If you never go off-road, you'll like it; if you always go off-road, you'll love it.
In the world of serious off-road trucks, Toyota's FJ series that flourished from 1960 to 1983 had few equals. In addition to being able to go over and through most obstacles that lay off the beaten path, the compact yet rugged ute also had a reputation for bulletproof reliability and durability. As long as there was gas in the tank, oil in the engine and coolant in the radiator, nothing short of an attack by an enraged elephant could keep the FJ from getting to nearly any part of the earth's four corners.
While the FJ Cruiser's lineage is long ("FJ" has been the Land Cruiser's internal vehicle code name for more than 50 years), Toyota claims that the 2007 version is "the most distinctive and capable 4x4 in the Toyota lineup." That's quite a statement from the company that builds the current Land Cruiser and 4Runner, which are excellent off-roaders in their own right. Harkening back to that illustrious FJ40 model of decades gone by, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser incorporates many design features of the original, such as fairly compact dimensions and aggressive approach and departure angles. But unlike those mechanical billy goats of yore, today's version has a lot more muscle underhood as well as the latest features that today's consumers demand.
Although the FJ's styling is definitely retro, its running gear is not. A variety of drive systems are available, ranging from a "Pre-Runner" style two-wheel-drive version to a pair of four-wheel-drive FJs. Standard on all is the same potent, DOHC 4.0-liter V6 that sees duty in many of Toyota's other trucks, and buyers have a choice of an automatic or manual transmission. Four-wheel-drive models have low-range gearing, a locking center differential and a traction-control system with a brake-based electronic differential locking feature. A mechanically locking rear differential is available as an option.
The 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser certainly lives up to its lofty forebears in terms of off-road prowess. At the same time, it's considerably better in terms of comfort and amenities than any old FJ ever was. But we doubt many people will be cross-shopping new and old. For 2007, the Toyota's closest competitors are the Hummer H3, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, and Nissan Xterra. The Xterra holds a slight advantage in terms of on-road performance and versatility, but its styling seems rather staid in comparison. For the shopper desiring a reasonably affordable SUV that shines in terms of style, performance