After starting out as a concept model in 2003, the FJ Cruiser began production in 2005, and finally made its way to our shores in late 2013. Priced lower (P1.866 million) than the top-spec Fortuner because of the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement, it is a hunk of a deal that’s difficult to ignore.
As popular as it is, the FJ Cruiser has already been discontinued in some markets (and reports indicate that it’s to make way for the FT-4X. So while we still have stock, do check out what really makes it stand out and see why you should consider getting one before it’s too late.
UNIQUE RETRO LOOK
This one is a no-brainer. With its inimitable retro look taken from the FJ40, it would be hard to miss an FJ cruising around. It’s box-shaped with TOYOTA spelled out on the grille instead of the logo sported by current models, has a near vertical windshield, and three wiper blades.
But what truly makes it distinct are its “suicide doors.” Rear doors half the size of the front doors are hinged at the rear and open up horizontally via a lever located inside. Therein lies my teeny-weeny gripe about this door design. For passengers to get in or to load cargo, one of the front doors must be opened to access the lever that opens the rear door. Cute design, but tedious.
REASSURING TRUCK RIDE
It’s hard not to feel safe and secure inside the FJ Cruiser. With a 34-degree approach and 30-degree departure angle, there would be very few things it can’t take in a single bound. Tack on its 240mm ground clearance and say goodbye to nightmares about flash floods during the rainy season.
Bolstered by double wishbone front suspensions and four-link lateral rods in the rear, the ride was a certainly more tender than I expected it to be even over potholes. Just be gentle when approaching humps on the road. Seated in a higher position coupled with the vehicle’s width, it’s hard not to feel confident and shielded from what’s around you. That solid body build and impressive stance just makes it feel so robust and impregnable. Adding to its masculinity is a bus-sized horn that perfectly fits the FJ’s personality.
HEAVY DUTY INTERIOR
As a true-blue off-road unit, the FJ Cruiser comes with a dashboard-mounted, easy-view analog compass, a thermometer, and an altimeter. But it also comes with the trappings of modern motoring like keyless entry, a six-CD changer, Bluetooth connectivity, AUX input, MP3 capability, a reverse camera, and even cruise control.
The cabin comes in a no-fuss, straightforward design and feels highly sealed from noise, vibration, and harshness. Knobs, switches, buttons and even the air vents come in extra-large sizes and in a no-slip, easy-to-grip design on a vertical face just like the good old days.
4.0-LITER DOHC 24-VALVE V6 ENGINE
This is what makes it a brute. With 268hp and 380Nm of torque plus engine notes to match, the FJ sounds and feels delightful to handle even on a daily basis. It looks big but is agile and delicate even in strict city, bumper-to-bumper conditions. Throttle and steering-wheel response is surprisingly precise, making it feel like a small sporty number instead of the hunky truck that it really is. There’s more pulling power than straight-line acceleration, but that’s not to say it can’t easily overtake. It will just take a little more pressure on the accelerator to do so.
To spruce up the 2016 trim, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) tricked it out with Toyota Racing Development (TRD) equipment. That includes shiny black 17-inch wheels, tied-down heavy duty mud flaps, a shiny skid plate – all TRD branded. To boost its muscly image, Toyota added bolted-on black wheel arches.
Rumors have been going around that Toyota might rescind on the decision to discontinue the production of the FJ Cruiser. But as it stands, what’s in the dealerships right now are the only units left. At its price point, the one-of-a-kind design, durability, and capability make it an excellent buy. Plus, you’ll have priceless peace of mind from the performance it provides and the exceptional after-sales service of Toyota.
Appreciate this beauty-and-brute mix as it be will be all the rarer should the automaker move on to its successor. Like the ads always say, get it while supplies last.
Positives: Price (relative to segment counterparts) and performance
Negatives: Fuel consumption