What's New for 2007
An old nameplate makes a comeback. The 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a new SUV that takes the philosophy of Toyota's old compact but tough off-roader and adapts it to meet the demands of the 21st-century consumer.
In the world of serious off-road trucks, Toyota's FJ series that flourished from 1960 to 1983 had few equals. In addition to being able to go over and through most obstacles that lay off the beaten path, the compact yet rugged ute also had a reputation for bulletproof reliability and durability. As long as there was gas in the tank, oil in the engine and coolant in the radiator, nothing short of an attack by an enraged elephant could keep the FJ from getting to nearly any part of the earth's four corners.
While the FJ Cruiser's lineage is long ("FJ" has been the Land Cruiser's internal vehicle code name for more than 50 years), Toyota claims that the 2007 version is "the most distinctive and capable 4x4 in the Toyota lineup." That's quite a statement from the company that builds the current Land Cruiser and 4Runner, which are excellent off-roaders in their own right. Harkening back to that illustrious FJ40 model of decades gone by, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser incorporates many design features of the original, such as fairly compact dimensions and aggressive approach and departure angles. But unlike those mechanical billy goats of yore, today's version has a lot more muscle underhood as well as the latest features that today's consumers demand.
Although the FJ's styling is definitely retro, its running gear is not. A variety of drive systems are available, ranging from a "Pre-Runner" style two-wheel-drive version to a pair of four-wheel-drive FJs. Standard on all is the same potent, DOHC 4.0-liter V6 that sees duty in many of Toyota's other trucks, and buyers have a choice of an automatic or manual transmission. Four-wheel-drive models have low-range gearing, a locking center differential and a traction-control system with a brake-based electronic differential locking feature. A mechanically locking rear differential is available as an option.
The 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser certainly lives up to its lofty forebears in terms of off-road prowess. At the same time, it's considerably better in terms of comfort and amenities than any old FJ ever was. But we doubt many people will be cross-shopping new and old. For 2007, the Toyota's closest competitors are the Hummer H3, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, and Nissan Xterra. The Xterra holds a slight advantage in terms of on-road performance and versatility, but its styling seems rather staid in comparison. For the shopper desiring a reasonably affordable SUV that shines in terms of style, performance and off-road capability, the new FJ Cruiser is tough to beat.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser midsize SUV comes in one body style, essentially a two-door SUV with a pair of smaller, reverse-opening doors behind the standard front ones. There is a single trim level that comes with air conditioning, a six-speaker CD stereo, power windows and locks, eight-way manual adjustment for the driver seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Options include a convenience package that includes keyless entry, power mirrors, cruise control, deep tinted glass and rear park assist. There are also two "Upgrade" packages that add features such as alloy wheels, a locking rear differential, a six-disc CD changer, a 115-volt power outlet, active traction control (4WD models only) and an information display that includes a compass and inclinometer.
A TRD Special Edition package is also available. Included in the package are TRD/Bilstein off-road tuned shock absorbers, all-black exterior paint, special wheels, rock rails and a TRD exhaust. Toyota says the locking rear differential on Special Edition vehicles no longer overrides Active Traction control, enabling the FJ Cruiser to navigate through boulders more easily.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering all FJ Cruisers is Toyota's refined workhorse 4.0-liter V6. In this application, it makes 239 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. FJ Cruiser buyers can choose between a five-speed automatic and a six-speed manual transmission. Most automatic-equipped FJs will come with a part-time four-wheel-drive system, though Toyota also has a two-wheel-drive version available. Vehicles equipped with the manual have a full-time 4WD system. Our test of a 4WD automatic FJ Cruiser confirmed that it's fairly quick for a 4,300-pound SUV, as our test vehicle ran the 0-60-mph drill in 7.8 seconds. Braking is strong too, with a stop from 60 mph taking just 126 feet -- very good for an SUV. Towing capacity is rated at a respectable 5,000 pounds, while fuel mileage ranges from 16 mpg city to 22 mpg highway.
Stability control, traction control and antilock disc brakes with brake assist are all standard. Optional are front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags for all outboard passengers, daytime running lights and rear park assist. In NHTSA crash tests, the FJ earned a top five-star rating for driver safety in head-on collisions. Front passengers earn four stars. For the side-impact test, front and rear passenger protection receive five stars. The IIHS gives the FJ a top score of "Good" for its protection of occupants in frontal-offset and side-impact collisions.
Interior Design and Special Features
We approve of the FJ Cruiser's interior design, which stays true to the original FJ philosophy by being straightforward and functional rather than overly stylized and littered with gimmicks. A nice touch is the standard MP3 auxiliary input. An asset for outdoor sports enthusiasts is the available 115-volt, three-prong outlet in the cargo area. The front seats are very comfortable, but getting into the spacious rear compartment requires a high step up and a contortionist dance, even with the rear doors open. Flipping that split rear seat down results in 66.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity. Unfortunately, rear visibility is tank-like because of the wide C-pillars, tiny rear side windows and tailgate-mounted spare tire. Front visibility also takes a hit due to the high hood line, making both parking maneuvers and off-road obstacle-spotting a bit tricky.
Along with those aggressive approach/departure angles, available locking differential and 17-inch wheels wearing 32-inch tires, all 4x4 models offer 9.6 inches of ground clearance, full underbody skid plates and generous suspension travel. As expected, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser rocks off road, with its supple suspension articulation enabling it to clamber over boulders, tree roots and most anything else. On pavement, the precise steering, smooth ride and surprisingly low wind noise at freeway speeds make for an affable commuter.
Read our Toyota FJ Cruiser Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test