- RC Project Post; Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon RTR Part III: Parts Arrival
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- New Post on the RC Page: New Arrival
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Time flies,it seems like we just signed the papers on the FJ and said a sad farewell to the Camry last month. Whenever we buy a new (or new to us) vehicle that had multiple trip-ometers,I always zero one of them in before driving it off the lot (or seller’s property if a private sale) to keep track of what miles we’ve ran and how slowly or quickly we drove them,the FJ is no exception. I’d known it would be one day this week for a few (weeks),but imagine my surprize when it rolled over 5,000.0 miles IN our driveway! :o What are the odds? XD
So anyways,it has indeed been 5,000 miles. We’ve been through one oil change and are mid-way through to the next is due,had a new set of tires installed (285/70-17″,roughly 33.1″x11.25″),and had one repair made in that time,right front wheel-bearing (a warranty repair–though the warranty had expired,that it needed the repair when they sold it to us,they graciously repaired free of charge).
Over 5,000 miles,one learns about a vehicle,and gets to know it’s individual “personality’,it’s strengths and quirks,and either gets comfortable in it or doesn’t. One thing that I liked from the beginning,but had expected to become an aggravation over time are the suicide rear mini-doors (which open/are like the rear doors on an extended cab pick-up truck),but I’m still digging them so far,with the only (and rare) annoyance being that I’ve shipped a few things on eBay recently (RC4WD Trail Stomper RTR ;) ) that the box was a tight squeeze to get into the back seat area without sliding the driver’s seat forward first. It did fit without sliding my seat up,but it was squeezed in there. Of course,I could simply have opened the canivorous rear hatch (which is surprizingly heavy,even with a good-condition shock/opener on there) and slung it in there with no issues,but I digress. It’s not really an issue,and otherwise I had never noticed it.
The fit and finish seems good so far,there are no hard to track down rattles,squeeks or other noises (bear in mind,this was a used vehicle,and now has in excess of 140K miles on it) that I have heard,which impresses me at this age/mileage,especially since we have it in the woods/on trail 1-3 times per month. The seats have proven themselves comfy,gauges accurate,and the stereo is wonderful for a factory 7 year old stereo (it’s equipped with the “FJammer” package,which includes in dash CD,either 7 or 9 speakers,including an amplified and enclosed 8″ subwoofer in the rear),and everything works as it should inside.
Mechanically it’s proven reliable/durable as well. There is a persistant and very annoying “ticking” sound coming from what sounds like the valvetrain*,which on some days is quieter or louder than others,but 3 seperate and unrelated shops/mechanics have told us the same thing,that “Toyota 4.0L’s are great engines,but they’re noisy beasts after they get a few miles on them…I could certainly go inside and fix that issue/do a vavle job that it doesn’t really need yet,but there’s nothing that’s about to ‘let you down’ or wear out in the near future”.
Everything works as it should,however,on and offroad. I’d read reports some that 2007’s and early-made 2008’s have had some read end (axle,diff,etc) issues,most notaby issues with the factory e-locker (electronic locking diff),but we have had none with ours,and it has been used offroad as it was designed to be used,knock on wood there :P The front ATRAC II drive system works very well offroad,and I have no doubts that should we (ever) get any real snow,will also work well in that too. This FJ has surprized more than a few Jeep Wrangler owners in the months that we’ve had it,LOL!** We’ve had in in mud,on wet and dry rocks,general trails with both and downed trees,off camber/etc,and it’s performed very well. “The FJ Cruiser is our most capable offroad vehicle we have ever produced” (Toyota’s words in 2007),I’m a believer.
There are a some things not so great about the FJ,however. Gas mileage is not it’s strongest suit (we’re getting between 15.1 and 16.5 MPG’s on average,whether in city,on highway or on trail),and it has a smallish tank (19.5 gallons),so we’re averaging only 215-250 miles between fill-ups (note: 1 minor annoyance is that the low-fuel light normally comes on when it reaches 3-4 gallons in the tank….making you think you’re about to run out when you have several miles left in-tank,LOL!). I suppose the trade-off of our comfort in the vehicle and it’s offroad performance isn’t so bad,but as our only vehicle,better mileage would be nice.
