Toyota FJ Cruiser
Toyota FJ Cruiser:
The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a retro style, mid-size SUV with styling and off road performance reminiscent of the original Toyota Land Cruiser (FJ40). Introduced as a concept car at the January 2003 North American International Auto Show, the FJ Cruiser was approved for production after positive consumer response and debuted at the January 2005 North American International Auto Show in final production form. The FJ Cruiser is built by Toyota subsidiary Hino Motors in Hamura, Japan since 2006 and shares many structural underpinnings from the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. On 5 November 2013, Toyota USA announced the 2014 model year Trail Teams edition would be called the “Ultimate Edition” and that the 2014 model year would be the last for the FJ Cruiser in that market. It continued to made for sale in other markets such as Australia and the Middle East until its production was discontinued in 2016.
Design and development:
By the time the production of the original FJ40 ended in 1984, Toyota had shifted towards increasing the size and luxury of the Land Cruiser line. The idea of a new FJ with rugged capabilities of the FJ40 originated in the mid 1990s with Toyota Product Planner Dave Danzer and then Vice President of Sales and Operations Yoshi Inaba.
Danzer worked secretly with Akio Toyoda to set up a special shop at the NUMMI plant to test the feasibility of a new FJ40 by combining Tacoma underpinnings with the bodies of Toyota Bandeirante, an FJ40 based vehicle still in production in Brazil (as a diesel model only) at the time. Akio Toyoda returned to Japan to join the board of directors giving high level support to the project. Toyota’s flagship design studio Calty was then brought on to deliver a fresh interpretation of the FJ40.
Calty hired veteran Chrysler automotive designer Bill Chergosky to lead the development of an offroad vehicle known internally as Rugged Youth Utility (RYU) aimed at attracting young male buyers, a segment Toyota felt they were losing touch with at the time Many takes on the RYU concept were created including the 2001 Rugged Sports Coupe concept before a retro style design created by 24-year-old designer Jin Won Kim was chosen as the final exterior concept with Chergosky designing the interior.
The FJ Cruiser concept debuted at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show in Voodoo Blue, a color that would become the Signature color for the production FJ Cruiser. The bold styling was an immediate hit with the automotive press and general public despite competing with more exotic concepts like the Cadillac Sixteen and Dodge Tomahawk. By resurrecting design traits from the iconic FJ40, the FJ Cruiser was viewed as a new “Halo Car” for Toyota much like the similarly retro styled 2005 Mustang had done for Ford.
In the summer of 2004, Toyota began extensive off road evaluations of the FJ platform by driving development mules on many of the most difficult trails in North America including Moab, Utah, the Angeles National Forest, the Mojave Desert, and the famed Rubicon Trail. Despite each one off mule costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, the development team was determined to push the capabilities of the prototypes in order to deliver reliable off road performance in the production model. Changes to the A-TRAC traction control system and suspension tuning came as a direct result of the prototype testing.
The exterior of the FJ concept remained largely unchanged when the final production model debuted at the 2005 North American International Auto Show. However, Chief production engineer Akio Nishimura had to significantly alter the amenities offered in Chergosky’s interior concept to keep the price of the production FJ Cruiser reasonable. Unique interior touches like the gear shifter that doubled as a shovel handle, removable interior lights which doubled as flashlights, and flat folding front seats were removed though several concept items remained as factory options.
The FJ Cruiser features a short wheelbase, stocky frame, and grille/headlight arrangement much like the original FJ40. Other throwback design cues include a nearly vertical windshield with three windshield wipers for maximum surface area coverage. The FJ Cruiser also featured the name “Toyota” spelled out across the grille instead of the corporate emblem which has been in use since 1990, another reference to the FJ40 and other older Toyota trucks. The FJ’s body features rear opening access doors that give a unique look to the SUV. Special high strength steel was used to give the vehicle side impact protection without the need for a door pillar.
