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The Launch and Reception of the FJ Cruiser
The FJ Cruiser was first introduced in 2003 at the North Amercan International Auto Show. it wasn’t until 2005 when it was approved for productive after positive feedbacj from consumers. Most people felt that the FJ was different from the rest of Toyota’s lineup that was conservative.
Automotive journalists appreciated the fact that Toyota took time to introduce a retro-styled car with excellent off-road capabilities. Getting its power from a V6 engine, 4-liter capacity, the SUVcould deliver 239-259hp with an option of either automatic or manual.
Primarily developed for the North American market, the Cruiser was introduced to other countries like New Zealand and Australia in 2010. However, the lineup only featured automatic transmission that was powered by a gasoline engine on all four wheels. The SUV also made a debut in Japan in 2010.
The Cruiser’s debut was a success for people who wanted an SUV that could access the wilderness and had a rugged build to match up.
However, users criticized the FJ for being too focused on off-road capabilities and ignoring other essential aspects like lateral grip performance and body roll.
The SUV was also criticized for its smaller-than-average cargo capacity. Its design also led to large blind spots and the rear seats didn’t provide enough sitting space and were challenging to access. The cabin area was also boring and had nothing unique to offer. That created an opportunity for other models to overtake the Cruiser.
Toyota tried to rectify the issue by changing the front seats’ hinge mechanism. That was meant to give passengers a simpler entry and exit from the back. To solve the blindspots issue, Toyota introduced a reversing camera.
Additionally, the FJ Cruiser was also critiqued for its appearance. Some automakers felt that Toyota attempted to cut costs and created a car that resembled the 4Runner and Tacoma. They felt that most parts of the Cruiser were also coming from these cars.
End of FJ Cruiser Production
Toyota USA in November 2013 announced that the 2014 model year would be referred to as the Final Edition. They also stated that the model would be the last in that market.
However, Toyota continued the production of the FJ Cruiser in Australia but ceased exports in 2016. Research also shows that the FJ Cruiser is still sold in the Middle East, Chile, South Africa, and the Philippines.
Reasons Why Toyota Stopped Making the FJ Cruiser
Although the FJ Cruiser had a great reception due to its performance and retro style, Toyota decided to discontinue its production. Some of the reasons for this were:
A Drop in Sales
The FJ cruiser experienced high sales in the first years after its appearance, thanks to its performance and rugged style. The SUV sold 56,225 units in the U.S. by 2006.
However, the sales were not sustained and by 2007, the sales had plummeted to 14,000 units. That did not improve in the subsequent years.
Experts attribute the sales drop to the 2008 recession.
Although the FJ Cruiser had received positive feedback and performed well, Toyota decided to discontinue it in 2014. The company stated that the sales were too low to continue coming up with the second version of the FJ Cruiser.
Competition in the Mid-Size SUV Segment
FJ cruiser was initially meant to be Toyota’s way of creating an off-road SUV with excellent power and competitive pricing.
Nonetheless, the automaker made this a basic vehicle and cut costs with the cabin. Most of the parts and designs were adapted from other Toyota vehicles.
The FJ Cruiser faced massive competition from the likes of Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee. With the Grand Cherokee, drivers get excellent turbodiesel fuel economy and a refined feel.
Additionally, the FJ Cruiser faced competition from the Nissan Xterra which had a versatile and spacious interior. The likes of Jeep Grand and Toyota 4 Runner provided a real backseat for long trips and an upgraded interior.
Unfortunately, the Cruiser remained unchanged from its release to its production discontinuation.
Poor Fuel Economy
A rise in gas prices was a result of the recession in the United States. That greatly affected the automobile industry as fewer people had the money to buy the FJ Cruiser.
The poor gas mileage and a gasoline crisis were something Toyota decided to solve by adding a mid-cycle engine refresh. However, this didn’t improve the fuel economy and is one of the reasons Toyota discontinued production of the Cruiser.
Another reason attributed to the discontinuation of the FJ Cruiser was the criticism the SUV received.
Drivers complained of a faulty driveshaft, especially in the 2010 models. They experienced a thumping noose under braking conditions. Unfortunately, most discovered there was a broken driveshaft that interfered with other parts. While the faulty driveshaft was thought to be a manufacturer’s defect, Toyota didn’t reimburse repair costs.
Vibration in the drivetrain was another common problem. Factors like slipped splines and misaligned angles can cause this problem.
Can You Still Buy the FJ Cruiser?
Yes, the FJ Cruiser despite being discontinued, its production in Japan is still on at the Hamura factory. The factory still produces left-hand drive models that can be shipped in. However, the limited supply has contributed to a price increase.
The Cruiser is also sold in some Toyota dealerships in the Middle East. A few dealerships also allow users to spec and customize the Cruiser to their liking.
You should note that there’s nothing new with the FJ Cruiser overseas models. They still have a similar exterior design and interior features. The 2020 FJ Cruiser Model is still powered by a 4.0L V6 engine.
Increased Value and Popularity of the Toyota FJ Cruiser After Discontinuation
Although the Toyota FJ Cruiser never did well in the previous production years, the SUV now enjoys an impressive run in the used market. The off-road beast holds up to 60% of its value after three years, ranking as one of the best mid-size SUV with a high resale value.
Statistics from the NADA Used Car Guide reveal that the 2012 base model has an average trade-in price of $25,275. That’s 90.8% of its new version price.
The FJ Cruiser is in high demand and limited in supply in places like the Middle East because of its off-road capabilities and ability to drive well on the sand. In the UAE, the FJ Cruiser prices start ar $40,021 or an equivalent of 147,000 AED and $37,307 in South Africa.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding