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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Comparison: Tomica 4-car Off-Road set (Drive to the Mountain)

If there's one thing that Tomica does is that it does not create special multi-packs designed for the kids with wacky colors and models like a current U.S. brand diecast manufacturer does; instead Tomica prefers to create special edition sets that usually come with four vehicles and all of them are related to a specific model or category.  In the case for my first Tomica 4-pack review it's off-road vehicles in a set called Drive To The Mountain.  The set includes four SUV's (one actually is a pickup in the rear) and all four are modern and available across the world (one would be an exception to the U.S.).  The most Iconic is the latest Jeep Wrangler Unlimited now with four doors and in a flashy orange paint job.  Next would be the modern Toyota FJ Cruiser in green with blacked-out wheels and ready for the rough stuff.  A very unique model and one that garners attention despite being rather dated is the Toyota Land Cruiser pickup that still chuggs along and has a pickup bed to boot.  Finally is a bit of a surprise for this set, the Nissan X-trail (or Rogue for the U.S.); unlike the earlier X-trail's that were more rugged this new one is more like a car-based SUV designed more for the road and not for the rough stuff.  With the eight categories at play it's time to see who wins the contest to the mountain.

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Exterior and Interior

Standing out in orange the Jeep Wrangler is very impressive with the famed round headlights and seven-slot grille up front, while the rear has the proper spare tire out back in an orange hard cover.  The wheels are the most proper of the group using gray wheels with treaded tires designed for the rough stuff.  Inside it is more practical with room for five and lots of room for cargo.  The dashboard layout is nicely done and benefits from the recent updates of the Wrangler that improves the quality of the interior materials.  The really cool feature is the removable roof that opens up the interior to some sun, but the front-section is part of the metal body and is not removable.  Plus the mount that secures the roof section impedes on rear seat space.  The FJ cruiser looks good in green with the white roof and silver and black accents to give the FJ a rugged look.  The blacked-out wheels are nice but are too small and make the FJ cruiser look less of an off-road vehicle compared to the Jeep.  There are no opening doors so barely seeing inside shows off a five-person interior with limited visibility and flat-top surfaces.  The rear passengers have to wait for the front passengers to open their doors in order to get out.  The Land Cruiser is based on the smaller line compared to the higher-end Land Cruiser's sold in the U.S., so they are still outdated yet affordable and rugged.  The front shows a truck-like look with large clear headlights, silver Toyota grille, and silver bumper.  The boxy look continues to the sides leading to the rear bed that is useful, if a bit small, and is made of plastic.  The skinny wheels look great here thanks to a taller stance than the FJ.  The doors open up to a five-passenger interior with a dashboard design that is very 1990's; either way it gets the job done!  The X-trail is more modern with a nice, smooth CUV look with Nissan's V-grille and large clear headlights.  The large taillights wrap around the blacked-out rear window (the hatch does not open), while a silver lower stripe finish off the smooth look of the SUV.  The interior is practical for five with gear, has a nice modern dashboard, and is the most comfortable interior of the group.

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Engine and Acceleration

The Jeep is powered by a 3.6L DOHC V6 that produces  285 horsepower through a 6-speed manual transmission.  The FJ Cruiser uses a 4.0L DOHC V6 that produces 239 horsepower through a 5-speed automatic transmission.  Both SUV's use a two-speed transfer case with live rear axles with coil springs.  The Land Cruiser uses the same 4.0L V6 as the FJ with a 5-speed manual transmission and two-speed transfer case with live front and rear axles with rear leaf springs and front coil springs.  The X-trail takes a different stride with a front-wheel drive layout, CVT automatic transmission, full-time all-wheel drive, and a 2.5L DOHC I-4 that produces 170 horespower.  It was no surpise that the X-trail had no problems with the acceleration run with a smooth linear run.  The other three were quick, if a bit crude, with the Wrangler the winner and the FJ the loser.

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Braking and Handling

The X-trail also had the shortest stopping distance with no nose dive or drama, while the Land Cruiser had lots of nose dive and a longer stopping distance.  In the middle were the FJ and Jeep with the FJ besting the Jeep thanks to a lower stance.  In the handling course the X-trail also shines here with very smooth transitions with little body roll.  The Land Cruiser was solid just as long as you don't push it; push it and lots of body roll starts to erupt.  The Wrangler's wide track benefitted the Jeep in the handling test despite the longest wheelbase of the group, while the FJ suffered from body roll and handling that was not as great.  Off-road, however, the X-trail is left behind especially when the going gets rough.  The other three do a great job with the FJ suffering from a lack of proper ground clearance.  The Wrangler and Land Cruiser would be the two that would make it to the mountain thanks to their rugged setup and plenty of ground clearance.

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Features and Price

All four, surprisingly, are afforadable today and won't break the bank for the real vehicles.  The X-trail would be the cheapest, while the FJ and Jeep would tie for the highest price, but the difference gap between the four is very small.  As for features the Jeep wins with excellent details, a removable roof, and great off-road practicality.  The Land Cruise wins with excellent details, functional bed, roomy interior, and rugged off-road credentials.  The X-trail is a nicely-done SUV that does not belong in this set nor does it separate itself from other CUV's in the Tomica line, especially the 2011 CR-V.  The FJ cruiser has a nice look, but other than that it lacks the proper 4x4 stance and opening parts.

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Fourth place went to the Toyota FJ Cruiser: It's got the proper FJ look, but other than that it looks too weak to be a strong off-road machine.  Third-place goes to the Toyota Land Cruiser pickup:  A very cool and diverse casting with lots off rugged features and great details, yet it's still an old-school truck that is very out-of-date.  Second-place went to the Nissan X-trail:  It's a great looking SUV that is very practical on the road and inside, but this is an off-road set and this SUV doesn't seem to fit the set.  The First Place winner is the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: Classical Jeep looks, removable roof, great details, and that go-anywhere gear underneath.  A great truck to tackle the drive to the mountain.

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