New car report; A sheep in wolf’s clothing
Emulating the style of the 1960’s FJ40 Land Cruiser, Toyota has brought the retro looking FJ Cruiser to our market with one engine offering only, a 200kW/380Nm 4.0 litre V6 petrol which, while smooth and quiet, seems a little out of step with today’s environment and today’s petrol pricing. No diesel is offered.
Available in a range of bright colours, all with the roof painted white, the FJ’s round headlights, mesh grille and upright windscreen are all design elements linking the FJ Cruiser to its 50 year old predecessor.
Toyota has done a great job of the retro styling, with cues robbed not only from their own old FJ40, but there are also hints of other old school 4x4’s such as Hummer, Jeep and Land Rover evident inside and out. The colour coded dash and door panels continue the retro theme inside and the rubber floor coverings throughout hark back to the days when a truck was a truck and an SUV was... well, something that hadn’t been invented yet!
Access to the rear seating is via reverse opening doors which incorporate the B pillar, so the front doors must be opened and closed first. That’s not as much of a hassle as it sounds, and does give good access for the rear passengers.
No bone shaking brute...
First impressions offer up an expectation that this is going to be a rugged truck with rough and tumble on-road manners and an agricultural edge to its drivability. But the reality is a far cry from that. This is a quiet and well insulated machine, worthy of the modern term SUV; whereas the old fashioned 4x4 ‘Cruiser that its styling mimics was an arm wrestling, grit your teeth kind of bone shaking brute.
Built on the highly competent Prado platform, the part time 4WD FJ’s off road performance, like the Prado, is up there with the best, with approach and departure angles of 36 and 31 degrees respectively and a quoted wading depth of 700mm in still water at 10km/h.
On the black top, it’s a lively performer, it’s soft and cruisy (no pun intended) and around town is comfortable and refined. Driven sedately, it’s everything you’d expect in a comfy cruiser, but get it out on the open road and the closer the speedo gets to three digits, the more the FJ is found wanting.
At open road speeds, the suspension feels too soft for Kiwi roads and the ride becomes a little floaty and bouncy, compromising handling and cornering precision, so don't be surprised if the kids get a little queasy in the back on long trips.
Well equipped and well priced, but the reversing camera is second rate...
On the plus side, equipment levels are good. There’s a 6 disc in-dash CD player, audio jack, USB port and Bluetooth. The leather clad steering wheel houses audio and Bluetooth buttons and the cruise control settings are controlled by the familiar, user friendly Toyota stalk mounted behind the steering wheel.
There’s a reversing camera mounted in the rear view mirror, and like others with this mirror mounted type of display, it's not at all clear and should be used with caution. Larger colour display screens we’ve seen elsewhere are obviously more expensive, but are clearer, safer and give a much wider view.
Toyota quotes a combined cycle fuel consumption of 11.4L/100km for the Euro 4 compliant V6 Cruiser, but while there’s a compass, outside temperature and inclinometer mounted on the dash, there’s no fuel consumption readout so we couldn’t be sure how much 95 Octane juice it was guzzling, but it seemed to us that it was scoffing it at a significantly greater rate than the quoted figure.
Towing capability is rated at 2,250kg braked and 750kg unbraked and there’s one spec, one model only, and pricing seems quite reasonable at $69,990.
It’s acknowledged that the FJ Cruiser was developed for the US market, where they like their suspension soft and their engines big and fuelled by petrol. Maybe the roads are smoother and straighter over there too, but in out part of the world undulations and curves are the norm, and while the FJ looks the part, it doesn’t seem particularly well matched to Kiwi conditions.