Has there ever been a better time for a Toyota Tacoma-based, offroad-oriented, style-conscious SUV? It’s 2017. Americans are fully invested in the idea of riding high. Jeep is selling 17,000 Wranglers per month. At the other end of the spectrum, Toyota just sold a record number of RAV4s: more than 43,000 in August. In between, Subaru is selling more than 38,000 crossovers monthly.
As total industry-wide auto sales fell 3 percent through the first two-thirds of 2017, SUV/crossover volume is up 6 percent.
Toyota itself is selling more than 16,000 Tacomas per month, the pickup on which a potential second-gen FJ Cruiser would likely be based. That fact alone is likely a factor that limits an FJ Cruiser rebirth. Indeed, Toyota hasn’t sold the FJ Cruiser in the United States since the 2014 model year, having reached its end just as the U.S. SUV/crossover trend really broke through. Americans now buy 14-percent more utility vehicles than cars.
But the Toyota FJ Cruiser lives on, at least for a little while longer, if only in the Japanese domestic market. This is — say it in a movie trailer voiceover pitch — the Toyota FJ Cruiser Final Edition.
All Final Edition FJs wear 20-inch wheels. All are equipped with the 4.0-liter V6. All V6s transmit their power through a five-speed automatic, not the six-speed manual that was once optional. More tellingly, all Final Edition FJ Cruisers are painted in a special shade of beige. And they’re all clad inside with beige upholstery. In other words, the least beige vehicle Toyota sold in America in the last 10 years exists this world — on the other side of the world — in spectacularly beige fashion.
Toyota reported 222,246 FJ Cruisers in the United States between 2006 and early 2018. Most of those were sold early on in the lengthy run. After selling over 140,000 between 2006 and 2008, Toyota averaged fewer than 14,000 annual U.S. sales between 2009 and 2014.There’s persistent talk of an FJ Cruiser replacement, but with Toyota achieving such tremendous sales success with the Tacoma, 4Runner, RAV4, and Highlander, it’s certainly not a necessary void to fill.
Moreover, the latest concept to project historic FJ cues, the FT-4X from the New York International Auto Show earlier this year, was far less rugged than the offroad-ready FJ Cruiser.