Toyota's FJ Cruiser on Its Way

After a scene at the Detroit show in 2003 that had visitors practically hurling their underpants and hotel-room keys at the Toyota FJ concept, it was no shocker that Toyota would consider building the thing. Now, Toyota's released new details on its new off-roader in a customarily long-winded press release with nearly every plot point but price. Edmunds Inside Line has a first-drive piece on the FJ, which answers the question no one thought needed asking (which speaks to Toyota's new-truck reputation): Is it a poseur? Click through for full text of the press release.

Press Release:

2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser: The Result of Art, Technology and Heritage

Toyota advances both the art and science of the off-road vehicle while recalling its own off-road heritage with the introduction of the 2007 FJ Cruiser sport-utility vehicle (SUV), available in March 2006.

The FJ Cruiser offers a youthful, contemporary spirit and employs the same state-of-the-art comfort, power, economy, safety, emissions and convenience technology available in other Toyota vehicles. As it does so, it provides optimized off-road capabilities, value and styling clues reminiscent of Toyota's famed FJ40 4x4 utility vehicle, sold in the U.S. from 1960 to 1983. The FJ40, which during its production life served around the world as the safari and expedition vehicle of choice, remains a desirable and collectable off-road vehicle.

"The FJ Cruiser effectively fills a gap in the Toyota lineup that was once our core heritage capable, affordable and durable vehicles that are youthful, fun to drive, aggressive and tough," said Jim Lentz, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. "The FJ Cruiser will deliver true off-road ruggedness, image and performance at an affordable price, making it highly accessible and desirable to a large volume of young buyers."

The five-passenger FJ Cruiser was designed as a concept vehicle at Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, Calif. It was first seen at Detroit's North American International Automobile Show in 2003. Public and media reaction to the FJ Cruiser concept was so positive that the vehicle was slated for production using most of the same design parameters as the original concept. As an indicator of the vehicle's unmistakable family DNA, several of the FJ Cruiser's available color choices are reminiscent of the colors found on FJ40s.

Chassis and Suspension
The FJ Cruiser's tough, wide stance is based around a frame and front-and-rear suspension systems adapted from those found on the 120-Series Prado (Land Cruiser Prado in some markets). The frame is a boxed steel ladder-braced unit to which is mounted the FJ Cruiser's welded steel body. Independent front suspension, which offers a generous 7.87 inches of wheel travel for outstanding suspension articulation, is via double wishbones, the geometry of which is adapted for superior road feel and ride comfort. Tubular shock absorbers and an anti-sway bar also are employed.

A solid rear axle using a four-link coil-spring suspension system with a lateral rod, tubular shock absorbers and an anti-sway bar is employed. This system provides 9.1 inches of wheel travel. All 4x2 FJ Cruisers come standard with a virtual automatic limited-slip differential, provided and operated by an advanced traction-control system to enhance traction of both rear wheels in slippery driving conditions. An electronic locking rear differential with an eight-inch ring gear is available. The ring gear in the front differential of the 4x4 FJ Cruiser also measures eight inches. The front/rear differential gear ratio is 3.727:1 (5 A/T) and 3.909:1 (6 M/T). Finally, the disc-brake system uses ventilated 12.6-inch/front and 12.3-inch/rear rotors.

Steering is provided by a variable-ratio, hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion system. Wheels are standard 17-inch steel, optional 17-inch, six-spoke aluminum. With the FJ Cruiser's standard 32-inch tires, ground clearance is a healthy 9.6 inches, 8.7 inches for 4x2. Approach and departure angles are 34 degrees/30 degrees for the 4x4 FJ Cruiser and 32/29 for the 4x2 version.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is 5330 (4x2) and 5570 (4x4), and maximum towing capacity with the optional Class Four receiver hitch is 5,000 pounds.

Engine and Transmissions
The FJ Cruiser is powered by a high-compression 4.0L (242.1 c.i.) V6 engine, a 24-valve, double-overhead-cam (DOHC) unit that produces 239 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque nearly double the numbers produced by the six-cylinder engine of the FJ40. Many special engineering touches help make this engine a model of efficiency, power and smoothness. These include Toyota's Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) system; special lightweight pistons with resin-coated skirts to help reduce friction and noise; a two-stage, variable-length intake manifold, which improves mid-range to high-speed performance; newly designed 12-orifice fuel injectors; Toyota's Direct Ignition System (DIS), which eliminates the distributor and its associated wiring; and a lightweight electronic throttle. The EPA lists the FJ Cruiser's city/highway fuel-economy ratings at 18/22 mpg (4x2) and 17/21 mpg (4x4 automatic).

