The FJ Cruiser takes on an authentic functional form, yet adopts several styling cues from the original FJ 40. The Toyota FJ40 is the model designation for a Toyota Land Cruiser made from 1960 until 1983. Most FJ40 Land Cruisers were built as two-door vehicles with approximately the same dimensions as a Jeep CJ. The model was also available under the BJ40 designation where it had a diesel engine. References to the series in this article will be to the J40 series unless referring to one of the petrol (FJ40) or diesel (BJ40) models specifically.
- The J40/41/42 was a two-door short wheelbase four wheel drive vehicle, with either a soft or a hard-top. It was available with various petrol or diesel (from 1974) engines over its lifetime. It was replaced on most markets in 1984 by the J70 series.
- The J43 was a two-door medium wheelbase four wheel drive vehicle, with either a soft or a hard-top. It was replaced on most markets in 1984 by the J70 series.
- The J44/45/47 was a long wheelbase four wheel drive vehicle, available in two or four door hard-top (station wagon) or two door pickup models. The station wagon model (FJ45V) was the shortest-lived of the J40 series, as it was replaced by the J55 in 1967.
- The Bandeirante was a J40 series built in Brazil by Toyota do Brasil Ltda from 1959-2001. Identical to the J40 in almost every respect, it had a few stylistic modifications to the grille and used a Mercedes-Benz engine for much of its production life.
The new 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser looks more than tough - it is tough, thanks to a foundation and powertrain shared with the current 4Runner SUV. Shorter in length and wheelbase than the 4Runner, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a two-door SUV with rear access panels like a Honda Element, but is designed for serious off-roading.
The 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser arrives in dealer showrooms in early 2006, at a price yet to be set. Toyota promises extraordinary value in the FJ Cruiser, and though plans are to build 40,000 units annually, the company thinks it will be an easy sell-out. Based on what we saw in Chicago - an authentic, unique, expressive, value-laden SUV - we have little reason to doubt that the FJ Cruiser will be a tremendous hit.
"The FJ Cruiser effectively fills a gap in the Toyota lineup which was once our core heritage - capable, affordable and durable vehicles that are youthful, fun-to-drive, aggressive and tough," said Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. "The FJ Cruiser will deliver true off-road ruggedness, image and performance at a very low price, making it highly accessible for a large volume of young buyers."
The final production design of the FJ Cruiser was a joint project by Toyota Motor Corporation and Calty Design Research, which developed the original concept vehicle shown at the North American International Auto Show in 2003. Chiseled from nearly a half-century tradition of tough off-road performance provided by the legendary FJ 40, the original 4Runner, and 4x4 compact pickups, the FJ Cruiser was developed as a basic, capable and affordable off-roader aimed specifically at young buyers with active outdoor lifestyles.
The FJ Cruiser takes on an authentic functional form, yet adopts several styling cues from the original FJ 40. Some of these cues are notable on the front end by its wide grille with "Toyota" logo badging, round headlights, and offset combination lamps. Additional inspiration can be found through its upright windshield and white cap roof. Traits are also noticeable in the rear with wrapping rear corner windows. The modern shape of the FJ Cruiser is woven into a compact package set on a wide track, producing enhanced stability and a powerful stance.
Utility features include a two-part rear hatch with flip-up glass, black overfenders with mudguards, and silver painted bumper extenders, mirrors, door handles and skid plate. Easy rear passenger entry into the two-door SUV is achieved with rear access doors.
Power is supplied by a 4.0-liter V6 engine, generating 245 horsepower and 282 lb-ft. of torque. The engine is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission on both 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and an available six-speed manual on 4x4 models.
The five-passenger FJ Cruiser rides on a modified 4Runner platform and features 17-inch steel wheels and four-wheel disc brakes. Just like all of the SUV’s in Toyota’s line-up, the FJ Cruiser will be equipped with the Star Safety System which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and traction control (TRAC), an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and brake assist as standard. All 4x2 models will come with a standard automatic limited slip differential (ALSD).
