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Toyota delays FJ Cruiser

Rugged retro: Toyota's FJ Cruiser mimics 'Cruisers of old but carries Prado underpinnings.

Second ‘low-volume brand-builder’ delayed as Toyota Oz awaits facelifted FJ Cruiser

9 Aug 2010

TOYOTA has announced it will launch the FJ Cruiser retro-SUV in Australia early next year, confirming a News Limited report that its second “low-volume brand-building” model following the Rukus will be delayed from its original 2010 release date.

As GoAuto reported exclusively in March, a facelifted version of the previous-generation Prado-based FJ Cruiser was to have followed the Rukus as Toyota’s second all-new model release this year.

Now Toyota has confirmed a local release late in the first quarter of 2011, after the debut of a pre-production version at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney from October 15.

Australia’s FJ Cruiser, which will pick up the mostly interior changes to be adopted by the US version, will be produced by Toyota subsidiary Hino in Japan.

Inspired by the 50-year-old FJ40 LandCruiser and designed to compete with the rugged Jeep Wrangler and General Motors’ Colorado/Rodeo-based Hummer H3, which has been discontinued in Australia, Toyota describes the FJ Cruiser as a sporty off-roader with rugged good looks and solid off-road capability.

Like the Prado upon which it is based, the FJ Cruiser rides on a sturdy ladder-frame chassis and will be powered by a 4.0-litre petrol V6 matched with a full-time 4WD system with dual-range transmission.

Featuring short overhangs, high ground clearance and a distinctive front-end treatment, it is the only Toyota model to feature the six-letter Japanese brand name – instead of the Toyota corporate emblem – on its grille.

8 center imageThe box-shaped five-door wagon also comes with a near-vertical windscreen with three wipers, a white roof, wrap-around rear windows, rear-hinged rear doors and just two rows of seats.

Toyota Australia's senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner said the FJ Cruiser had loads of character that wasn't found in any other SUV, let alone one that was built for off-road terrain.

"It will be a lot of fun to own and drive, satisfying those who want a modern vehicle with the boulder-crawling spirit of Toyota's legendary off-roaders," he said.

Toyota released the FJ Cruiser in the US in early 2006 after a positive response to its appearance in concept guise at the 2003 Chicago motor show. It rides on a 2690mm wheelbase and measures 4671mm long, 1895mm wide and 1811mm high. Kerb weights range between 1840kg for the rear-drive version and 1948kg for the 4WD automatic.

Toyota Australia says the FJ Cruiser, which will be its second additional niche model to be released inside 12 months, offers both style and substance, but it is sure to be less fuel-efficient than the Camry Hyrbid it launched in February and the Corolla-based Rukus released on June 1.

Low sales volume could be something all three models are likely to have in common. However, given the FJ Cruiser is likely to carry a price premium over the vehicle upon which it is based, the Prado, which is Australia’s top-selling medium SUV and opens at $55,990.

While the Camry Hybrid is a long way from its target of recording 10,000 sales this year – and even further away from its 40 per cent private sales target – the Rukus has also fallen short of Toyota’s stated sales target of 150-200 sales per month.

According to VFACTS figures, 175 Rukus vehicles were registered in May, followed by 122 in June and 100 in July, for a three-month total of 397 vehicles.

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