Toyota’s funky FJ Cruiser takes a form-over-function approach to on- and off-road driving.

Story By Matt Raudonikis

There's no denying that retro styling is popular in the automotive world. Cars such as the new Mini, Volkswagen Beetle and Ford Mustang take buyers back to a bygone era and deliver a classic-style car with the benefits of a modern vehicle. The four-wheel-drive sector isn’t immune and Toyota’s FJ Cruiser is a prime example.
The legend of the Toyota LandCruiser was built on the FJ40 and FJ45 models back in the 1960s and ’70s, and the FJ Cruiser pays homage to that iconic model still found on many bush properties today. The modern FJ Cruiser is a tribute more than a re-creation as it’s only the radiator grille and headlights that look like the original. The contrasting white roof is another clue to its heritage but the quirky styling owes more to Lego than the old LandCruiser.
The FJ Cruiser’s body is all about looks. It appears to be a two-door wagon but has small rear doors that open from the B-pillar to allow a bit of extra space for passengers to get into the back seat. These are similar to those doors found on some extra-cab utes.
The retro look continues inside the FJ with painted plastic surfaces mimicking the steel dashboard and doors of the original, and the upright windscreen also harking back to another era. But unlike the old FJ40, the cabin of the new version is well appointed with all the usual mod-cons you expect, including a great sound system, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio link, air-conditioning, reversing camera with screen in-mirror, and power windows. In contrast are the functional, rubber-covered floors in both the passenger and cargo area that make cleaning out after off-road escapades a cinch.
There are seats for five people and access to the rear seat isn’t too difficult thanks to those clever rear doors. There’s enough room in the back for a weekend’s worth of camping gear, but if you need more space or seats you’ll need to look to a bigger wagon such as a Prado or LandCruiser. The FJ is best suited to a couple who can fold down the rear seats to accommodate gear on an extended trip.

This story excerpt is from Issue #80

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2012