These Two Made-in-Japan Autos Are Rare for Very Different Reasons
The i-MiEV was overpriced when new, the FJ is overpriced used.
Recently, I learned yet another thing that enthusiasts harp on when discussing the value and quality of a vehicle. To some, it’s extremely important where the car was produced. Not where the brand is from, but literally where the car was assembled. The two cars in this photo, a Toyota FJ Cruiser and a Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE, were both produced in Japan and managed to find each other on an American street roughly a decade after they left their factories in Japan.
- Cars: 2007-2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser, 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE
- Location: Columbus, Ohio (Short North)
- Photog: me (Kevin Williams)
- Camera: Canon EOS M50
The i-MiEV has already been kind of a known quantity. Often confused as a Polaris GEM, it is legally a real car and not a neighborhood electric vehicle. When new, my i-MiEV SE was somehow about $32,000 (before tax rebates), all for a 66-horsepower electric car that was only rated for 62 miles of range. Today, you barely see them because barely anybody bought them, and the range doesn’t make much sense in 2022.
By contrast, the FJ Cruiser wasn’t too bad of a deal in its heyday, but its cult status means that used examples are all over the map. If you want a manual transmission, four-wheel-drive truck with fewer than 75,000 miles, be prepared to pay $40,000. In many cases, it would make far more sense to buy a brand-new 6-speed manual TRD Toyota Tundra. The “sunset” Ohio plate from the early 2000s tells me the FJ Cruiser’s owner has had that truck for a long, long time.
Today, these FJ’s are getting harder and harder to find in America. Toyota loyalists love the retro look, and the off-road community grabbed hold and never let go. Good luck finding one for your 2022 overlanding adventures.