Toyota unveiled the all-new FJ Cruiser sport utility vehicle (SUV) at a press conference today (Thursday) at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show.
The overwhelmingly positive response to the FJ Cruiser concept, developed two years ago, prompted Toyota to launch a production version of the SUV.
The all-new production model retains much of the design details of the original concept.
"The FJ Cruiser effectively fills a gap in the Toyota lineup which was once our core heritage - capable, affordable and durable vehicles that are youthful, fun-to-drive, aggressive and tough," said Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager, Toyota Division.
"The FJ Cruiser will deliver true off-road ruggedness, image and performance at a very low price, making it highly accessible for a large volume of young buyers."
The final production design of the FJ Cruiser was a joint project by Toyota Motor Corporation and Calty Design Research, which developed the original concept vehicle shown at the North American International Auto Show in 2003.
Based on nearly a half-century tradition of tough off-road performance provided by the legendary FJ 40, the original 4Runner, and 4x4 compact pickups, the FJ Cruiser was developed as a basic, capable and affordable off-roader aimed specifically at young buyers with active outdoor lifestyles.
The FJ Cruiser adopts several styling cues from the original FJ 40.
Some of these cues are notable on the front end by its wide grille with "Toyota" logo badging, round headlights, and offset combination lamps. Additional inspiration can be found through its upright windscreen and white cap roof.
Traits are also noticeable in the rear with wrapping rear corner windows.
Utility features include a two-part rear hatch with flip-up glass, black bumpers with mudguards, and silver painted bumper extenders, mirrors, door handles and skid plate.
Easy rear passenger entry into the two-door SUV is achieved via rear access doors.
Power is supplied by a 4-litre V6 engine, generating 182 kW and 282 lb-ft. of torque. The engine is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission on both 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and an available six-speed manual on 4x4 models.
The five-passenger FJ Cruiser rides on a modified 4Runner platform and features 17 inch steel wheels and four-wheel disc brakes.
Just like all of the SUVs in Toyota's US line-up, the FJ Cruiser will be equipped with the Star Safety System which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and traction control (TRAC), an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and brake assist as standard.
All 4x2 models will come with a standard automatic limited slip differential (ALSD).
The tough and straightforward theme of the FJ Cruiser is extended to the interior with a cabin designed specifically for basic functionality and flexible utility.
The instrument panel features an exterior color trim, adding to its sophisticated, handcrafted appearance. The faceplate with round inset instrumentation communicates a mechanical appearance.
The steering wheel and centre-mounted gearshift, and attached-look door panels feature tool-like simplicity.
The rear seats fold flat, creating ample cargo space and maximum usability.
The interior will be equipped with an array of standard convenience features including air conditioning, AM/FM CD audio with six speakers, tilt steering wheel, four cupholders, passenger seat back pocket, and an upper dash-mounted map/glove box.
Additional optional equipment includes 17 inch aluminum alloy wheels, rear differential lock, electronic four-wheel traction control (on 4WD models only), running boards, rear sonar backup assist, front seat-mounted side airbags and front- and rear-side curtain airbags, daytime running lights, power outside mirror with image lights, cruise control, AM/FM CD audio with a six-disc changer, equaliser and eight speakers, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, multi-information display, exterior color door insert panels, privacy glass, and rear wiper.
"Toyota is responding to the needs of a new generation of buyers with a modern interpretation of a Toyota classic, combining Toyota heritage with the safety and refinement requirements of today's market," said Esmond.
The Toyota FJ Cruiser will reach US Toyota dealerships in early 2006. There's no news yet on the possibility of this vehicle reaching SA.