Not that everyone loved the FJ Cruiser's chiseled lines and bold yellow demeanor, not even in our office. Its take-it-or-leave-it design forces people to quickly develop an opinion of the vehicle (not a bad thing, in my opinion). One clear drawback, however, is caused by the wide C-pillars and narrow windows. Both contribute mightily to the FJ Cruiser's aggressively quirky countenance but make glancing over the shoulder to check traffic before a lane change a futile gesture. Use the big side mirrors to check your flanks. And there's an on/off button on the dash for the rear ultrasonic parking assist sensors. Glue it in the on position so that you won't be tempted to go mano-a-mano with the now-huge blind spot behind the FJ Cruiser. Looking through the rearview mirror is an exercise akin to squinting through a periscope, and I had to fight the urge to constantly adjust it in the unreasonable hopes of getting a better view.

Toyota expects the FJ Cruiser buyers to be male, a third of them age 30 years and younger. The company is going to focus on marketing the FJ Cruiser to the off-road enthusiast first in order to build the vehicle's cred as the young man's vehicle to outdoor adventure. It's a conservative but reasonable approach when you consider the reputation and brand equity of its competition (Wrangler Rubicon, Hummer H3, etc.), and perhaps necessary in light of any new model's need to stand out in today's ultra-competitive automotive market. But when you consider that a well-equipped FJ Cruiser will likely be priced in the mid-$20,000 range, that an entry-level FJ Cruiser will be available with 2WD, automatic transmission, and a proven V-6, and that it will be wrapped in love-it-or-leave-it styling that's hard to ignore, it wouldn't surprise me to see the FJ Cruiser attain some mainstream success sooner than the folks at Toyota expect.

'06 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4WD
Price Not established by the manufacturer
Engine 1GR-FE 4.0L V-6
Horsepower 239 hp@5,200 rpm (SAE)
Torque (lb-ft) 278 lb-ft of torque (SAE)
Transmission Five-speed automatic 4WD
Suspension Independent with coilovers (f),
four-link rear (solid axle with Panhard rod)
Brakes 4-wheel disc, 4-wheel ABS
Angle of Approach/Departure 34/30 degrees (4WD)
Max. Trailer Weight 5,000 lbs
Seating 2/3
MPG 17/21 (EPA) 17 (as tested)