Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wrangler Unlimited vs. FJ Cruiser

I've been doing lots of onsite work during night time lately. In fact, I'm writing this while leading the implementation of the design within the maintenance window at the customer site. Just in case you are wondering how does it like, please watch the Night at the Museum movie. I'm doing something similar like Larry did, minus the animals… tiny cowboy… Attila the Hun… T.rex skeleton… and the cool night watchman outfit.

I used to think that while doing night work like this, onsite at customer site, I should be able to utilize my time to write something useful. A white paper. Or even a book. But in reality, with all the pressure during maintenance window, number of lab testing must be done prior to the implementation, and all communication emails back and forth with the customer, the only writing I can do is something that quite light. It may become a light reading for some or rubbish for the others. I have no extra energy to think about that, so here is the output:

As I have put my Range Rover Sport on the advertisement for sale, I need to get ready to buy its replacement once it's really sold. I'm looking for a car that I can use for extreme offloading, with at least 5 seats, enough space to carry my stuff, and with the price around USD 30k. After weeks of browsing many data sheets, lots of discussion with the owners, watching offroad videos on youtube, and reading the online forum finally I came up with two finalists: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited vs. Toyota FJ Cruiser. I still can't make up my mind until now, so I made the comparison below between the two. Mind you I did the comparison for the points that only matter to me.
1. Look
Advantage to: Jeep
Indeed the FJ cruiser has the retro look with "in your face" attitude. But wrangler unlimited has a classic and iconic look and it is more fun to drive since we can remove the top (and the doors, and the windshield) while the FJ doesn't even have sunroof

2. On road performance
Advantage to: FJ
FJ is a bit better on the road and less noisy. The most complaint from Jeep owners is it's not fun to drive the car on the highway. And I live in Dubai, which means I have to passthrough SZR and Emirates road in daily basis
3. Off road performance
Advantage to: Jeep
The power and torque look smaller, but Jeep has the reputation as rock crawler with the low gear ratio and superb suspension. Wrangler Rubicon is considered the best 4x4 that can be used in any terrain even when it's still stock
4. Re-sale value
Advantage to: FJ
No doubt for re-sale value for Toyota, especially when it's compared to American cars
5. Practicality
Advantage to: Jeep
Surprisingly I gave point to Jeep that is well-known as the most impractical vehicle. But I was comparing the comfort for the passenger (I still need the rear seat for family and friends) between FJ and 4-door wrangler unlimited, and with FJ's funky rear door access to the rear seat is a bit tight

6. Maintenance
Advantage to: FJ
Obviously Toyota is easier, and cheaper, to be maintained. Some complaints from Jeep owners are the radiator and the AC, made me wondering if the americans are capable to build the vehicle for this region (with its extreme heat)
7. Community in UAE
Advantage to: draw
FJ-UAE and Jeep community, I think they both have their own way to have fun!
8. 4x4 Accessories
Advantage to: draw
Based on my research so far there are so many 4x4 accessories available for both Jeep and FJ, with affordable price (compare to the accessories for the Range Rover Sport!)
9. Price
Advantage to: Jeep
Currently Jeep has a promotion (for Unlimited Sahara model) so the price is way below my budget. Being a Toyota, FJ won't give any discount nor even they are interested to negotiate the price
10. Supported by
Advantage to: FJ
The idea to buy Jeep Unlimited is supported by my close friend. But my wife is against the idea to get a Jeep and she thought FJ looks much cooler, even if it's more expensive

So final score is 4-4 with 2 draws.

If it was up to me, point no.1 is the most important so I would go and buy Jeep. But I'm afraid in reality the last point is the most important and will become the tie breaker ;) But again, the decision is only necessary after my car has been sold.

Now it's time to go back to the console.


Abdul said...

Hey Himavan,

Have you thought of Toyota for desert trekking.
they are good too. I feel jeep is good but too much maintenance.
I'm currently enjoying X5 as no desert here in London - damn. but lots of snow around currently.

I'm gonna have the same experience as you this weekend, lots of 10gbps wan and nexus7K console time. :))

Regards and hope you get a buyer pretty soon.

