DALLAS, November 1, 2011 — I wanted to compare the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser to the Jeep Wrangler, because when I saw it I kind of felt the same sort of vibe. It can’t be done though, sort of like putting apples and oranges together and trying to find the comparisons.
The other comparisons that one might consider are the Jeep Grand Cherokee or the Nissan Pathfinder, but I am still reticent to consider them the same either.
The thing that really stands out about the Toyota FJ Cruiser is that it’s all about “retro.” The category is a midsize SUV, but the Cruiser will also take you down memory lane making you recall the earlier days of the Toyota Land Cruisers. That was back in the 1960s to early 1980s and it was the FJ40 – do you remember that down and dirty, dependable four-wheel drive?
Today the Toyota FJ Cruiser is another off-roader that has the ability to mean what it says. Take for instance the truck-based ladder-frame chassis and its tougher than thou suspension with a hardware reminiscent of the 4Runner SUV with the same Toyota moniker.
In comparison to the 4Runner, however, the FJ Cruiser is a bit smaller and not quite as expensive.
The FJ Cruiser is a four-door vehicle with a bit of a twist. The front doors open as usual, but the two back doors are reverse-opening and that took a moment to get used to, but my back seat passengers gave the design big kudos for easier entry.
The standard features on the FJ Cruiser are the normal AC, a stereo with CD, power windows and locks, iPod connectivity and XM satellite radio and a USB port, Bluetooth audio streaming, and a Bluetooth hands-free system with steering-wheel controls. In addition, there’s the JBL premium audio option.
There are also additional packages that come with more to choose from overall. The Trail Teams Special Edition comes in Army Green paint and has water-resistant seats and floors for off roading. It can take the road in up to 27-inches of water and still keep up.
The FJ Cruiser’s off road savvy also now comes with an A-TRAC active-traction system, a multi-information display with inclinometer, compass, temperature, BF Goodrich Rugged Trail tires, Bilstein shock absorbers, a Cyclone air precleaner, and 115V/400V power outlets. Under the hood is a 4.0-liter V6 engine with 259 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.
There are two four-wheel-drive (4WD) options to choose from with two transmissions. There is a four-wheel-drive model that offers a five-speed automatic transmission and that can be changed easily from a 2-Hi, 4-Hi or 4-Lo and there is the Cruiser with the six-speed manual transmission. This latter one is more of the “take it off the road” choice in my opinion. Not sure why you’d opt for this next one, but there is a two-wheel-drive FJ Cruiser, if you must, but you can only get it with a five-speed automatic.
For safety, they all have the usual stability control and antilock disc brakes and airbags.
Looking at the exterior: the grille is a standout with round headlights, black bumpers, a grille-mounted Toyota emblem versus the most recent one seen on other Toyota’s and there are also the wrap-around rear windows and an exposed spare tire (we like the fact that it is actually full size). Inside, the dashboard means serious business, right to the point, and again can we say a bit retro.
The FJ Cruiser is fun to drive, but the real fun will come in taking it through its paces off-road. It was designed to play with the big boys and is as tough as any one of ‘em, thanks to the tough box frame and an excellent suspension, including a rear axle that’s a solid sale on this one.
Still not sold? Well, who can pass up the retro look after all?
Should You Need to Know: It’s a tough vehicle that might not be getting the kind of notoriety it should, but one off-road drive and you could easily change your mind.
Miles Per Gallon: The estimated annual fuel cost is $2,367 with 17 miles per gallon in the city and 21 miles per gallon on the highway.
Cost: I drove the 2011 FJ Cruiser 4X4 SUV and it came in at $31,562.
Rita Cook is a writer/editor with has over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 13-plus years. She is a frequent auto and travel contributor on a radio show in Los Angeles called Insider Mag Radio at KPRO 1570 am on from midnight to 12:30 a.m. Monday mornings.
She also contributes travel and auto to the Anthony Duva show, which can be heard live from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST every Sunday at www.unregularradio.com. Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association, writes for the Dallas Morning News Green Living Section as well as artist profiles and www.greensourceDFW. She spends much of her time on the road traveling or working on books.
Her latest book releases are both “Haunted Dallas” and “Haunted Fort Worth” from www.historypress.net. You can also follow Cook at Twitter at @ritacook13.
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