To be honest, when a car company comes out with a new vehicle that harkens back to some long-lost heritage it used to have (but has since walked away from), it's not all that interesting anymore. Examples like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Ford Mustang, and Volkswagen Beetle all have roots in the past and are looking for sales success in the present.

In the fast-paced car world, it makes sense that, as styles and designs change almost yearly, there's a strong desire to bring back the cleaner lines and shapes of earlier models. However, in the truck world, where style and design typically take a back seat to function and utility, many current models of popular pickups and SUVs are still closely tied (visually, at least) to the workhorses of old. As you might expect, there aren't many unexploited segments left for automakers. And then there's the issue of making money. The result is that companies like Ford and GM, who used to be comfortable taking risks on retro models, are now thinking about their future product lineups more carefully than ever.

On the flip side, companies once typically reserved and shy about making bold design statements or taking risks are now rethinking those positions. Much of this new attitude is a result of large sums of money these companies (like Honda and Toyota) are making on their cars and SUVs. In addition, import automakers are gaining credibility in previously unfamiliar territory. This recent success and changing attitude is leading several manufacturers to take unheard-of risks. That's why Toyota, one of the most conservative car companies around, is introducing the FJ Cruiser.

The original Toyota FJ40s were the Japanese response to American Jeep, which was popular after WWII: a functional, easy-to-work-on, small 4x4 that was simple and rugged. In the past 50 years, FJs have gone through serious changes, eventually evolving into the current production four-door Land Cruiser, technically designated the FJ100. But today's model is a far cry from the bare-bones trail-runner original. That could be changing.