The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a big, bulky, shoebox-shaped SUV. The gas mileage is terrible, you can barely see out of it, and the interior looks like it was made in a toy factory. It’s also loud inside. So why do people like them so much?
It’s not that I spend my days pondering about people’s fascination with FJ Cruisers, although I do spend quite a bit of time thinking about the complicated series of movements cats utilize to land feet first when falling from a 2nd floor balcony onto the ground level. How do they do this? Anyway, the FJ thing came to mind when a friend of mine professed his undying love for the FJ. I asked him what it is about the truck that he finds so amazing and his answer was that it’s “cool” and “simple.” What does that even mean? His 2-year old son loves it too; he saw one on TV and yelled out, “I like that truck!” Of course he does—it looks like the coolest Tonka truck ever built.
These adult-sized Tonka trucks are not cheap. Even a 5 year old FJ with 90k+ miles is listed at $25K on Autotrader. Lower mileage, newer FJs are in the $30K range….wait a minute. Are they going up in value?
If FJ Cruiser owners are anything like my friend, then you can imagine why it’s driving up the prices. They’re blinded by this desire to own one and they can’t explain exactly why. They just know they have been stricken with the “oh my god, I need an FJ” disease.
I guess if I think about it I can see why the FJ has a cult-like following like the Jeep Wrangler. It has a retro look that reminds fans of the original FJ40 why they liked it so much back then. It also has a body on frame design with high clearance that can tackle virtually any terrain you throw at it.
But are the owners really taking these offroad that much? Probably not. The only thing an FJ owner would use his SUV for is to drive to the grocery store to buy some spinach, followed by Juiceland to get a spinach juice and then drive back home to blend up a spinach smoothie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that’s dirty to indicate that an FJ may have seen anything other than nicely paved asphalt.
Maybe people like having the FJ around in case they need to drive it through water. It can supposedly plow through up to a couple feet of water and so small rivers should be no problem.
There’s also a matter of Toyota’s legendary reliability. There aren’t many vehicles that have a coolness about them that are also reliable. Whereas the Wrangler might be in the shop every other day for a leaky windshield, you could probably keep driving the FJ through floods for hundreds of thousands of miles.
All this begs the question–could the FJ Cruiser be the next Land Rover Defender? Twenty years from now, will it be worth $100,000? Will people ever stop drinking spinach juice? The few owners that my buddy has approached to buy their car feel as strongly about the car as my friend. I suppose I’ll never understand why they care as much as they do, but if the FJ is really worth more in the future, then perhaps I should start considering investments in quirky looking SUVs that are “cool” and “simple” instead of investing in stocks.