Abdul said...

Duh !! FJ is a toyota.... my bad !!

Shane said...

I understand your inability to decide, since they both are great vehicles. Let me help you with a couple of points though.
Off Road Performance: If you can get the Wrangler Unlimited model, the advantage MAY go to jeep. But when you add the extra $3,000USD to the price of the Sahara, the FJ is more cost effective.

So that gives you two more points for the FJ (off road performance & price). Should be good to go :)

If you want more info on the FJ Cruiser, checkout our free magazine at

Anonymous said...

If it were me I would not only weight some points more than others (like you are doing for the first and last ones) but also scale the point differential for how close the two compare for that point with more resolution than full point or draw.

For example say you actually use the Wrangler without the roof quite a bit you might weight the first point by 10 but you are really particular about your hair you might weight it by say 3. And since the FJC can't do this at all the Jeep gets the full point.

I would weight point 6 heavily and give it all to Toyota if point 6 includes predicted reliability (Toyota stuck accelerator issue notwithstanding).

Point 9 which might be weighted by your budget, cash situation, and job security ought to scale to maybe 0.7 Wrangler and 0.3 FJC as the difference does not seem that much.

daieg said...

I have both of them.
I can confirm that Jeep (I have the sahara unlimited) is better than Toyota offroad. On the other hand, Toyota FJ is faster and silent when you drive in the city. Remember that Toyota has a low visibility in the back and on the side while the Jeep has larger windows and, in general, it's easier to drive in little spaces. For the consume, I prefer Jeep.
Then, I can say that, because of my nature, I feel more satisfy when a drive my Wrangler, with its long honored past while the Toyota seems to me something new, without a true identity.
Good choice!

Anonymous said...

I went through the same comparison. Then I drove the Wrangler. I could not take the ride. It was the worst riding vehicle I have ever driven. I drove a number of other 4x4's including the Xterra, FJ Cruiser, and LR3. I bought the FJ Cruiser because the ride is very nice onroad, A/C works great, white roof and dark tinted windows in back keep the interior cool, noise level is fairly low, has great performance, and offroad it is top tier. It has a much better breakover angle than the Wrangler 4 door, too. If you are even considering a Wrangler, I would wait until next year, when it gets the Pentastar V6 engine. The current engine is a dog.

pip said...

i'm in the same situation, i live in bahrain but work in saudi and need/want a 4x4 i have always preferred 4x4s and do go offroading as often as possible, but like you i am stuck on which one to get, a family member of mine has the unlimited sahara and bought it because he needed a new large 4x4 and the wrangler was on offer, so i have been driving around in that but one of my friends has the fj and has loned it to me on many occasion, and they both have their advantages, like some said the fj is fair more responsive, quicker and is more quiet, it is also very easy to park due to its smaller size, however the wrangler hasw more room, is easier for ppl to get in and out of and is a real 4 door, it is also very good off road, many ppl will disagree with me but i find that a wrangler is the best off roader you can by followed but a landrover defender. also the accelerator in the wrangler takes abit gettin used to and the driving position as well but that is the same with the fj as i find the dash to be a bit to low with i find uncomfortable when driving long distance. if you were single and looking for a off roader i would say the fj as it is a 'single' persons or rather a bachelors car, whilst the wrangler is more of a car you put your family in with all the camping stuff drive out into the desert go rock crawling and then setup camp. so if your goin for a car for the family i would say the wrangler the whole fact of having to take off your seatbelt to let some one out the back doors of the fj does get annoying after a while, hope it helped either way your gonna get a good car

Anonymous said...

get an fj cruiser loser, jeep=cheap. Love my fj wouldn't trade it for 10 jeeps. 60 more horsepower, better ride, as good or better off road, bad-ass looks, 5000 lb towing, and toyota quality-need I say more?

Anonymous said...

If you want a jeep that can do what the FJ does you will have to pay out the ass for it. Rubicon is not cheap. FJ for the win.

Conrman said...

