Toyota FJ Cruiser review
Something a little different
In a vehicle range that is as inherently practical and sensible as that of the Land Cruiser badge, the FJ Cruiser stands out as something exciting, unique and full of character. It’s a car that you buy because you love what it is and what it represents: a different way of heading off an adventure. It is a vehicle with all the dependability of the Land Cruiser range, but with a huge dollop of fun thrown into the mix.
Big and bold, with a very ‘retro’ feel about it, the FJ is styled on the iconic FJ40 of yesteryear. It’s got reverse-opening rear doors and a two-tone design, behind an old-school grille that oozes eccentric charm. Space is generous in the cabin and in the luggage compartment, meaning that this is a real option for long off-road trips.
The FJ Cruiser is first and foremost a rugged off-roader, as I have personally experienced on a number of occasions: in the desert, the mud and on one occasion in a very wet forest. The impeccable 4x4 capabilities of the vehicle include impressive ground clearance (245mm), a 34-degree approach angle and 31-degree departure angle. These are class-leading figures. The FJ is a part-time 4x4, meaning rear-wheel-drive during normal driving conditions, but when you feel the need you can select 4x4 high range, or even 4x4 low range for serious obstacles. While the standard traction control system is aimed at normal road usage, the FJ also features selectable Active Traction Control technology to maximise off-road climbing ability. When wheel slippage is detected, that wheel is braked to send power to the opposite wheel for better traction. If even more traction is needed, you can switch on the electrically activated rear differential lock and nothing should stop you.
The FJ Cruiser ticks all the right boxes when it comes to standard kit: front electric windows, a leather-covered steering wheel with remote audio and Bluetooth controls, integrated audio/CD sound system with 6 speakers and iPod connector, external audio and USB connectors, a powerful air conditioning system, extra power socket, and cruise control. Worthy of special mention is the unique roof lining which acts as a speaker membrane, thereby offering a truly immersive audio experience. The rear-view mirror is electro chromatic and it houses the reverse camera view.
Something that you’ll notice if you take an FJ Cruiser for a test drive, particularly on a bumpy road, is the quality of the ride. It’s probably the combination of relatively high-profile tyres, a lengthy wheelbase and cushy suspension designed more for rock-strewn trails than cornering on the highway. Despite this it still manages to handle well in corners and around town.
Another feature that first saw light on the FJ Cruiser in 2013 was the addition of a second fuel tank that increases the car’s fuel capacity from 72 litres to a very useful 159 litres. This is a great advantage for long road trips or, more importantly, overland expeditions where petrol stations are few and far between.
The big 4-litre V6 petrol engine produces 200kW of power and 380Nm of torque and is paired with a five-speed automatic gearbox, which is why the FJ is so popular as a towing vehicle. The claimed average combined fuel consumption is 11.6l/100km, which makes for a range of over 1300km on a tank!
A final attribute of the FJ Cruiser that needs to be mentioned is the phenomenal resale value – it obviously hits the mark with so many of the attributes that buyers of second-hand 4x4s are looking for!
The Toyota FJ Cruiser is priced at R664 800, which includes a 9-service /90 000km service plan and a 3-year/100 000km warranty.
The retro styling
Absolutely reliable drivetrain
Incredible 4x4 prowess