The quietness of the engine's operation comes in part because of special sound-absorbing material present under the engine cover. Its pleasing exhaust note, meanwhile, is shaped by a specially designed exhaust system that provides for efficient elimination of exhaust gasses with minimal backpressure. The FJ Cruiser's dual catalytic converters and its sophisticated fuel-delivery system help it meet the stringent LEV II/Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standards.

A choice between an electronically shifted five-speed automatic transmission and a six-speed manual transmission is available for 4x4 models of the FJ Cruiser. (The 4x2 model of the FJ Cruiser is available only with a 5-speed automatic transmission.) The automatic transmission features Artificial Intelligence (AI) Shift Control, a system that automatically varies the transmission's shifting pattern based on road conditions and the driver's intent to provide optimal up- and down-shifting. It also employs Toyota's Flex Lock-Up Control, which is added to the basic locking torque converter.

Flex Lock-Up allows the clutch in the torque converter to maintain a half-engaged position, enhancing fuel efficiency and increasing the lock-up clutch's operation range. Of this transmission's five forward gear ratios, fourth gear is direct 1:1 and fifth gear is an overdrive 0.716:1.

This transmission is shifted via a sporty console-mounted, gate-type shift lever. In addition to being displayed on the shifter gate, shifter position also is displayed in the instrument panel.

The six-speed manual transmission is designed for lightness and shifting ease. Of this transmission's six forward gear ratios, fifth gear is a direct 1:1 and sixth gear is an overdrive 0.799:1. The shift pattern is the standard three-plane double-H, with Reverse in an additional plane to the far left and up.

The two-speed transfer case used in the 4x4 FJ Cruiser is the essential link that routes power from the engine through the transmission and to the front and rear axles. In standard-transmission models, it is the same full-time four-wheel-drive transfer case used in the V6-powered 4x4 4Runner. This transfer case features a Torsen limited-slip center differential with a locking feature and distributes the engine's power 40-percent/front and 60-percent/rear in most driving conditions. It changes this distribution percentage as needed, based on steering angle and wheel slippage. When locked, it distributes power, front to rear, on a 50/50 basis. The system helps make the FJ Cruiser less prone to tire slippage caused by changes in road conditions.

With automatic-transmission models, FJ Cruiser gets a part-time transfer case. When the transfer cases are in high range, their output ratio is 1:1. When shifted into low range, their gear ratio is 2.566:1. With the automatic transmission, the FJ Cruiser's crawl ratio is 33.76:1. With the manual transmission, the crawl ratio is 41.84:1, a fact that helped the FJ Cruiser traverse California's famed Rubicon Trail last September.

Comfort/Interior
The FJ Cruiser's interior features a dash that is bordered by upper and lower tubular forms, which frame rectangular-shaped flat panels. Control knobs are large enough to provide easy grip, even when wearing gloves, and switches for critical functions, including HVAC, audio controls and the optional locking rear differential, are mounted in the center dash panel within easy reach of the driver. With the optional upgrade packages, the front interior door panels are color-keyed to the exterior color.

A standard full gauge package, including speedometer, tachometer, amp meter, temperature gauge and fuel gauge, uses round, black-on-white dials and gauges for enhanced visibility. Warning lights monitor other functions, and an oil-
maintenance indicator notifies the driver when the FJ Cruiser's engine oil is due
to be changed.

Seating is especially adaptable in the FJ Cruiser. The driver's seat is adjustable in eight ways to help drivers of all sizes and shapes find their most comfortable driving positions. The passenger seat is adjustable in four ways. The rear seat is split 60/40, with folding (removable) bottom and back cushions that convert to a nearly flat cargo floor. Additionally, for 4x4 enthusiasts with young families, the FJ Cruiser uses Toyota's LATCH child-restraint system.

Because the FJ Cruiser is optimized for dusty, muddy driving environments, easy cleaning and maintenance are important elements of its interior. Seating materials are not only water-repellant, but also provide excellent ventilation. Seats are covered with a fabric backed by a special breathable resin coating to enhance the material's ability to shed liquids so that seats can easily be wiped down and cleaned. Even the stitched seams of the seat covers are treated with sealant to prevent liquids from penetrating the seams. Also as an aid to easy cleaning, the FJ Cruiser's floor surfaces are covered with an attractive gray rubber-like material.

Design and Styling
Design features that hint at the FJ Cruiser's heritage are its front grille, which ties its two round, five-inch headlights together in much the same way the FJ40's headlights and grille were integrated; its hood and fender contours; and a rear-mounted and exposed full-size spare tire with an off-center license-plate-mounting location. Additionally, the FJ Cruiser employs a white roof cap and wrap-around rear side windows, which were FJ40 signatures.

The FJ Cruiser uses two main doors one per side but unlike anything ever seen on an FJ40, it also uses two access doors that open 90 degrees in clamshell fashion for easy rear-seat ingress and egress. Additionally, a swing-up glass hatch is incorporated into the side-hinged rear door. This opens independently of the rear door and helps accommodate longer items such as lumber or surfboards while keeping the rear door closed.