The interior of the FJ features many design elements focused on enhancing off-road practicality. All interior surfaces are covered with washable rubber materials to aid in fast cleanup after heavy outdoor use. The FJ also incorporates oversized controls to aid drivers with gloved hands. The 3-gauge cluster (with compass, temperature, and inclinometer) as well as the 110-volt rear outlet were carried over from the FJ Cruiser concept vehicle as options on the final production model.
At 183.9 inches (4.67 m) in length, the FJ Cruiser is a mid-size SUV offered by Toyota in North America, slotting between the smaller RAV4 and larger Highlander. Toyota sources many components from other vehicles to produce the FJ including shared engines and transmissions found in the Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner as well as suspension components used in the Prado, Hilux, Tacoma, and 4Runner.
The 4×4 FJ Cruiser has 9.6 inches (24 cm) of ground clearance, 34-degree approach and 30-degree departure angles, and a 27.4-degree breakover angle, with 8 inches (20 cm) of front and 9 inches (23 cm) of rear suspension travel. The FJ is also designed to ford up to 27.5 inches (70 cm) of water and has a 5,000-pound (2,300 kg) towing capacity for both 4×4 and 4×2 variants. On road, the FJ accelerates to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) in 7.8 seconds and has .69 G of lateral grip tested with stock Bridgestone Dueler tires.
Structurally the FJ Cruiser incorporates a body on frame truck style design based on the Prado platform. The FJ Cruiser uses a high-mounted, double wishbone front suspension and stabilizer bar, and a 4-link rear suspension with lateral rod with coil springs and stabilizer bar. The 120-series Land Cruiser Prado, Tacoma, 4Runner, and Hilux share the same suspension parts as the FJ Cruiser. The FJ Cruiser uses power-assisted 4-piston front/2-piston rear ventilated disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and is also equipped with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and a specialized traction control system known as (A-TRAC). The A-TRAC (active traction control) system applies braking to control wheels that have lost traction mimicking the performance of a locking differential without the “binding” that can make steering difficult in normal locking differential setups.
Toyota has made revisions to the engine bay inner fender aprons due to some bulging and cracking issues with 2007 and some early 2008 models. The bulges and cracks in the inner fenders were attributed to a Toyota design flaw through certain Vehicle Identification Numbers. Toyota has addressed the problem and has changed the design.
The FJ Cruiser uses the 4.0-liter 1GR-FE DOHC V6. For the 2007 to 2009 model years, the engine came with single variable valve timing (VVT-i) which produces 239 hp (178 kW) at 5200 rpm, and 278 lb·ft (377 N·m) of torque at 3,700 rpm on 91 octane fuel. For the 2010 model year, the FJ Cruiser’s engine gained Dual VVT-i technology which adjusts timing on both intake and exhaust camshafts resulting in 259 hp (193 kW) at 5600 rpm, and 270 lb·ft (370 N·m) on 91 octane, in addition to slightly improved fuel economy on 91 octane fuel. For model year 2011, these figures rose to 260 hp (194 kW) at 5600 rpm, and 271 lb·ft (367 N·m). The 2011 onwards engine meets stringent LEV II/Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions certification Both versions of the 1GR-FE engine run normally on 87 octane fuel though they produce less power thus Toyota recommends premium fuel for demanding situations such as towing, off-roading, and driving at high elevation.
Four-wheel drive models equipped with the RA61F manual transmission have a full-time 4WD system that is permanently engaged; it employs a center TORSEN differential, with a locking feature and distributes the engine’s power 40:60 under most driving conditions. The TORSEN unit varies power distribution as needed, based on steering angle and wheel slippage. In the Lock position, the differential switches to 50:50 power distribution.
Rear-wheel drive models are only available with automatic transmission, and come standard with a limited-slip rear differential.
- 5-speed A750E automatic transmission on rear-wheel drive models.
- 5-speed A750F automatic transmission with VF2A transfer case on part-time 4×4 models
- 6-speed RA61F manual transmission with VF4B transfer case on full-time 4×4 models.
