Even though the FJ Cruiser is a stale model in Toyota’s lineup, it’s still fun to slap on a new package that appeals to the off-road enthusiast crowd. This particular FJ is wearing the Trail Teams Special Edition package ($6695 mind you), which consists mainly of exterior features like: unique Sandstorm paint, blacked-out hood, sideview mirrors, and grille. But my favorite is the black, beadlock-look wheels with beefy BFGoodrich all-terrain rubber. It really sets it apart from other FJs on the road-or trail more like it. The package also comes with a locking rear differential, backup camera integrated into the rearview mirror, and Bilstein shock absorbers.
Where I’d like to see improvement is under the hood; the 4.0-liter V-6 is old news. If nothing else, at least a cold-air intake and free-flow exhaust system included in the Trail Teams package would transform this FJ into a real player when the pavement ends.
I don’t have access to a worthy rock trail to truly test the prowess of this Trail Teams package, but there’s no denying the option group changes the visual character of the FJ from a cute retro-character to a badass off-road crawler. Those beadlock-look rims are pretty neat looking, as are the powder-coated rock rails, the blacked-out grille trim and hood, and the lack of the cheesy white roof.
I’m told that production of the Trail Teams model is limited, but if Toyota sells out of this batch, there’s some good news for FJ enthusiasts: apart from the cosmetic touches, you’re still able to build a clone. Simply order an FJ Cruiser with the off-road package, and you instantly have the Trail Team’s locking rear diff, A-TRAC traction control, and enhanced suspension thrown into the mix. Dive into the TRD parts catalog, and you can find similar wheels, rock rails, and myriad other off-road goodies.
I’d caution against adding those features if you plan on spending more time on-road than off, though. The increased ride height and larger tires are great for four-wheeling, but the extra road noise and body roll aren’t enjoyable if you’re relegating the FJ Cruiser to tarmac duty.
This particular paint combination is so, so cool. Really shows off the FJ at its best.
This is a purpose-built lifestyle vehicle and is still as cool as it was when it came out a number of years ago. Consider, also, that Toyota is not known for making unusual niche vehicles, and it’s a miracle the FJ even exists. For someone who truly likes to off-road and do the whole outdoor adventure thing, the FJ is ideal, as long as you can live with the rear half doors. But once you reach in, grab the handle, and swing it open, it’s easy enough for three rear-seat passengers to climb aboard.
The interior styling theme — all chunky, blocky, retro shapes — has aged very well. I appreciated the small rearview camera screen that appears in a corner of the center rearview mirror.
As for its on-road behavior, I had to get two people from my house to the Detroit airport in a hurry, and the FJ easily accelerated to 90 mph and cruised surprisingly well, with a reasonably comfortable ride.
The FJ Cruiser isn’t nearly as fun as a Jeep Wrangler, but it can still be quite enjoyable. On my commutes to and from the office, I took a gravel-road detour where I found some pretty big mud puddles. Yes, I enjoyed getting the FJ prepped for a possible photo shoot.
Dirt and grime, however, can’t cover up the fact that the FJ has sloppy steering, a rough ride, poor body control, terrible outward visibility, and little usable cargo space. Worse yet, you can’t comfortably drive with the windows open at speeds of more than 30 mph or so, lest you get blasted in the ear with wind. Whereas all Jeep Wranglers offer multiple options for open-roof driving, the new-age FJ offers none. This is a travesty, as we pointed out when we told the final story of our Four Seasons FJ Cruiser.
Bead-lock wheels?! I was excited when I first saw these on the FJ, but in fact they’re fakes, and Toyota calls them “beadlock-style.” You’d think they’d be real for the $6700 price of the Trail Teams option package.
Yes, the FJ Cruiser is quite old, but it’s a rare gem as one of the few Toyota product with passion infused in the design and engineering. With the Trail Teams package, this FJ Cruiser looks the part even more by ditching the roof rack, white roof, and Crayola paint color for a very military-like monotone tan paint job. And even though those beadlocker wheels are frauds, they look far more at home on this off-roader than the standard seventeen-inch wheels.
I disagree with Rusty’s assessment that the FJ Cruiser delivers a rough ride. While it’s no Porsche Cayman, the road manners are suitable for a daily driven vehicle. That Toyota has allowed the sizeable amount of travel between the wheels and body comes by design. Shy of installing active dampers or air springs, you’re probably not going to find anything more confident on the road and more capable on the trail. Rumors (strongly) suggest that the FJ Cruiser will be dead soon. I can imagine Toyota has little incentive to keep it around as it sells in so few markets and less than 7000 have been sold in the first five months of 2010. For off-road enthusiasts who don’t own one yet, though, a modern FJ would be a great vehicle to own. Not only is it something cool to park in your driveway today, I expect it will only become more desirable after production ends.
2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser
Base price (with destination): $26,070
2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser $33,363
4.0-liter DOHC V-6 engine
5-speed automatic transmission
Tire pressure monitoring system
Water resistant seats
AM/FM/MP3 CD with 6-speakers
Auxiliary input jack
Tilt steering wheel
Options on this vehicle:
Trail Teams Special Edition Package — $6695
Hood, mirrors, grille blackout
Beadlock style alloy wheels
BFGoodrich all-terrain tires
Active traction control
Locking rear differential
AM/FM/MP3 6-disc CD changer
9-speakers and subwoofer
Auxiliary audio input jack
Towing hitch and wire harness — $349
Armrest/passenger side — $125
Stainless steel exhaust tip — $75
Cargo net — $49
17 / 21 / 18 mpg
Size: 4.0L DOHC V-6
Horsepower: 260 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 271 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Curb weight: 4343 lb
Wheels/tires: 16-inch Beadlock aluminum wheels
265/75R16 BFGoodrich all-terrain tires