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Toyota’s FJ is a rather distinctive proposition in the 4x4 market thanks to unique design and door layout, as well as its off-road capability.

We already know that it rides rather well on road even though it's somewhat cumbersome in the corners.

We also know that it feels like you're piloting a tank from behind the wheel, as the upright windscreen offers a letterbox view to the outside world.

With its 200 kW/380 N.m, 4,0-litre V6 petrol engine, it is not light on fuel, but once you have planned your off-road excursion and organised the necessary permits, the FJ starts to make sense. So, that is exactly what we did...

On the dunes
This is not the first time I have seen or experienced an FJ in the dunes. When I had my long-term Mitsubishi Triton, I tested the Triton in the dunes, and on that occasion a friend brought his FJ along.

As I discovered, you need power to conquer the dunes, and here the FJ has the simple answer. The trick is to use as little as possible of the available throttle travel and always keep a few of those 200 kW for the moment you really need it.

With the tyres deflated to 1,0 bar at the front and 0,8 bar at the rear and 4H selected, the FJ will go a long way. However, it is when the dunes get either very steep or very long that the challenge really starts.

When you have tried once or twice in 4H, the next step is 4L. Sometimes, this will get the job done, but even in sand it is not difficult to get stuck. There is fortunately another two steps available to the driver. First, the rear differential lock (which in its own right makes a noticeable difference) can be activated, followed by Toyota’s A-trac system.

It was immediately obvious the difference the A-trac system makes. Although a front mechanical diff-lock will always be better, the A-trac replicates the effect of a diff-lock by using the brakes to limit wheel spin on the front wheels (when the rear diff-lock is activated).

I discovered that, sometimes, this is precisely what you need to crest the dune in those seconds before you realise you either need to bail out and reverse back, or keep the throttle pinned and let the power combined with the systems carry you over.

The FJ is simply one of the most capable off-road vehicles Toyota has built. The powerful engine combined with the approach and departure angles make off-road a pleasure, while the additional 87-litre fuel tank (added last year to the 72-litre main tank) improves its range. Do not forget the crawl function that was also added.

The suicide doors might not be the most practical, while the FJ's size will surely intimidate some, but as a specialised off-road vehicle, the FJ ticks all the boxes.

Toyota FJ Cruiser
Engine: 4,0-litre, V6 petrol
Power: 200 kW at 5 600 r/min
Torque: 380 N.m at 4 400 r/min
Fuel consumption: 11,9 L/100 km
CO2: 278 g/km
Top speed: 175 km/h
Price: R476 500
Service plan: 5 years/90 000 km
Service intervals: 10 000 km

Test results:
0-60 km/h:3,95 seconds
0-100 km/h:8,57 seconds
80-100 km/h:2,41 seconds
100-140 km/h: 4,31 seconds
100-0 km/h: 3,14 seconds (average of 10 braking tests)
CAR fuel index: 14,28 L/100 km
CAR fuel run: 17,2 L/100 km

*According to Toyota


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