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2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Published July 19, 2012

It’s hard not to have a weakness for a fully utilitarian looking SUV such as the Toyota FJ Cruiser. There’s something to be said for that rugged muscular appeal of an off road vehicle. This current model is meant to be homage to the original Toyota FJ40, which was the pinnacle of the tough off road vehicle that was famous for being able to take a severe beating and still come back asking for more. The FJ40 was so tough it was the vehicle of choice for the Iranian army during the Iran-Iraq war and utilized it as a mobile anti-aircraft platform. The problem with this is that Toyota has really used the FJ moniker as a cop out for a far inferior and completely domesticated version of its original predecessor. It’s downright insulting actually.

To get the all important aesthetics aspect out of the way, it’s a very cool, tough looking truck. The flat angles and lines give the distinct impression this truck is not built for high speed racing but rather for tough work. The flat dash inside also makes for a decent amount of cabin room. It is designed to be minimalist and user friendly. That’s about where any comparison to the FJ40 ends.

Most buyers are eyeballing a car the size of an FJ Cruiser as SUV capable of carting the family around and double tasking as an off road fun vehicle on the weekends. The first problem any potential buyer is going to encounter is that for all its size and girth the rear passenger seats are cramped and also difficult to access despite the cool rear reverse hinged doors. Not so much a family vehicle. Good luck wrestling with the baby seat as you try to convince it into the back of the cabin. Yes there is decent cargo space in the rear and even more when the rear seats are folded down. But a family SUV this is not. Also among number one complaints is the ridiculously huge C-Pillar that measures a width of about 18inches that creates a brutal blind spot. No matter what trim package you buy there is a 4.0 liter V6 managing only 260hp and 271lbs-ft of torque. Toyota seems to consider the 4.0 liter ‘enough’. But in this case enough isn’t enough. Call me old fashioned but this isn’t anywhere near enough balls for a sack this big. For all the looks there seems to be no real substance.

The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser is capable of off road work but is hardly the first choice for anyone one the market for a truly dependable SUV with Jeep like reliability.  Gas mileage is an afterthought with this car, which is yet another grand strike against any hope of this being a car for the family. It’s also very loud. The engine works too hard so it bitches and moans when it’s forced into labor. Couple that with the almost 45 degree front windshield and the massive oversize tires and you will definitely drown out the kids quarreling in the tiny little back seat. However if you decide to pop off a few rounds from an anti-aircraft machine gun you’re not going to care so much about the road noise.

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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