FJ Series Sales & Service
Sales & Service of the “Legendary Toyota Land Cruiser”
By the close of the 1970s, the Toyota Land Cruiser had already established itself as a capable and dependable off-roader. With the 1967 introduction of the FJ55 Land Cruiser, Toyota even had a true five-passenger SUV, although its creature comforts (like the original FJ40) were lacking. To grow its worldwide market share and expand its presence in the U.S. market, Toyota needed a Land Cruiser that would span the gap between utilitarian and luxurious, without compromising the model’s go-anywhere reputation. That seemingly impossible task fell squarely on the shoulders of the FJ60 Land Cruiser.
Introduced in 1980, the FJ60 Land Cruiser replaced the FJ55 model and was sold alongside the smaller FJ40 until the 1983 model year. Compared to the FJ55, it was (arguably) more stylish and unquestionably better equipped. Early plans called for it to be softer sprung, primarily to go head to head with the upscale Land Rover in the American market, and an independent suspension was considered to replace the FJ55’s live axle and leaf spring setup. Because a vehicle carrying the Land Cruiser name had to be reliable regardless of terrain encountered, plans for an independent suspension were soon scrapped in favor of the model’s tested and proven suspension setup.
Underhood, United States market FJ60 models originally came with the 4.2-liter 2F engine, rated at 135 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. Mated only to a four-speed manual transmission in FJ60 models, the combination produced a modest towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. All FJ60 models came with standard four-wheel drive, and the transfer case included both high and low ranges for superior traction regardless of terrain. If the FJ60 had a weakness, it was in hard-core off-road driving; the long rear overhang limited the SUV’s departure angle, meaning that it lacked some of the off-road prowess that the Land Cruiser name had come to symbolize. It also offered slightly less ground clearance than its predecessor, with the FJ60 offering up 7.5 inches of clearance compared to the FJ55’s 8.3 inches.
1987 Toyota FJ60 – Dark Velvet Green
Aside from kinder and gentler exterior styling, the biggest changes to the FJ60 Land Cruiser came on the inside. While the phrase “no frills” was an apt description of the FJ55’s cabin (which originally included a vinyl bench seat as standard equipment, as well as a dash that favored function over form), the FJ60 upped both the comfort factor and the style factor. Early production FJ60 models used a dash that blended plastic and vinyl with steel panels, but later versions used a more upscale plastic and vinyl arrangement. The newest Land Cruiser also received full interior trim, and offered amenities such as power steering and air conditioning. With an available third-row seat, it allowed drivers to haul as many as seven passengers and gear well beyond where the pavement ended.
While the 60 series models offered a wider body than the 55 series models (71 inches versus 68 inches), the truck’s overall length remained at just over 184 inches. In keeping with its “more civilized” focus, the FJ60 shrank in overall height from 73 inches (on the FJ55) to 69 inches (excluding high-roof variants), partly to allow for easier passenger entry and exit. By the end of FJ55 production, Toyota had adopted a fully boxed ladder frame; this required just minor changes (such as repositioning of crossmembers) for use in the FJ60.
1990 Toyota FJ62 – Desert Tan
The new model contributed significantly to the growth of worldwide Land Cruiser sales, which topped one million units (as a cumulative total) in 1981. Achieving this milestone took Toyota 31 years, but growing from one to two million Land Cruisers sold took the Japanese automaker just 10 years, and it crossed this mark in 1990. That said, the FJ60 wasn’t an instant hit, and Toyota sold roughly 1,000 units less worldwide in 1980 than it had in 1979. That trend reversed in 1981, and Land Cruiser sales grew consistently until 1984, when Toyota discontinued its beloved FJ40 Land Cruiser (replaced, in certain markets, by the FJ70).
Throughout its production run (which ended in 1989), the 60 series sought to strike a balance between luxury and capability, in order to attract as many buyers as possible to the model line. For 1987, Toyota focused on improving the SUV’s on-road comfort by changing leaf springs front and rear for a softer ride. In the rear, spring rate was reduced by some 20 percent; while the front suspension retained its original spring rate, Toyota reduced the thickness of individual springs for a more compliant ride. The following year, 1988, saw the introduction of the FJ62 model in the U.S. market, which brought with it a revised engine (a 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder rated at 155 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque) and a four-speed automatic transmission, as well as amenities like power door locks, power windows, a power antenna and improved climate control for rear-seat passengers.
1989 Toyota FJ62 – Two Tone
In total, Toyota constructed seven different variants of the 60 Series Land Cruisers, including luxury (GX) models and high-roof versions. After a decade of production, the 60 series gave way to the larger and plusher 80 series for the 1991 model year, which would also appear in luxury guise on these shores as the Lexus LX.
While consumers seem to eagerly snap up as many Land Cruisers as Toyota can supply each year, critics contend that the model has deviated a bit too far from its roots, growing ever larger, more luxurious and more expensive with each passing generation. If there’s blame to be placed, it falls squarely on the shoulders of the 60 series Land Cruiser, which marked Toyota’s first departure from the design ethos of the original variant. Purists may object, but there’s no denying the fact that the Land Cruiser remains one of the most popular vehicles in Toyota’s product line.