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2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle

New Car Review of the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle

Driving an off-road vehicle feels like piloting a giant concrete block.

They're unweildy, heavy, bouncy, unresponsive and generally uncomfortable on the road. Vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler and Nissan XTerra might be great on the Rubicon Trail, but who cares about off-road ability when a trip to the Home Depot sends you to the chiropractor?

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Base MSRP Range: $21,710 - $23,300

Base Invoice Range: $19,756 - $21,203

MSRP As Tested: $29,837

Versions: 2WD, 4WD

Vehicle Category: Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: Rear-Wheel Drive, All-Wheel Drive.

Standard Engine as Tested: 4.0-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 24-valves, V-6, 239 – horsepower at 5200 rpm and 287 lb-ft torque at 3700 rpm.

Transmission: Five-speed automatic, Six-speed manual.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 18/22(2WD AT), 16/19(4WD MT), 17/21(4WD AT).

Standard Safety Features: Dual stage driver and front passenger advanced airbags; Available driver and front passenger side airbags, Driver and front passenger seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, Three-point ALR/ELR seatbelts in all outboard and rear center seating positions (driver's belt ELR only), Adjustable front- and rear outboard seatbelt anchors, STAR SAFETY SYSTEM™ - includes four-wheel ">Antilock Brake System with Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Traction Control (Auto LSD, standard on 4x2 only) (standard on 2WD only), Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), Off Road Traction Control (TRAC) (4WD available), Side-impact door beams, CRS top tether anchors and ISOFIX lower anchor points, Available daytime running lights, Available back sonar (two sensors).

Competition: Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento, Mazda C-X7, Mitsubishi Montero, Nissan Xterra, Subaru B9 Tribeca.

Toyota's engineers saw this problem. They knew that while off-road driving made for great SUV commercials -- and, indeed, some fun weekends for hardcore off-road enthusiasts -- but their typically harsh ride would keep a lot of buyers away.

Toyota's solution is the new 2007 FJ Cruiser, a wild-looking SUV designed for true off-road performance but without that awful off-road ride.

The FJ Cruiser is a surprisingly outlandish product from a very conservative company. Toyota is known more for building cars like the Camry, with its boring style, respectable interior, Dick-Clark-like longevity and a sensible engine that politely hums.

There's nothing boring about the FJ Cruiser, though. The body style -- with its mix of retro chic and clean, modern lines -- draws a lot of second glances and thumbs up from other drivers, and the interior follows the same cool theme with oversized buttons and highly stylized trim.

Even the engine is exciting. The 4.0-liter V6 sounds amazingly like an American V8, with a deep, throaty, Samuel L. Jackson grunt that seems to say, "I ain't Japanese, buddy." It's a far cry from the wheezy, efficient, four-cylinder engines that built Toyota's reputation in the '80s and early '90s.

This high-tech powerplant makes 239 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, which are both impressive figures. Unfortunately, it gets an unimpressive 17 miles per gallon in town and 21 mpg on the highway with the four-wheel-drive version.

Adding to the FJ Cruiser's off-road credentials is an interior designed for dusty, dirty, muddy conditions. Seating materials are water-repellant and well ventilated, and the rubberized floor is easy to clean.

Climbing into the back seat is relatively easy with two rear-swinging "suicide" doors. On the downside, the funky styling makes it virtually impossible to see much out the back windows.

Price-wise, the FJ Cruiser is a clear winner considering how much style and performance you get for the money, not to mention Toyota's reputation for building cars and trucks that last forever. It starts at $21,910 for a two-wheel-drive automatic, or $23,300 for the four-wheel-drive version.

That's not bad for a vehicle that mixes on-road comfort with off-road performance better than most SUVs. The cool, retro styling is just icing on the cake.

Pros: It draws lots of attention with its unique, expressive styling, and it has a surprisingly good ride for an off-road vehicle.

Cons: Rear visibility is awful, and fuel consumption is very un-Toyota-like.

Ratings (1-10)

  • Style: 10
  • Performance: 9
  • Price: 9
  • Handling: 5
  • Ride: 8
  • Comfort: 7
  • Quality: 9
  • Overall: 9

More Data

Where Built: Japan

Major Options: Upgrade Package 1,Upgrade Package 2,Convenience Package. Locking rear differential, Front side airbags and curtain side airbags, Portable navigation system, Running boards, Special Purpose Wheels and Tires, Trailer hitch, Alloy wheels.

Seating: 5

Number of Rows: 2

Length in Inches: 183.9

Warranties: 3 year/36,000 mile Comprehensive, 5 year/60,000 mile Powertrain, 5 year/unlimited mileage Corrosion Perforation.

Weight in Pounds: 4050(2WD) – 5567(4WD) lbs.

Cargo Capacity in Pounds: 1285 lbs.

Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: 9200(2WD) – 9500(4WD) lbs. /P>

Towing Capacity in Pounds: 5000 lbs.

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 19.0

Destination Charge: $580