Exterior Design *****
It's so ugly it's beautiful. It's so beautiful— no wait. Although the FJ's front end has a wonderfully butch (if kinkily Playskool) H2-meets-old-FJ-on-the-dark-side-of-town look to it, the Toy's side profile is the strangest combination of angles, textures, shapes, proportions and lines I've seen since I dropped mescaline in the produce section of my local supermarket. I believe the English call this kind of queasy mix of wildly disparate design elements "a dog's breakfast." Still, every dog has its day. In a world of cookie-cutter Corollas, the FJ Cruiser stands apart. Quizzically.
Big truck meets adequate engine, film at 11.
A bit squidgy underfoot, but mucho retardation from the FJ's power-assisted four-piston (front) and two-piston (rear) ventilated disc brakes. With Anti-lock Brake System (ABS). And Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). And Brake Assist. I could go on, but I'll stop.
This is not your father's Buick. The FJ is a ladder-framed truck designed to take a beating without complaint. Anyone who thinks that the "Cruiser" part of the vehicle's nomenclature is anything but spin gets exactly what they deserve.
Off-road, that is. On-road, the FJ drives with the same mindless steering and non-existent chassis feedback found in Toyota's low-end products. Sure it doesn't lean in the bends— should you be patient enough to go fast enough to find out. But the FJ's Novocained nimbleness is not a good thing for a vehicle with about as much rear visibility as a Sherman tank.
We drove the manly man FJ: the six-speed stick with 24/7 four-wheel drive. The changes were crisp and clean, with a fresh aftertaste of torque.
Given that the Land Rover LR3 offers off-road compatible sat nav (it leaves e-crumbs on your journey through the wilds), the FJ's lack of navigational assistance is a major (if uncharacteristic) lapse in concentration. Meanwhile, the Toyota's stereo is crack-a-lackin'. There's a chest thumping not-entirely-ugly built-in subwoofer in the rear cargo area, and two speakers buried in the headliner (I shit you not).
The [optional] mucho macho gauges— altitude, temperature and compass— are wikkid enough, but they sit uneasily on top of the cliff face that is the FJ's dash, restricting visibility in a vehicle that has none whatsoever to spare. Other than that, it's all pretty car-like. Toyota missed a trick here; a snorkel or winch or big ass bull bars would have put the FJ's off-road cred over-the-top.
There's a huge amount of cargo space back there, especially if you tip-forward the rear seats (which suit anything up to and including a trio of tweens). The rubberized floor suits the FJ utilitarian nature perfectly, and the rear door swings wide open. The final astral accolade is denied due to the lack of built-in strap downitude.
[By Robert Farago]
Jalopnik Reviews: 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser, Part 1 [internal]