Toyota's Revitalization of the Popular Land Cruiser
In the summer of 1951, the first Toyota Land Cruiser, designated the BJ, climbed to Checkpoint No. 6 on Mount Fuji, a feat no other vehicle in history had ever accomplished. The extraordinary feat not only marked the undeniable value of such a machine but also announced the birth of a legend.
Designated the FJ Cruiser, this '07 model has everything one would expect to find in a Toyota and then some. We recently had the pleasure of testing the FJ Cruiser in the sandy hills of the beautiful Anza-Borrego Desert, not far from San Diego, California. When you enter an FJ Cruiser for the first time it's like you're a kid in a candy store. Your eyes go into sensory overload seeing the one-of-a-kind dashboard with a dash bezel color-matched to the truck's exterior that surrounds the stereo head unit (which incidentally looks like it came directly from a spaceship) and air conditioning controls. Then there's the nifty dashboard-mounted storage bin that opens to house a cell phone, GPS unit, maps, and anything else you can think of. Finally, the combination clock/altimeter/compass unit that has been placed directly in the center of the dash serves as a tribute to all of the other Land Cruisers that came before the FJ. Additionally, the rear seats are easily accessed via the 90-degree access doors and provide plenty of legroom for adult passengers. If needed, the rear seats fold down to provide an amazing 66.8 cu. ft. of cargo space.
The real fun begins though when you turn the key and the 239hp, 60-degree, aluminum 4.0L V-6 powerplant with variable valve timing (VVT-i) comes to life. Our test vehicle was equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and full-time four-wheel drive. The automatic-transmission-equipped models are offered with part-time four-wheel drive only. During our off-road and highway tests we were never at a loss for power in any gear; in fact, we constantly kept opening the hood to make sure that the V-6 had not been swapped out for one of Toyota's V-8 NASCAR motors -- yes, it feels that powerful. The 0-to-60 times are in the high 7 seconds but feel so much faster, while the fuel economy is a respectable 17 miles per gallon in city and 21 on the highway.
The off-road prowess of the vehicle is largely due to the suspension system, low-geared transfer case, and a soild wheel and tire combination. The front suspension consists of a high-mounted, double-wishbone suspension with a massive stabilizer bar and coil springs. The rear setup is a four-link system with a lateral rod and coil springs as well. A stabilizer bar is also installed in the rear. The 265/70R17 Bridgestone Desert Duelers wrapped around 17x7.5-inch aluminum wheels are equally impressive. A ramp travel index (RTI) of 491 further validates this truck as a worthy contender in the off-road arena. An optional feature for the powertrain is a push-button-activated, rear electronic locker that provides added traction in soft and sandy conditions.
The list of standard equipment items includes a roof rack, fullsize spare tire, CD player, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, stability and traction control, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, foglights, and brake assist system. Options include frontside and front and rear side curtain airbags and larger tires.
Now over 50 years later and over 1 million Land Cruisers sold worldwide, the new FJ Cruiser is more than capable of carrying the torch well into the future, while at the same time keeping Toyota's commitment and passion for off-roading moving forward.