Toyota FJ Cruiser review | carsguide.com.au

28 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Toyota FJ Cruiser review | carsguide.com.au

Toyota FJ Cruiser

review

Toyota FJ Cruiser is blocky, simplistic and American in flavour and presentation. Photo Gallery

Nick Dalton road tests and reviews the Toyota FJ Cruiser with specs, fuel economy and verdict.

The retro-styled FJ is another Toyota with personality, the third in recent times to ditch the brand#39;s “whitegoods on wheels” reputation, with the others being the fabulous 86 and the new Corolla hatchback .

It harks back to the third-generation FJ40 LandCruiser of 1960, a two-door, short-wheelbase, four-wheel-drive vehicle that became part of life in outback Australia and established the model as the vehicle of choice for large construction projects, in mines, on cattle stations – in fact, anywhere requiring a rugged, dependable vehicle that could comfortably travel to, and return from, any extreme environment.

However, the new-age FJ must appeal to urbanites, trendies who want a tough and go-anywhere 4WD that#39;s also easy to drive around town.

PRICE AND FEATURES

This is one of Toyota#39;s more capable off-roaders with a relatively low price of $52,476.85, which represents good value, with standard equipment including six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, active front-seat head restraints, rear-parking sensors, cruise control and a reversing camera that displays in the interior mirror.

Airconditioning, power windows, remote central locking, privacy glass, rear fog lamps, CD stacker/USB/iPod/Bluetooth phone connectivity audio with steering wheel controls, and that compass/inclinometer are also included for the dosh. There#39;s even a world-first speaker system incorporated in the roof lining, for “surround sound”, according to Toyota.

The FJ Cruiser is based on a Prado-based ladder-frame chassis vehicle with full-time 4WD, a dual-range transmission with an electronic-differential lock, short overhangs and high ground clearance. It#39;s a hefty vehicle and has the aerodynamics of a brick. Fortunately there is a good-sized 159-litre tank with the 72-litre main tank now supplemented by a 87-litre sub-tank.

It#39;s a vehicle that attracts attention, with its old FJ40-style front end and its strange profile with Hummer-like small windows plus a mix of weird bulky styling. Inside is striking too, with almost bolt-upright pillars, a letterbox-style slit windscreen and three tiny wipers a la 1940s. Tall, vertical exterior mirrors, a slab dash and chunky gear lever that looks like it#39;s from a 1970s Valiant Charger add to the flavour.

The fascia is blocky, simplistic and American in flavour and presentation. There are three gauges on top of the dash: an inclinometer, a compass and an outside temperature read-out. There are more old fashioned touches too, such as mid-2000sToyota car-like steering wheel (which tilts only), white-faced analogue dials and associated switches, buttons and controls.

The fat centre console between the front seats contains the dual-range gearbox lever, a 12V outlet, traction/diff lock buttons and six blank switches, three sizeable storage trays and a smaller one for coins and keys. The rear seat area is a bit difficult to get into, due to the reverse-opening side door that requires the front ones to be open first.

There#39;s no wind-down window, no overhead grab handles (just two oversized items behind the front seat that are admittedly useful for hauling yourself into the car) and no rear air vents, with knee and legroom pretty tight. It#39;s a bit claustrophobic and rear vision is terrible, with the bulky C pillar and the door-mounted spare wheel causing problems. Fortunately there is a reversing camera incorporated in the rear-view mirror.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

Turn the ignition key and under the bonnet, Toyota#39;s smooth 4.0-litre all-alloy 24-valve V6 1GR-FE petrol engine with dual VVT-i variable-valve timing springs to life. There#39;s no diesel as it is targeted at the US market but there#39;s a smooth forward surge from the torquey engine, which can feel quite fast across the rev range.

Running on 95 RON premium unleaded, the Euro IV emissions unit delivers 200kW of power at 5600rpm and 380Nm of torque at 4400rpm. Matched to a regular five-speed automatic gearbox, the drivetrain is relatively quiet and refined, although there#39;s a bit of induction roar if you floor it. Yes, the fuel consumption is high.

Expect 16L/100km and more for drivers with a heavy right foot. There#39;s no way it will achieve the official figure of 11.4L/100km.

The steering is commendably light, making parking a breeze, even though the 12.7m turning circle is wide, while there is enough response and feel for the driver to be confident enough to drive it enthusiastically. Coil suspension all-round and lots of wheel travel means gutters, roundabouts and speed humps don#39;t faze the FJ, so as a suburban warrior, there#39;s plenty to be said about that separate chassis construction.

My test route took me up the Kuranda Range to Mareeba, a run down the Burke Development Rd to Petford and then a good 80km of gravel and a cross-section of hilly roads, creek crossings and a brief off-road detour up some steep and slippery inclines. The FJ Cruiser could be punted at 100km/h, easily and safely on the gravel roads between Petford and Herberton.

The only drama came when I pushed it too far on a tight bitumen section between Herberton and Atherton and I needed all the electronic aids to get me out of a spot of bother. It is a relaxed open-road cruiser. While fuel consumption is a concern, the FJ Cruiser is surprisingly capable off-road and in town, won#39;t fall apart, won#39;t break down unless neglected and abused, and turns heads like no other 4×4.

We like its cool styling, value, off-road abilities, open road security and smooth V6 petrol. But there#39;s room for improvement. It would be nice to have diesel and manual options.

It also needs overhead grab handles, opening rear windows, better cabin space, full steering wheel reach adjustment and an improved tailgate.

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Body: Five-door 4WD

Price: $52,476.85 drive away

Engine: 4.0-litre V6 200kW/380Nm

Transmission: Five-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

Fuel consumption: 11.4L/100km, premium unleaded, 159 litres

CO2 emissions: 267g/km

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