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In recent years, a few automakers have introduced what have become known as "retro" vehicles. These cars and trucks typically marry modern mechanicals with styling that recalls a successful model of the past. The FJ Cruiser, Toyota's retro entry, is a midsize SUV that harks back to the company's iconic FJ40 Series of Land Cruisers. The original FJ40 was a tough, dependable four-wheel-drive truck sold in the U.S. from 1960-'83. It's generally assumed that the U.S. military's Jeep from WWII provided the inspiration for the FJ's predecessor, the BJ20.
Like the FJ40, the Toyota FJ Cruiser has superior off-road capabilities. It's built on a truck-based, ladder-frame chassis and features a stout suspension and drivetrain, sharing its underlying hardware with Toyota's 4Runner SUV. Toyota designed the FJ Cruiser to be a bit more specialized, however. Compared to the 4Runner, it's smaller, less expensive and more capable in off-road situations, and it's designed to appeal to younger and more active consumers.
Current Toyota FJ Cruiser
A midsize SUV, the Toyota FJ Cruiser focuses on off-road performance and a style that invokes the heritage of the original FJ40 of the '60s. All FJ Cruisers have two standard front doors with a pair of smaller, reverse-opening rear doors that provide easier access to the rear seat.
Every FJ is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 259 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Buyers have a choice of two four-wheel-drive (4WD) systems and two transmissions. Four-wheel-drive models with the five-speed automatic transmission come with a transfer case that can be changed to 2-Hi, 4-Hi and 4-Lo modes. FJs with the six-speed manual transmission are more off-road-oriented, as they provide a lockable center differential but lack the 2-Hi mode. There's also a rear-wheel-drive-only model, but the five-speed automatic is the only transmission offered.
Standard feature highlights include 17-inch black-painted steel wheels, air-conditioning, power windows and locks, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, water-resistant cloth upholstery, heavy-duty vinyl flooring, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, a CD player, satellite radio and auxiliary audio/iPod/USB inputs. Options packages are dependent on region and include alloy wheels, power mirrors, a rear wiper, keyless entry, cruise control, a rearview camera, an electronic locking rear differential, rear parking sensors, extra gauges and trip computer functions and a premium audio system. Several off-road features (suspension components, tires, roof racks, driving lights, rock rails and cargo covers) are also available.
With such serious four-wheel-drive systems available, a major draw for shoppers will be the vehicle's off-road abilities. The Toyota FJ Cruiser was designed to have considerable wheel travel, high ground clearance and a tough, fully boxed frame. The front suspension is independent with a double-wishbone design, while the rear features a solid rear axle with a four-link coil-spring suspension.
Even if you don't plan on spending much time attacking trails, the FJ Cruiser's unique brand of retro style should appeal to many. Key elements include a grille that incorporates tightly spaced round headlights, a grille-mounted classic Toyota name badge instead of the modern emblem, a white-top roof, wrap-around rear windows, an exposed full-size spare tire and an offset rear license plate. Color-keyed interior panels and a decidedly old-school, panel-like dashboard carry on the whimsically rustic look inside.
In reviews, the Toyota FJ Cruiser has earned positive commentary for its impressive off-road ability, surprisingly fun on-road driving experience, comfortable front seats and distinctive exterior styling. FJ Cruiser drawbacks include limited outward visibility, a rear seat area that's not particularly comfortable and challenging rear-seat entry-and-exit despite the access doors.
Used Toyota FJ Cruiser Models
The Toyota FJ Cruiser was introduced for the 2007 model year. That first year featured optional side and side curtain airbags -- they were made standard for '08. The TRD Special Edition package was also limited to 2007. For 2009, Toyota added a much-need rearview camera to the options list -- we'd highly recommend seeking out an FJ with this feature. FJs from 2007-'09 also made a bit less power, with a maximum of 239 hp. The increase to 259 hp occurred for 2010.
Read the most recent 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Toyota FJ Cruiser page.