FJ Cruiser brings brawny freshness

The 2007 FJ Cruiser is a funky off-roader. Yet in typical Toyota fashion, engineering and quality are part of the equation.


Toyota has taken some heat in recent years for bland styling — after all, people had to find something to criticize about the company, which is setting standards for everything from quality to profits.

But one look at the 2007 FJ Cruiser and you know there are some people within the company with a sense of fun.

This memorial to the FJ-series trucks of the 1960s combines tongue-in-cheek styling with immense off-road capabilities. Its funky and eye-grabbing style hides what is certainly one of the most capable off-roaders on the planet. Yet in typical Toyota fashion engineering, quality and value are part of the equation.

Starting with the proven body-on-frame platform of the 4Runner, Toyota gave the FJ some slick eye-candy above and some serious truck bits below.

The rugged interior is largely unchanged from the concept vehicle shown in 2003, complete with rubber mats and rear cargo area that can be hosed down. Even the stitching on the water-resistant seats is done so moisture can’t collect and lead to rot.

The FJ Cruiser comes with the high-torque, truck-based 239 horsepower, 4.0-litre V6 used in Toyota’s 4Runner sport-utility vehicle and its Tacoma pickups, paired with a choice of 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic mated to a 2-speed transfer case.

You can choose from two types of locking differentials and combined with electronic traction, ascent and descent aids, tight overhangs and substantial clearance tackle circumstances that would leave most others cringing in fear.

Pricing starts at $29,990 for the manual transmission version and $30,990 for the automatic and the standard equipment list is extensive.

The mid-level model ($33,440 with the manual ‘box and $1,000 more if you opt for the automatic) adds cruise control, power outside mirrors and a hard-to-miss roof rack that adds distinctiveness to the overall look, but also adds a higher level of wind noise in the passenger cabin.

The top-shelf model will set you back $35,985 with the manual shifter and $37,080 for an automatic version. It dials in lots of luxury touches like a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, 115-volt cargo bed power outlet (perfect for use with gaming or laptops to keep the kids amused), and body-colour matching interior trim.

There’s also a nifty dash-mounted tri-gauge pack with a compass, inclinometer (to show your angle of descent or ascent on slopes) and a digital readout for the outside air temperature.

From the signature white roof to the 32-inch tall rolling stock the FJ is a departure.

The FJ’s rugged interior comes complete with rubber mats and a rear cargo area that can be hosed down.

The inside is as unique as the out and while all-round visibility is somewhat restricted, the bigger problem will be people wanting to see into this funky SUV.

With a starting price under thirty grand, startling looks and standout performance, the FJ Cruiser sure stands alone among in a mass of me-too, look-alike SUVs.

2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser

  • Type: Mid-size 4-door SUV

  • Price: $29,990 - $37,080

  • Engine: 4.0-litre V6 DOHC

  • Horsepower: 239 @ 5200 rpm

  • Torque (lb-ft): 278 @ 3700 rpm

  • Highlights: Distinctive, funky styling, mud-plugging off-road ability, standard equipment levels.

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