From the beginning, Toyota (NYSE:TM) has maintained that its rugged and iconic FJ Cruiser was going to be a one generation vehicle. Launched in 2006, the model has remained virtually unchanged since, and it appears that it will stay that way, as Automotive News is reporting that Toyota will cease production of the model next year.
The FJ — the most modern of which is a sort of rebirth of the original models from the ’60s and ’70s — has enjoyed an eight-year run, and will be sent off with a special edition model for 2014. It’s built on a similar platform as the Toyota 4Runner, though it has a shorter wheelbase and a shorter length overall.
In addition to a small production run of stock FJs, Toyota also will also be offering a 2014 Trail Teams Ultimate Edition FJ Cruiser for next year. The latter will have a run of 2,500 vehicles, and a slew of nifty add-ons, such as Toyota Racing Development race shocks from Bilstein (with more damping, articulation and high-speed stability), a TRD aluminum front skid plate, TRD 16-inch bead-lock wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich A/T KO tires, rock rails, and a roof rack, Auto News says.
Perhaps naturally, the Ultimate FJ will only be available in four-wheel drive, and some additional goodies for the avid off-roaders, like active traction control, defeatable vehicle skid control, and an electronically-controlled locking rear differential.
During its first two years on the market, the FJ moved 50,000 units — quite impressive, considering that the FJ is such a niche vehicle, purpose-built for off-road use. However, once the economy tanked in 2008, the sales slumped, moving just 10,000 and 15,000 units per year starting in 2009, Auto News points out. No pricing details for the 2014 models has been released as of yet.
Despite its faults — the poor rearward visibility and sub-par fuel economy come to mind — the FJ Cruiser proved to be an immensely capable and popular vehicle (for its class), which built a solid following and handily gave the Jeep Wrangler, a benchmark for off-road performance, a run for its money.
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