Toyota FJ Cruiser is a mid-size SUV with a rugged design for the ultimate off-road performance. Its production started way back in 2006 at Hino Motors which is a subsidiary of Toyota. However, its production for the Left Hand Drive (LHD) market (mainly the United States and Japan) was halted. Nevertheless, the production has continued for other countries mainly Right-Hand Drive (RHD) such as Australia, UAE South Africa, and by extension Kenya.
It is claimed that the 2008 recession was the main reason why the FJ Cruiser manufacturing was discontinued in 2014 in the RHD markets such as the US. This is after sales plummeted continuously over several years. However, for the RHD countries, vehicles are still being produced and it is not uncommon to spot a 2020 FJ Cruiser in countries like the Philippines and South Africa.
The other day I had a chance to test drive a 2014 FJ Cruiser and I can confirm it is a beast of a vehicle especially for overlanding. It comes with a massive 4.0-liter V-6 engine that produces 260 hp.
Toyota FJ Cruiser Review
The FJ Cruiser closely resembles the 1980s Toyota Land Cruiser FJ. It is built to conquer almost any terrain without worrying about getting stuck or dirty. One can either chose a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission.
The crawl features on the powertrain, 4-wheel drive plus the 367 Nm of torque means that this vehicle performs very well on steep terrain. One has the option to go for a second fuel tank if one has plans to go for long journeys.
The fuel economy of the FJ is 8.4 km per liter on average. This mainly because one can engage and disengage the 4 wheel drive when needed. With an improved engine (Dual VVT-i) the fuel economy actually increased from 7.8 km per liter. However, 8.4km/litre is still a number you should think about if you are a person who doesn’t like visiting the petrol station regularly.
On average the vehicle’s engine performs very well especially with good spark plugs suited for FJ Cruiser. It is highly recommended to do proper maintenance at the actual milestones.
Toyota FJ Cruiser as an Overlanding Vehicle
The FJ is built for the off-road experience, driving this car in the city is an insult to the beast. This is a vehicle that can take you to Chalbi Desert, Mount Kenya, and then all the way down to the Tsavo or coast.
It comes equipped with 17-inch rims and off-road tires that can take on any terrain. Its powerful engine which is 2 digits shy of being a V8 provides the necessary power to beat the tough terrain.
It comes with stock roof racks which are very useful for camping lovers and one can easily install rooftop tents designed for FJ Cruiser. This ensures you can sleep at the comfort and safety of your vehicle’s roof.
Alternatively, one can install a roof box on the roof rack to carry all the necessary camping gear and sleep inside the car. The back seats are foldable, the vehicle has a large trunk (270 litres) and thus with a good camping mattress one can have a good night’s sleep.
It also has AC voltage outlet and wow you can carry your favorite microwave on your next trip.
The FJ’s interior looks like cheap plastic with a basic stock radio and a few extra gauges for things like temperatures, compass, and inclinometer. Nevertheless, this interior is designed to enhance off-road practicality. The plastic and washable rubber mats are easy to clean after a dusty or muddy road trip.
The controls are also large which allows drivers who are wearing gloves to use them easily.
Disadvantages of this Vehicle
The suicide doors for the second low of seats are quite small which is a challenge for most adults to use the back seats, However, they are okay for kids.
The FJ has slit-like windows which means that the visibility is not very good. This means one has to strain a little bit to see the surroundings fully. But does it really matter when you have a vehicle that can be driven over rocks and curbs? Just be careful not to smash your neighbor’s car with massive bull bars.
The handling of this vehicle is not easy and to take a turn one has to put in some extra effort. There is also some wind noise in the cabin.
Toyota FJ Cruiser Price in Kenya
The price of FJ Cruiser in Kenya ranges from Ksh. 3.5 million for a foreign used 2013 model to Ksh. 4.6 million for foreign used 2014 model.
The FJ Cruiser is a good off-road vehicle but not an ideal everyday drive city car. It is built for the rough terrain and not the comfort of an everyday use vehicle.
The engine performance and reliability are splendid. The fuel consumption is average based on SUV standards.