I love seeing a classic Toyota Land Cruiser 40 Series driving down the road. No modern SUV wears rugged, rough, and charming good looks as well as the FJ40. The 2011 FJ Cruiser is no exception. Toyota's current nostalgia car is more of a chunky, puffy, distant relative of the 40 Series than actual kin. To my eyes, it doesn’t evoke any images of cars from half a century ago.
That said, this 4x4 doesn't drive like a car built fifty years ago, either. The suspension is soft enough to help the FJ float over bumps and is hard enough to keep it from getting bogged down when climbing. It makes you feel like you could go anywhere and do anything, and it begs you to run over every patch of rough earth and charge through every deep puddle you can find.
Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor
The FJ Cruiser was conceived and executed during the middle of the previous decade, an era when the economy was roaring and Toyota was riding high and could afford to spend money on what is essentially a corporate vanity project. When Toyota decided to make a production version of what had originally been a concept vehicle, we celebrated the fact that this traditionally conservative automaker was willing to do something different, to build what was and is obviously a niche vehicle. When developing the FJ Cruiser, Toyota turned a blind eye to many of its own internal benchmarks for vehicles in terms of visibility, ingress and egress, and other workaday concerns that are important to mass-market, everyman cars like the Camry.
The result is this purpose-built, off-roading lifestyle machine. Of course it isn't quite as cool as the original Land Cruisers, but it still has a unique sense of style, and I for one love the two-tone exterior and the utilitarian interior. My biggest beef is with the low-to-the-floor seats, a function of the high floor and the low ceiling, but I suspect I'd learn to live with them.
Toyota will not build a second-generation FJ Cruiser, so I bet these will remain popular as used vehicles with a certain subset of the off-roading community for many years.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The FJ Cruiser is the truck for people who want the capability of a Jeep Wrangler, but the civility of a modern SUV. It was quite brazen of Toyota to make the FJ in the first place - it's far out of line with its generally conservative lineup - and has paid off in enthusiast cache. The FJ looks nothing like anything else on the road, save a few antique FJ40s still rambling around, and it's distinct in both recalling its heritage while still being modern. Riding on as shortened 4Runner platform, the FJ also still has the chops to conquer serious off-road trails with ease. However, for being a body-on-frame SUV it rides remarkably well around town and is relatively maneuverable thanks to the tight turning radius, which is needed by those who are regularly scrambling around boulders. The FJ Cruiser is one the last remaining enthusiast's cars made by Toyota.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor