Based on the old Toyota FJ40 of the 1960’s, this quirky retro styled concept SUV came to life in 2006 and was sold in the North American/Canadian market from 2007 for 7 years until the last one rolled off the production line in 2014 due to a sharp nose dive in sales figures. So what’s to love, and what makes you cringe? Read on and find out.
1. It’s a hardy, go anywhere, no-nonsense SUV with reliable engine and transmission
2. Unique features like 3 wiper blades and 4 sun visors (2 attached to the sides)
3. Trunk space is good, so is front seating space
4. It’s a rugged 4×4 off-roader able to handle rough terrain with ease
5. Suicide doors allow more open space to get things in or out via the side of the vehicle
6. Capable of towing over 4,000 pounds
7. Has rear lock differential for serious off-roaders
8. Updates to the 2011 and onwards models improved fuel economy and horsepower
9. It has ventilated, water-repellent seats and the floors are covered with a sturdy rubber ready for easy cleaning
10. Available in 27 colors over its lifetime including Voodoo Blue, Sun Fusion, and Army Green as well as dual-tone models featuring a white roof
1. There is no diesel option – petrol only
2. It is a thirsty beast – especially the earlier models pre-2011
3. There is a lot of cabin noise coming from the outside
4. Back seats are a tad tight for legroom
5. The rear suicide door only opens when the front door is open
6. The rear door window does NOT roll down
7. Narrow visibility out the front and rear as well as the huge rear door pillars
8. Although it has a rear parking camera, it is a small insert taking up less than a third of the space on the rear view mirror
Always get a thorough inspection of the undercarriage frames as these are known to rust if not looked after. A staggering 310,000 FJ Cruisers between the years 2007-2013 were recalled due to problems involving the front driver and passenger seatbelt retractors. As they are mounted on the rear doors, and due to the insufficient strength of the rear door panels, cracks can develop especially if the rear doors are repeatedly and forcefully closed, or the vehicle has been hammered on off-road adventures. Make sure they are in tip-top condition or have had the recall issue fixed and accounted for. The full-size spare tire mounted on the trunk door may save interior room, but it sits heavy and can weigh down on the door hinges over time. Check that the door sits aligned and is easy to open and shut. Make sure if you are interested in one that you take one for a test drive first so you can gauge for yourself the visibility all round when you reverse, do u-turns, and stop at traffic lights.
Jeep Wrangler (2006-2016), Nissan Pathfinder (2005-2012)
Although the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) gave the FJ Cruiser its top safety pick accolade, the issue I have with passenger safety (especially in an accident) is that those sitting in the back can’t get out if the front door doesn’t open, and can’t roll down the window either. Next, if you are sitting at traffic lights either as the front driver at the lights or even the second, you cannot see the traffic lights that are sitting higher than the height of the windscreen, meaning you have to crouch down to see the signals or stick your head out of the driver’s side window. These are points that would make me look closer at its competitors. However, if you don’t plan on having more than one front passenger in the vehicle and don’t mind the limited windscreen height, then you should get a fun off-roader that isn’t too bad on comfort. The FJ Cruiser is also holding value if not increasing, so will definitely be a collectors’ vehicle of the future.