Side curtain airbags for both rows and side torso airbags optional on 2007 models became standard on 2008 models. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded the FJ Cruiser its Top Safety Pick accolade. The FJ Cruiser received a “Good” overall rating in both the front and side impacts tests and also received the “Good” rating in all 14 measured categories.
|Side Rear Passenger:|
|Moderate overlap frontal offset||Good|
|Small overlap frontal offset (2009–present)||Not tested|
The FJ cruiser was primarily developed for the North American market but has been sold in small numbers globally since its launch. On 25 November 2010, Toyota announced sales would begin in right-hand drive form for the Japanese market. Sales began on December 4, replacing the outgoing Hilux Surf and selling alongside the Land Cruiser. Japanese produced right-hand drive models have a different rear bumper to North American models with the license plate located on the bumper as opposed to under the tailgate door handle. In addition, right-hand drive versions have the side indicator markers located on the fender panels, rather than located on the side-view mirrors used for left-hand drive production FJ Cruisers. Sales of right-hand drive model began in Australia and New Zealand in 2011 available in 4 wheel drive automatic only.
TRD Special Edition:
For North America, in 2007 Toyota Racing Development (TRD) produced 3,200 units as the limited production TRD Special Edition FJ Cruiser. This model was released with not only the body painted in a Black Diamond Pearl color, but also with a matching black roof to set itself apart from its standard, white-roofed counterparts. The TRD Special Edition model includes things such as the TRD cat-back exhaust system, TRD Bilstein off-road tuned shocks, rock rails, 16-inch alloy gun-metal gray finished TRD wheels with BFGoodrich All-terrain tires, and TRD badges. The TRD Special Edition also includes mechanical changes to synchronize the locking differential with the active traction control (resulting in the rear differential no longer overriding the active traction). Early production 2006 FJ Cruisers had an issue that caused the rear differential to override the active traction control, except in the TRD Special Edition FJ Cruisers. However, by November 2006, Toyota changed production to incorporate synchronization of the locking differential with active traction control on all FJ Cruisers.
In 2009, subsequent to Toyota releasing the Trail Teams Special Edition FJ Cruiser for the production year of 2008, Toyota created the TRD Package. This package was available on FJ Cruisers with the Iceberg White monotone exterior color scheme, similar to the 2008 Trail Teams Special Editions, except without the addition of blacked out trim pieces. Even though this package was known as the TRD Package, it doesn’t include the same or as many features as the TRD Special Edition. Some of the features with this package were the TRD alloy wheels in a silver finish with the BFGoodrich All-terrain tires, as well as a TRD logos/graphics on the exterior for decoration. Also, the TRD Package was only offered on units with 2-wheel drive for the 2008 model year and 2009 model year. Since 2011, Toyota still offers the TRD Package on the Iceberg White FJ Cruisers but has opened the package availability to both 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive models. Another note to mention is in 2009, only 2,400 units were produced with the TRD Package.
Trail Teams Special Edition:
Beginning with the 2008 model year, Toyota manufactured 3,200 units of specially equipped FJ Cruisers designated as the Trail Teams Special Edition, which featured many of the same TRD options included on the TRD Special Edition, including the same 16-inch alloy wheels (but in a black finish as opposed to the gun-metal grey finish of the TRD model). The Trail Teams Special Edition was also equipped with BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires, as well as TRD/Trail Teams Bilstein shocks, and other similar options found on the TRD model. The number of Trail Teams Special Edition FJ Cruisers produced per year are as follows: 3,200 units for 2008 (as stated above); 1,500 for 2010; 2,500 in 2011; 2,500 in 2012; 2,500 in 2013; and 2,500 in 2014. No Trail Teams models were produced in 2009. However, Toyota released a TRD Package for that model year and it was used on the same Iceberg White painted FJ Cruisers that were used for the 2008 Trail Teams Special Edition, (for more information, see the TRD Special Edition section.)
