Toyota sells a lot of different cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans in this country and that’s without us even getting into the mind blowing array of models that they only sell in other parts of the world. You don’t get to be the number one carmaker without having a large and diverse menu of automotive options available to the buying public. But in this great variety sometimes real treasures get lost in Toyota’s mainstream shuffle.
Nowhere is this notion more evident than in the looks, character and demeanor of the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser which is part SUV, part truck and part alien from another planet. It is such a unique off-road vehicle that there is really nothing built to compete with it by anybody other than Jeep with its perennially popular Wrangler.
It is even possible that you have never heard of the Toyota FJ Cruiser in your entire life but it stands as one of the first indestructible off-roaders ever built by this Japanese company and to this day classic examples remain highly collectible. They also somehow manage to survive for decades in places like Kenyan wildlife preserves, the jungles of South America and even sometimes in the giant frozen ice skating rink known as Alaska.
Well, fast forward to model year 2012 and it’s easy to see that the latest FJ Cruiser is a Jeep Wrangler clone no more. Sure, they both are very off-road capable and ownership of either one implies you have a more active lifestyle than your normally sedentary nature probably bears out. Come on now, we know what you really do on the weekends and it probably isn’t mountain climbing (but if it is kudos to you).
Despite years and years of refinement, the Jeep Wrangler is still not quite the smooth, quiet and refined cruising machine that you might believe especially with the soft top models. On the flip side, the 2012 FJ Cruiser is the most fun to drive SUV or truck that Toyota makes and it’s also relatively quiet even at elevated Southern California freeway speeds where it even absorbs pothole and pavement irregularity noise with aplomb.