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Old 26th December 2007, 14:46   #1
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On my first post here, I will start with an article I had penned in September 2007 to share with all team BHP members about a much awaited FJ Cruiser launch in our deserts.

Birth of the Desert Champion.

By Shahid Ahmad


So popular is the all time classic Toyota FJ 40 Landcruiser that many collectors and off roaders love renovating it and drive it for pure pleasure. In the UAE too there are quite a few FJ 40 series pick up doing the rounds in the many farms dotted around Hatta, Kalba, Fujeriah, Al Ain and other places.

The SWB cab version FJ 40 is a true collectors item, some are on the road while I do know of at least two avid off road buffs working on dollying up their FJ40s right now in Dubai.

With such interest in mind, Toyota introduced a retro style concept car at the Chicago Auto show in 2003 . The hype it generated encouraged TOYOTA to develop and market this new Mid Size retro style SUV the FJ Cruiser.

FJ ?

Land Cruisers models are identified by an alphanumeric code. The codeconsists of the engine series designation letter(s) and the frame desginationnumber separated by a the letter "J." For example a 2 door with short wheelbase and a 2F gasoline engine would be a FJ40.

Great Rugged Looks

The FJ cruiser ( picture below of FJ 40 ) is styled on the retro looks of the FJ 40 series. With a white roof and bold shades of Canary yellow and Electric Blue , it is the 4x4 choice of the new generation.

That is where it is aimed at. The young driver in the age group to 25 to 40 or the young at heart. The FJ Cruiser is a work of art. A lot of detail and planning has gone into it’s designing. The Aluminium checquered plate interior, the premium 9 speaker sound system, with a Sub woofer switch on the front dash ensures many chill out parties out there in the desert. The retro looks and fashionable interiors address to this choice of the new generation.

Inside the FJC is very roomy and spacious. Plenty of corners and consoles to store bits and pieces and the dash is very very well designed with all instruments visible at a glance. There is an additional central console with the compass and inclinometer.

Cruise control is standard on all models. Al Futtaim Motors also offer a host of accessories to dress up and doll up the FJ cruiser.

FJ Cruisers are built by Hino Motors, a subsidiary of TOYOTA at Hamura in Japan.

Drive Train

The FJ cruiser is equipped with the Toyota 1 GR-FE engine, which is also mounted on the Landcruiser Prado, Foretuner, new Generation Single and Twin Cab Hi Lux 4WD pick up and will now feature in the Landcruiser GXR.

It s slightly under tuned for the FJ Cruiser as in the Foretuner to produce an output of 239 bhp. In the Prado VX the same engine delivers 263 bhp. In KW it is 178.

In the FJ cruiser this 1GR-FE, VVTi power plant delivers a max torque of 377 Nm at 2700 rpm, which is a great torque in low rpm for climbing sand dunes in the desert.

UAE models come with a 5 speed automatic gearbox. Low transfer case is standard.

In order to make the FJ cruiser a fuel efficient machine, Toyota have offered it in this market with a part time 4WD system. On city roads and highway, rear wheel drive 2 x 4 is used while the stick can be pulled back to engage 4x4 ( a green light in the instrument cluster lights up to indicate 4x4 mode is engaged ).

A shift right gets it into Nuetral and a forward push will engage the low transfer case.

Full time 4 WD versus part time. Fuel economy for sure but a Central Diff Lock has to be compromised. For initial to medium sand dune driving a central diff lock is a great tool to have.

But the FJ cruiser scores over the others with its electronically engaged Rear Diff lock. In tough desert driving conditions, most of the stucks will be while climbing upwards. A rear diff lock will transfer power to the one rear wheel with firm traction and the vehicle will travel down the slope in reverse gear. While crested on a knife edge or stuck on the slipface too the Rear diff lock is a great advantage to get you unstuck.

Power to Weight Ratio

Kerb weight of the Automatic 5 Speed FJ Cruiser is 1948 Kg. Thus the Power to Weight P/W ration works out to be 8.15 Kg / bhp. Excellent by all standards. We would discover more of this when we subjected the vehicle to a desert driving test.

Desert Drive Test

The FJ Cruiser has been designed as a rugged no nonsence very serious off roading vehicle. Its progenitor the FJ 40 was the undisputed king of the off road in its era. The same had to be held true for the FJ Cruiser.

It has been successfully modified as an off roader and rock crawler in the USA exceeding expectations as most 4x4 vehicles today, are designed more as an urban use vehicle less as an serious off roader, or merely cater to the light weekend drive to the beach or the mountains.

