Why do some nameplates fail, while others thrive, especially when they are going after the same market? Take for instance the FJ and the Wrangler. One has been going strong for over 80 years and setting sales records, while the other couldn’t make it that many years, and is now being pushed out of production. Are they that drastically different? Do they handle differently? Do they offer the driver better or worse off-roading capabilities? Over at The Globe and Mail, where they recently did a comparison of the two off-roaders, the talk was about prices, but it specifically came down to each truck’s base price … at least for that publication.
They argue that you can have a Jeep for dirt cheap if you choose, but looking at most new Jeeps’ prices, the reality hits you that cheap new Jeeps are somewhat uncommon. When I was looking for a new car last year, I looked at a Wrangler Unlimited and I couldn’t find any for less than $38,000 new around my house. Sure, I could have gotten a used one, but I had just dealt with a lemon and I had no patience to potentially go through that again.
Both the FJ and the JK can be expensive, both trucks have the same off-road capabilities, but none of these things makes a difference when it comes down to sales.
What does matter, at least here in the States is brand recognition. If you say Jeep to anyone on the street, they immediately know what you are talking about, but if you say Toyota FJ, most people will assume you are talking about some sort of Camry.
That doesn’t help sales.
The FJ is a very capable and (in my opinion) handsome truck, but it never had, and still doesn’t have the name recognition that Jeep or Range Rover have. When you think about trail rated designs, those two are the first you think of. The company that makes the Prius fails to cross your mind. If only Toyota had updated the FJ, and not let it stagnate, I think it could have done better in the market, but sadly the rig is not long for this world.