The FJ Cruiser has something that can't be found in most Toyota products: fun. Everything about the truck is a little bit silly, a little bit fun, and wholly unique. The wide, flat windshield necessitates three stubby windshield wipers. The interior controls are all jumbo sized so you can operate them while wearing gloves. A dashboard pod has an analog compass and inclinometer, absolutely pointless in suburban driving but cool nonetheless. And the seats and floor are water resistant, so you can hose out the FJ's interior should you get it muddy.
Ultimately, the FJ Cruiser is a niche vehicle meant for people who want to tackle tough trails. While I don't fit that demographic, I still found myself strangely attached to our green Toyota. I absolutely love the chunky, cutesy styling. The FJ Cruiser looks like the toy army trucks I played with as a child, especially given that our tester wore army green paint and the signature white roof. I really wish I could have taken the FJ Cruiser off-roading, as the commanding driving position and stilt-like ground clearance made me feel like I could conquer any terrain.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
Unlike Automobile Magazine columnist Ezra Dyer, I've never driven a tank. I imagine that this army green Toyota FJ Cruiser, however, drives a lot like a mobile armored large-caliber firearm -- it has very poor outward visibility, sluggish acceleration, surprisingly little cargo space, and requires a climb to get in, and yet it providing a primal sense of power and coolness. As was the case with our Four Seasons example from several years ago, it's hard to not appreciate the FJ Cruiser.
I just wish you could drive with the windows open on a nice summer day. If you do, unfortunately, you just get bombarded with hard winds instead of soft breezes whenever you go faster than 35 mph or so. I'd much rather own a Jeep Wrangler, if only for its vastly superior open-air options.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
As Joe DeMatio noted, the FJ Cruiser debuted at a time when Toyota could afford to indulge in flights of fancy. And yet, I'd say if Toyota wants to reverse its losses, it can't afford not to build vehicles like this. Unlike Toyota's mainstream vehicles, the FJ required its engineers and designers to exercise personal judgment and taste. Guess what? They did great. Sure, the FJ does a few things wrong -visibility is terrible, the interior packaging stinks, and it's a bit of a chore to drive on the highway. But it has an undeniable sense of adventure and charm that hasn't grown old or tacky in four years on the market. The challenge for Toyota is to inject some of this personality, this good taste, into the Camry, Corolla, and Highlanders of the world without sacrificing the practical qualities that still draw so many buyers.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
What's to be said about this great little truck that has not already been stated. Driving this great little number took me back to my 1979 FJ Cruiser. Such a fun car to drive around, and unlike my 79, this one had far less rattles and had air conditioning. I only wish that Toyota had made the doors and top removable. Beyond that, I was digging the army green color, though there are any number of aftermarket wheels I'd have chosen over these. Given the price though, I think I'd opt to spend the same amount on a fully restored original that would retain or increase in value.
Kelly Ryan Murphy, Creative Director