This is the reason we subjected the FJ Cruiser to an extensive Desert Drice Test.

On a first look the angle of approach and departure looked convincing and the confidence level grew. Another obvious asset was the choice of 265/75/R16 tyres on alloy rims. An off roaders delight because with a 75 % perspective on the sidewall a greater contact area once deflated means an easier drive in the desert.

I shifted the lever into 4 Hi, a green light lit up on the dashboard to display that 4WD has been engaged.

The 1GR-FE engine had already earned quite a name with both LWB and SWB Toyota Landrcruiser Prado in the desert ever since its launch in 2003.

On the sand tracks the FJ floated with ease, with amazing stability. Once we reached the dune section I got down and deflated the vehicle tyres to 15psi. It was very very hot, outside temperature over 42 degrees and the sand temperature a good five degrees higher. IT was early afternoon, the sand was soft and powdery after a shamal that had been blowing since the morning.

I drove the FJ on deeper and deeper into the Al Lahbab desert and my joy kept growing.

It handled climbs on short dunes with aplomp in the D2 and D3 position. The torque superb, vehicle body roll minimal, quite unlike some of the other new SUVs introduced of late. The suspension just right, neither soft not jarring. It is tested most at decents, the nose came down sharp dunes landing softly with travel to spare, that’s the true quality of a 4x4 vehicle that can take you places in the desrert. There is a bash plate installed to protect the front , particularly the radiator bottom on dune decents, and Al Futtaim Motors also offer an optional stronger bash plate for the FJC.

Next came the real desert test which separates the men from the boys. Only very very capable vehicles are able to do dune climbs and very high slip face climbs. I shifted the FJC to 4 LOW and took up this huge dune it climbed like a champion where usually only modified vehicles can make it. The combination of the engine power and the torque made it unstoppable. I crossed the dune which had a 35 degree gradient turned back throwing the gear stick swiftly into Low 3 for descent, the engine breaking was very quick to respond and the vehicle became extremely controllable at descent.

The ultimate test – not recommended for beginners, was side-sloping on a slip face. Once again the FJC came out with flying colours. The engine power and torque ensured it soared the height with minimal effort and came down absolutely stable without a steering shift required.

The last test was to test it in a situation where you get stuck. I chose a medium height dune and put the vehicle in 2WD it rolled up about 20 ft and dug in, stuck. Over half the front wheel was buried in sand and the rear tyres too were 4 inches deep in sand. I engaged back to 4WD, engaged Rear Diff lock and drove the vehicle gently back. The rear diff lock caught traction immediately and the vehicle drove back with ease. What a car. Very few desert going 4x4 s can match this performance!

You don’t get vehicles like this everyday. A champion was born.
















Last edited by Samurai : 31st December 2007 at 15:21. Reason: Photos added
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Old 26th December 2007, 19:54   #2
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Team-BHPian Shreesh Taskar has embarked upon an Arctic Circle to Antarctica drive in his FJ cruiser.



He increased its fuel tank capacity to 145 litres, good for running 1,040 km without refueling at the FJ cruiser's 7.2 km/l lavishness.
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Old 26th December 2007, 20:16   #3
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brilliant report, now to wait for the pics. looks like us poor indians will have to make do with the pics.
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Old 26th December 2007, 22:13   #4
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Nice writeup there. The FJ is the sort of vehicle that make one WANT to own one.

However I'd disagree on a couple of statements:


The retro looks and fashionable interiors address to this choice of the new generation.


The interiors IMHO are not much to talk about. Too plasticky, but it does not matter to one headed out to the desert.

[i]Inside the FJC is very roomy and spacious.

Hmmm....thats stretching it!
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Old 26th December 2007, 23:13   #5
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Arrow Great Report

Hai Shahid,

Great report, looks like the FJ is one hell of a SUV.

What's the GC (ground clearance), is there a linky from where i can get more specs like width, length and other details?

Tnx & Happy Duning,

--Ramky

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Old 27th December 2007, 01:40   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
What's the GC (ground clearance), is there a linky from where i can get more specs like width, length and other details?

2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser
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Old 27th December 2007, 07:25   #7
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Wow! It's a great writeup.
FJ cruiser was initially called as the competitor to Hummer. Ain't it?
7.2km/l? That's not very thirsty compared to other vehicles in the same class.
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Old 27th December 2007, 11:30   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedzak View Post
FJ cruiser was initially called as the competitor to Hummer. Ain't it?
Nope. FJ Cruiser has not been positioned as a competitor to the Hummer. This was really does what its looks convey.
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Old 27th December 2007, 11:43   #9
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Arrow Small Comparision

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid View Post
Hai Steeroid,

Thanks for that link, I downloaded the ebrochure.

