Toyota FJ Cruiser & Jeep Wrangler JK: A thorough comparison of the appeal of both vehicles

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Toyota FJ Cruiser & Jeep Wrangler JK: A thorough comparison of the appeal of both vehicles

The FJ Cruiser and the Wrangler JK have been rivals since their beginnings

They both have a good balance of practicality and recreational use

Both the FJ Cruiser and the Jeep Wrangler are extremely unique 4WD with core fans. The FJ Cruiser was launched in North America in 2007 and was released in Japan in December 2010. It looks like a 2-door off-road style middle-sized SUV, but it is actually a 4-door (double-door type) and has the duality of being reasonably practical.

The Jeep Wrangler is a compact 2-door sports open car with a long history, but a body expansion that created a 4-door long “Unlimited” came from the current Wrangler JK that was introduced in 2007. It is only available in 4WD, is compact, and is made for playing off-road. It also has the feel of an SUV, which makes it good for road trips with the family.

Although the FJ Cruiser and the Jeep Wrangler JK have different styles, they share many similarities in terms of specs, 4WD capabilities, and utility. Although the number of new FJ Cruisers sold in Japan is much higher than the Wrangler JK, there is surprisingly no difference in the used car market. The FJ Cruiser has a few left-hand drive cars (reverse imported cars), and almost 90% of the Wrangler JKs are the Unlimited model.

Here, we will compare the FJ Cruiser and the Jeep Wrangler JK and explore the appeal to give you a guide towards choosing a used car. As far as the Jeep Wrangler, the Wrangler TJ, the predecessor of JK, is still popular with many fans, but it has little in common with the FJ Cruiser in terms of specifications, and the generation is very different, so I will not discuss it here. For details on FJ Cruiser and Wrangler TJ, please refer to the related articles below.

Utility comparison between the FJ Cruiser and the Jeep Wrangler JK

FJ Cruiser

Differences in specifications such as body size, weight, and passenger capacity

Based on the FJ Cruiser, the Wrangler JK Unlimited has a 4-door body that is 70mm/2.75 inches longer and a 2-door that is 450mm/17.72 inches shorter. The width of the Wrangler JK is 15mm/1/2-inch smaller than the FJ Cruiser. There is not much difference in volume between the FJ Cruiser and the Wrangler JK Unlimited, which seats five-passenger and has the same cargo capacity. However, the Wrangler JK has an independent front fender that is one step lower than the hood, giving the front a clean and smart appearance. The FJ Cruiser, which has small overfenders, has a wide hood that rises in a trapezoidal shape, making it look relatively tall.

There is almost no difference in the visibility in the front between the two. However, the FJ Cruiser has poor rear visibility. Because the body is short and it is a double-door 4-door, the rear door window, the quarter windpw and the rear window are all smaller. You should rely on the backup monitor to backup safely especially when it comes to objects at the bumper level. In comparison, the rear body of the Wrangler JK is square and the size of the window is reasonable. The Wrangler JK has the advantage of having better visibility since it was designed to be an off-road vehicle.

Car Model FJ Cruiser Wrangler JK Unlimited Wrangler JK
Full Length 182 inches 185 inches 165 inches
Width 75 inches 74 inches 74 inches
Height 72 inches 73 inches 73 inches
Wheelbase 106 inches 116 inches 95 inches
Tread 63 inches 62 inches 62 inches
Ground Clearance 9 inches 8 inches 9 inches
Minimum Turning Radius 224 inches 280 inches 236 inches
Boarding Capacity 5 people 5 people 4 people
Vehicle Weight 4,277 pounds 4,453 – 4,497 pounds 4,100 pounds

Next, let’s focus on the relationship between overall length and wheelbase. In general, the longer the wheelbase, the more comfortable the ride, but if it is too long, it is easy to bottom out while driving off-road. Also, the larger the ratio of the wheelbase to the overall length, the smaller the front and rear overhangs (the distance from the center of the tire to the tip of the bumper), which slows the turning performance during steering.

In this respect, the FJ Cruiser and Wrangler JK have well-balanced bodies as authentic off-roaders. Moreover, when comparing the FJ Cruiser and the 2-door Wrangler JK, the proportion of the total length of the wheelbase is almost the same at about 58% as measured. This may be the golden ratio that enhances off-road performance.

Based on body size, the 2-door Wrangler JK is smaller than the FJ Cruiser, and that makes it gives it more flexibility such as being able to turn in smaller circles. However, the Wrangler JK Unlimited has a total length-to-wheelbase ratio of 62.6%, and by size alone, it is more comfortable to ride in and easier to drive than the FJ Cruiser SUV. The minimum turning radius is large because the wheelbase is long, so it seems that the Wrangler JK Unlimited is difficult to navigate in tight areas.

The engine is the same, but there is a power difference due to the weight variance

The engines of the FJ Cruiser and Wrangler JK have almost the same power. The displacement of the FJ Cruiser is about 10% (351cc) larger than that of the Wrangler JK, but the power and torque figures and the number of revolutions generated by each are very similar.