Wheel arches are angular and open to provide maximum clearance for the FJ Cruiser's large 32-inch tires at full suspension deflection. The arches are edged by flexible fender flares that resist damage during vigorous off-roading and also resist damage from the doors of the vehicles beside which the FJ Cruiser might find itself parked during urban and suburban expeditions.

Safety
Dual-stage front driver and passenger advanced airbags are standard with the FJ Cruiser. Two rows of side-curtain airbags, as well as driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side airbags, are available as options.

As with all other Toyota SUVs, the FJ Cruiser is equipped with Toyota's Star Safety System. This includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), an Antilock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.

Four-channel, four-sensor ABS helps prevent the wheels from locking under hard braking, while EBD distributes appropriate braking force between the front and rear wheels according to driving conditions. The traction-control system (TRAC) helps reduce tire slippage during slippery or challenging driving conditions, and the VSC system helps keep the FJ Cruiser on the driver's intended course by detecting front- and/or rear-wheel slide during cornering and attempting to control slide conditions via torque intervention and/or braking of individual wheels.

Interesting Details
A number of interesting and unusual features mark the thoughtfulness with which the FJ Cruiser was conceived and designed. For example, instead of the usual pair of front windshield-wiper arms, the FJ Cruiser uses three wiper arms to provide nearly complete coverage of the vehicle's wide windshield. Diffusion-type nozzles are used in the washing assembly to provide superior washing performance. The same type of diffusion nozzle is used on the rear-window washer.

As an aid to driver and front-passenger comfort, the floor angle in the footwell is set at 33 degrees to help those in the front seats maintain proper seating position.

The rear cargo area is equipped with cargo-net hooks, multipurpose grocery-bag hooks and sturdy, floor-mounted cargo tie-down anchor points. An AC115-volt 100/400-watt accessory connector socket is available.

Standard Features and Options
The 2007 FJ Cruiser is available in both two- and four-wheel drive andcomes with a long list of standard features. These include 17-inch black steel wheels with P265/70R17 tires, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, black water-resistant seats, a tilt steering wheel, four cup holders and two bottle holders, rear-window defogger; engine, transfer-case and fuel-tank skid plates; rear-door-mounted fullsize spare, tow hooks front and rear; and mudguards.

Three audio systems are available in the FJ Cruiser. An AM/FM/CD system with six speakers is standard. A Premium Audio FJammer AM/FM eight-speaker system that incorporates an in-dash six-disc CD changer is available as an option. Finally, the same FJammer Premium Audio system is available with a ninth speaker a 7.9-inch subwoofer, powered by its own dedicated amplifier, incorporated into the right-rear panel of the rear cargo compartment. An on/off switch for the sub-woofer is located in the dash's lower-center switch cluster. An auxiliary jack also is located in the lower-center switch cluster to provide input for portable audio devices i.e., MP3-like devices - and a 12-volt DC accessory socket is provided to power those devices.

The FJ Cruiser is equipped with a pair of NXT SurfaceSound transducers, which convert the vehicle's ceiling into a speaker diaphragm. It marks the first time this technology has been used in a motor vehicle. The result complements the conventional speakers elsewhere in the vehicle, creating a broad, omni-directional dispersion of sound.

Buyers can personalize the FJ Cruiser by selecting one or more of the following packages. A Convenience Package includes keyless entry, cruise control, power side-view mirrors with image lights, daytime running lights, privacy glass, rear window wiper; and rear parking sonar.

Upgrade Package One, which requires the Convenience Package, includes the following: A highly capable active offroad traction-control system, rear locking differential, multi-information display (compass, inclinometer and temperature gauge); Premium Audio system with in-dash six-disc changer, equalizer and eight speakers; 400-watt inverter, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-trimmed covered steering wheel with integral audio controls and cruise-control function, metal-colored shift lever, and interior door-trim inserts keyed to the vehicle's exterior color.

Upgrade Package Two, which requires the Convenience Package and includes the content of Upgrade Package One plus the rear subwoofer.

FJ Cruiser separate options include side and curtain airbags; 17-inch alloy wheels, rear locking differential, and running boards.

Other available accessories include auxiliary driving lights, rock rails, roof rack, brush guard, taillight guards, sport exhaust system, receiver hitch and harness, wind deflector with off-road lights, a cargo mat and all-weather or carpeted floor mats.

Color choices for the FJ Cruiser include Titanium Metallic, Black Diamond, Black Cherry, Sun Fusion and Voodoo Blue.

Warranty
The 2007 FJ Cruiser is covered by Toyota's 36-month/36,000-mile basic new-vehicle warranty and applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion perforation with no mileage limitation.

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