Over the years, small incremental changes have been made to the Trail Teams Special Edition FJ Cruisers, such as changing the TRD alloy wheels to beadlock style TRD wheels on later years, and the availability of Toyota’s CRAWL control feature as part of the Trail Teams package (2013 and 2014 automatic transmission only). The CRAWL control had been previously used on other 4-wheel drive vehicles from Toyota and Lexus to enhance off-road capabilities. Each year, the Trail Teams Special Edition is painted in one distinct color and is the only FJ variant (besides the TRD Special Edition units) offered in a monotone color scheme, rather than the traditional two-tone FJ Cruiser with the standard white painted roof (excluding standard production FJ Cruisers with the “Iceberg White” body). The Trail Teams variants are also the only FJ models to have body trim pieces blacked out from the factory including the mirrors, door handles, bumper caps, etc. Special design details also carry over to the interior such as color matched fabric inserts on the seats for specific years and special Trail Teams badges.
2014 Trail Teams Ultimate Edition:
Toyota announced that the 2014 model year would be the final production year of the FJ Cruiser for the U.S. Market, therefore to add uniqueness to the final version of the Trail Teams Special Edition, Toyota designated the final version to be the Trail Teams Ultimate Edition which features a few special upgrades. The 2014 Trail Teams Ultimate Edition FJ Cruiser comes in a Heritage Blue paint scheme (resembling an original FJ40 Land Cruiser factory paint color), and for the first time features a white grille bezel that again pays tribute to the iconic Land Cruiser FJ40. The remaining vehicle trim remains black, similar to previous versions of the Trail Teams Special Edition. While all of the Trail Teams FJ Cruisers feature a race-inspired TRD/Trail Teams off-road suspension designed by Bilstein, the Ultimate Edition features a new rear remote reservoir suspension. The suspension also raises the vehicle slightly taller than stock as to achieve a leveled stance. The Ultimate Edition is also equipped with a special 1/4 inch thick aluminum TRD skid plate, designed to help with the approach angle for the front of the vehicle and provide better protection while off-roading. Significant interior differences that are unique to the 2014 Trails Team Ultimate Edition include; the interior panel inserts are black rather than color matched to the exterior color of the vehicle, the radio bezel is silver, and a special “Ultimate Edition” dash plaque is affixed to the dash on the passenger side indicating the special edition is only “One of 2500.” Additionally, the seating fabric inserts are color matched to coordinate with the Ultimate Edition’s unique silver/black interior, rather than the exterior color as in previous years.
The Trail Teams Special Edition color schemes that have been released each year are as follows:
ARB Edition FJ Crawler:
The FJ Crawler was first offered in 2007 (for the 2008 model year) and is the result of a collaboration between Dealer Services International (DSI), known for building high quality custom packages for new vehicle dealers, and ARB, who has a long history building rugged off-road products. For participating Toyota new vehicle dealerships, the FJ Crawler could be special ordered for customers who were looking for a vehicle that is even more rugged and off-road ready than a standard Off-Road Package factory option would provide. The FJ Crawler package included an ARB Front Bull Bar Bumper, an Old Man Emu 3-inch suspension lift to support the added weight of the ARB bumper and to allow for the 17-inch Pro Comp wheels with either 33 or 35-inch off-roading tires. The FJ Crawler was able to be customized in many ways with many optional accessories to achieve the customers satisfaction. For example, the FJ Crawler could be ordered in any factory color for the current model year. The customer could choose from 3 different wheel choices, 3 different tire choices, and could even choose the exact springs and shocks used in the Old Man Emu suspension to achieve the desired ride/performance quality. There was also the option of adding accessories such as a Warn winch, IFP driving lights which would be mounted to the ARB bumper, a fog light kit for the ARB bumper, and an ARB roof rack for storing gear and other items. Other options included a cat-back exhaust system, a high flow intake, as well as side steps. Also, because of variances in aftermarket tire sizes, speedometer calibration was provided to ensure correct vehicle speed and mileage are recorded.
