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You know, it's funny. When I owned a couple of Toyotas, I rarely heard a peep from Toyota. However, now that I've sold them in favor of an Element, it seems that Toyo sends me an unending barage of Toyo promos and glossy magazines. Anyway, in this latest one, there's news of a Toyo "concept vehicle" called an FJ Cruiser.

Well, surprise, surprise, it's set to be marketed to the same demographic as the Element was supposedly marketed to; young outdoors enthusiasts. And more surprise, it features reverse opening mini-clamshell doors to access the back seats, and all the seats lay flat to make a bed. It's a lot "butchier" looking than the Element. In fact, it looks a lot like what you'd get if you crossed an Element with a Nissan Xttera. It'll have a powerful V6, and looks like it's meant to be a lot more offroad capable than the E. However, it isn't even scheduled for production until 2006.

Looking at some of the prototypes suggested for next year, I note that Honda is going to attempt to market a "Studio E", which will be a posh, panel van style E, but with such ammenities as a 42" plasma TV, and a color scheme coordinated to solidly appeal to drug dealers and rave participants.

What I don't understand about all this, is why Toyo and Honda are so largely missing the main message of the E's wild success. Namely, why aren't they realizing that the demographic most likely to buy the E has proven to be represented by the 41 year old, pet owning family type, rather than that 20-something Gatorade/Nike ad commercial model type?
 

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Which came first, the Toyota FJ or the Element???
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Toyota FJ - I am a long time Toyota FJ and Landcruiser fan (pre 1992) and this new FJ is a remake of history. Toyota has the Element concept down long ago, even with the flip up back seats. Toyota FJ's are tough and well built but unfortunatly ......... TOO EXPENSIVE :(

I will be taking a long look at the new FJ when it comes out.
 

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I am devoted to my E but when the FJ Cruiser comes out, I will be looking at it closely. That is one sweet looking vehicle. My E will be 3 years old and should still have good trade-in value in case I decide to go that way.
 

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If the FJ had been released as a 2004 model, I would've seriously considered it. I've always loved the look of the older FJs. But, seeing that it's a few years out, I bought - and will keep - the Element :)
 

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I'll be looking at the FJ when it comes out, it will be time to replace or add to my 93 FZJ80 Landcruiser by then. I love the Element but the FJ is even more appealing to me. The original Landcruisers (many think they look like Jeeps) were FJ-??. The first was FJ-25, then FJ-40 was the common one through the 70's and early 80's.
 

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I've been following both the E and the FJ since their first appearance as auto show concepts. Like the other posters here, I find myself liking both. However, I think these two vehicles lie on different sides of a significant divide (capability for serious off-roading).

To my mind, the E is (and always has been) a road vehicle capable of limited off-pavement traveling (dirt tracks, onto the beach). I don't think many people consider the E a serious bush wagon. Yes, it offers AWD - but this is more tailored to slippery-road security than wilderness taming.

The FJ (historically and the current concept) is more obviously dedicated to serious off-roading. The concept FJ is an off-road vehicle with the sort of simple utilitarian features we associate with the E, but without the same degree of interior space. As a result, I tend to see the FJ as a less-serious suburban utility vehicle than the E.

I'm not an off-roader, so bush capabilities aren't a big selling point for me. The attraction I see in the E has to do with it being basic and utilitarian - the same general theme that keeps me fondly remembering my past VW vans. This is why I'm not surprised the E's such a hit with Boomers like me.

To my mind, if Toyota really wanted to cash in on the E enthusiasm, they shouldn't try it with a gutsier version of the extreme (and unrealistic) E 'persona' Honda originally portrayed. Instead, they would do better to strip down a Tacoma-based 4Runner (less glitz and plush, more rugged interior, manual transmission) and sell it for something in the low $20K's (i.e., 20% or so above a base Tacoma price). Though still different, it would be a lot closer to the no-nonsense suburban utility-wagon theme that seems to be the E's attraction to the people actually buying 'em.

So what about the Matrix? In some respects, the Matrix might seem to be Toyota's closest competitor to the E. For my (actual E demographic) money, it's interesting but still too 'small-car-ish'. The E is technically not that much different, but its form factor is more 'truck-ish'. The Matrix is intended to appeal to the same crowd Honda thought the E would appeal to. It won't be a Matrix that draws in big numbers from the demographic that's taken to the E.
 

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the Toyota Scion Bx is being marketed to the same Gen Y group as the Element. Why? Because they both want to get the youth crowd growing up on their brands for later bigger purchases. Reviewers are comparing the Bx with the E lately. It's not a good comparison however. The Bx is smaller, weaker and cheaper, in every sense, from what I read and see. One local reviewer noted the included a/c rarely was adequate and handling noticeably different. Cargo space is significantly less. What they do have in common is they are both boxy, and both (at least the EX model) come with a powerful stereo, including a subwoofer. For about $860 more the Bx adds interior party lighting ala foot well and cup holder 'groovy' lights. For that price they should have synched the lights with the stereo sound as well!

I haven't been in a Bx, but saw one up close at the mall parking lot the other day. It's dinky compared to the E. Reviewers always show separate pix, which makes you think they are about the same size.

I have no regrets that I didn't get the puny 108 hp Bx. Interestly, the response from kids who like the Bx is "well, I can always add turbo, so the hp isn't an issue." Where are all these turbos? Still waiting to see if someone offers one for the E.
 

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[quote:01fd05ccd5="natural wonder"]...there's news of a Toyo "concept vehicle" called an FJ Cruiser... it features reverse opening mini-clamshell doors.[/quote:01fd05ccd5]
Excepted for the doors, I think that the FJ Cruiser is mostly a FJ-40 updated to compete with Land Rovers and Jeeps:

FJ-40


FJ Cruiser
 
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