Fuel consumption is 8.0km/L/18.81 MPG on the FJ Cruiser, 7.5km/L/17.64 MPG on the Unlimited Wrangler JK model, and 7.9km/L/18.58 MPG for the 2-door based on the same JC08 model. In a strict comparison, the FJ Cruiser, which has about 10% greater maximum torque than the Wrangler JK at almost the same RPM, may feel stronger when running in the low-to-medium RPM range. The difference in maximum output is slight, and considering the difference in the number of revolutions generated, it seems that the FJ Cruiser and the Wrangler JK are equivalent. Also, looking at the ratio of vehicle weight to power, the 2-door Wrangler JK is the peppiest 4WD. The lighter weight has a bigger advantage than the body size off-road.

Car Model FJ Cruiser Wrangler JK (4-door Unlimited, 2-door)
Engine 1GR-FE type G type
Type V6 DOHC V6 DOHC
Total Displacement 3,955cc 3,604cc
Fuel Used Regular Gasoline Regular Gasoline
Maximum Output 276PS/272 HP/5,600rpm 284PS/280 HP/6,350rpm
Maximum Torque 38.8kgm/280.64 lb.-ft./4,400rpm 35.4kgm/256.04 lb.-ft./4,300rpm
Fuel Tank Capacity 72L/19 gallons 85L (4-door unlimited)/22.45 gallons / 70L/18.49 gallons(2-door)

FJ Cruiser

The suspension is different, but the absolute running performance is equal

The FJ Cruiser and the Wrangler JK can be said to have almost the same engine type and specs, but clearly there is a difference in the suspension. The FJ Cruiser, which has the same type of suspension as the Land Cruiser Prado (120/150), has an independent double wishbone suspension at the front and a combination of rigid axles and coil springs at the rear. On the other hand, the Wrangler JK has a classic off-road 4WD style with Jeep’s traditional rigid axles on the front and back. Both the front and rear springs are coiled, which is a reflection of tradition.

Back when the Land Cruiser had rigid axles on the front and the rear like the Jeep Wrangler (up to the Land Cruiser 80), this suspension offered the best off-road driving performance. A rigid axle does not change the distance from the road even when the spring expands and contracts, so it has the advantage of being less likely to bottom out than an independent suspension like a double wishbone.

Another advantage is that the axle is built into a sturdy housing so that it is less likely to break during extreme driving. If the lower part hits the road surface, it will not be able to move forward, this gives the Wrangler JK an advantage over the FJ Cruiser in these respects. There is also an advantage in a structure that can take a large stroke.

However, the 20th Century was the end of off-road driving performances based only on the suspension system. Due to dramatic technological advances in independent suspension systems, drivability over rough roads was improved without compromising ride comfort and steering stability. High-tech features like front-rear balance and assist functions using hydraulics and electronic control improved the overall driving experience.

In addition, in the drive system, various rough road driving assist functions by electronic control have evolved, and in combination with the developed suspension technology, it is possible to take driving to a completely different dimension that before. It will never be said that an independent suspension is unsuitable for off-road driving.

Car Model FJ Cruiser Wrangler JK (4-door Unlimited, 2-door)
Front Suspension Double wishbone + coil spring Rigid axle + coil spring
Rear Suspension Rigid axle + coil spring Rigid axle + coil spring
Drive System Part-time 4WD Part-time 4WD
Transmission 5-speed AT (5 Super ECT) 5-speed AT
Tire Size 265/70R17・245/60R20 245/75R17, 255/70R18 (4-door unlimited) / 255/70R18 (2-door)

FJ Cruiser

The FJ Cruiser and the Wrangler JK are equally good on rough roads

Then, in reality, it can be said that the FJ Cruiser and the Wrangler JK are almost equal when it comes to which one delivers better driving performance on rough roads. Based on the judgment that there is almost no difference in suspension, engine, and drive system performance, differences in body size, vehicle weight, wheelbase, and tire size are the keys to determining superiority.

If you think about it in this way, when you consider various rough roads, the 2-door Wrangler JK has the highest driving performance, followed by the FJ Cruiser, and finally the Wrangler JK Unlimited. Therefore, if you tried to decide superiority, you would say that the FJ Cruiser and the Wrangler JK are evenly matched.

Since the difference in rough road performance between the three cars is very small, the performance of a customized vehicle will make the greatest changes in performance depending upon the skill of the driver. It is not a simple decision. It would not make any sense to choose one of the three vehicles based solely on how they performed on rough roads.

How to choose between the FJ Cruiser and the Wrangler JK

The FJ Cruiser and the Wrangler JK have similar specs and no big difference in running performance, so choosing between them is a matter of preference, but if you consider the body size differences, it could be easier to pick one.

The 2-door Wrangler JK has a larger body than the previous Wrangler TJ, but it still has the qualities of a car. Even with a capacity of 4 people, it can be used as a 2-seater, which makes it good for daily use, as well as taking it out for fun.

The Wrangler JK Unlimited has the toughness of a Jeep and the performance of a 4WD, but it also makes a great SUV for families and road trips.

Since 5 people can ride comfortably and it has a large cargo capacity, the Land Cruiser has the same utility as the Land Cruiser Prado 150 class. The FJ Cruiser fits between the two Wrangler JKs. In terms of driving performance, it has all of the good aspects of a 2-door and the utility of an SUV; it is built like the 4-door Unlimited, but the narrow rear visibility may be a deterrent.