When Toyota pulled the sheets off its FJ Cruiser concept at the 2003 Detroit auto show, we wondered how much of its pugnacious, deliberately overwrought design would make it to production. Lots of it would, as it turned out. Captivating design details that made it from the show floor to the street include the decorative lights in the sideview mirrors, the suicide-style rear doors, and the metal-look bumper extensions. The FJ Cruiser also succeeds in evoking the spirit and design of the original--and iconic--FJ40 of the 1960s. It manages to be unique in Toyota's range, a character actor among a rank of worthy but anodyne players.
On sale now for a year, the FJ has been considerably more successful than Toyota anticipated, with more than 70,000 finding homes. And, surprisingly, given the FJ's tough-guy stance, half of all two-wheel-drive models have been sold to women. The FJ is based on a shortened 4Runner platform, and power is provided by Toyota's 4.0-liter V-6, which puts out 239 hp and a hefty 278 lb-ft of torque. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, but the FJ also is available with a five-speed automatic.
Without question, the most controversial option we specified for our Four Seasons FJ Cruiser turned out to be that automatic gearbox. It's smooth and responsive and works well enough, but it's paired with a part-time four-wheel-drive system.... Read full article