Without our own Supra to pilot (a continued sore spot for us here at Turbo) we cruised out to the city of Lost Wages for the tenth annual "Supras Invade Las Vegas" event in Toyota's new FJ Cruiser. Toyota's answer to the Hummer, the FJ sports a retro white top and square SUV stance.
We were surprised that several people stopped us - at the gas station, valet, etc. - to ask us about the vehicle. We witnessed the FJ being unveiled at SEMA in 2005, but I guess it hasn't quite cruised out to every corner in the U.S. yet so it's still a novelty of sorts. Most of the questions were directed at our driving impressions and, of course, the price. With a sticker of only $24,000, our conclusion is that you get a lot of bang for your SUV buck with the FJ Cruiser.
We were very impressed by its smooth handling and quiet ride, even with the SUV reaching triple digit speeds (not that we drive that fast). It effortlessly cruised at high speeds without much cabin noise - unlike any other SUV we have driven. The compass on the dash and grade meter made us feel like we were on an African safari. Screw GPS, I like to see how much I can bank turns.
We made use of the large cabin space by rolling five-deep to the Japanese Classic Car show. Five tall adults with legroom? We're sold. We can't remember the last time we fit five people in one car. It's not exactly something our sport compacts are good at. Additionally, for someone used to driving lowered sport compacts with lowered racing seats I couldn't get over how high up the FJ Cruiser sits. I felt like I was piloting a monster truck and could just drive over the cars in front of me. (Which is, incidentally, very tempting in L.A. traffic.) I see now why moms buy these huge trucks: the sense of invincibility (even if they can't drive, ahem). As much as I never wanted to buy an SUV, I gotta say hands down it's a million times safer than my Miata.
Me driving an SUV? I never thought we'd see that, but I must say that the FJ Cruiser is the first SUV I actually liked and would consider purchasing.
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