Now the GC looks awesome @ 9.6 inches for the 4WD. If we need to convert the mm to inches as per this link:

inch/mm CONVERSION CHART

we need to multiply by .03937 (scorp dimensions are in mm, many other Indian manufacturers give in mm), to get to get a idea, some metrics:

Scorpio
Engine-cc: 2179
BHP 120 @4000 rpm (New Scorp)
GC-inc 7
Width-in 71
Leng-in 176
Height-in 77

FJ Cruiser (4WD)
Eng-cc: 4000 (?)
BHP 239 @5200 rpm
GC-inc 9.6
Width-in 75
Leng-in 184
Height-in 72

Turning Circle diameter is given as 41.8 feets for FJC and Scorp its 5.6, given as turning radius. Wonder how to compare this?

This comparision is not correct, different classes, but to get an idea of the FJC, wonder what other SUV the FJC is comparable?

The FJC looks like a genie in a bottle, compared to Indian SUV's, except on the price front of about 10L abroad, with duties could touch 30K.

--Ramky
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Last edited by ramkya1 : 27th December 2007 at 11:48.
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Old 27th December 2007, 11:48   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post

Turning Circle diameter is given as 41.8 feets for FJC and Scorp its 5.6, given as turning radius. Wonder how to compare this?
Scorp's turning radius is 5.6 meters which translates to 18.37 feet. Multiply by two to get turning circle diameter which is 36.7 feet.

While we are talking about FJ cruiser, check this out

2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser vs. 2006 Nissan Xterra Off-Road

Last edited by hondadude : 27th December 2007 at 11:52. Reason: added a link
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Old 27th December 2007, 11:52   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Turning Circle diameter is given as 41.8 feets for FJC and Scorp its 5.6, given as turning radius. Wonder how to compare this?
That would be 6.37m for FJC.
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Old 27th December 2007, 12:04   #12
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Arrow Good Link That One..... Tnx

Quote:
Originally Posted by hondadude View Post
Scorp's turning radius is 5.6 meters which translates to 18.37 feet. Multiply by two to get turning circle diameter which is 36.7 feet.

While we are talking about FJ cruiser, check this out

2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser vs. 2006 Nissan Xterra Off-Road
Hai,

Tnx for that link, went thro. the review, gives a thumps up for the FJC, looks impressive. Wonder when we will see such SUV's here, we're left with the option to go for expensive one or import 2nd hand SUV's.

--Ramky
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Old 27th December 2007, 12:14   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Hai,

Tnx for that link, went thro. the review, gives a thumps up for the FJC, looks impressive. Wonder when we will see such SUV's here, we're left with the option to go for expensive one or import 2nd hand SUV's.
For that matter, Nissan should have brought Xterra instead of X-Trail in the Indian market. I believe they would have had more success with that instead of positioning x-trail bang opposite CRV.
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Old 27th December 2007, 12:46   #14
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The FJ cruiser is promising on the surface, but a failure in practice. In the interest of style, Toyota gave it very shallow greenhouse with very small window height and a dashboard that looms high, meaning that your sight lines are terrible. It may not matter in the wide open dunes, but generally for off roading, this sucks, not to mention that it creates claustrophobia.

Its also not as compact as a true shortwheel base 2 door, nor is it as practical and usable as a true long wheel base 4 door. the crappy rear half doors make for useless vehicle from a usability and utility point of view.

If I were buying, I would buy a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, the new lwb, 4 door version. My second choice would be a lwb Nissan XTerra. I would not even look at the FJ Cruiser. the FJ makes a very positive impression when you look at it from the outside, but it sucks in actually use.


Check this out: Hummer H3, Toyota FJ Cruiser 4WD, Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4WD, Nissan Xterra Off-Road 4WD - Comparison Tests - Car and Driver
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Old 27th December 2007, 12:51   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
The FJ cruiser is promising on the surface, but a failure in practice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
I would not even look at the FJ Cruiser. the FJ makes a very positive impression when you look at it from the outside, but it sucks in actually use.
Personal experience on both Dunes and Wadis (dry, rocky mountain streams) has been to the contrary. The FJ has beaten all expectations.
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