FJ Cruiser joins Toyota PH official lineup; sales start in October


ON DISPLAY at the World of Toyota exhibit at the World Trade Center is the FJ Cruiser. photo: JASON k. ANG

The world of Toyota is a car show dedicated to the country’s current and long-time market leader. Ongoing until  Aug. 18,  2013, at the World Trade Center, Pasay City, the exhibition showcases all types of cars from the past and the present, as well as concept vehicles, from both the big “T” and its luxury brand Lexus.

At the show, one section is devoted to current passenger-car and commercial-vehicle offerings, ranging from the all-new Vios sedan to the hybrid Prius and Prius C hatchbacks. Sitting pretty on top of a stand is a bright blue FJ Cruiser. The two-plus-two door sport utility vehicle, which has been popular as a gray import vehicle, officially joins Toyota Philippines’ lineup.

Key to its introduction is the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). You may recall that JPEPA, ratified in 2008, eliminated the 30-percent import duties for Japanese cars with engine displacement of 3 liters and above. The FJ Cruiser packs a 4-liter V6, good for 260 HP. With the more favorable tax conditions, Toyota can price the SUV to beat the gray market. Target price is reportedly below P2 million, with the supply carefully controlled to avoid eating into the sales of Toyota’s similarly priced offerings, such as the Fortuner.

Decidedly retro

The FJ Cruiser looks decidedly retro; its front end liberally borrowed from its famous forebear, one of the original SUVs, the 1960s FJ40 Land Cruiser. (The various generations of Land Cruiser are also on display elsewhere at the main hall.) To make sure the FJ carries the spirit of its ancestor as well, Toyota has given it the rugged performance capability of the original. Developed first as a styling concept, the prototype reportedly combined the chassis of a Tacoma pickup with the Bandeirante, an FJ40 derivative still being produced in Brazil. Championed by no less than current company CEO Akio Toyoda, the Toyota board gave their go signal for development. Toyota’s flagship design studio Calty. Calty selected a retro-style design penned by a Korean designer, Jin Won-kim.

Aside from the powerful V6 engine, the SUV carries  formidable offroad prowess, thanks to a platform shared with the Land Cruiser Prado. Actually built by Toyota subsidiary Hino Motors, the FJ became a hit in America. Much like the Lexus LF-A exotic sports car acts as a halo vehicle for the Lexus lineup, the FJ Cruiser acts as a halo for the Toyota lineup of trucks and SUVs. This is  a role that it will no doubt play in the Philippines as well.

The FJ Cruiser is already deep into its model cycle, having debuted in 2005 at the North American International Auto Show. Designed for the American market, it slowly made its way to other markets such as Japan, where it was launched in late 2010, and Australia, where it was officially introduced in 2011.

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