The tough and straightforward theme of the FJ Cruiser is extended to the interior with a cabin designed specifically for basic functionality and flexible utility. The instrument panel features an exterior color trim, adding to its sophisticated, handcrafted appearance. The faceplate with round inset instrumentation communicates a mechanical appearance. The steering wheel and center-mounted shifter, and attached-look door panels feature tool-like simplicity. The rear seats fold flat, creating ample cargo space and maximum usability.
The interior will be equipped with an array of standard convenience features including air conditioning, AM/FM CD audio with six speakers, tilt steering wheel, four cupholders, passenger seat back pocket, and an upper dash-mounted map/glove box.
Additional optional equipment includes 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, rear differential lock, electronic four-wheel traction control (on 4WD models only), running boards, rear sonar backup assist, front seat-mounted side airbags and front- and rear-side curtain airbags, daytime running lights, power outside mirror with image lights, cruise control, AM/FM CD audio with a six-disc changer, equalizer and eight speakers, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, multi-information display, exterior color door insert panels, privacy glass, and rear wiper.
"Toyota is responding to the needs of a new generation of buyers with a modern interpretation of a Toyota classic, combining Toyota heritage with the safety and refinement requirements of today’s market," said Esmond.
The front end strongly recalls the legendary FJ 40 of the 1970s - the one that looked like a Jeep CJ, but wasn’t. Under the hood is a 245-horsepower, 4.0-liter V6 engine. Note the white-capped roof, just like the FJ 40.
Based on the same foundation as the 4Runner, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is shorter and features increased angles of approach and departure for true off-roading capability. A locking rear differential is optional.
Round headlights and old-school turn signals on the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser look almost identical to the classic FJ 40.
The 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser features standard 17-inch wheels and tires. These brushed aluminum alloy rims are optional.
On Sale: Early 2006.
The original FJ40 was built in Japan for use by the military and domestic law enforcement, but it won hearts and souls of trail enthusiasts on the back roads and rock trails of that country. As so often happens, the FJ 40 got bigger and bigger, and today’s Land Cruiser is a full-size luxury SUV.
Four-wheel-drive FJ Cruisers should be quite solid off-road; rear-wheel drive will be standard. While it measures eleven inches shorter than a 4Runner, its wheelbase is shortened by only four inches, which should result in good departure and approach angles. An available locking rear differential and the standard 4.0-liter V-6, rated at 245 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque, also will aid in rock-crawling adventures. That V-6 shares its four-liter displacement with two other small SUVs that Lentz notes as likely competitors to the FJ: the Nissan Xterra, which shares exterior dimensions very close to the FJ’s, and the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. The Xterra’s V-6 has an advantage of 20 hp and 2 lb-ft, while the Rubicon’s ancient straight six gives up 55 hp and 47 lb-ft to the Toyota. The original FJ40, a smidge smaller and taller than a modern-day base Wrangler, never got more than 135 hp and 210 lb-ft out of its inline six.
"The original FJ40 had this kind of really funky balance. It was the charm of the design that made it. But we really didn’t want to push this one to the retro side. We’re playing it off of the heritage and spirit of the FJ40," says Kim, who designed the original FJ Cruiser concept and the 2004 Lexus LF-C concept car. "The Volkswagen New Beetle, the Ford Thunderbird, and the Ford GT, for example, are definitely more on the retro side. To me, those are basically the same car as the originals, with the same proportions and balance, but with a more modern sheetmetal cover. With this car, we took some of the design cues, but we didn’t take the whole proportion of the vehicle. It’s not just a basic evolution of the design."
The new FJ is a purpose-built off-roader but you’d never know it when you’re cruising on the highway. Most dedicated off-road vehicles have highway manners that are akin to riding in a blender, but the FJ is uncommonly smooth and quiet. Toyota’s penchant for quenching road noise is evident even in the FJ. The only fly in the ointment is some wind noise from the vertical outside mirrors.
The four-wheel-drive system has three modes, including a low-gear, low-range setting for rock climbing. A clutch-start cancel switch allows the vehicle to be started without depressing the clutch pedal, a feature that off-roaders treasure because a vehicle can be started on a hill without rolling backward.
The optional Active Traction Control does wonders for pulling through muddy, slick conditions.
