In the summer of 2004, Toyota began conducting extensive off-road evaluations of the FJ platform, driving development mules on some of North America's most difficult trails, including Moab, Utah, the Los Angeles National Forest, the Mojave Desert and the Rubicon Trail. To add uniqueness to the final version of the Trail Teams Special Edition, Toyota designated it as the Trail Teams Ultimate Edition, which included some special improvements. Toyota attempted to address issues with a reversing camera and changes to the hinge mechanisms on the front seats to make entry and exit from the rear easier. Rumors about the Land Cruiser's disappearance in the United States began more than a year ago when several Toyota sources hinted to MotorTrend that it was in trouble.Critics appreciated Toyota's effort to bring such an aggressive, purpose-built vehicle to the market at a time when the company was focusing on more conservative designs.
Automotive journalists praised Toyota for daring to sell such an aggressive vehicle with such an aggressive purpose, since the rest of their range was rather bland and conservative. The FJ Cruiser also had Toyota written on the grille instead of the corporate emblem that had been used since 1990, another reference to the FJ40 and other older Toyota trucks. The FJ Cruiser was intended to be Toyota's chance to create an off-road vehicle different from what they were producing at the time.Danzer worked with Akio Toyoda in secret to set up a special workshop at the NUMMI plant to test the viability of a new FJ40 by combining Tacoma shoring with the bodies of the Toyota Bandeirantes, a vehicle based on the FJ40 which was still in production in Brazil (only as a diesel model) at that time; Bandeirante was discontinued in 2001.It is true that Toyota took some restraints when creating the FJ Cruiser, allowing competitors to boast that their vehicles weren't reducing costs. Not much information has been released about changes to the chassis and body structure, and Toyota hasn't announced what it plans to do with the FJ-S Cruiser Concept in the future.
The bumps and cracks in the interior fenders were attributed to a Toyota design defect through certain vehicle identification numbers.Toyota released a statement saying that the FJ Cruiser “was developed as a basic, capable and affordable all-terrain vehicle aimed specifically at serious off-roaders looking to push the limits. Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) dealers continue to receive orders for new units, even including them on their website, although increased demand and limited supply have caused prices to rise significantly. With the pending departure of the Land Cruiser, it seems that Toyota will stick with its equally outdated Sequoia with less off-road capacity as its most expensive SUV.