The Retro 2007 FJ Cruiser

Retro designs have been very much in vogue for the American automotive industry in the last decade. Dodge, Chrysler, Ford and (more recently) Chevrolet have each issued designs that call to mind the vehicular heydays of the 1960s and 1970s. The movement towards classic designs has proven to be wildly popular – for instance, one needs to only consider the number of magazine covers on which the Dodge Challenger was featured. Like anything else, popularity begets trends, trends beget exposure and exposure, in turn, propels popularity. Vehicles are no different. Up until this point, the retro inclination has been most concentrated in the US; but 2007 will mark the spread of the trend to Asia when Toyota introduces its FJ Cruiser.

The 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a midsize SUV capable of off-road adventures but well-appointed enough to enjoy as an everyday means of transportation. The synthesis of the 1960 FJ-40 Land Cruiser and millennium machinery, the FJ Cruiser calls to mind the athleticism and ruggedness of its ancestor without compromising the technological innovations of the last 47 years. Modern accoutrements include rear parking distance control, dent-resistant fender trim, remote keyless entry, running boards and a premium sound system (some standard and some optional). A spartan cabin space, with a notably handsome instrument cluster will make for a comfortable, but far from luxurious interior. Rubber mats contribute to the car’s off-road character as does the ample stripped-down, rubber-lined cargo space.

The 2007 FJ Cruiser’s exterior design features are extracted from its predecessor’s DNA. Like the 1960s Land Cruiser models, an upright windshield, straightforward grille and an uncomplicated lighting scheme characterize the 2007 version. A large wheel on the rear cargo door adds to the rugged appeal of this off-road revival, and the white-capped roof hearkens back to the original FJ-40.

The new FJ Cruiser is built on a shortened 4Runner frame and is available in rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. A five-speed automatic transmission will come standard on all models, but a five-speed manual transmission will be available for vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive. A 4.0-liter V-6 engine with 245 horsepower will make the FJ Cruiser go and the numbers indicate that the car gets from 0-60mph in approximately 7.2 seconds. Those who have driven this Toyota maintain that the acceleration feels brisk for a midsize SUV.

Off-road, the FJ Cruiser holds its own. During testing stages, the FJ Cruiser took on the Rubicon Trail in Lake Tahoe, CA with facility and effortlessness. Squeezing between rocks and trekking through flooded paths was no problem for this SUV whose relatives were among the first vehicles to be able to conquer rough terrain and hazardous trails. But the new FJ Cruiser is not built like its acclaimed predecessor.

Old FJs were completely metal inside, but the new versions are not, largely for the fact that the new FJ Cruiser will be geared towards an average consumer who will scarcely ever take the car off-road. Off-road enthusiast, senior Stephan Laputka also explains that the old FJ Cruiser had a live front-axle that made the vehicle prime for rugged terrain. The 2007 model will have a wishbone suspension which will make for “a softer ride on the road, but will make the car more difficult to modify for off-road terrain and more vulnerable to damage on trails,” according to Laputka.

For the true off-road driver, the FJ Cruiser may not be the best choice. Lots of plastic in low places on the 2007 FJ Cruiser makes it more susceptible to damage in comparison to its off-road competitors, Jeep and Land Rover (which have plastic up high where it is away from danger). Additionally, Laputka indicates that the FJ Cruiser’s factory tires “are miserable for off-road conditions,” and that “you would have to change the tires for any moderate trail work.” Laputka contends that the FJ Cruiser will have a difficult time competing for the attention of off-road enthusiasts with the similarly priced Jeep Rubicon (MSRP: $28,295), which offers factory armor to protect the car’s undercarriage. On the plus side, Laputka indicates that Toyota reliability, which outdoes most American automakers, may make the FJ Cruiser an appealing choice.

A nice amalgamation of old and new, the FJ Cruiser has a markedly utilitarian feel, but offers a vintage foundation with modern updates. If that is the sort of thing you are into, then the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser may be the vehicle for you. And with an estimated base price of $25,000, the FJ Cruiser may be an affordable option.