The FJ’s cabin is mostly plastic and rubber, which is good for quick cleanup. The preproduction models we drove did not have final textures on the dash and door panels. The cloth upholstery is breathable and water-resistant.
In the fast-paced car world, it makes sense that, as styles and designs change almost yearly, there’s a strong desire to bring back the cleaner lines and shapes of earlier models. However, in the truck world, where style and design typically take a back seat to function and utility, many current models of popular pickups and SUVs are still closely tied (visually, at least) to the workhorses of old. As you might expect, there aren’t many unexploited segments left for automakers. And then there’s the issue of making money. The result is that companies like Ford and GM, who used to be comfortable taking risks on retro models, are now thinking about their future product lineups more carefully than ever.
On the flip side, companies once typically reserved and shy about making bold design statements or taking risks are now rethinking those positions. Much of this new attitude is a result of large sums of money these companies (like Honda and Toyota) are making on their cars and SUVs. In addition, import automakers are gaining credibility in previously unfamiliar territory. This recent success and changing attitude is leading several manufacturers to take unheard-of risks. That’s why Toyota, one of the most conservative car companies around, is introducing the FJ Cruiser.
The original Toyota FJ40s were the Japanese response to American Jeep, which was popular after WWII: a functional, easy-to-work-on, small 4x4 that was simple and rugged. In the past 50 years, FJs have gone through serious changes, eventually evolving into the current production four-door Land Cruiser, technically designated the FJ100. But today’s model is a far cry from the bare-bones trail-runner original.
Drivetrain, chassis, power steering and suspension systems are based on the recently revamped Toyota Tacoma compact pickup truck, modified accordingly to deliver capable off-road performance without sacrificing on-road ride and handling. Towing capacity is pegged at 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs) and payload at 601 kg (1,325 lbs).
The unique interior design is tailored toward active, outdoorsy types, with roomy front seating positions, water-repellent seat fabrics, dirt-hiding colour schemes, resin flooring, sporty and functional instrument clusters, and large door handles and heater controls.
FJ Cruiser will hold up to 66.8 cubic feet of cargo, which can be secured with the use of tie-down rings and hooks, or placed in side storage compartments. Several accessory power outlets are fitted. The vehicle also features the first audio system with speakers located in the cabin headliner, to create a "sound shower" experience for occupants.
With the FJ Cruiser, Toyota seemingly accomplished the impossible: It captured and distilled the essence of an iconic, 40-year-old vehicle, the classic Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40. Then it poured that essence into an all-new design without making that new design a retrospective restatement of the original. It reprised several of the FJ40’s most compelling stylistic themes, but did so in ways that are completely contemporary and fresh. And that was exactly what Hunter, Kim and interior designer Bill Chergosky all had in mind.
The challenge, first posed in early 2002 by executives from Toyota Motor Sales, was simple: Design a show vehicle that targeted young buyers and that offered a rugged, functional look recalling the classic Land Cruiser and its heritage.
Kim, 28, a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, chose as his starting point the vehicle’s overall image. The look he was after, he said, was what he called "industrial modern." He explained, "To me, that means tool-like, a combination of ruggedness and functionality, with an honest look and modern surfaces."
Kim’s initial sketches explored a number of variations on Land Cruiser themes. As he progressed, he got a clearer idea of what the final vehicle could look like - a process that included thinking about the elements that made the FJ40 a memorable design.
He settled on the FJ40’s two round headlights set on either side of a mesh grille, and mounted within a grille surround element: its upright windshield, its white top and its wrap-around rear-corner glass.
"I tried to interpret those in a modern way that’s not literal but has the same feeling," Kim explained, and added, "I think that just looking at the grille/headlight treatment and the white roof makes an immediate connection to FJ40, even though the final FJ Cruiser design uses totally different proportions and construction."
"The proportion I wanted to express was rugged, leaning forward in an aggressive gesture. I was able to achieve that by using a wedged roofline and a short overhang. Combining those two gave it a forward-leaning posture. The surfaces are flat. It has a nice tension and a nice volume. It’s not organic, but at the same time it feels very muscular."
