Review: 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Posted by Motorama in Vehicle Reviews

The FJ Cruiser is historic, and not just because of its looks. It’s historic because of its connection to the FJ40 4WD made by Toyota from 1960 to 1984, the very 4WD that set the bar for off-roading.

Toyota’s FJ Cruiser is said to be never defeated or shy away from a challenge. With a 4.0 litre V6 engine producing 200kW of power and 380Nm of torque, there’s plenty of power for tackling everyday tasks and off-road adventures.

Whilst there is no diesel option, the towing ability hasn’t been diminished with a 2250kg towing capacity. There’s also ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Stability Control, and Active Traction Control.

Pricing for the Toyota FJ Cruiser can be found in or around $50,000 drive-away. This provides a great value proposition for those wanting a serious 4WD, but who don’t want or need the extra space which a 4WD like the Prado or Landcruiser.

This is further evident with the inclusion of a low range gearbox with the 5-speed automatic and the sharing of the 120-series Prado, and HiLux platform. This means an approach angle of 36 degrees and departure angle of 31 degrees, perfect for off-road obstacles.

On paper these numbers look great, but how does it do on the road and on the track?

Initial Impression​

When we picked up our review model, we couldn’t miss the Orange Clay paint and white contrasting roof.  It’s retro-modern styling stands out against everything else on the road.

Unlike most other 4WD’s, there are only two traditional doors. However, there are two suicide doors that allow access into the rear seats. Whilst not cramped in the back, the FJ Cruiser felt more like a two seat 4WD with a large rear cargo area.

Continuing on with the interior, the retro design follows into the interior cabin with the usage of a very square but practical dash layout with large air vents, and comfortable arm rests on the seats.

On the inside there is also water repellent and breathable fabrics for seats, and a durable rubber floor mats.

So this is one tough truck, and its price makes it even more attractive.

Target Market​

The Toyota FJ Cruiser feels like it wants to go after the market that wants or needs a proper 4WD, but whom don’t want or need 7 seats, and the price tag that’s associated with that.

In that sense, it does really well. When out on the roads, and talking to other 4WD owners, the FJ Cruiser really appealed after they learned that isn’t just a soft roader.

Practicality

The FJ Cruiser is pretty simple when it comes to practicality. As long as you don’t have children to worry about, you will love this car.

When we first picked up the car and arrived at home, we learned that a new washing machine was needed. All that was needed to be able to pick up the new machine was drop the back seats. Thanks to the square opening on the rear of the FJ, fitting large items in isn’t an issue.

As already mentioned, the off road capabilities including its approach and departing angles, mean that the FJ can also be used to explore your favourite 4WD tracks. There’s definitely no shortage of them here in Queensland.

We explored Duck Creek Road, an entry level 4WD track, and found the ride comfortable, and the ‘diesel like torque’ from the engine meant that this was able to tackle some of the more challenging climbs.

It’s great to experience a 4WD that isn’t just all show, but something that is shaping up to walk the walk too.

Drivability​

Before jumping in to drive the FJ Cruiser, we had the perception that the V6 wasn’t going to perform as well as we were going to want it to. Normally in a 4WD like this, we’d expect to see a diesel engine to give that extra torque and better fuel economy.

In our weekend with the FJ Cruiser, it pleasantly surprised us with better performance on and off the road, as well as in the area of fuel economy.

The 200kW V6 engine returned a reasonable fuel economy figure just over 10litres per 100km, much better than the stickered fuel economy of 14litres per 100km. Even with its fuel economy, the fuel tank will take a while to empty as it packs a 72litre tank and 87litre sub tank.

Despite the 17inch alloy wheels being wrapped by some mean 4WD tyres, the road noise and feel on the road wasn’t detracted from. It remained smooth and still didn’t present any typical limits that 4WD tyres tend to have on the paved surface.

Acceleration was surprising for passengers and myself. There’s no hiding the weight of the FJ Cruiser, it feels as heavy as it looks, but it got moving when you hit the pedal.

As soon as you start to venture off road, the car really does come into its own. There’s a myriad of systems built into the FJ Cruiser to help you get through any situation.

The Active-Traction Control paired with the low-range gear box and also the CRAWL control, will let you climb up hills, get down them, mud and other loose surfaces. It’s something you have to experience behind the wheel to fully appreciate.

Toyota’s decision to include large side mirrors and a reversing camera helps in reversing situations and in eliminating blind spots. If these weren’t present, you’d have some major troubles due to the design of the rear of the vehicle.

Cost​

The Toyota FJ Cruiser falls into an interesting area of the 4WD market. It isn’t a SUV like the Toyota Rav4, but it isn’t exactly like a Toyota Prado. It fits somewhere exactly in the middle.

As that is the case, the news for buyers is extremely good. Sitting in the $50,000 price range, the FJ Cruiser gives you a fully capable and well-optioned 4WD that looks great on the road. It’s an even better deal, now that you can find new stock under the $50,000 price tag.

Some of the standard features include GPS navigation on a 6.1inch touch screen display, six airbags, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, multi information display, rear glass hatch.

Contrary to belief, servicing the FJ isn’t as expensive as you’d think thanks to the Toyota Service Advantage Capped Price Service program. This means each service will be $210 for the first 3 years or 60,000km.

Conclusion

There’s not much more needed to be said about the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Toyota has created a retro-modern 4WD that proves it to be an extremely capable off road vehicle, but can also look the part on the bitumen.

If you also love to stand out and look a little different, this is a vehicle that won’t leave you compromising practicality or functionality for looks.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser left us wanting more after we handed it back. It was a great adventure and felt like it was the exact tool for what we wanted to do over a course of a weekend.

​Interested in a test drive? Motorama Toyota is the place to be - so make sure you come and see the Motorama Toyota team in Moorooka or Browns Plains.

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When it comes to buying a new car, we believe that nothing should stand between you and the thrill of the drive. Which is why we've made sure you're protected by a minimum five-year unlimited kilometre warranty that covers any part, panel and accessory made by Toyota.

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