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The Toyota FJ Cruiser: Breaking the Styling Mold


Toyota's FJ Cruiser has been plucked from the auto history books to provide consumers with a car that is retro in design but thoroughly modern in its off road capabilities.

Toyota’s growing popularity hasn’t been without controversy. No, the automaker doesn’t have much of a quality issue to contend with and, no Toyota isn’t likely to begin losing market share anytime soon. Yet, there is one area where the Japanese automaker has a bit of a perception problem and that has to do with styling. Of course Toyota vehicles aren’t ugly but there are few models being built today that are truly exciting. All that is now beginning to change as Toyota releases several head turning models including the latest rendition of its popular Camry sedan and one of its newest models, the FJ Cruiser. Keep reading and we’ll take a glance at just how Toyota is breaking one mold by breaking new ground.

Maybe it was the success of the Nissan Xterra or perhaps it was the desire to recapture past glory [or something in between] but Toyota’s decision to build the FJ Cruiser may not have been an easy one. With a line up filled with various trucks and SUVs, the proposed FJ Cruiser would not only be competing against the Jeeps and Land Rovers of the world, but with some of its own models including the car based Highlander and the versatile, truck based 4Runner. Still, the model was thought to stand a chance for two reasons: the FJ Cruiser is a retro-styled vehicle taking its design cues from the FJ40 of the 1960s/1970s and for its 5 passenger seating capacity: just the right sized vehicle that consumers would want to take off roading.

Yes indeed the FJ Cruiser is one beast with an attitude and an effective competitor in a sea of SUVs. For the money, this is what you get with the standard model:

Land Cruiser style and versatility. As the original Land Cruisers were noted for their off road prowess, the FJ Cruiser matches its heralded relative by climbing over rocks, surging up hills, and navigating sandy terrain with relative ease.

Retro styling. Much like Chrysler, Ford and GM which have each successfully introduced and sold retro styled vehicles, the FJ Cruiser’s two tone body, restrained roofline, and painted black bumpers effectively combine the old model with the new.

Safety features everywhere. Available as a 4x2 or 4x4, the FJ Cruiser comes with vehicle stability control and vehicle traction control along with ABS, brake assist, and electronic brake force distribution for added stopping capabilities. Add in optional driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers and the FJ Cruiser has riders thoroughly protected.

Dependable engine/transmission. Not to take too much of a risk with this model, Toyota snagged the same 4.0L engine powering the 4Runner and other Toyota trucks of its size and stuck it under the FJ Cruiser’s hood. A five speed automatic or six speed manual transmission helps the off roader triumph as it scales rocks or takes steep hills.

The interior of the FJ Cruiser is anything but austere, but it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of the overdone Land Cruiser, not a bad thing though. Power windows and door locks, keyless remote entry, and a six speed CD radio are some of the features found in this model. On the outside, 17 inch steel wheels do their part in helping the vehicle tow as much as 5,000 pounds. Whatever you choose not to tow can be stuck inside or carried on top; with the second seat folded down the FJ Cruiser’s ample storage area is tops in its class.

Best of all, the base FJ Cruiser retails for just over $21,000 with 4x4 versions selling for about $2,000 more. One drawback reported by consumers is dealer price gouging: some buyers are claiming that dealers are adding four to five thousand dollars to the sticker price of every FJ Cruiser sold.

Finally, if it is fuel efficiency you are seeking the FJ Cruiser just isn’t there. Average fuel economy of 20 mpg is not terrible, but it is not great either. Chances are if you are interested in a vehicle like the FJ Cruiser, then fuel economy will be one of your least concerns at least Toyota hopes so.

Truly it appears that Toyota has gotten the styling side of their house in order with this capable retro 4x4 vehicle as evidenced by strong sales in a vehicle segment that has been hit hard by high gasoline prices.

Submitted by:

Matthew C. Keegan

Copyright 2006 – Matthew C. Keegan is a freelance automotive writer covering products from the Tornado Fuel Saver: http://www.autopartswarehouse.com/shop_brands/tornado.html to quality, wholesale priced Toyota parts: http://www.autopartswarehouse.com/toyota~rep.html







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