Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Toyota FJ Cruiser - One Week Enlistment

When they brought me my Toyota FJ Cruiser to test, I was surprised to see that it was Army Green -- nonmetallic, regular old green. The wheels were steel--painted utilitarian flat black. The rest of the trim was blacked out, too. It looked like a mean, fighting machine.

Of course, the FJ, which is essentially Toyota's take on the Hummer, may look blocky and tough, but it's got the modern Toyota guts and interior. The inside panels are upright and some wear body color--there was lots of green inside, including the seat panels--and the controls are blocky--but surprisingly light to move. The ride is firm but smooth and the big SUV is easy to drive. Parking takes care because of a huge blind spot created by the stylish but wide side pillars.

A 4.0-liter V6 with 260 horsepower gives the car plenty of punch, but it's pretty quiet to the ear. The rear door opens horizontally--like the door of your house--and the second row seats fold for maximum utility.

While most FJs wear a bright color and white top--a nod to the old Land Cruiser--you need to order Upgrade Package 3 ($3,650) to get all the Army stuff. That includes more than just green paint--you also receive illuminated round markers on the mirrors, an electronically controlled locking rear differential, active traction control, remote keyless entry, an upgraded JBL 11-speaker audio system (with a monster subwoofer in back), leather steering wheel, privacy glass and more. It all tops out at $31,775 with delivery charges.

I'm not one for big lumbering vehicles, but this one felt like fun--and I thought I saw people looking at me and thinking, "What did that guy do to that car?"

Photo by Chris Kidwell.

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