2016 Toyota FJ Cruiser road test and review.
Production of the Toyota FJ Cruiser nameplate goes back to 1954 and has proven to be a solid and dependable vehicle, selling worldwide and conquering the harshest environments.
In the early 2000s a design group commenced work on a new “Rugged Youth Utility” vehicle and the FJ Cruiser quickly gained popularity after news broke of its off road capability.
I tested the 2016 Toyota FJ Cruiser recently and found that the car’s off road capability is limited by the driver. Fitted with a swag of electronic aids plus a high and low range transfer case, it’s a high tech trekker with a low tech history.
The powerplant is Toyota’s 200kW V6, albeit in four litre engine and pushing out the grunt via a five speed automatic.
A press of a button locks the rear diff plus there’s a variable speed CRAWL control, allowing the driver to move at a slow but constant velocity across terrain. Backing that up is A-TRC, diverting torque to each corner on demand and adapting to the driven ratio, be it high or low range.
The off road ability is given extra oomph with approach and departure angles of 36 and 31 degrees, ground clearance of 224 mm and a side or break over angle of 29 degrees. The huge tyres, , along with the near 2700mm wheelbase add muscle to the Cruiser’s strength.
On the road it’s quiet inside the basically appointed cabin, with tyre roar muted until you push hard into a turn. It’s also a good idea to plan about a few seconds before hand, as the tyres, being a dual purpose setup, aren’t a fan of being told to turn hard on tarmac.
Being a high sidewall height helps absorb bump/thump and provides a smooth compliant ride.
Acceleration is leisurely when under way, with a peak torque of 380Nm, though it requires a severe prod of the pedal to provoke some excitement in changing gears, with the engine and exhaust emitting a somewhat monotone drone.
Seating is comfortable, supportive and easily adjustable whilst the dash is simply laid out with black on white dials.
Design wise, the Toyota FJ Cruiser is not unexpectedly clever; the cabin has rubber flooring and water repellent coating on the seats in line with its ostensibly off road intentions and there’s interesting extra quirk with the rear suicide doors.
Packaging is clever with an overall length of 4670mm it’s not huge yet spacious with a massive amount of rear cargo space and shoulder room.
Once the main doors are opened, a small lever to the fore of the rear doors opens and swings them back, making access to the rears much easier. The tailgate is a side swinger and comes with the rear vision camera embedded in the spare wheel cover plus an upward hinging glass window.
The exterior is a deliberate harkening back to the original FJ, with the grille and headlights an almost carbon copy.
The body colour on the test car was a bright yellow, with the colour scheme carried into the cabin.
The front window was fitted with three wipers, keeping the near vertical screen clean but nothing could be done about the distracting reflection from the inside.
The downside of retro is the usage of very cheap looking brushed alloy plastic highlights around the aircon vents, they look and feel terrible.
Again, it’s a minimalist look which doesn’t entirely work however it is ergonomic and allows the touchscreen entertainment system/satnav to blend reasonably well into the vertically styled dash.
The FJ continued the solid off road history that Toyota is famous for and mixes in a lot of electronic smartness to help a less talented bush driver.
It’s a fun ride that, for the most part, overcomes a few quirks but definitely adds to the family timeline.
Unfortunately in May it was revealed that Australia will no longer see the FJ Cruiser, with production ceasing in August of 2016.
Priced from $47,000, the 2016 Toyota FJ Cruiser is, in my opinion, an exceptionally well priced buy for the size, room and more importantly, the proven off road ability Toyota’s 4WD family history has.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2016 Toyota FJ Cruiser
Engine: 4.0 litre petrol producing 200kW and 380Nm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Warranty: 3 year/100,000kms
Safety: Not tested
Price: from $46,990