Young buyers can see right through marketing mumbo-jumbo, and Toyota clearly understands this. The company's youth-oriented Scion brand is a hit, because the products are unique, because they are a great value, and because they exceed expectations. They are authentic, require no apologies, and serve as terrific canvases upon which owners can express their individuality.
Authenticity, value, and expressiveness define the latest product unveiled by Toyota, a new sport-utility vehicle designed to "go anywhere and do anything," according to Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. Toyota sees the new 2007 FJ Cruiser as a toy primarily for boys, since women favor the cute-'n-cuddly RAV4. That's why it looks so much like the rugged FJ 40 of the 1960s and 1970s, and icon of authenticity if ever one existed.
The new 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser looks more than tough - it is tough, thanks to a foundation and powertrain shared with the current 4Runner SUV. Shorter in length and wheelbase than the 4Runner, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a two-door SUV with rear access panels like a Honda Element, but is designed for serious off-roading. Judging by the 4Runner's capability in the rough, combined with the FJ Cruiser's greater approach and departure angles, 9.6 inches of ground clearance, standard skid plate, optional locking rear differential, and 17-inch 265/70 all-terrain tires, it appears that Toyota is splitting the difference in terms of capability between the Element and the Nissan Xterra. And like the Element and Xterra, Toyota offers the FJ Cruiser with rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive.
Under the hood is the 4Runner's 4.0-liter V6 engine, making 245 horsepower and 282 lb.-ft. of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard, while 4WD versions get a six-speed manual as an option. Toyota says that the 2007 FJ Cruiser can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Inside, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is designed to be flexible and functional, styled to resemble the bare-bones trucks of yesterday. Body-color trim decorates the dashboard, and the gauges are expected to convey a mechanical appearance. The rear seats fold flat to maximize cargo space, and buyers can opt to add body-color door panels for an enhanced bare-metal look.
Just the Basics
Toyota covers the safety bases with the 2007 FJ Cruiser, too, which is important since this is a vehicle designed to attract young drivers. Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist are standard, as well as stability control with traction assist. Models with 2WD also have an automatic limited slip differential. Options include front side-impact and side-curtain airbags, parking assist sonar, daytime running lights, and a rear wiper to improve outward visibility. FJ Cruisers with 4WD can be equipped with an electronic four-wheel traction control system.
The 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser arrives in dealer showrooms in early 2006, at a price yet to be set. Toyota promises extraordinary value in the FJ Cruiser, and though plans are to build 40,000 units annually, the company thinks it will be an easy sell-out. Based on what we've seen so far - an authentic, unique, expressive, value-laden SUV - we have little reason to doubt that the FJ Cruiser will be a tremendous hit.
Photos courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.