Rearward visibility isn’t the greatest,either. That a previous owner had installed/added “fisheye” mirrors to the side mirrors (something I would have added,myself,and that I’d added to the Camry when we had it) greatly helps when merging or getting back over after passing someone,and one should always look over their shoulder*** before a lane change anyways,but even with the look-back visibility isn’t great. Seeing a small car in the rearview mirror (over the spare tire) who is borderline tailgating is nearly impossible even at night,and if a sub-compact is outright on your back bumper,you’d best hope that their reflexes are good should you decide to stop with no signal/warning because you will not know they’re there (other than a shadow or headlights if at night),LOL! Backing isn’t really an issue with the incuded “backup beeper” (which noticably beeps loudly,faster in tempo as you get closer to anything that’s behind you,including something small/narrow like a handicapped sing post or something lower to the ground like a lawn mower–until it’s a solid beep when you’re about 1′ from anything).
Overall,we are quite pleased and happy with our FJ Cruiser. There are a few quirks common to the series (lack of fuel economy,visibility) and I’m sure to the first year of them (2007 :P ),but it’s comfortable,stylish (you either love it or hate it….we love it),capable,has surprisingly good power (these earlier FJ’s have the 239HP 4.0L engine,newer models have an updated 4.0L with over 270HP,276HP I believe–I could be wrong on the exact figure),great stereo,etc. With Toyota’s history of providing vehicles that last for many years and hundreds of thousands of miles in combination with it’s bad weather performance,we definitely think it a great investment,and we would certainly buy it again/another after owning this one for the short months that we’ve owned it. Having 98% of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon’s performance offroad,better ride and handling on road,it’s limited production meaning one doesn’t see 150 every time they go down the road to the grocery (or on trail) is nice,and they seem to really hold their resale value well too (good luck finding one under $20K used,and you won’t find one under $15K even then).
We will be looking to buy our secondary vehicle with a bit better fuel economy (but as much utility as we can find in an economical package–I still haul bicycles and muddy RC trail trucks on a regular basis ;) ),but we wouldn’t trade our FJ Cruiser for anything other than another,perhaps newer FJ Cruiser.
* It was not making this noise on the test drive,however it was doing it within a week of purchase date…coincidence? (I’m not thinking so…)
**Usually there’s a “how the heck did you get that thing up/out/back-in here?!?”,to which I always reply “the same way you got your JK here”,LOL! With 10.6″ of ground clearance from the factory (I measured ours at 11.75″ at it’s lowest point after the tire upgrade) compared to the non-Rubicon Wrangler’s 9.7″,and a factory locker in the rear,like your average Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (which has a wheelbase in between the Jeep’s Unlimited class 4 door and it’s shorter WB 2 door…a good medium,IMO),but with the addition of Toyota’s ATRAC II system up front where the Wrangler has an open diff,of course it performs well offroad! I still am of the opinion that ultimately a solid front axle (like the Jeeps have) would perform better in certain situations offroad,but having driven both in excess of 5K miles recently (referring to my much missed Jeep Cherokee here,it had a solid front axle like modern JK’s),I believe it’s a good trade-off,IFS (like the FJ’s) vs solid axle in ride comfort and overall performance and comfort….this is a daily driver that spends more time on road for everyday driving/errands/commuting than it ever will on Class 4 or above trails,and the IFS rides and handles much better on road,IMO.
***Note that with my spinal issues/old injuries,I cannot always do the over-the-shoulder-look-back,some days my neck simply and flat out will not turn far enough,so good mirrors (and paying attention to my surroundings at all times,being aware of what’s around me) are paramount for me.