“Toyota’s FJ Cruiser wins the 2009 Motorist Choice award for the Mid-Size Sport Utility segment. What a ride! Looks tough. Is tough. Goes anywhere. Just what an authentic SUV is supposed to be, and a poster child for legendary Toyota virtues of quality, reliability and durability to boot.” – AutoPacific
“The FJ Cruiser was a 2009 BOVY Winner. The FJ Cruiser has best-in-segment ownership costs and by far the best retained value.” – IntelliChoice
Owner Satisfaction Highlights
• Brand reputation
• Durable/Long Lasting
• Overall Quality
• 2009 BOVY Winner
• Best-in-Segment Ownership Costs
• Best Retained Value
AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards results are in. AutoPacific’s awards collect the opinions of OWNERS. There is no subjectivity added by AutoPacific at all.
Truck-Based Traditional SUVs Most Satisfying
As usual, there are expected winners and unexpected losers, but let’s take a look at some overall results that will surprise many of you.
The vehicle type with the highest Vehicle Satisfaction Score is the Traditional Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are truck-based SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade
, Toyota Sequoia
, Ford Explorer
, Toyota 4Runner
, Kia Sorento
, HUMMER H3
and Toyota FJ Cruiser
. In fact, the Toyota Sequoia was the top scoring vehicle – car or truck – in AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction results.
Car-Based Crossover SUVs More Satisfying than Cars, Minivans, Pickups
The second highest scoring category was the Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are car-based SUVs like the Audi Q7
, BMW X3
, Acura RDX
, Buick Enclave
, GMC Acadia
, Hyundai Veracruz
, Suzuki XL-7
, Ford Edge
, Saturn Vue
, Toyota RAV4
and Nissan Rogue
. Crossovers are the response by the automakers to make more user-friendly SUVs and in 2006 Crossover SUVs began outselling Traditional SUVs… a trend that will not be reversed.
Rated substantially behind SUVs are Cars, Minivans and Pickups.
Clearly, even in times of high and increasing fuel prices, SUVs are here to stay. Their Swiss Army Knife utility guarantees they will be a central part of a high many family fleets in the future. The continuing jihad against SUVs has failed again!
Toyota FJ Cruiser Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact SUV/Off-Road Vehicle:
“The all-new Toyota FJ Cruiser is one of the most personality-driven, distinctively-styled vehicles introduced for 2007. But styling isn’t the only thing FJ Cruiser has going for it,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Toyota FJ Cruiser owners rated the new FJ highly for Quality, Reliability and Durability. Power/Acceleration was also highly rated. The only area of significant dissatisfaction was Visibility from the Driver’s Seat, a well known FJ characteristic”.
Yes, SEMA wanted to salute American Muscle this year and they were successful. In front of the North Hall and inside the lobby rows of Muscle Cars both past and present lined up to receive their deserving accolades. The big block Chevys, Fords, and Dodges pulled at my heartstrings. I could hear the gurgling exhaust notes, feel the rumbling deep in my chest, and smell the high octane burning through four barrel carbs, down high rise manifolds, across forged pistons, and out the dual exhaust with an irregular lope. I kept reaching for that Hurst® shifter and mashing down with my right foot, adrenaline pumping hard through my veins. But it was time to stop daydreaming! Today I would be walkin’… a lot.
In my quest to see most if not all of SEMA I found it interesting that on the front lines there may have been blown Camaros, tweaked Challengers, and race-ready Mustangs but in the trenches Toyota’s FJ Cruiser was chosen by many exhibitors to strut their aftermarket stuff. From Toyota’s own exhibit flaunting TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and an off-road prepped FJs, the latter with a twin-stick Atlas® t-case, to those companies supplying aftermarket bumpers, stereo equipment, and creating convertibles; the FJ’s were everywhere.
Firsts for Wrangler: Four Doors and Seating for Five
Further meeting the Even More promise Jeep made with the introduction of the latest Wrangler in January, the Wrangler Unlimited adds twenty inches to the wheelbase, two doors, and creates enough room to seat five. Jeep ensured that Wrangler Unlimited includes the open-top driving aspect of the Wrangler appeal. The new Unlimited benefits from the mechanical, interior, and exterior changes of the standard Wrangler, including a standard Sunrider softop (introduced on the 2004.5MY two-door Unlimited, it has a sunroof area that can be opened over first- and second-row passengers if you don’t want to take the whole thing down) and the optional new three-piece Freedom top hardtop. Jeep takes the liberty of calling the Wrangler Unlimited the only four-door convertible on the market; you’ll find it in dealers in fall 2006 though information can be found on Jeep‘s consumer web site now.
Jeep unveiled the four-door model at the 2006 New York auto show
, with the help of local firefighters, as they washed away more than six tons of mud to reveal the star of Jeep’s show stand. The Patriot was unveiled alongside the Wrangler, but the Wrangler is still the heart of the brand. AutoPacific
contributors were there to see the unconventional reveal, keeping out of the path of flying mud.
