Hello.. I'm the original poster.
Got about 88,000 km. on the cruiser now. Still very happy with it. Only complaint: the tires that are standard on the vehicle are total crap when it comes to any snow driving.
A few days back, I would have been embarrassed if anyone would have seen me...Here I was on a level surface, with the diff. locked, and all 4 tires spinning...And there was only about 4 inches of of snow on the ground at the time.
I'm kind of surprised that Toyota would stick such a cheap set of tires on this vehicle, when they tout it as being built for off-road travel.
One other thing... There should be a splash guard or something built into the front wheel wells. You lift the hood on my 1990 Miata, and the engine looks brand new...Lift the hood on my cruiser, and it looks like I've been doing a bit of mud-bogging. (Which I never do.)
Boy howdy! I just bought a used 2007 FJ Cruiser in voodoo blue. The previous owner had it lifted and added to nice tires and wheels. It stands taller than any other FJ I've seen in person. I really love this car but the gas mileage just might break me. If I were Toyota, I'd charge about $15,000 more for this vehicle. It'd sure be worth it.
Have a 2007 FJ, no regrets.
As for the blind spot, buy stick on convex mirrors, as this will rectify the problem.
There is only one vehicle being currently manufactured that is more dedicated to off-road use--the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. The FJ has some nice day-to-day usable features but lacks the solid front axle, front axle locker, and electronic sway bar detach. Also, unlike Jeep, Toyota doesn't seem to offer the kind of aggressive mud tires that the rest of the vehicle seems to be designed for. So with just a few mods and a little driver experience the FJ could be a formidable off-roader. Plus you'd have the Toyota reputation for reliability.
On dry pavement, you should only drive the FJ in 4x2. The only time you need to use 4x4 is off road, on ice, and in the snow.
What 16:29 said is true unless the FJ has some kind of center differential. In a part-time 4WD when the vehicle is in 4HI or 4LO the front and rear axles are locked to each other via the transfer case. If a driver drives on dry pavement this way there can be a buildup of pressure in the drivelines as inequities in speed, grip, surface, tires, and driveline machining result in a slightly different rotational speed between front and rear with no good means of dissipation. A center diff will allow differences with no trouble but is generally not a very good system off-road. Normally rough, loose surfaces allow dissipation of this pressure; thus the recommendation to only use 4WD on these surfaces. But if you CAN drive an FJ in 4WD without handling issues, perhaps it is a full-time system with a center diff. If so, 4WD will likely result in poorer gas mileage but no wear issues that I'm aware of.
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