When Jeep made the Willys, they had no idea how much of an impact that vehicle would have. With its go anywhere uber-capable can do attitude, returning GIs loved them as they were used for just about everything overseas. People wanted to get more of that go anywhere vehicle. A vehicle that you dont have to wash, dont have to worry about scratching, or maintaining is what most of us want and dream about anyways. Just get in and enjoy the drive. With every generation afterwards, Jeep has just perfected the formula and gained a massive following doing it.
Over the years though there have been more than one copy-cat trying to capture the same utilitarian attitude. The Land Rover most notably, but the FJ40 was an almost exact replica of the original Willys DNA. In that spirit, the new FJ is as much a re-imagining of the original as Jeeps new Wrangler.
Instead of trying to capture all the mall-crawler consumers with a half-assed attempt though, this is more functional than you would think. The interior is thought out in its layout, with there being plenty of room for camping supplies. It has an electrical outlet in the back in case you need to plug in a space heater or an electric stove. The knobs and dials are big enough to be used easily when wearing think gloves. The floors and seats are waterproof so that you need not worry about a heavy duty cleaning job that will await you when you get back from your epic wheeling trip.
Before we go any further, I can hear the Jeep fanboys screaming. No it does not have a solid front axle, and no it doesnt necessarily need it. Unless your going to Moab or doing some seriously heavy duty wheeling, the Solid front axle just ruins the every day driveability in sacrificing the road comfort that comes from Independent Front Suspension. Having driven both I definitely prefer the Independent Front Suspension.
Yes Independent Front Suspension can be beefed up to perform just as well if not better than your solid front axle. It will only cost you slightly more than the astronomical cost you’d spend on a long travel SFA set up.
No it does not have Electronic Disconnect Sway bars, and unless you own a Rubicon, yours does not either. (assuming your running stock vehicles)
Yes you can put them on the FJ, and it will still cost less than your Rubicon while being twice as comfortable with 75% of the capability at 75% of the price.
It is bullet-proof reliable, gets respectable gas mileage and will never die. There are many examples of these engines going for well over 300K miles and still soldiering on. The FJ comes with a rear locker and a “torque vectoring” ish system called A-Trac, that actually works pretty well if you give it the chance. It has taken everything I have thrown at it with the grace of a mountain goat.
(And lets be real here. Your probably not one of the guys that goes to Moab. The most you do is drive it to the lake or to the campsite trying to hit the mud puddles on the way there to make it look like you wheeled it up Mt. Everest. Unless you do take it to Moab, in which case…carry on.)
No it will not blend it to the parking lot with all the other CRV’s and Nissan Murano’s or BMW X3’s. It is beautiful in its own right, even if it has a face only a mother would love. But it grows on you in ways you would not expect when you drive it for a long period of time. I appreciate that is different from the Jeep.
It is honestly the last true competitor to the Jeep that still survives. Or at least survived until Toyota said they were going to axe it a few months ago. Its a shame then, that more people will not get to experience the FJ Cruiser and what it offered to the rugged vehicle game. Toyota will surely regret this one day.