Our Cars: Toyota FJ – Weeks 7-8

Counting up the cost cutting

by Imthishan Giado

16th March  – 22nd March – Read Report For Weeks 6-7

When the FJ first came out, it was a smash hit. With its chunky unorthodox retro looks and brawny V6 power, it stood out on the streets of the UAE much like Paris Hilton would at a nunnery.

Fast forward many years however, and the FJ is now so ubiquitous in every shape and size that the only way it’ll turn your head is if it comes behind you on the highway flashing lights. (Incidentally, the FJ such is a flasher’s favourite, so when I drive in the fast lane, people jump out of the way with such haste that it’s like the parting of the seas with Moses.)

The way most people seem to differentiate their FJs from each other is by fitting different kit on it, from bigger beefier wheels, to full-on PIAA lamps and winches, banging stereos and the like. That’s where our long-term car comes in – this is meant to be a ‘stripper special’, a bottom-spec car that you can use as a canvas for modification, so you don’t end up paying for parts that you’ll just end up throwing away.

Fair enough, but there might be such a thing as too much stripping (many men may disagree) because this thing is bare. Let’s start with the interior.

Toyota FJ Long Term

What should be in that rectangular blank space to the left of the fog light toggle? The electric mirror controls! Yes, that’s right, the FJ has manually-adjusted mirrors, just like we did in the ‘50s. Yes, that means that unless you have prenaturally long arms, you’ll have to stop the car to adjust the passenger side mirror.

Toyota FJ Long Term

Like cruise control? Like how it takes the effort out of long boring journeys on our long boring highways? Sorry, no cruise control for you!

Toyota FJ Long Term

Speaking of convenience features, like wireless central locking? Well you do get that on the FJ. But with the keyring addon, it’s obviously an aftermarket addition that just adds to the jangle in your pocket.

Toyota FJ Long Term

This isn’t quite a deletion, but it might be the secret of our poor fuel consumption. Look at the transfer box lever on the right – it bears markings for H, HL, N and LL. HL locks the centre differential and LL locks it as well switching to low range. What’s missing is the H2 or two-wheel drive option you get in regular automatic FJs – as I suspected going manual means you can only have fuel-guzzling full-time four wheel drive.

Toyota FJ Long Term

What’s missing here? Nothing, actually. Regular cars get an AUX/USB jack in this location; for manual cars….

Toyota FJ Long Term

…it’s up here on the Bluetooth-enabled stereo which continues to sound really good, with reasonable bass for a stock system. That’s a surprise too, considering that…

Toyota FJ Long Term

…there’s no subwoofer! The ‘FJ Jammer’ box that usually sits here is missing and considering the number of trim pieces you’d need to swap to put it back, it might be better to just build a new subwoofer box from scratch.

On the outside, what’s missing? Is it on the tip of your tongue? Does the FJ look strangely higher than normal?

Toyota FJ Long Term

If you guessed ‘side steps’, give yourself a pat on the back. Shame, because without them it’s a real effort to get into the FJ.  Also missing – the standard rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

It’s true that many of these omissions, like the sidesteps or the camera/sub/stereo combo can be rectified through a quick trip to Yellow Hat. But why omit cruise control, probably the one thing I use the most in any car? And the same goes for the electric mirrors – how much could it possibly save off the price? Perplexing.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a manual FJ with all the above options intact – get one from the US.

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