Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Photos by Ulysses Ang
The moment the Toyota FJ Cruiser parked into my garage, I couldn’t help but grin like a high school kid. It’s like seeing my first Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, only this time it’s with a two-ton (1,948 kilograms to be exact) SUV. Naysayers will immediately point out that the FJ Cruiser isn’t practical: it’s huge, cramped, and thirsty; but this SUV manages to transcend these adjectives. Driving the FJ Cruiser is like dating a Victoria’s Secret Angel—you don’t go out with her because of her cooking skills; you date her because she’s hot. That’s the kind of magic spell the FJ Cruiser casts on you. It makes you live your childhood dreams of driving a real-life Tonka truck.

In terms of underpinnings, the FJ Cruiser has somewhat more modest beginnings: it’s based off the Land Cruiser Prado. But then, it went wild and actually transformed into something unique and beautiful. I don’t consider the Land Cruiser Prado to be pedestrian-looking, but next to the FJ Cruiser, it looks like a wallflower. It looks nothing like any other Toyota and that’s because the FJ Cruiser is a nod to the original FJ40 Land Cruiser—a model sold in the 1980’s. As such, it successfully captures nostalgia and bottles it in its round headlights, protruding front fenders, white roof, and chunky C-pillar. Beyond retro, the short overhangs, generous ground clearance, and chamfered edges all serve a purpose: it gives the FJ Cruiser excellent off-road prowess.



Taking a peek under its skirt, and you’ll find a clean view between the wheels—designed to achieve excellent suspension articulation and protection. Looking further up, there’s a solid rear axle with four links at the back and Double Wishbones in front—both having high suspension points. Even the spare tire has been mounted at the back to further improve the FJ Cruiser’s departure angle. Together with the Dunlop Grandtrek AT22 265/70R17 tires, the FJ Cruiser has almost 245-mm of ground clearance with a 34-degree approach angle and 31-degree departure angle. Opening the large hood, you’ll find the same story with the FJ Cruiser’s engine bay. It shuns the current trend of mounting an engine as low as possible and puts it as high as it possibly can. It doesn’t do wonders to the FJ Cruiser’s center of gravity, but then again, this SUV wasn’t made to carve canyons; it was made to go over them.

The tractive effort for this canyon crawler is provided by a 4.0-liter V6 with 268 horsepower and 380 Nm of torque. Overall, it’s smooth and refined and can mimic the grunts made by a V8 engine, especially at lower revs. There’s a lot of power available early on, so it’s best to operate the accelerator with a light foot. However, if you find the urge to floor the gas, the FJ Cruiser can get going with gusto, chirping its tires in the process and quickly activating the 120 km/h alarm, which coincidentally, you can’t turn off. The sole transmission is a five-speed automatic which is just as smooth and refined as the engine. There are no steering wheel paddles or manual gear overrides, and you don’t need them; this transmission knows best. The FJ Cruiser comes with cruise control, but be warned: there are no indicators to tell you if it’s on or not. You’ll only know it’s on because you’re not slowing down. Surprisingly, despite its large displacement engine and blocky aerodynamics, it manages 6.19 km/L city and 10.98 km/L highway. A disclaimer though: my city fuel figures were done between Boxing Day up to the New Year.



Staying on paved roads for the entire duration of this test drive, the FJ Cruiser is pleasantly comfortable. It’s no sports car or even crossover for that matter, so a re-adjustment is necessary when piloting this car. For instance, visibility is compromised because of the upright windshield and ultra-thick A- and C-pillars. The FJ Cruiser also doesn’t have a high level of grip through corners and can feel severely “unbraked” on some occasions. That said, keep a calm demeanor during driving, and you’ll be rewarded with a ride that’s beautifully modulated. It glides through potholes like they weren’t there. The steering is surprisingly light, but there’s little feedback. But with a 2.7-turns lock-to-lock, the FJ Cruiser has a surprisingly tight 6.2-meter turning radius.

Admittedly, I’m not a hardcore off-roader myself, so I’ll have to trust other people when they say the FJ Cruiser has excellent off-road credentials. Unlike some SUVs, the FJ Cruiser isn’t a full-time four-wheel drive machine. It runs purely on two-wheels until you shift (on-the-fly) to four-wheel drive. The Philippine-spec unit comes with a Lockable Rear Differential among the usual Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control.



As stylish and capable as the FJ Cruiser is, you’ll likely want to know how it feels to be inside. I’m pleased to tell you, it’s a good place to be in. Mirroring the FJ Cruiser’s playful exterior, the interior is filled with both nostalgic and purposeful touches you won’t find anywhere else. For instance, it features a plastic washable floor with the floor mats serving as the only cloth covering for your feet. Then you have the color-coordinated center console and door panels which match the exterior paint creating a young atmosphere. The chunky controls from the air conditioning knobs to the gearlever and the transfer case are nice touches and so is the dash-mounted triple-meter cluster. The cup holders and center console bin are lined in rubber too, reducing unwanted rattles brought about by loose change and canned drinks.

