The FJ Cruiser is in many respects the anti-Toyota. It unapologetically shuns practicality in favor of style and attitude, and it unflinchingly focuses on one mission — off-road performance. Fuel economy and comfort? Not so much. The FJ has the same solid bones as the 4Runner, including a meaty 4.0-liter V-6 that provides as much muscle — and makes almost as much of a racket — as a V-8. A live rear axle, a standard manual transmission, and a locking limited-slip differential back up the tough-guy looks. The trail teams special edition package goes even further, with specially tuned Bilstein dampers, skid plates, and unique wheels and tires. It also comes in a distinctive shade of red, which surely makes you faster both on-road and off. Just be sure to mind the blind spots, which are huge. Toyota attempted to address the blind-spot issue last year by adding fold-down rear headrests, but the giant C-pillars and chopped windshield remain. That windshield makes itself heard during highway cruising, as do the slab sides and chunky tires. These gripes can’t overcome the larger point that the FJ is one of the most fun Toyotas to drive, not to mention one of the most capable and best-looking off-roaders offered by any manufacturer.
Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim level: FJ Cruiser
Body style: SUV, 5-passenger
Engine: 4.0L V-6, 259 hp, 278 lb-ft
TransmissionS: 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic
Passenger volume: N/A
CAPACITIES: Towing 5000 lb; cargo (rear seats
up/down) 27.9/66.8 cu ft
Not much is new for this long-lived retro-truck. The only change is a new shade of red paint for the Trail Teams Special Edition model. Last year the FJ received standard USB and Bluetooth, along with improved access to the rear seats and fold-down rear headrests that improved visibility.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard. Backup sensors are optional.
All: 15-17 mpg city/19-22 mpg highway
- Tough-guy looks
- Tough-guy off-road ability
- Powerful V-6
- Styling compromises visibility
- Noisy and clumsy on-road performance
Toyota’s wild side.
- Jeep Wrangler
- Land Rover LR4
- Nissan Xterra
- Toyota 4Runner