2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV

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Toyota FJ Cruiser Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 4.0 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 260 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 15/18 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser

  • It's not the most versatile choice available, but if distinctive looks and outstanding off-road ability are important to you in a midsize SUV, the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser is hard to beat.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Impressive off-road ability; distinctive interior and exterior styling; comfortable front seats.

  • Cons

    Limited visibility fore and aft; cramped rear seat with impeded entry and exit.

  • What's New for 2012

    The Toyota FJ Cruiser is unchanged for 2012.

Full 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser Review

What's New for 2012

The Toyota FJ Cruiser is unchanged for 2012.


Toyota is renowned these days for making straightforward, ultra-sensible and dependable transportation without much flair. That makes the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser the relative black sheep of the family. This dedicated off-roader is anything but straightforward and ultra-sensible. But what it lacks in sensibility, it makes up for with gobs of character; it's fun to drive and even more fun to look at. Plus, it maintains one of those well-known Toyota family traits: It's dependable.

The FJ Cruiser hasn't changed much since its introduction back in '07, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Its stout chassis, wide approach and departure angles, and available locking rear differential make it a genuine go-anywhere type of truck. It's also blessed with precise steering, a robust V6 and a comparably comfortable ride. But around town the FJ isn't as ideal. The thick pillars and gun-slit windows limit visibility and make maneuvering in tight spots difficult. Frequently taking on rear passengers can also get old due to the FJ's access-style rear doors.

Really, this sort of fun/practicality trade-off is commonplace among the dwindling number of off-road-ready SUVs. The Jeep Wrangler is even more compromised and could be considered downright crude compared to the FJ Cruiser, though it does offer a higher degree of off-roading talent. The Nissan Xterra goes the other way, offering the practicality of four full doors and better visibility while lacking the visual flair of its rivals.

Of course, there are also countless crossover SUVs for those shoppers who know they really do need something sensible. But for keeping it real in the old-school SUV sort of way, the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser continues to be an excellent choice.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a five-passenger SUV with two regular front doors and two half-sized rear-hinged doors.

There is only one trim level and it comes standard with 17-inch black-painted steel wheels, air-conditioning, power windows and locks, an eight-way manually adjustable driver seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, water-resistant cloth upholstery, heavy-duty vinyl flooring, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and steering wheel controls.

There are a number of packages available that are often grouped together into larger packages depending on your region. Occasionally, they are automatically included as well.

The Convenience package adds power mirrors, rear privacy glass, a rear wiper, a spare tire cover, keyless entry, cruise control, a rearview camera and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Upgrade package adds 17-inch alloy wheels (available separately), an upgraded traction control system on four-wheel-drive models, an electronically controlled locking rear differential, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, extra gauges and trip computer functions and an 11-speaker JBL sound system with a six-CD changer.

The Off-Road package adds Bilstein shock absorbers, the locking rear differential, the upgraded traction-control system and the extra gauges. The TRD package adds special 16-inch alloy wheels, BFGoodrich off-road tires and different Bilstein shock absorbers.

There are a number of noteworthy dealer-installed accessories including a large roof rack, accessory driving lights, rock rails, a cargo cover and a passenger armrest.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser comes with a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 260 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the FJ Cruiser and when so equipped, features a five-speed automatic transmission and a limited-slip differential. There are two different 4WD systems available. One is a part-time system attached to the five-speed automatic, while the other is a full-time system attached to a six-speed manual and a locking rear differential.

EPA-estimated fuel economy with 4WD and an automatic is 17 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined -- typical for off-road SUVs. Getting the manual 4WD FJ Cruiser drops those estimates to 15/18/16, while the rear-drive FJ gets 17/20/19.


The 2012 FJ Cruiser comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the FJ Cruiser received the top rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side-impact tests, but a second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the roof strength test.

