Hey, we like the FJ. Any vehicle that gives us a rear locker straight from the factory is OK by us. And for an IFS rig that relies a lot on traction control to provide traction in the dirt, the Cruiser is an eminently wheelable rig in stock trim. That's why we asked Toyota for a tester for a year, and we're having a ball with it. We just get paid to be picky, so don't take our criticisms too harshly. And besides, we're seeing more and more FJs at trail events around the country these days, so we know you're not alone.
Let me start by saying: I've lost faith in our magazine. I've read Four Wheeler for many years and been a subscriber for quite a few, though lately, it doesn't take me long to get through an issue. Most people I know aren't going to buy a $40,000-plus vehicle, including myself. So when 40 to 60 percent of the magazine is new vehicle tests and tech, that is not really what excites me or my group of buddies.
Second: Not to point fingers, but your Technical Editor, Mr. Sean P. Holman, needs to spend more time in the shop and on the trail, and less time at dealerships. In my eyes, it's pretty bad when my wife notices vehicle specifications that are inaccurate. For example, in "McKrill's Thrillz" (May '08), while it is a more reasonable build than some of your features, you state the rear axle as a "14-bolt." While, yes, it has 14 bolts on the cover, it is not what I would say most people know as a "14-bolt." The 9.5-inch 14-bolt axle under the McKrill truck is more desirable than an early 10-bolt; it is by no way a 10.5-inch 14-bolt. So I ask, if you're going to quote specs, please be more forthcoming with information. Also in this article you list the transfer case as an NP205. Now come on! Any wheeler worth their weight in broken axles can tell the difference between an aluminum-cased, chaindriven NP208 and a cast-iron geardriven NP205. Now, I point this out for those who aren't exactly sure what this stuff looks like-they rely on your editing staff for that. Who has dropped the ball? Not just in this issue, but on numerous occasions in the past. More than could be forgiven for professionals such as yourself, in my eyes.
Third, I know they wheel all over the world, but I would much rather read about places I could go if I were so inclined, let alone the ones I would. I'll use the May 2008 issue again, where we went to Venezuela. Well, at least I don't have to take a plane or a boat to get there, but it is still a place I would never go. Call me an uncultured redneck, but I would much rather see local, small-town events and rigs from across the U.S. I did enjoy your Baja 1000 article, but like Indy or Daytona, you just can't help but love Baja and its history. Your article about Black Rock in Nevada was interesting as previously stated: "A place I could go," and one I would. It's not all bad. It's just when I notice over time that less and less of the magazine applies to me and mine, I lose interest.
I did enjoy your flatfender coverage. It's a great series, but lo and behold, there it is in the back part of the magazine-a $47,000 2007 Chevy Avalanche. Let alone the vaguely interesting $90,000 "Sky Rocket" Toyota. So in closing, I say yes, there are problems in the May issue, but this has been going on for a while. If this is your plan for Four Wheeler, then I am saying good-bye. However, if this is something you're looking to change, try calling Freiburger, Kinnan and/or Glad from Hot Rod and Car Craft. Ask them how they changed a lot of minds about those magazines. Especially Hot Rod. I hope in some way what I have said here has been helpful.
Thanks for the advice. Next time we'll be perfect, we promise.
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