Christian Wardlaw’s Opinion of the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser’s Design:
Original Toyota FJ-40s are still as appealing today as they were 30 years ago. Designers of the new 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser have successfully translated that appeal to this modern iteration, but some of the proportions aren’t right. There’s too much front overhang, for instance, and the new FJ is noticeably wider and squatter than its forebear. This is true of the Jeep Wrangler, too, but Jeep better masks the requirements of modern car building. Either that, or the Wrangler’s dedicated platform makes it easier to retain its classic Willys and CJ character – the FJ Cruiser is riding on 4Runner underpinnings.
Those issues aside, I like looking at the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser, and so do most passers-by. Our bright yellow test truck attracted attention like free beer at a frat party, making me feel quite conspicuous indeed, which is hard for any car to do in Orange County, California. Toyota deserves credit for bringing this design to market, whether you love it or hate it. There’s no better brand builder than a rolling billboard that everyone notices.
Inside, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser exhibits the same faked industrial, bare-bones cabin treatment that you find in vehicles like the Hummer H2 and Jeep Commander. The feel from behind the wheel, peering out through small windows, is just like a Hummer, but without the cool full-size sunroof. Like a Chrysler PT Cruiser or VW New Beetle, there’s color-matched plastic interior trim designed to evoke the look of painted metal surfaces in the original FJ. Visibility is terrible – front, sides, and rear. Pull up too close at an intersection, and you can’t see the traffic light overhead. The side mirrors are tall and thin, revealing too small a slice of what’s happening to the sides of the FJ. Rear visibility is compromised by a wide range of form-over-function design elements. No wonder a parking assist system is offered.
Finally, it appears that Toyota found the giant Sanyo boombox that was stolen from my dorm room in 1986. It’s housing the optional subwoofer in the cargo area. Yikes.
Thom Blackett’s Opinion of the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser’s Design:
This must be a response to our burgeoning population. With so many people on this planet, we’re all looking for new, bolder ways to be noticed. Hence, it’s the perfect time for the foolish styling of the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser, made all the better when dunked in smurf-like Voodoo Blue or school-bus yellow Sun Fusion – flashing red lights and fold-out stop signs not included. Seriously, how hard-up for attention do you need to be to ride around in this thing? I felt like a pupil magnet while piloting the FJ, and was constantly at the ready to tell anybody that this oddity was not on my payroll.
So, it looks like a cartoon character’s vehicle that’s come to life. Get past that and you’ll recognize the details, like a vertical windshield that is awkwardly too far forward, visors that are almost out of reach, massive blind spots created by all of the pillars, an exterior-mounted spare tire that diminishes the view out of the rear window, a matching instrument panel reminding you of the hideous body color, and a dash that is as unusual in its verticality as it is in its depth. But, hey, those dash top gauges are cool.
Brian Chee’s Opinion of the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser’s Design:
“The FJ Cruiser is the coolest, most unapologetic vehicle ever built by Toyota, a bold SUV not for everyone – but it could be, given its off-road prowess, capable engine, interesting interior, and exciting design. About that design: that’s another thing that’s refreshing – when an automaker keeps to the original concept of a car and creates a really cool vehicle.”
My initial reaction to the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser was, indeed, quite positive. And I stand by the above passage, written after a brief first-drive experience, because it is arguably the coolest and most unapologetic vehicle built by Toyota. Kudos to them for staying so true to the concept, kudos to Toyota for building a vehicle some will hate and others love. Yeah, it looks like a cartoon. But it’s a darn cool cartoon, and let me pose a question: What would the world be like if there were no Simpsons, or, Lord save us, Bugs Bunny?
There are enough blandy-bland blah cars on the road today – a little spice is nice. The FJ’s white roof, old-style headlights, vertical windshield, and big rearview mirrors add up to a fun and unique experience behind the wheel. It’s just there – behind the wheel – where the FJ gets into a bit of trouble while attempting to keep its coolness vibe going. The interior is cool, sure, but at the expense of usability. Case in point: the utility doors that swing out. A cool touch, but try opening ‘em up in a supermarket parking lot. Not real functional on a day-to-day basis. Up front, the conundrum continues. The seats are comfortable, there’s loads of room, and the controls are well designed, especially the larger-than-life shifter. But they all seem so far away, and sitting in the cabin is like spending a day shopping at the local Dollar Store. Sure, there’s a cool compass, and a latitude/longitude ball mounted on the front center of the dash. That’s cool. But in the day-to-day, few have a need to know their longitude/latitude. Overall, a cool and daring new truck built on an old truck’s platform. And maybe a little too daring?
Russ Bartlett’s Opinion of the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser’s Design:
This SUV turns heads. Toyota’s 2007 FJ Cruiser won’t be confused for another SUV – its styling is bold, retro, and tough. The hood and grille are reminiscent of the Toyota Land Cruiser from the 1960s and early 1970s – they’ve even got the classic “TOYOTA” badge emblazoned on the grille. I liked the two-tone color scheme with the white roof and the solid body color, but I’m not a fan of the body-color choices. I felt like I should have been in a Baywatch episode riding around in the lifeguard yellow version (Toyota calls it Sun Fusion). The purple, uh, I mean Black Cherry, and Voodoo Blue colors are pretty outrageous as well. Black and silver are your other choices. Ridiculously narrow side mirrors and protruding tail lights are disruptions to an otherwise smooth exterior style.
The interior is simple and comfortable, with all controls easily reached by the driver. In fact, I found it much easier to change the radio stations and volume from the radio itself rather than using those mounted on the steering wheel. The radio display is hard to read during the daylight hours, but looks great at night. An auxiliary port for MP3 players or satellite radio makes it easy to take your tunes with you, and the nine-speaker audio system with subwoofer is plenty loud enough to drown out the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser’s ever-present exhaust noise. The backlit instrument cluster was easy on the eyes, improving the nighttime ride. If you like to camp, fish, mountain bike, or take part in any other outdoor activities that require getting dirty, you’ll like how easy the rubber floor and rear deck are to clean. The flat dash with its curved top looked cool, but produced a lot of wasted space on the passenger side – a map pocket or net to hold something here might be a better idea.
My biggest beef with the FJ Cruiser is this: none of the seats fold completely flat, which means it's easier to get a surfboard, fishing pole, or an eight-foot two-by-four in a Honda Fit than the FJ Cruiser.