2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser Review

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Model: Toyota FJ Cruiser 4X4
Engine: 4.0-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 239 hp @ 5200 rpm/278 lb.-ft. @ 3700 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 105.9 in.
Length x Width x Height: 183.9 x 74.6 x 71.6 in.
Tires: P265/70R17
Cargo volume: 66.8 cu. ft. (max.)
Economy: 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway/ mpg test
Price: $30,983 (includes $580 delivery, processing and handling fee)

No other vehicle on the market today looks like the Toyota FJ Cruiser. The Honda Element comes close, but when it comes to far-out styling, the FJ owns the field.

There’s a great deal of utility to the styling, though. For example, like many true sport utility vehicles, the seats can be removed and the interior hosed out if it becomes too muddy (reminds me of the old checker cabs). If you want to carry a bunch of stuff, there’s more than 66 cubic feet of cargo area. And you can still have two passengers.

We used the FJ to transport our foursome of senior golfing buddies. There was some trepidation voiced by the two guys who had to sit in the rear, and with good cause. First, the rear doesn’t have true doors, but access panels. Any passengers there can’t exit the FJ unless the person in the front gets out first and opens the access door.

Second, once they’re back there, visibility is poor. There’s a small window in the access panel, but it’s forward of a wide C-pillar, so if you’re sitting back in the seat it’s hard to see what’s out there.

Basically all they could see was through the front windshield, and portions of the instrument panel. What they saw were three gauges mounted on top of the dash. One was an inclinometer, that showed if you were going uphill or downhill. Another was a compass to let you know what direction you were heading. The third was an outside temperature reading right in the center that led the grey hairs to think I was going 82 miles an hour – constantly. I drive fast, but not that fast.

With a 4.0-literV8 under the hood and a smooth 5-speed automatic transmission, healthy speeds are possible, but with the rough suspension of the FJ, they wouldn’t be much fun.

We could take our foursome because there was plenty of cargo capacity in the rear behind the second seat for four golf bags and accessories, like shoes. Everyone liked that idea. Access to the rear was through a swing-out door, not a hatch. The glass could be opened separately if you wanted to put smeller objects back there, but it was a small window.

Based on the 4Runner SUV, the FJ Cruiser resembles Toyota’s Land Cruisers of the 1950s. It’s smaller, but in the long run it may be more practical. The FJ was loaded with utility, and taking that into consideration you can almost overlook the different styling.

About that styling. The multi-tone paint job surely sets the FJ apart first. But there’s also a usable roof rack (part of the $1,167 convenience package), lights behind the outside rearview mirrors, and an outside-mounted spare tire with a huge “FJ” on the cover (part of the convenience package) to let everyone know what you’re driving. In fact, there are “FJ” logos everywhere, which made my wife, Florence, happy because it looked as if the car was made for us.

The FJ Cruiser can be had with just rear-wheel drive or with 4-sheel drive. Out tester was the 4WD version, which was the kind that shouldn’t be used on dry pavement.

Our tester was fully equipped with curtain shield airbags ($650), running boards ($345) and a preferred accessory package that included all-weather mats and cargo mat, rear door storage and a first aid kit ($422).

The costliest options were the other convenience package ($1,840) that included remote keyless entry, cruise control, the power outside mirrors with the image light, rear parking sonar (more on that later), privacy glass and a rear wiper. The $2620 Upgrade Package #2 added A-TRAC off-road traction control, rear differential lock, the top-of-dash display, alloy wheels, audio system, steering wheel with audio controls and a huge rear subwoofer.

Rear vision is minimal, especially with a bunch of crabby golfers in the rear seat and the spare tire on the hatch. Rear parking sonar helps the driver avoid anything that may be behind him or her when he (or she) is backing up. In my particular case, it kept me from backing into my garage door as I backed into my driveway.

For people who hate to see themselves driving at them on the highway, the FJ Cruiser is unique enough to make that an almost impossibility. You have to go for the different styling and ideally not carry adults in the rear for long periods of time.

But if you’re into the rugged outdoor life and you want a vehicle that can take you into the outback, the FJ Cruiser may be the vehicle for you.

2006 The Auto Page Syndicate

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