2014 is set to be the last model year for Toyota’s FJ Cruiser. In 2003 the concept version was debuted at the Detroit Autoshow, and was met with much fanfare, by both the media and the public. In 2005 the official debut of the production version was unveiled.

The FJ was Toyota’s nod to the iconic FJ40 whose production ended in 1984. At that time, Toyota began to focus more on luxury and size, thus off road ability took a back seat. They began to realize the brand had lost the attention of young males interested in a more rugged vehicle. So they set about designing the FJ Cruiser.

The designers clearly drew on the FJ40 for inspiration. The short wheel base, sturdy frame, vertical windshield, three wiper blades, front grill and headlight layout are all borrowed from the past icon. Further clues to the off road capabilities reside in the interior. All the surfaces are made from or covered in washable rubber materials.  The controls are over sized for drivers wearing gloves. The 110 volt rear outlet, and 3 gauges, compass, inclinometer, and temperature, mounted atop the dash, leave no doubt as to purpose.

Available in 4X4 and 4X2 configurations, the FJ Cruiser can tow 5000lbs, accelerate to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. The 4X4 variant has 34-degree approach and 30-degree departure angles, a 27.4 degree break-over angle, 8 inches front and 9 inches of rear suspension travel and can ford water 27 inches deep.

Being a modern tribute to a legend comes with perks. The FJ is equipped with ABS ( anti-lock brakes), EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution),BA ( Brake Assist),VSC ( Vehicle Stability Control), and ATRAC (Active Traction Control). The ATRAC system is capable of mimicking a locking differential by modulating the brake to any wheel which has lost traction, but without any binding that can occur in the traditional differential, which causes steering difficulties.

Powering the FJ is a the latest version the  4L V6 used since the vehicles inception. Its output is 260 hp and  271 lb-ft of torque on 87 octane fuel.  Directing that power  to the ground is either a 5 speed auto or 6 speed manual. The auto has part time 4 wheel drive, with optional crawl control while the manual uses a permanent 4 wheel drive system. Both versions come with a two speed transfer case and a full array of under body protective panels should you scrape or get hung on a rock.

Owners declare that the FJ is dependable, practical, and very capable off road. One owner boasted that when pitted against other 4X4 makes with mods, the stock FJ surprises everyone. Consumer Reports rated the FJ Cruiser among its 18 most reliable vehicles.

Although loved  for the edgy retro styling an its back country prowess it appears there is no plans for continuing the model. So, if you want a new one you best act fast, before the die hard fans trade in their older models.