Slight changes have been made over the years to the FJ Crawler’s options but in recent years DSI offers new products for the FJ Crawler as well as their own Performance Package including Pro Comp 5″ lift kits, 35-inch Pro Comp off-road tires, LRG or Pro Comp alloy wheels, Smittybilt original parts, and other custom accessories that are all selected by the buyer or dealer who orders the vehicle.
FJ-S Cruiser Concept:
The FJ-S Cruiser Concept, debuted at the 2012 SEMA Auto Show in Las Vegas, NV, is the creation of Toyota and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) in an effort to create a new style of FJ Cruiser that from its looks, remains fairly similar, but is designed to be even more off-road ready than its standard FJ Cruiser counterparts. The FJ-S Cruiser Concept actually incorporates suspension components from the Baja Series Tacoma and has an upgraded chassis and body structure with the addition of an underbody “exoskeleton” to improve its off-road prowess. According to Toyota, the extra stiffness and strength provided by the exoskeleton creates a more suitable platform for the suspension modifications and wheel upgrades added, which include 60-mm Bilstein racing shocks up front and 50-mm Bilstein racing shocks with remote reservoirs in the rear which produce around 1.3″ of lift over stock. Also, the FJ-S features all new TRD 17-inch wheels in a Midnight Black finish along with BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires. TRD also added their new supercharger with a Twin Vortex System and a large air-to-water intercooler, which brings the engine output to 345 horsepower and 345 lb/ft of torque, which is 30% and 25% of increase over the standard FJ Cruiser model. The exterior of the FJ-S Cruiser Concept received other changes/upgrades including a front nudge bar and the rock rails used on other FJ Cruiser variants. The color Toyota chose for this model is the Quicksand color, but unlike other FJ variants, they kept the white roof as opposed to doing a monochromatic color scheme. The interior of the FJ-S debuted an all-new two-tone leather seating with the FJ-S logos on the seatbacks along with custom floor mats.
Not much information has been released as far as the chassis and body structure changes go, and Toyota hasn’t announced what they plan on doing with the FJ-S Cruiser Concept in the future. So whether or not it goes into production in a later year or if it remains a concept car is uncertain. However, new releases from Toyota show that the TRD Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs and TRD-tuned front spring suspension combination debuted on the FJ-S Cruiser Concept is the same one they used on the Trail Teams Ultimate Edition FJ Cruiser for 2014. Toyota also put the same newly designed TRD Midnight Black alloy wheels used on the FJ-S on the new TRD Pro Series 4Runner.
The FJ debuted to both criticism and acclaim from the automotive press. Critics appreciated Toyota’s drive to bring such an aggressively styled and purpose driven vehicle to market at a time when the company was focused on more conservative designs. The FJ was universally praised for its off road performance with many reviewers also appreciating its on road manners, functional interior, and styling that paid homage to the original FJ40. The off road community widely embraced the new addition of another Toyota off road vehicle and many different groups and forums were created specifically with the FJ Cruiser at their center.
Some reviewers took issue with the amount of body roll and low lateral grip performance though noting the suspension was designed to be soft with a long travel for off road use.
The FJ Cruiser was also criticized for its styling which created large blindspots, smaller than average cargo capacity, and cramped rear seating that was difficult to access. Toyota attempted to improve the blind spot issues by offering a rear back up camera starting with the 2009 model year and changed the hinge mechanisms on the front seats allowing passengers easier entry and exit from the rear starting with the 2011 model.
Sales of the FJ Cruiser were strong in the initial years from the initial exuberance surrounding the unique retro styling and performance offered by the FJ. However sales have waned from a high of 56,225 units sold in North America in 2006 to less than 15,000 units by 2010 partly from the increased competition in the mid-size SUV segment and poor fuel economy amidst rising gasoline prices and environmental concerns. Toyota hoped to rectify these concerns with an updated engine optimized to run on regular unleaded instead of premium with a slight boost in fuel economy for the 2010 model year.
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