A look inside the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser

This week my fellow Toyota TWIN bloggers are being treated to a fantastic experience:  driving up and down the California coast test-driving a variety of Toyota vehicles, "glamping" at a luxury resort on the outskirts of Santa Barbara, ocean kayaking, and wine tasting.

Unfortunately, I'm not with them.  The kids have too many things to do at school and after school, and Alfie would have had to not just work from home, but take 3 days off, in order to take my place.  We're going on an extended vacation in December and he needs to save up those precious vacation days, so I'm stuck at home while the #ToyotaWomen live the good life.  Don't get me wrong, I'm so proud that 3Po and Jammy will be playing the Tweedle Twins at their school's Alice in Wonderland production, but somehow chaperoning dress rehearsals pales in comparison next to roasting s'mores on the beach with some amazing women.

I think Toyota must know how disappointed I was that I couldn't make it, because they sent me a 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser to test drive for the next week, so I could go on some adventures of my own. It arrived yesterday morning, and here are my initial impressions:

This is definitely not one of your bland, soul-less vehicles that looks like it came straight off the most automated of assembly lines.   It is chunky and bold and unapologetically IN YOUR FACE. It reminds me of a Hummer (which I hate), but also of a Toyota Land Cruiser (which I love).  I used to ride around in Land Cruisers when I spent my childhood summers on my uncle's sugar cane hacienda, and this has all the ruggedness of the Land Cruiser will a hint of gangsta attitude.  My boys are convinced it's a secret army tank, and on their first ride in it they amused themselves by looking for the hidden missile launchers and ejector seat buttons.  As for me, I can almost feel myself transforming from a minivan mom into a badass babe when I drive it.  Love it or hate it, the FJ Cruiser definitely has character!

The 3-person rear seat is wide enough for 3 adults, with plenty of headroom, but it's short on legroom.   The lack of legroom is fine when you have kids -- but the access-style rear doors (the hinge is nearer the trunk) are not so fine.  Rear seat passengers cannot open the rear doors unless the front door is open -- which means the kids cannot open the doors to let themselves out.  That's a serious inconvenience when you're dropping kids off at school soccer practice!

The interior is strictly no-frills.  Seat adjustment is manual.  There's just 1 USB port.  But once again, the vibe I get is UNAPOLOGETIC, like those fripperies just don't belong in the FJ Cruiser, almost as though it would be wimpy to expect a GPS or leather seats here. Fortunately, it's not too wimpy to allow power locks and windows, or a rearview camera (which you really, really need because the windows are so small and the wide body leaves you with a perilous blind spot on the rear right-hand side), or a killer sound system!

Hey, you still need music when you're making your way through the mud, right.....

Speaking of mud, I don't think I'll ever be taking this car off-road, but I can see it's well equipped, no, ideal, for off-roading.  From the 4.0-liter V6 to the rear-wheel drive to 4WD capability to the dashboard compass to the dashboard tilt-meter to the 60/40 rear seat split to the roof rack to the rear tow hitch, the FJ Cruiser looks ready to rough it in the snow, surf, sand, mud, dirt, whatever.

The heavy duty vinyl mats and floor surfaces are definitely kid-friendly, and I really wish Toyota had this option for other vehicles like the Prius or Sienna.  Yogurt spills, juice spills, mud stains and grass clippings (i.e. the occupational hazards of letting kids into your vehicle) would be NO PROBLEM whatsoever.

I've got the FJ Cruiser for another few days, so stay tuned for more posts about how it drives, how it feels in the back seat and what it's like in the cargo area!

Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.

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