The brain trust at Toyota has decided to end the production run of the Toyota FJ. Sad news in my book as the Toyota FJ was one of only a handful of proper off-road capable SUVs on the market. Now, the Toyota Tacoma-based tribute to the lauded Toyota FJ-40 will fade away with no announcement of a replacement.
This is sad news indeed, but it’s not unexpected. The Toyota FJ’s sales numbers have decreased drastically since its 2006 introduction. Since 2006, sales went from well over 50,000 to less than 14,000 FJs last year.
The Toyota FJ has been mildly upgraded over its life. The most notable recent upgrade was a rear-view/back-up camera to make up for the abysmal rear visibility. Otherwise, the 260 horsepower, 4.0-liter V6 that makes 271 lbs-feet of torque is pretty much the same. The five-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions are pretty much the same too.
The Toyota FJ oozes personality and the fan-base for this vehicle is very active. In my opinion, the FJ was to Toyota what MINI is to BMW. The Toyota FJ is a character, an action-figure, a former glimpse into Toyota’s whimsy.
Killing the Toyota FJ makes fiscal sense to be sure. You don’t rise to number one on the planet for being soft or illogical. A vehicle built on nostalgia, bred for a niche market (real off-road-capable vehicles comprise a very small market-share) no longer makes sense.
For those very reasons, Toyota should have had a plan to update or improve the FJ rather than terminate it. Yes, it is old-school, ponderous, un-economical, toy-like and a bit of an anachronism… and that’s the reason Toyota should find a way to keep name (or, at least the idea) of the Toyota FJ relevant.
I’ll miss it and so will you.
Check out this video review of the Toyota FJ’s closest competitor, the Nissan Xterra!