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The Return of the FJ

January 13, 2005

I can’t believe it.  I…just…can’t…believe…it.

Last year, Toyota debuted an SUV concept called the FJ Cruiser.  It was a tough-looked SUV built on the Tacoma platform and styled after the classic FJ40 Land Cruiser, which was, for all intents and purposes, Toyota’s Jeep.

Toyotafjcruiserfront_1

The FJ Cruiser Concept

Toyotafj40

The Original FJ40 Land Cruiser

Though a bit overdone, it was an interesting concept, but it was also one I thought Toyota would keep as a concept.  It is almost a rule that Toyotas must be bland in the looks department.  I mean, their riskiest styling is found not on some little compact, but on their new Tacoma pickup.

Well, they are going to build it.  And not only that, but they are going to built it fast.  The production model is going to debut in early February at the Chicago Auto Show, and they should begin showing up at dealerships later this year.

I didn’t think Toyota had it in them.  But now that they’ve announced they’re going to build the FJ, I can’t wait to see what the production model ends up as.  Since it’ll be built on the Tacoma/4Runner platform, the mechanicals should be easy enough to guess.  It’ll likely have the 4.0L 245-horsepower V6 mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission.  There’ll probably be a rear locking differential a la the Tacoma’s TRD package.  And I can only guess they’ll tone down the lines for the production model.

But what about the doors?  The concept had a door setup similar to what you’d see on an extended cab pickup, with rear-swinging suicide doors to access the back seat.  Will those remain, or will they go for a regular four-door setup instead?  And what about the tires?  How can they winnow the size down without making the design look silly?

Toyotafjcruiser

Another question I’ve gotta ask.  What’s Toyota’s intent with this thing?  I don’t think it will be able to compete with the Wrangler.  No soft top, for one, and serious offroaders will shun its lack of a solid axle in the front.  Will they aim it straight at the Nissan Xterra, then?  I think that’s a more likely possibility.  Toyota doesn’t have anything that can match the Xterra.  The RAV4 isn’t rugged enough, and the 4Runner is too pricey (it matches better against the new Pathfinder).

If Toyota can keep this thing under $30K fully loaded, I think they’ll have a heck of a product on their hands.

More in February when the production model, and more details, emerge.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Adrienne permalink
    August 12, 2005 11:26 pm

    Hey there, I am a loyal classic Fj40 owner as well as the fj55. I must admit the new fj’s are a bit strange in the looks dept. But one thing you must concider is the marketing Toyota is looking at. Since when does your avg. Joe buy a brand new vehicle and expect to do some damage off road?? All of the big off roaders now have old beat up beasts from the 80’s. As far as quality is concerned, my fj55 which i’ve had for over twenty years should have died long ago, it should have broken down and never started up and left us stranded more times to count, but every single time, all 10 times i’ve been to baja, countless trips to Mammoth and the Sierra Nevada mts, it never lets me down. All of my toyotas are like that, you can’t kill them. I’m not trying to change ur mind, I just want to let you know where my, and other’s loyalty is. P.S. very interesting site, ive never been here till i looked for pictures of fj40s.

  2. August 13, 2005 9:24 am

    Adrienne – I am glad to read that you enjoy the sight.

    Honestly, I don’t think Toyota’s going to have too difficult a marketing challenge. Tons of vehicles sell on the “idea” of offroading – the Xterra, the H2, Jeep Wrangler, Land Rovers. Most buyers will never take them offroad – but its the idea, the perceived ruggedness, that sells it.

    If Toyota has a challenge selling anything, I think it will be the looks. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Toyota needs to make it a bit more bland.

    Also, there is a reason so many offroaders have rigs from the 80’s and further back. You have to go back that far to find a sizeable selection of vehicles with solid axles. Jeep is the execption (because they’ve stuck with the solid axle)…and at least here in Texas new Jeeps (as in less than five years old) are very common on the trails.

    One day somebody will figure it out and offer the Wrangler some real competition.

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