Tonka Truckin'

Clothing is one of life's necessities, yet we can argue that apart from its most basic function, which is to keep us covered, dry, and warm depending on which part of the world you live in - we all have different reasons for picking them out.  

While it is true that some do not give two sh*ts about how they look for as long as they do not offend people in public with their dried prunes, there are some that live and breathe fashion. This is why style and haute couture exist in this world. Their designer dresses are a pillar of their lives and their shoes - a religion. These are the ones that pray for winter and snow in Manila, so that they can wear a dead beaver on their head, and keep warm with a fur coat made from a polar bear. 

There is an old saying that you can tell a lot about a man based on the shoes that he wears, and I think there is some truth to that. I also happen to think that shoes can be related to cars. Tods loafers are obviously a Ferrari, Onitsuka Tigers are a Nissan GT-R, Manolo Blahniks are a Rolls-Royce, and a Caterpillar steel toe boots are a Toyota FJ Cruiser. Now, you will never catch me dead wearing a pair of Caterpillar boots, but you will however, catch me driving an FJ Cruiser.

"It has the soul of a workhorse, yet it doesn't break your back when you make it do some work."

You see, unlike shoes or clothes, cars have freedom and life. They have personalities and capabilities that are directly unique to them. They possess a soul. If you made me wear a pair of Timberlands, I would feel like a complete idiot. More than it being so out of character, I would never feel comfortable or confident wearing them. However, in an FJ Cruiser, I feel like I've been zapped seven sizes down, and I now fit in my Tonka truck that I had when I was 5 years old. 

I did say before that I didn't want to like this SUV, but I mean, cmon - have you ever driven anything with three wipers on the windshield? It's theatrical. Apart from that, it does look the part. I once said that it looked like a child that needed attention, but come to think about it, didn't we all crave for that when we were kids? That's why this thing is yellow. Look at me! I am hard pressed to think of anything else that tickles the child within me as good as this does.

Our inner child lives on.

Upon first glance, you'd think it's all face and no trousers, and that it is all but a retro vehicle dressed like the original Land Cruiser to make the baby boomers join in on Throwback Thursday, but you'd be wrong. Underneath the juvenile bodywork lays a Toyota Prado, and that is all the off-roading credentials you'll ever need. The suspension is so soft and supple that you could go over uneven and off-road terrains as if you were seated in your living room couch. It has rear differential locks to get you out of trouble, just in case you end up beaching it after a day of surfing. With the right tires fitted, I have no doubt that it can climb any mountain in the archipelago.

The interior is quite spartan. It doesn't even have a USB port. It has a trio of analogue gauges that display incline, pitch, and direction - all of which drop hints to the kind of beating it will happily take. The jurassic interior matched with body color accents add to the sense of occasion that you are indeed inside a toy. The engine is also a bit of a hoot. While I would've thought that a turbodiesel engine would be more fitting because of axis bending availability of torque, the 4-liter petrol V6 is so smooth. It also has an agricultural sounding exhaust note, which adds to the experience that you are indeed driving a big rig - while the optional TRD kit makes it look more menacing and adventurous. 

A fantastic cruiser.

What I love most about the FJ Cruiser is the sense of invincibility. It just gives you a feeling that no storm can ever be too strong and that no terrain can ever be too rough. It doesn't just speak to the child within you, but also the adventure junky that you didn't even know existed. It has the soul of a workhorse, yet it doesn't break your back when you make it do some work. In the city, it is mild-mannered and comfortable. It is very fitting that they added the "cruiser" moniker to it, because it does that quite brilliantly. That must explain why, even in our country with volatile gas prices, there are so many of them scattered on our streets. 

For the amount of automobile that you get, it is truly great value for money. Just be ready to fork over the bill in the filling stations that you may visit quite frequently. I have a belief that automobiles are so much more than just tools to get you from point A to point B. To me, it is something that you bond with to create countless memories of your youth or the youth that you believe you still possess today. It is something that you can keep to yourself or share with others. Besides, what better car to do it in, than the one that kids and adults adore - and one that is only limited by the amount of land you're willing to cover. 

Start the next adventure.

2016 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Engine: 3,956cc, V6
Fuel: Gasoline
Power: 268 bhp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 380 Nm @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed Automatic, 4WD
0-100 km/h: 8.5 seconds
Top Speed: 175 km/h
Fuel Economy: 6.2 km/L Overall
Price: PHP1,844,000
+: Plush ride, rear-locking differential, trail worthy
-: Dead steering feel, too thirsty
Verdict: Great for the jungle and the city
Rating: 8.5/10

Ex-Automotive Executive

Instagram: @enzoteodoro