As good as the interior is the experience also isn’t perfect. For one, ingress and egress is quite a feat in the FJ Cruiser given there are no side step boards to speak of. And then you have the hidden clamshell rear doors. This means if you’re picking someone up who needs to get in back, you or your front passenger will need to unbuckle your seatbelt, open the front door before the rear door can be opened. And lastly, the rear seats are tight, smaller than a compact sedan even; a surprise given the FJ Cruiser’s generous exterior size. However, if you do plan to treat the FJ Cruiser solely as a toy-seater toy of sorts, the rear seats do fold down in a 60/40 split, maxing out at 1,891 liters (790 liters with the rear seats up). And the rear glass can open separately from the rest of the hatch, a joy in tight parking spots.



Priced at just P 1,798,000, the FJ Cruiser surprised many with its affordable pricing, especially considering the 4WD-equipped Fortuner is just P 33,000 cheaper. So where did Toyota shave off some savings to price this Japan-CBU SUV so aggressively? Interior features. Yes, if there’s a single complaint I’ll lodge with the FJ Cruiser is its lack of creature features. To name a few, the FJ Cruiser lacks: fog lamps, courtesy wipe (for the wiper), adjustable dimmer for the instrument cluster, multi-function trip computer, USB input for the audio, and side and curtain airbags. Thankfully, it has an auto dimming rear view mirror and parking sensors as standard equipment (trust me, you’ll need it).

In the end, the Toyota FJ Cruiser isn’t for every SUV buyer. If you want something much more practical that seats seven, there’s always the Fortuner; something more carlike and agile? The RAV4. Clearly, FJ Cruiser isn’t exactly the best choice when it comes to an everyday driver. Again, it’s like dating a supermodel. She won’t be most practical girl on the planet, but given the choice, won’t you date one?



2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser
 
Ownership 4.0 V6
Year Introduced 2013
Vehicle Classification Mid-sized SUV
The Basics
Body Type 3-door + 2-hidden SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/4WD, low, locking
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 4.0
Aspiration NA
Layout / # of Cylinders V6
BHP @ rpm 268 @ 5,600
Nm @ rpm 380 @ 4,400
Fuel / Min. Octane Unleaded / 93~
Transmission 5 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,670
Width (mm) 1,905
Height (mm) 1,830
Wheelbase (mm) 2,690
Curb Weight (kg) 1,948
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension 4-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires 265/70R17
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps No
Auto Lights No
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer No
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control No
Audio System Stereo
CD
MP3
Aux
No. of Speakers 8
Steering Wheel Controls No

53 comments:

  1. Between 6 - 9 km/l ??? WOW! That's like my mileage when i drive my Honda CRV and it aint even a 4.0 V6 engine! LOL

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    Replies
    1. I drove this engine 1GR-FE and it's 7km/L on highway here in saudi.

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  2. I think the tires used are 265/70/17

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you're correct. I managed to input the corrections. Thanks!

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  3. A really handsome retro looking SUV.
    I hope the people who purchase it actually use it off road.

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  4. Replies
    1. Just got some infos from Toyota Manila Bay.. no more orange and dark green fj's... replaced it with yellow and red...

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  5. So basically, is it a 4x2 or a 4x4 vehicle?

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    Replies
    1. It's a part-time 4WD. Unlike the Fortuner 3.0 V which is a full-time 4x4, this one is primarily RWD until you engage the 4WD system.

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    2. I think you mean the Rav4 4wd version as being full-time 4x4...

      The 3.0V Fortuner is RWD till you engage the 4WD system.

      Delete
  6. Good day sir!
    What's the diff between the 2013/2014(Casa) FJ vs the 2008 Fj(grey market ones) cant seem to find comparisons in the internet. Thinking about getting an 08(1.4M 10k mileage) rather than bnew(1.8M)

    thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't really know the difference between the local spec unit and the gray market ones. However, from my understanding, the gray market units are sourced from the US while Toyota Motor Philippines's unit is actually a Middle Eastern spec unit. For peace of mind, I suggest getting a unit from TMP. It comes with a 3-year warranty and you'll be sure they can do all the repair and servicing it will need.

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    2. the latest one comes with a dual VVTI engine

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    3. The rear differential is 8" like the hilux vigo for the 2008 vs 8.2" for our ph fj.

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  7. you say V8 but specs says V6, which is which?

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    Replies
    1. I clearly said it's a V6 but it makes a sound like a V8.

