Right around next spring, you will be able to buy a brand-new FJ from a Toyota dealer. An FJ Cruiser, that is. What you see here is very, very close to what Toyota will offer when it goes on sale early in 2006 as an '07 model.
The new FJ Cruiser is a lot like the old FJ40 which hasn't been available stateside since 1983. For trail use, we have to say it is both less and more than the original design, which debuted here in the late '50s.
The original FJ40 was considerably more compact, with a 90-inch wheelbase and 65-inch width. It had two straight axles, both tough as nails, and a leaf-spring suspension that could be easily improved. Even the windshield could be folded down for true open-air operation.
On the other hand, it was marginally powered with a 135hp engine in the most advanced versions of the 4.2L six, and it got terrible mileage, somewhere between 11 and 16 mpg on the road. V-8 conversions were required to get performance to a reasonable level, which helped to improve the power-to-weight ratio of the already-considerable 3,260-pound curb weight. Power steering was an option, but not even available until 1979.
The new FJ Cruiser that you see here says everything about how far 4x4s have come since 1983, when that last new FJ40 was imported for sale in the U.S.
It has almost twice as much power, thanks to a 4.0L, DOHC V-6 that makes 245 hp. It also has more torque and far more efficiency. Expect this new version to deliver between 17 and 21 mpg on the street.
It will have a six-speed manual transmission (the FJ came with a four-speed in 1974), and more ground clearance, at 9.6 inches, than the original FJ. It will tow more too, up to 5,000 pounds, and carry five people. We expect Toyota to use the six-speed now found in the Tacoma. If so-with comparable axle gearing-Toyota will end up with a crawl ratio of about 40:1.
The chassis is based on a shortened 4Runner platform, using a front IFS setup with a four-link, coil spring, and straight axle in the back. It will be about as easy to lift as the current 4Runner-possible, but not especially easy. However, there will be an optional locker for the back axle, and the latest electronic traction controls will actuate the four-wheel disc brakes to limit tire spin. The tires on the prototype are BFGoodrich LT265/70-17 All-Terrains, and there are two tow hooks mounted at the front.
The new FJ Cruiser will be easier to get in and out of as well, thanks to side access panels behind the two front doors. The interior will be designed to be functional and simple, with round gauges and a center-mounted shifter. It will have rear seats that fold flat. The rear hatch will be two-part, with flip-up glass, and the front windshield may not fold down, but it is so large that three wipers are required to sweep it. The round front headlights are deliberate throwbacks to the original FJ (even if they are halogen lamps), as is the wide grille with the old-style "Toyota" logo. Safety has advanced dramatically since 1983, as the FJ Cruiser will have available front seat-mounted side airbags and front and rear side-curtain airbags, four-channel ABS brakes, and a much wider stance.
These days it's hard to find an original FJ40 in good condition without paying an arm and a leg. Toyota is vague about the price of the new FJ Cruiser, but we have been assured that the company is aiming for "a very low price." Our guess? Starting around $20,000, maybe less if we're lucky. The line forms at your Toyota dealer, starting now.
|PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS |
|Type ||DOHC 16-valve V-6 |
|Displacement ||4.0 liters (3956cc) |
|Compression ||10.0:1 |
|Horsepower ||245 hp @ 5,200 rpm |
|Torque ||282 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm |
|Fuel Economy ||17/21 mpg |
|PROJECTED GEARING |
|Low-range Ratio ||2.566:1 |
|Axle Ratio ||3.727:1 |
|Crawl Ratio (six-speed) || 39.94:1 |
|Crawl Ratio (five-speed) || 33.58:1 |
|DIMENSIONS (in) |
|Overall Length ||177.6 |
|Overall Width ||74.6 |
|Overall Height ||70.9 |
|Wheelbase ||105.9 |
|Ground Clearance ||9.6 |
|Seating Capacity ||5 |
|Front ||IFS |
|Rear ||Four-link with coil springs |
|Wheels ||17-inch black steel |
|Tires ||265/70-17 |