Long a car-sick motor head, over the years I’ve cultivated a rather ecclectic (and quite strong) list of likes and dislikes in the vehicles I have owned. Lots of overpowered coupes and sedans, a couple of oddball oversteering rear engined cars with more power than their engineers had envisioned when first they set pencil to paper, and only a single vehicle that could be categorized as a truck. And a pretty poor excuse for a truck at that.
Recently, after discussing favorite “Guilty Pleasure” films with some journalist pals, the topic turned the concept of Guilty Pleasure vehicles. Vehicles you like (or would like) to drive but would never admit it to a friend. At the top of the list were those small, innocous, underpowered economy cars that can be driven at ten-tenths all the time without raising the ire of police or other drivers. Why precisely these came up first is of some small concern to me. Perhaps I need a new set of journalist friends, but I digress.
Next the subject of traditional big American Iron came up. As in large, V8 rear-drive cars with primitive solid axle rear suspension systems better suited to buggies or heavy duty pickups than 21st century land transport. Nothing of any collectible interest or classic in nature, we’re talking about post 1985-metal. At the risk of trading in my VehicleVoice correspondent credentials and my AutoPacific analyst pass, the first of my automotive Guilty Pleasures comes to light, the Lincoln Town Car.
We have all been following the press accounts of Toyota becoming the top producing vehicle manufacturer in the world in 2006 and we have heard statements by Toyota management that Toyota is going to become more aggressive in the future. Historically, Toyota has taken a relatively humble and mild stance to its growing presence worldwide and in the USA particularly, but in 2003 the gloves came off with Toyota Motor Sales USA taking a higher profile. Their pace of advance will quicken substantially in 2006.
VehicleVoice contributor and AutoPacific‘s President George Peterson takes a quick look at Toyota’s 2006 plans.
Toyota Has Guns Blazing in 2006
It looks like the 2007 model year is going to be the year when Toyota really comes in with all guns blazing. I guess that we can’t include the all new RAV4, now moving upmarket and sporting a 3.5L V6 engine as part of the onslaught. It was launched in late 2005 as a 2006 model. The new RAV4 is outstanding and is reported to be the fastest vehicle carrying a Toyota badge today.
During 2006, the 2007 models will be introduced starting with the all new Yaris, major change for the Camry, launch of an all new hybrid Toyota Camry, launch of the all new FJ Cruiser, launch of a truly competitive full size pickup, launch of a new Lexus ES330 and new Lexus LS460.
AutoExtremist Peter DeLorenzo sums it up well in his observations of Toyota, “We’re not only going to tell you what play we’re going to run, we’re going to ram the ball down your throats knowing that there’s not a damn thing you can do to stop us. What can you say about Toyota other than that they continue in their relentless pursuit of world domination, and there appears to be no one capable of standing in their way?”
Lets touch on each of these in order of launch…
VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) have been closely watching the development of the Toyota FJ Cruiser since retro SUV concepts began appearing at Toyota auto show displays in the early 2000s. The FJ Cruiser, shown in essentially production form during the 2003 auto show season, is the first truly retro SUV to come to market it’s certainly more capable than the pseudo-SUV Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevrolet HHR and the Honda Element (which also uses rear access doors similar to FJ Cruiser). In fact, FJ Cruiser is a true off-roader more of the ilk of the Nissan Xterra.
2007 FJ Cruiser w/FJ40 in background
On December 26, 2005 Toyota issued the following (lenghty) press release supporting the launch of the FJ Cruiser. Sales will begin in March 2006 with production in Japan.
2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser: The Result of Art, Technology and Heritage
12/26/2005 Torrance, CA: Toyota advances both the art and science of the off-road vehicle while recalling its own off-road heritage with the introduction of the 2007 FJ Cruiser sport-utility vehicle (SUV), available in March 2006.
The FJ Cruiser offers a youthful, contemporary spirit and employs the same state-of-the-art comfort, power, economy, safety, emissions and convenience technology available in other Toyota vehicles. As it does so, it provides optimized off-road capabilities, value and styling clues reminiscent of Toyota’s famed FJ40 4×4 utility vehicle, sold in the U.S. from 1960 to 1983. The FJ40, which during its production life served around the world as the safari and expedition vehicle of choice, remains a desirable and collectable off-road vehicle.
“The FJ Cruiser effectively fills a gap in the Toyota lineup that was once our core heritage – capable, affordable and durable vehicles that are youthful, fun to drive, aggressive and tough,” said Jim Lentz, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. “The FJ Cruiser will deliver true off-road ruggedness, image and performance at an affordable price, making it highly accessible and desirable to a large volume of young buyers.”
The five-passenger FJ Cruiser was designed as a concept vehicle at Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, Calif. It was first seen at Detroit’s North American International Automobile Show in 2003. Public and media reaction to the FJ Cruiser concept was so positive that the vehicle was slated for production using most of the same design parameters as the original concept. As an indicator of the vehicle’s unmistakable family DNA, several of the FJ Cruiser’s available color choices are reminiscent of the colors found on FJ40s.