I have owned several jeeps (cj-7, wrangler TJ's) and toyotas (tacoma, 4-runner). The toyotas have a nice ride on and off road, but the jeeps tend to go a touch more places but are a little rougher all around. The toyotas motor is smooth and revs better.
The new Jeep JK is like the love child of the above vehicles.....for my purposes perfect, with the new for 2012 3.6 motor. Finally a motor that is Toyota smooth, in a versatile 4 door Jeep package. I like to remove the top (so FJ is out). I also will improve travel and suspension with aftermarket parts (so it rides as well as Toyota). I also do not like the way the doors operate on the FJ (its a pain, I had these doors on a truck and you have to open one to get to the other....It traps you when parked next to something . I have NEVER experienced any maintenance issues on ANY of the 4 jeeps that I have owned, but did have issues with a Tacoma head gasket, starter, and the 4 runner ac compressor went out. I was surprised, maybe I just got lucky with the jeeps/or unlucky with my toyotas...but that is the experience I had. I did not like working on the toyotas (not much available space to manipulate tools in engine compartment). I will be getting a 2012 Mojave Jeep Unlimited, with great expectations!

Conrman said...

Fj kinda looks like an egg, if I had to go Toyota, I would opt for the 4 runner or Tacoma due to the Funky doors on the FJ. I won't own anything with those rear half doors again. I had them on a pick up, and they can be a pain in certain situations, and can rattle after a few years. Then again for the right price I'd drive just about anything that would get me where I need to go. I'm no cheerleader for any manufacturer or model. The 2012 JK unlimited with the 288 hp 6cyl pentastar motor is the right one for me.

Anonymous said...

Get a used Toyota Landcruiser, years 1999-2003, they are know as 100 series. Go here to learn all about them
I've had a 1999 model for almost 10 years, its built for anything you can throw at it. Its the perferred car for the UN! Its a great truck for expeditions.

Himawan Nugroho said...

In 2010 I bought the FJ, then sold it after less than a year. It was powerful indeed, there was no sand dune I couldn't conquer, but it's just not my cup of tea; I can't see a damn thing through the tiny passenger window so I had blank spot many times when driving it on the highway! I've been driving Land Cruiser 100 GXR 2006 model ever since I sold my FJ. Thanks for all the comments

Anonymous said...

I've owned three Jeep Wranglers, a 97 Sahara, a 04 Rubicon and a 2010 Sahara Unlimited. Now I have an FJ Cruiser. While I had always considered myself a Jeep loyalist, the 2010 4 door Jeep ruined it for me. The Jk Jeep was terribly under powered (the 2012 does have a new engine) but there was constent realiabilty issues and recalls also. In my opinion the FJ is a much better made vehicle and just as off road capable as the Jeep. Only the Rubicon edition may have a slight advantage because of the front and rear locking differentials, compared to just the rear in the FJ, however that can not out weigh the higher overall quality of the FJ Cruiser.

Anonymous said...

A cruiser is fine for dirt roads if that's what you Consider off road. Jeep has a massive after market and legendary performance. Take the money saved from not buying an fj and lift and lock that unlimited. The fj is a joke among serious off roaders.old 4runners,cjs, tjs, yjs, and rovers are where its at. I winched out two fjs last winter. Nuff said

tours in Pakistan said...

A jeep for desert safari trekking.hmm; its nice idea and that vehicle looks cool.

Anonymous said...

Yes all reports are in Gabor of FJ but They don't tell you how uggly and cheap it is! Come on its a cheap Toyota
I'm the happiest man with my unlimited sahara ....

rent a car in uae said...

FJ-UAE Jeep, i also like Jeep and i love to drive,

Anonymous said...

I have an FJ, and it is great at offroading, and I find it comfy and fun on road. However, my 2nd choice in a SUV would be the Wrangler Unlimited. I would want the rubicon though. Also, The fj is great in snow if that matters to you. I do wish that Toyota had made a special model of the fj with a solid front axle. That would stop the bragging of the jeep owners… haha

Unknown said...

When it comes to the great outdoors, the GCC desert is a truly unique adventure playground. Off-road UAE driving is a tough challenge that asks a lot of both car and driver but, once you’ve mastered the skill, it opens up the vast deserts and can also be amazing fun.