift kit, and cooper 285's on it. Still waiting on skid plate. Having owned a 1971 FJ40 for 10 years, I will tell you that this vehicle, plastic and all, will go places my old FJ wouldn't dream of. Additionally, it corners quite nicely although I am concerned that at some point it will just flip over as I have not been able to get it to slide. I am impressed and sure enjoy a heater (electric) that actually works and a ride that doesn't beat the 45 year-old kidneys bloody. Yes, I miss the removable top and the visibility isn't great, but it is a lot better than that of the real truck I drive all day. If you can't utilize the wonderful rear view mirrors you shouldn't be on the road anyways.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Toyota is due for another flop ( every 6 years or so ), it is butt ugly, people like Opra and Dr. Phil will buy it.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Hmmm....funny how when domestics cheap on interior plastic it is seen as cheaping out on interior plastic. But, when All Mighty Toyota does it, it "somehow seems appropriately coarse in a rough-and-tumble SUV". But thanks for the review.
      • 9 Years Ago
      No.2 posts:

      Exactly. It looks crap. And the c-pillar is bound to be horribe in tight spots off road. Yes, sometmes you do have to use R. The FJ looks like what it is, a Scion Pseudo Wrangler with all of the downsides of the Wrangler, including adding some new ones like the c-pillar, and few of the upsides, like the removable roof.

      With a 4-door Wrangler and a Wrangler PU on the way, the FJ looks to be little match for the Jeep Wrangler line, though I'm sure Toyota sychophants will disagree.

      I'm sure it well sell, though.
      • 9 Years Ago
      i would refi my pineapple to own one of these
      • 8 Years Ago
      i have been researching on the FJ Cruiser since its launching earlier this year and recently bought one. Its quite a basic SUV with a smooth handling and exceptional off-road capabilities. Its cute and i love it... the same way that people are attracted to the Hummer...
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