Sometimes automakers quietly scuttle a car at the end of its run. Others throw a last hurrah, like the Volkswagen New Beetle Final Edition. Toyota, it seems, took a page from the latter playbook with the FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Ultimate Edition, which signals an end to the SUV's eight-model-year run. It hits dealerships in February 2014.
Toyota will build just 2,500 Trail Teams Ultimate Editions, which the automaker calls the "toughest and most capable FJ ever." The trim sports its own paint -- a unique white grille frame and TTUE-specific blue -- plus an off-road suspension with Toyota Racing Development springs and Bilstein race shocks, a quarter-inch-thick skid plate, rock rails, a roof rack and 16-inch alloy wheels with massive BF Goodrich A/T KO tires.
Regular versions of the 2014 FJ Cruiser, which is available with rear- or four-wheel drive, are on sale now. The TTUE comes only with four-wheel drive, but Toyota has yet to specify pricing.
So long, FJ. Poetry isn't our forte, so we'll keep the eulogy to the basics. The throwback SUV arrived at dealerships in March 2006, and a few months later, we declared it pretty damn fun. Fans will no doubt mourn that Toyota has mentioned no plans to redesign the FJ, which has served repeat nominations on Cars.com's Lifestyle Awards for Off-Roaders. But sales never caught on -- the result of horrible visibility, a cramped interior, trucklike ride and EPA combined gas mileage in the teens. In 2012, shoppers bought more than three 4Runners and nearly 13 RAV4s for every FJ Cruiser, and sales ended the year at just 13,656. They'll likely end 2013 below that; sales through October are down 3 percent.