Future: 2007 Toyota FJ40
Forward, looking back
Looking like Toyota's 2003 FJ Cruiser concept with real-world wheels and tires, the production FJ Cruiser is set for early 2006 launch. Under the hood, though, the concept's 250-horsepower Toyota Racing Development-massaged 3.4-liter V-6 will be replaced with a 4.0-liter V-6 making 245 horses. Everything else from the concept is there, including the upright windshield and the white-cap lid atop the wraparound rear window and thick C-pillar. No other paint scheme for the top will be available--this is a retro model evoking the FJ40 of the 1960s and 1970s. The modernized retro look will extend to the interior, as well, although Toyota is still sweating the details. It's planning 40,000 units, all for the North American market and all coming from Japan, initially production could eventually switch to this continent.
The FJ shares its platform with the 4Runner but is 11 inches shorter overall and has a four-inch-shorter wheelbase. Toyota claims the Jeep Wrangler and HUMMER H3 as chief rivals. Well-equipped rear-drive FJs will be priced in the mid-$20s; well-equipped 4x4s will be priced in the upper-$20s. Toyota admits the FJ isn't designed for everybody, although 40,000-unit capacity should guarantee you won't be able to buy one without $3000 dealer-installed mudflaps.
1. The 245-horse, 4.0-liter V-6 is rated 282 pound-feet and comes with a five-speed auto. A six-speed manual will be available only on 4x4 versions.
2. A TRD off-road package (not shown) will feature roof-mounted floodlamps.
3. Overall length of 177.6 inches is longer than the Wrangler's (154.9 inches, counting the spare tire) and even the Wrangler Unlimited's (167 inches). Wheelbase is 105.9 inches versus 103.4 for the Unlimited. At 74.6 inches, it's about a half foot wider than the Jeep. Height is 70.9 inches; ground clearance 9.6 inches.
4. Standard safety features include Vehicle Stability Control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and electronic brake-force distribution. 4x2s come with a standard automatic limited-slip diff. 4x4s have an optional rear-differential lock and electronic four-wheel traction control.
5. Runningboards are optional.
6. 17-inch black steel wheels with a full-size spare are standard, with 265/70R17 tires. Alloys are extra-cost options.
7. Seats five.
8. Rear-hinged, rear-access doors, like extended-cab pickup.
9. Towing capacity is 5000 pounds.
On sale: Early 2006.
Bottom line: More trouble for Detroit and Stuttgart, although the price may be high for the youth market.