Toyota has boosted the appeal of its love-it-or-loath-it FJ Cruiser 4×4 by more than doubling its fuel tank capacity and adding an off-road cruise control system known as CRAWL.

The Prado-based SUV’s fuel-tank capacity has been expanded to a total of 159 litres with the 72-litre main tank now supplemented by a new 87-litre sub-tank. Not too difficult a job, given that its Prado underpinnings were originally designed to carry two tanks anyway.

Toyota claims this extra tank results in a ‘theoretical’ driving range for its 4.0 litre V6 petrol engine of 1,060 kms in the city and more than 1,700 kms on the highway. Based on Toyota’s combined-cycle fuel economy figures of 11.4 litres/100km, that’s a ‘notional’ range of almost 1,400 kms. Impressive, although we wish it had a diesel engine option.

Off-road driving competence is also enhanced with CRAWL – a ‘feet-off’ control system that helps take the vehicle over severe or slippery terrain. It can assist in climbing or descending steep hills and freeing the vehicle if it gets stuck. It’s also helpful in mud, sand, gravel and when fording water.

CRAWL control engages in L4 (low-range 4×4) and temporarily disengages at speeds above 25km/h or above 10km/h when the rear differential is locked. A speed-selector dial on the overhead console provides the choice of five crawling speeds.

The system automatically maintains a low uniform vehicle speed uphill and downhill by controlling both engine output and brake hydraulic pressure, allowing the driver to concentrate fully on steering the vehicle.

It increases vehicle stability in extreme four-wheel driving conditions by minimising wheel spin and tyre lock-up. It also reduces load on the drivetrain by smoothly controlling engine output and brake application.

FJ Cruiser is Toyota’s fifth SUV and most recent addition to the LandCruiser family.  It’s 200kW, 380Nm 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine is matched to a five-speed automatic transmission, part-time 4×4, electrically activated rear differential lock and switchable ‘Active Traction Control’ technology to maximise off-road climbing ability.

Off road it features an impressive 36-degree approach angle, 31-degree departure angle and 29-degree break-over angle. The latter two dimensions are the best for any vehicle in Toyota’s local 4×4 range and make it damn near unstoppable in the rough stuff.

FJ Cruiser pays homage to several styling themes seen on the LandCruiser FJ40, of which more than 1.1 million were produced between 1960 and 1984.

These include some sharp angular lines, round headlights set either side of a wide mesh grille, an upright windscreen with three wiper blades, a white roof and wrap-around rear corner windows. Some like the styling and some hate it, but there’s no denying there’s a seriously good off roader under all that retro-inspired steel.

Offered in a single grade with a high level of specification, the upgraded FJ Cruiser is priced from just under $48,000. TJ

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