BUYERS in the UAE can buy a 2020 Toyota FJ Cruiser from their Toyota dealer for the equivalent of $66,500 Australian dollars.
Toyota Australia (TMCA) stopped selling the popular FJ here back in 2017, when the Hino production plant in Japan stopped making them in right-hand drive configuration. However, I bet most of us didn’t realise they were still being made in LHD for the Middle East.
The FJ Cruiser was conceived for the US market and, when it first landed there back in 2006, many saw it as an alternative off-roader to the Jeep Wrangler. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as the FJ was a much more refined and well-built SUV.
With its shortened Prado chassis and architecture including independent front suspension, the FJ lagged behind the Wrangler in off-road ability but left it for dead in on-road manners and driveability.
Right-hand drive production began in 2011 for countries such as Australia, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand, where the FJ outsold expectations. But when the USA announced that 2014 would be the last year for the FJ there, we thought the end was near for the model.
Australia and other right-hand drive markets held on to the FJ until 2017, but when RHD production ceased we thought that was the last we’d see of it.
That was until we spied the new car line-up of Toyota vehicles available in the United Arab Emirates, and to our surprise, there’s a 2020 FJ there.
Still the same old FJ from every angle, and still powered by the 1GR petrol V6 engine with a five-speed auto transmission and part-time 4x4 system, the Arab FJ seems to be the same spec as the last of our models equipped with ATRC, crawl control and the dual fuel tanks.
A couple of modern concessions include an upgraded audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus there’s an in-built air compressor for reinflating the tyres after playing out in Middle Eastern sand dunes.
The FJ Cruiser’s styling meant it would always be polarising, but in reality, it was a great little off-roader and all 'round adventure mobile.
While those that hated the FJ mightn't care less that it’s still around, we’re grateful to see it - and Toyota sure could do with a vehicle like the FJ Cruiser in its current global new product range.