Vince Burlapp drives “Big Blue”

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Big Blue comes in other colors too.
We’ve al seen it by now. the FJ Cruiser is Toyota’s retro car/truck.
I’ve always liked it, and I though it was a good idea to see if it drives as good as it looks…

The Fj Cruiser is based on the same frame as the Toyota 4 Runner. And it uses the same 4.0 Liter V6 . A proven combination that has been proven really reliable.
The FJ has plenty of room inside with a roomy trunk area. Some of the interior bits are a bit plasticky, but they look so cool it doesn’t really matter.

As you can see, the fake suicide doors are really usefull to access the rear seat.
Once you start it up, you notice how smooth and quiet the V6 is. Pretty much like a luxury car. The weird flat and wide windshield is actually really easy to get used to.
And I never got this weird feeling of “driving a living room” I had with the Honda Element.
It is very easy to drive with a smooth steering, good brakes and really comfortable suspension.
It is actually pretty amazing how comfortable the drive is. Considering this wants so much to look like a tough truck.
It’s more like a Teddy Bear…

One thing about the cool looking design, there is almost no visibility from the back. Between the huge blind spot and the headrests, you can’t see much back there…

The interior follows the PT Cruiser recipe. Retro with bits matching the exterior color. And it still works.
It is a fun place to be in. They should add an iPod plug though. they have in the Camry but not in the cool and youger FJ??
Who is doing market research on that thing???

The quiet engine and nice car like ride are just an unexpected bonus that make the FJ a very nice car to drive every day.
The only thing that bothered me was the exhaust note.It tries too much to sound like a truck.
It sounds just fake and like an afterthought. Like the Mini Cooper exhaust that tries to sound sporty.
It is just noisy…

I don’t get it.There is nothing wrong with a quiet car. Especially when it’s not sporty.

Otherwise, I also miss the option of a sunroof. Of any kind. And there is no choice of interior color except black. Which I would never get in L.A…

I had a really good time driving around in “Big Blue” .
It is one of these cars you actually remember driving. And one you wouldn’t mind driving every day.
And now, you can pretty much get them for a couple of thousands under MSRP.
Which makes them a really good deal.

If you can live with the “fake trucky” exhaust, the all black interior and the pretty bad mileage, just go for it.

Conversation 9 comments

  1. Vince, I drove a “Big Silver” FJ and felt the same as you. Everything about this truck was fun!
    I might have sent an e-mail over to you about the drive itself and how starting up felt like it was some
    57′ Chevy. The exhaust rumbled like a rocket, but one my foot was on the peddle it felt like a rocket.
    If they are going to do any updates, they should eliminate the blind spots in the rear and borrow the dash from the Sequia. (spelling?). I would add a drop of luxury to this package but not to the effect that it is no longer an FJ. Maybe a clean burning diesel or even the V-6 from the RAV
    would be nice to have since gas is going up and up.

  2. Nice review. Although we know what these cars look like–here’s a tip: Try to capture photos of the entire car, 3/4 shot, side shot, etc. in addition to the detailed closeups you take. I hate seeing just the corner light and grill or a close up of the HVAC unit. 🙂 Keep up the good work.

  3. I’ve driven an FJ and I have to admit that it is a pretty damn good/fun SUV. IMO Toyota could charge more and still sell all of them.

    My only recommendation to other folks is that you test drive a Jeep Wrangler before making a decision to buy an FJ. The new Wrangler is simply fantastic. The four door version has more utility and any version can be had with the most versatile roof in the industry.

  4. Vince, I would have to agree 100%! I drove a Big Blue at the Central Florida Auto show last year on the Toyota dirt course (I wasn’t interested in the Tundra or Tacoma…just the FJ…and all I wanted was the blue one, and I got it!)

    I liked everything except that pointless blind spot, however I’d probably get tired of driving it eventually if I owned one because I have no need for 4WD.

  5. My wife has one of the early 2007 models, and she loves it, but I find the visibility poor. Ours has a different dashboard and does have a plug for her ipod on the radio.

  6. I own one of these. It has a rear like Hillary Clinton but a face and appearence of Hunphrey Bogart.
    Tough and handsome. Yes the exhaust note is like a Japenese Jeep/truck in a Godzilla movie and those semi clamshell doors are a pain when you have a 10yr old getting in and out. But my wife and son love this FJ especially when he shows it off getting dropped at school.
    It’s powerfull, comfortable,and can really go anywhere off road. No Poser! Tom Cruise would drive one.

  7. Vince, nice review.
    BTW, I’m one of your first readers who got the 07′ CRV AWD-EXL last year, I got problems from rear diff (replaced twice), faulty TPSM(replaced twice)A/C, etc. (you get the pic). I even had the extended warranty. Short story, got rid of the crappy car and believe it or not, I got a 08′ Element, I think its a lot of fun to drive and I really love the bif space inside. Please look at the space between the front and back seat on the FJ Cruiser,and then look at the same space on the Element. I know that there is a total diff animal but for the money, I’ll keep my Element.

    I owned six Hondas in the past five years and, IMO the CRV is the worse crap Honda ever builted.

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