Old School Meets New School
The original Toyota FJ40 vehicle was produced for over two decades from 1960 through 1983. The FJ40 was always known for its off-road capabilities and unique styling. As time passed, Toyota came out with newer FJ-model vehicles such as the FJ45, with its truck-type rear bed, and the FJ55, the first sport-utility-style FJ in the Toyota lineup. In '91, Toyota came out with the FJ80 Land Cruiser, and its popularity rose by leaps and bounds. Although that vehicle is very capable off-road when properly equipped, many off-road enthusiasts felt abandoned by Toyota for the lack of afour-wheel-drive-inspired, FJ40-style rig.
With the release of its new '07 FJ Cruiser, Toyota feels that it has not only addressed the growing concerns of enthusiasts everywhere but also produced a quality four-wheel-drive vehicle encompassing some old school design. Toyota recently turned over the keys to one of its new FJs and allowed me to spend some time testing it out in order to give a hands-on, four-wheel-drive owner's review.
A few of the available options for the FJ are: locking rear differential, accessory power outlets, multi-information display unit, FJammer audio package, backup sonar system, A-Trac (four-wheel traction control), roof rack and utility system, rock rails, Garmin Quest 2 navigation unit, and much more.
Both on- and off-road I was thoroughly impressed with how comfortable the FJ Cruiser was. The stability was there, the control was there with not as much body roll as I first thought, as was a great 4WD system and plenty of in-cab space. This was also one of the most rubbernecked vehicles I have ever driven. Driving a pre-production model around town usually results in questions, but I had never experienced what happened to me on Saturday before I returned the rig to Toyota.
While heading to the local hardware store I noticed I was being followed by a woman in a Honda Element. As I was parking, she pulled up behind me and asked if I would please talk to her husband who was on the other end of her cell phone's line. Ernie Ramirez has been an L.A. County firefighter for over 24 years and is also a true 4WD fan. He informed me that he had already put a down payment on the arrival of his FJ without ever having seen one in person -- only through photographs over the Internet. We made arrangements to meet up so he could get a firsthand look at the vehicle. It was confirmed that he was a true enthusiast when he pulled up in a mint condition early Bronco.
After some chitchat, I invited him to take a trip off-roading with me, and he gladly accepted with a grin from ear to ear. We spent the next three hours testing out the four-wheel-drive capabilities of the FJ. The day ended as Ernie turned to me and said, "Thank you for making my day!" There is no doubt this new vehicle will grace the pages of this magazine in the future, as it is certainly going to be something our readers will be purchasing. In the end, there are only a few words I can say about the new '07 Toyota FJ Cruiser: I want one.