Perhaps before I dive into the modding madness, I should provide some details regarding the FJ’s stock capabilities and features. Targeted at the 20- to 30-year-old off-roading demographic, the FJ was designed with ruggedness in mind. Even though the exterior shell of the FJ Cruiser is brand new, many of the underlying components are based on slightly modified versions of other existing product lines. Some may see this approach as cobbling, a vehicle designed in true Frankenstein fashion. But in my opinion, Toyota’s approach to designing and eventually producing the FJ Cruiser prototype was pure genius. Rather than rely on newly designed and therefore untested parts, Toyota dug into their existing product lines in order to determine which parts were proven to be the most reliable over long-term testing. By piecing together the strongest and most reliable parts, Toyota was able to produce not only a quality vehicle, but one which contained many of the best features from other vehicles.
I could spend a lot of time detailing the mechanics behind the scenes, but it’s actually much easier to let Toyota do the explaining for me. The first and perhaps most important element incorporated into the FJ’s design was the frame. Check out the video below for more details.
Next up on the list of items to discuss is the FJ Cruiser’s suspension system. Although I’ve long since replaced the stock setup, FJ Cruisers are designed to be very capable right off the showroom floor. As the next demo indicates, the FJ Cruiser comes equipped with an independent front suspension (IFS) system using coil-overs with high-mounted upper control arms. Before you scoff at the IFS, keep in mind that most of my daily travel in the FJ is done on paved roads and the IFS provides a much smoother ride than a solid front axle. This is the primary reason why Toyota designed the FJ with IFS. But that’s not to say the FJ is a street machine. The FJ exhibits great handling both on- and off-road. Check out the next video for more details on the FJ’s front suspension system.
Both literally and figuratively not far behind, the FJ Cruiser’s rear suspension suspension system is also designed with off-roading in mind. In addition to a solid rear axle, the FJ Cruiser’s four-link, coil-over suspension eliminates the traditional problems associated with leaf spring setups. Plus, by reducing the size of the rear stabilizer bar, Toyota was able to increase the overall articulation as well. Check out the next video for more rear suspension details.
Realizing that the FJ Cruiser is marketed towards the off-roading community, Toyota took the time to incorporate additional protection for the undercarriage components. By adding skid plating to the engine, transmission and gas tank, owners have a lot less to worry about when traversing more difficult terrain. For rocker panel protection, Toyota also offers the option of frame-mounted rock rails. Check out the next video for more undercarriage details.
The body design may be new, but the elements that went into creating the FJ Cruiser’s body structure and overlay panels were not. Check out the next video for more details.
Hopefully by now, you’re beginning to see that the FJ Cruiser is not merely the next SUV to hit the soccer mom market. It’s truly a remarkable vehicle with honest-to-goodness off-roading capabilities. The above video demonstrations are but a few in number. I’ll post up more videos and details within the next few days. In the meantime, the next time you see an FJ Cruiser driving down the street or climbing the nearest mountain, you’ll have a much better idea of what lies hidden beneath the FJ’s seemingly-innocent skin. Enjoy!