We’re shopping in this household. But only of the window kind at this stage, and Toyota has itself to blame. We’re not about to step inside with any real intent yet. A resounding own goal for Toyota. Many, in fact. One for each time a potential buyer (such as us) asks this simple question: ‘Yes, but does it come with a diesel?’ and to which the answer is ‘no’. And for as long as that ‘no’ is the standard response, fists clenching ready cheques will punch at nothing but air.
And our frustrated salesman proves the point. Toyota hasn’t released details on a forthcoming diesel—or so he says. I bet they haven’t, nor let on that one is in the pipeline, they want to move FJ Cruiser units now, as does the hapless salesman who watches commission upon diesel-fuelled commission walk out of the door.
He doesn’t like me because I’m the brakes to this buying expedition. I can tell that he’s thinking that I’m a crank. Which I take as a compliment in the context of all things car. I insist that it must be the diesel or nothing. Backed into the corner he makes a last stand. ‘In the US,’ says he, ‘they like the petrol and it sells well.’ Perhaps, but his argument is unconvincing. That’s like saying that apples sell better than apples. Where are the comparative pears?
We want the Cruiser. It’s the ‘compromise 4×4’ that we have settled on, and believe me, there were skirmishes. A 4×4 and not a soft-roader is what’s wanted. Still, it’s a rocky road yet as in this household as we march to very different drum beats. Hers makes the bigger noise. Down to her cardiologist cheque against ’my man about the house sat at his keyboard’ dribble.
Even though she-who-must-be-obeyed is ignorant on the subject of cars, she has definite opinions, always hard to unhinge. I really do want her in a ‘specialist doctor’s car/4×4’. It’s only right. At the hospital are gathered in the doctor’s bays the usual fare: BMWs, Mercedes, Audis. A Lexus. 4x4s? One decently new M class, one BMW X5 (no X3), and then predominantly most things Land Rover. Discovery 4, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport. A well-specced timeless Defender.
And a sole crappy 2003 Jeep Cherokee CRD. That’s hers. I want it gone, and yesterday already. And I’m sure it’s going to help my cause. It’s about to throw its toys finally and emphatically out of its cot, and force my wide’s recalcitrant hand. I can’t wait. Or couldn’t until I was side-swiped by the FJ’s lack of a diesel.
I should point out here that the price tag of the new car is irrelevant. Not said flippantly. We buy cars on a cash basis, for keeps—depreciation is irrelevant—until they are no longer good for their intended purpose. That is: set against a backdrop of running costs and frequency of repairs outside of scheduled services. Tests which the Jeep has been properly failing in the last few years. Its computer tells us within days of an agent service that it needs another one. Turbo pipes pop off or split (3 times), the ignition switch got stuck with the key inside in the on position (R10k agent prices), injectors failing one after the other (R6k each agent prices), oil leaks, 4×4 system forever unserviceable—not unless we spend wildly on new systems clutches.
And the brake servo, which almost cost us a proper rear-ender. Luckily it was my leg quivering with the effort on the brake pedal at the time. Which reminds me of my late father’s words of wisdom: ‘It’s one thing if a car doesn’t go, and quite another if it doesn’t stop.’ And what did the agent tell me? ‘They do that, Sir, it’s a vacuum pipe, not expensive to fix, you’ll be glad to hear.’ Glad? How far off the mark can you be?
There’s no Range Rover Evoque in those doctor’s bays , and I want to change that. Even better a new RR Sport. I want one of either. Well, I want my wife to want one of either. And that means I’ve had to beat her prejudice against Land Rover products into submission.
I nearly made it. We saw a blood red RR Evoque the other day and she was smitten. ‘What’s that?’ With fingers crossed I made a strong case for the Evoque, and that she must at the very least drive one. And in that moment of guard down she admitted that the RR sport wasn’t too bad either, although still ‘a bit of a coffin’. I got that giddy feel-good feeling of the motoring madman, and had visions of them nestled in our garage. And it was about now that she treated a patient who is the service manager of a local branch of Land Rover. He admitted that he was stressed at work (who isn’t?) and so it was game over for the RR Sport or Evoque of my dreams. ‘See?, said she, ‘they break down. I’ve heard they give gearbox problems’. Her particular brand of car logic. And I’m hating that Jeep even more.
When the dust from the ensuing and inevitable fracas had settled down, a reasoned set of circumstances emerged out of the heated (and petulant – mine) exchange. The Jeep experience has dictated the need for reliability above all things. I explain. When a life hangs in the balance at the wheels of a car—which is exactly the case when a cardiologist is on call duty where 3 minutes can literally mean life or death, a car which stops is no excuse whatsoever. None. It’s one thing being late for work because of car trouble, and quite another being late for this work because of car trouble. And the Jeep has done it twice, specifically on one occasion at 3 a.m.in the morning of a freezing winter’s night. Some or other regulator and the inevitable flatbed. That has been the only time I have ever frantically flogged my classic Mercedes SL to within an inch of its life against a cold engine to save the day.
It really has come down to a situation of ‘heart over heart’. She loves the Range Rover Evoque, she really does, but says that Land Rover’s notorious reputation means that she doesn’t want to repeat the Jeep experience ever again. So she over-rules what she perceives as a selfish desire for the Evoque, and places her patients’ well-being 1st. I cannot fault that. Which is exactly why we’re at Toyota’s door.
Sure the FJ Cruiser is not pretty and fey. It’s boxy and a bit cumbersome, much bigger close-up than afar, but infinitely more special than the Prado—which was considered as an alternative. It could pass as a doctor’s car (just), and while it really is testosterone mostly, its no-nonsense styling puts it up there as possible iconic like the Land Rover Defender. No constant face-lift frippery for this one (Land Rover take note); it will look just fine 10 years from now.
And a well-maintained FJ Cruiser is not likely going to break in an emergency. Let me put it this way. If your life were in the balance based on a car’s reliability, I’m thinking that Toyota will be 1st on the ’list of the moment’. But we simply won’t have the petrol. And until the diesel arrives, instead of wishing— as I used to— that the ‘big Jeep bang’ will happen sooner rather than later to force my wife’s hand, for once I’m hoping it will hold out.
There, Toyota, you’ve still got it. But you’re also not getting it. Do something. Sort out the FJ Cruiser. We want ours in white. With a diesel.
Tags: Toyota FJ Cruiser