If you really sit and think about how many ‘manly’ vehicles there are for sale, primarily aimed at the male demographic, you would be shocked to see how very few there really are. Thankfully Toyota has come to the table and, although the FJ Cruiser has been around for a while, it has not been locally available for all that long.
On the front end of the car you are greeted by an extremely square face which is quite chunky; this obviously helps with the cars approach angle and, believe me that in stock form, this vehicle is very capable. The FJ has a sort of military feel to it, with only the basics on the inside. In front there are three wiper blades sitting on a completely out of the ordinary, almost vertically angled windscreen. Our vehicle, dubbed the trail pack, was fitted with an additional roof-rack with top mounted spotlights which can be switched on or off from the inside. It also has running bars which, if you ask me, could probably double up as rock sliders as they look pretty tough.
On the back end of the vehicle you have a swinging door with a tailgate mounted full size spare and a removable tow bar. The boot is lined in a sort of plastic which gives it a very utilitarian kind of feeling. It reminds me of an ammunition chest. The whole vehicle is available standard with privacy glass, which ensures that glare is kept outside on a hot summer day.
From the driver’s seat you have a three spoke steering wheel with multifunction controls, but don’t expect much more than that. They serve a purpose and that’s to answer the Bluetooth activated hands-free kit and to adjust the radio. There is a nifty little compartment above the steering that is recessed into the dash board. Perfect storage for a piece of biltong!
There is a mirror-mounted rear view camera which helps a ton because the vehicle is pretty large in size and it could be quite awkward to park it in a tight space. Rear PDC is also standard, which ensures you don’t take out a car or a pole or something you can’t see!
As mentioned before the interior is pretty manly and filled with testosterone. Big levers, shifters and switches; it’s like a toy car, but only it’s real! You have four sunshades, two in front of the driver and passenger and two on each side. The gear shift selector is huge and for a man, feels great!
Driving the two ton vehicle around might have you think it’s sluggish, but the 4l six cylinder engine producing 200kw makes driving a breeze. This engine is really a gem and I can’t think that anybody would want to drive a diesel after they have been spoilt with it. Fuel consumption is a bit of a let-down but then again I was not expecting good figures to start with and you should see in the region of about 400km to reserve. The tank holds 63 litres and is maybe a touch on the small side.
The Independent suspension is not always ideal when venturing off road, but in this case it works very well. The FJ Cruiser has the highest ground clearance of all Toyota vehicles at 245mm. Armed with a rear diff lock and what Toyota calls A-Trac, the FJ is really like a spider monkey off-road. It just goes and goes and then it goes some more.
If you are looking for a manly vehicle or just something different and out of the ordinary, the FJ Cruiser should be considered. Sure it big, square and not a pretty vehicle, but its definitely different than what is available out there. Even at the base price of R457 000 the biggest competitor is the Jeep Wrangler unlimited and yet they worlds apart.