I've seen wild designs move from concept to production unchanged time and again, but few are actually usable in the real world. Ever try to erect the top on a Pontiac Solstice in a rainstorm, or put groceries in the "trunk" of a Plymouth Prowler?
The FJ Cruiser (largely unchanged from the 2003 concept) is the exception. Yes, the price is expensive, the looks divisive, and the B-pillars blinding, but there's seating for four, acres of headroom, and a decent amount of cargo space, even with the rear seats locked in their upright position. The smooth ride was most surprising--compared with the original FJ40, this thing floats like an old Rolls-Royce (and, as shown by the inclinometer, pitches like one, too).
Since the FJ obviously places some emphasis on form over function, it does carry a few inherent flaws. My colleagues have already noted the visibility issues, and the rear view camera helps little, especially when changing lanes. The half-doors are nice for accessing cargo placed in the rear seat, but passengers need to watch out for that upper door latch when entering or exiting the vehicle--it's quite painful if you smack the side of your cranium against it.
Would I buy one? I'm more likely to now, having seen how complaisant the FJ is in my everyday (and decidedly on-road) life, but I think I'm more prone to spend the money building up and restoring an original FJ40.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer