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Driving Impression: FJ Cruiser

25 December 2013

A little earlier this year we took some of SA’s most popular SUVs to Botswana for a vehicle safari through the Khwai Conservancy. We’ll be posting reviews of all the vehicles that accompanied us over the next couple of weeks. You can read our travel article about the trip here.

Hailing from the great Land Cruiser lineage, the FJ has been selling well across the globe. Based on tough Cruiser mechanicals, the retro-styled FJ is not only a cool fashion item but also a capable off-road warrior with a number of unique tricks up its sleeve

You can say what you like about Toyota’s Land Cruiser, but one thing is a fact: it has earned the iconic status it enjoys in SA.

However, when the first Toyota bakkie arrived here in the late Sixties, it was generally met with the same type of disdain that modern-day Toyota fanatics afford any contender that does not wear the Toyota badge. But the Hilux became SA’s biggest bakkie seller, and it is the foundation on which Toyota’s reputation is based.

In many overseas markets it was the Land Cruiser that established Toyota’s name after the first production model made its debut in 1951.

The retro-styled FJ is one of six Cruiser variants sold in SA. And even though it is the most fashionable of the lot, a tough and proven Prado drivetrain and engine are used underneath all the flash. So it gets the pukka transfer case, a claimed 245mm in ground clearance, a rear differential lock, traction control and Crawl Control — a recent feature that is said to improve the FJ’s already formidable off-road manners.

The Crawl Control system engages in 4×4 low-range and the driver can select between five speeds. The electronics will then control both engine output and the brakes to ensure that the selected speed is maintained. All the driver has to do is steer the FJ.

In the trendy cabin, the FJ gets electric windows, leather covered steering wheel with remote audio and Bluetooth controls, an integrated sound system with six speakers and iPod connector, air-conditioning and cruise control.

Another recent addition is a supplementary fuel tank that has increased the FJ’s capacity to a very handy 160 litres.

The FJ’s rear doors still open in the unique “suicide door” style, hinged at the rear. And overall, its chic styling is augmented by a really hard core and capable Land Cruiser 4WD drivetrain.

This Japanese warrior certainly has the show, and the go.