While Kim was working on the exterior design, Bill Chergosky, 35, also a graduate of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, was tasked with coming up with an interior for the project. Like Kim, he also was thinking in terms of tools.
"Usually, designers create a shape and then design a process that will produce that shape," said Chergosky. "But this time, I wanted the components, the architecture, to be somewhat process-driven. I wanted the components to be extrusions, castings and CNC-milled pieces. Setting out with a production and assembly process probably is how they did the original FJ40. They created a style, something magical, out of that."
The process of creating something magical this time around was helped by Toyota’s recently enunciated design philosophy. That philosophy is stated by the phrase, "vibrant clarity."
"When it was all done and painted, we presented it to the executives at Toyota Motor Sales, said Hunter. "It was stunning. We all felt that this was going to be a true winner. Sometimes you’re not fully satisfied and you think, ‘It’s too bad we didn’t do this or that.’ But this was one of those projects where you just felt this was a great design."
Concept cars are flights of artistic fantasy, vehicles in which ideas count more than practicality does, in which impact and artistic expression trump production concerns. So it is perhaps understandable that the FJ Cruiser’s designers expected that their interior and exterior designs, so carefully plotted, might be victimized by the exigencies and realities of production, and by the process of engineering a real-world vehicle from something intended only for the world of show. Yet the FJ Cruiser was put into production in a form that is almost completely unchanged from that of the concept vehicle. There is a solid reason for that, according to Hunter. He said, "I think there was a strong commitment from the chief engineer to this concept vehicle’s design. The best designs come about when design and engineering work together. That’s what we’re trying to do at Toyota. We’re trying to expand our design vocabulary, to do more emotional design."
While the FJ Cruiser’s lineage is long ("FJ" has been the Land Cruiser’s internal vehicle code name for over 50 years ago), Toyota’s vice president of marketing, Jim Farley, has dubbed the 2007 version "...the most distinctive and capable 4x4 in the Toyota lineup." That’s quite a statement from the company building the existing Land Cruiser and 4Runner. Farley adds that the FJ Cruiser not only moves the Land Cruiser tradition forward, but does so at a starting price below $25,000 (exact pricing has yet to be announced), making it available to a far wider range of buyers.
To avoid the poseur label that could have easily befallen a new SUV wearing the "FJ" badge, Toyota has outfitted the FJ with a choice of two 4x4 systems, two transmissions and two types of locking differentials. The base model offers two-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic, and in the "Pre-Runner" spirit even two-wheel-drive models can be had with an electric locking rear differential. They also come with a standard automatic limited-slip differential (Auto LSD) that reads the relative speed of the rear-drive wheels and attempts to match them.
But Toyota expects over 90 percent of FJs sold in the first year (with a production run of around 46,000 units) to be 4x4 models. The same five-speed automatic is available on 4x4 FJ Cruisers, as is a six-speed manual that includes a clutch start cancel feature. This allows you to start the engine without depressing the clutch, which can be a lifesaver when you’ve stalled on a steep incline and would rather not dance between the brake and clutch pedal as the vehicle rolls uncontrollably down a hill.
Automatic models come with a transfer case that can be driven in 2-Hi, 4-Hi and 4-Lo mode. Manual models are always in four-wheel drive, with the transfer case offering 4-Hi, 4-Hi with locked differential and 4-Lo with locked differential. This model uses a Torsen limited-slip center differential with a static 40-60 torque split between the front and rear axles. However, up to 70 percent of power can be sent to the rear wheels, and up to 53 percent to the front wheels, depending on available traction at each end.
Regardless of tranny and driveline configuration you get the same Toyota aluminum block 4.0-liter, 60-degree V6 engine from the Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner. With dual-overhead cams, 24 valves and VVT-i technology, the engine manages 239 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, and 278 pound-feet of torque at 3,700 rpm. Note that both numbers are based on 91-octane fuel, which isn’t required but is recommended.
Preliminary mileage numbers are 18/22 for the automatic 4x2, 16/19 for the 4x4 with manual transmission and 17/21 for the 4x4 automatic. All models offer a 5,000-pound towing capacity, and our automatic 4x4 test vehicle got to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. Not flying, but neither does it feel slow in normal, everyday driving.