Most 4×4 enthusiasts seem to prefer a solid front axle as opposed to independent front suspension (IFS). The reasons for this preference usually include better obstacle crawling capability and durability. And in the Land Cruiser community the general view is that Land Cruisers with IFS starting with the 100 series and including the FJ Cruiser have lost some of their off-road cred. This has been my current thinking as well, but the more I think about it the less I think the type of front suspension really matters all that much…at least to me.
When I was looking at different options before I bought my FJ60 I remember thinking that I definitely wanted something with a solid front axle. I didn’t even consider looking for a 100 series and it also eliminated the 4Runner from my search. That’s how important I thought this feature was. I’ve owned my FJ60 for 5 years now and after gaining some real life experience with it I think that I would be perfectly happy with a 100 series, a 4Runner, or another vehicle with IFS, like the FJ Cruiser, although I definitely prefer the FJ60 for other reasons.
Over the 5 years that I have owned my FJ60 I’ve realized that (unfortunately) it spends most of its time on the asphalt and not on the trails. This is do in part to where I live. The advantages of IFS on the pavement are comfort and handling. And although I don’t mind the bumpiness most of the time, sometimes I do yearn for a quiet smooth ride. I’ve also realized that the type of off-road driving I like to do is not the super technical, move a few feet per hour kind of off-roading, but rather the take the unmaintained road out into the middle of nowhere kind of off-roading where normal cars can’t get. For this type of off-roading (exploring, not rock-crawling) IFS is just fine. In fact, IFS has an advantage on the bumpy, gravel roads because you can drive much faster without getting tossed around in your vehicle.
So I guess what I’m saying is that, for a car that is on the road most of the time I wouldn’t mind having a vehicle with IFS. I wouldn’t feel like I was losing capability that I needed given the type of off-highway driving I like to do. Also, if I really wanted to do some serious, technical off-roading I would buy or build a purpose-built vehicle and tow it to the trails. Having said that, I still think the 60 series Land Cruiser is the ultimate compromise between capability and comfort and I wouldn’t opt for a 100 series, 4Runner, or FJ Cruiser at this point in time, but you never know…maybe in the future.
Does IFS vs solid axle matter to you anymore?