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  8. Great Review! The FJ is being phased out. 2014 is the last year of production. Won't this result in parts supply problems in the future?

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    Replies
    1. Normally this won't be a problem given Toyota will have to have after sales service for a vehicle until up to 10 years before it being phased out. Plus take note that the FJ Cruiser shares its drivetrain and suspension with the still-available Land Cruiser Prado and 4Runner, so running gear will be in plenty supply.

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  9. Is there Bluetooth in the Philippine version of the fj?

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  10. I heard you can put optional third row seats? (Aftermaket) would you know if TMP does this? And how much additional cost? A sales rep said they can but Im not entirely sure maybe hes just sales talking me to buy. Thanks in advance

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    Replies
    1. AFAIK, Toyota Philippines doesn't have an accessory that fits third row seating in the FJ Cruiser. Even so, it will be a very tight third row! It's a tight 5-seater as it is!

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  11. Can u help me to get a new fj cruiser so fast, because its take too long to wait just to have one. Thanks

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  12. Hi, does the rear camera come as standard equipment?

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  13. Hi! @Car Guide! Please answer my question :D
    1. Can i play streaming music via bluetooth?
    2. Does this thing have a voice command? (because other countries have)
    3. What if i want na may controls sa steering wheel ko? Pwede po ba palitan ng casa if they have one? or di pwede?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The FJ Cruiser's Bluetooth doesn't have voice command.

      As for streaming music, I'm not too sure. However, when I paired it with my BlackBerry, it doesn't support streaming music, only hands-free calling. I'm not too sure if it will support it for other types of phones like iPhones or Android-based phones.

      As for the steering wheel, I don't think there's a way to retrofit steering wheel controls on the FJ.

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    2. you can't stream bluetooth music .... only hands free calls

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  14. sir ask ko lang.sa 2015 ba wala ng issue ng fj?totoo ba na iphase out na ito?tnx po

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's true. The Toyota FJ Cruiser will cease production in 2015. However, that doesn't mean there wouldn't be any parts available. The FJ Cruiser shares its engine/underpinnings with the Land Cruiser Prado.

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  15. 2014 was said to be the last year the fj cruiser will be sold in the U.S.
    However production will still continue for the Japanese domestic market (introduced 2010) and Australia./ New Zealand (introduced 2011).

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  16. Im very thank full for this page. i have reservations for this car. but the casa said green will not be available now. :(( this is the best time to buy fj.

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  17. pardon me but why is it the best time to buy FJ? after many months, i still can't make up my mind if i like it enough

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  18. I am just wondering why FJ did not come out with a Diesel Engine, that will bring the house down. Imagine, dating a Victoria Secret Model who knows how to cook as well?

    Jedi

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  19. What is the reason behind the phase out of Toyoto FJ Cruiser?

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  20. I think the phase out is only in the US, for asia ... the wait time for the FJ has been significantly faster ... a friend of mine was able to get his FJ white color in just 2 weeks ....

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  21. Question: where are the 8 speakers located. Cardoor, Dashboard, Rear Pillar. wheres the other set of speaker?

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  22. A Hummer immitaton...thats what it is...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha?!
      ang layo naman ata ng hummer at FJ.
      ok ka lang?

      Delete
  23. Bulok sa Offroad. Iniwan ng mga Pajero at Patrol. Porma lang talaga

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. iho, ang pinaguusapan dito ay yung FJ, hindi yang sarili mo.
      wag kang magcomment dito ng tungkol sa iyo.
      sinasabi mo pa dito na bulok ka at puro porma ka lang talaga.

      Delete
  24. Its a world of difference pajero,patrol between FJ besides its piece of history much better konti lang meron i take it positively...

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  25. Don't buy FJ cruiser, very hard to find spare parts here and very expensive parts

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  26. Fj cruiser large consumption of fuel and not applicable in metopolis due to daily road traffic, japanese car makers deranged person who tempted by appearance , when use after five to ten years times it deteriorated and sold to junk shop

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  27. How about the gas consumption?

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  28. Great Vehicle yun FJ. Have Gun, will Travel. Have Money, will Buy. Dont have money . . . No Comment . . . .

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  29. Are there any difference between the 2014 model and the 2016? Like in the headlights and stuff

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    Replies
    1. No difference. The 2016 model does have an AVT GPS navigation system. That's the only change

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  30. as mention above minimum fuel octane is 93 but in owner manual and internet it says 87 and above

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    Replies
    1. 87 and above for US markets...at the time of writing, Philippines didn't offer any octane lower than 93

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  31. looks like stereo controls in the wheel is standard in other countries, baka pwedeng i-replace

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    Replies
    1. Likely, pwede.

      For example the FJ Cruiser is pre-wired for the A-TRAC... You just need to buy the switch.

      Delete