Interior Design and Special Features

The FJ's retro-themed dash is color-keyed to match the exterior. Controls are placed within easy reach and are easy to find. Some are also oversized to a cartoonish degree, but we can't say that hurts their functionality. The front seats are comfortable, but the rear compartment is a tight fit and requires a high step up for entry. Wide roof pillars, small rear windows and a tailgate-mounted spare tire all contribute to poor rearward visibility. Front visibility is also less than optimal due to the FJ's high hood line.

The rear-access doors, like those on most extended-cab pickups, open rearward. Though this configuration offers a wide portal with both front and rear doors open, it's tiresome if you're frequently carting rear passengers, as the rear doors won't open with the front doors closed. This is a vehicle for sport, not for kids. With the rear seats folded, a generous 67 cubic feet of cargo space is created.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser is in its element when off-road. With ample suspension articulation, it crawls over boulders, ruts and most other obstacles with ease. The FJ is also surprisingly good on pavement, offering precise steering and a smooth ride that makes a Jeep Wrangler seem like an ox cart by comparison. But the FJ's boxy shape creates noticeable wind noise at highway speeds, and poor outward visibility can make parking or identifying off-road obstacles difficult. Acceleration from the V6 engine is brisk, particularly at low- and midrange speeds, and exudes a nice exhaust bark that increases the "sport" quotient of this utility vehicle.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

Silly rice burner! what?

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I'm 36, I served in the military for 12 yrs. rough, tough and rugged reliable rigs at work, and jeep wranglers at home. I've never even considered anything else. purchase a wrangler, smittybilt bumpers, black rims, and rugged mud tires for the snow, mud ect........... now, over a decade later 100% IU disabled vet with a bad back and no leg from my left knee down, I was devestated. no clutch lol.... so, i decided to open my options. in the entire car/suv/and 4x4 line up I was about to throw my hands up. then I saw a FJ extremely attractive from the outside. I don't want to say "boxy" but it wasn't all aero dynamic- It looked like a SUV built for a man. Then I saw the inside. WOW!

20 of 70 people found this review helpful

You'll either love them or

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I have wanted one since "07" and finally have a 2012 4x4 automatic. If you're one that likes to look out the side of your auto to see what's beside you forget it in this ride, I've always used my mirrors so it doesn't bother me. If you have hair on your head and like to ride with your window down you better carry a cap for when you get out cause your hair well be parted right above your ear. There will be no equalizing the wind blow by trying to equalize with the other window nor with side window visors. When stopping at some stop lights you'll need to get use to looking up from the steering wheel. I do truely love mine, the gas mpg is great even pulling my 21' bass boat. Love'm or hate'm.

29 of 29 people found this review helpful

It's an fj thing....

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 6M)

It's obvious that most "professional" automotive journalists don't get the FJ and don't understnd it's purpose. It isn't a AWD cross over, it is a very capable Off Road Vehicle. A properly equipped FJ is unequaled in off road capability, comfort and reliability. The often complained about "limited visibility" is easily remedied by adjusting your mirrors properly. Gas Mileage? Do you really buy an off road vehicle for gas mileage? I'm getting between 23 and 24 on the highway...much better than my Dodge Ram! All in all, you either understand the purpose of the FJ and love it or you don't get it and the vehicle just confuses you.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

Love my fj in so

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I have had my FJ for ten months now and still enjoy driving it very much. I owned cars for most of my driving years and wanted a SUV since we were moving into the mountains of WV. and thought a 4x4 would serve my needs better. This vehicle does just that and more...the seats are comfortable and the turning radius is great. Inside the cabin is quiet while driving and gives me a feeling that I am riding in a safe vehicle. I purchased the soild white color and couldn't be any happier with my decision on this SUV!

32 of 40 people found this review helpful

Just what you'd expect...

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

If you are considering buying this car, you are likely looking for something rugged, durable, reliable, and fun to drive. This meets all expectations. I have had my 2012 FJ for 1 month now and couldn't be happier. It gets the same gas mileage as a the Highlander, drives and handles great, is actually just as quiet (or quieter) than my friends' Audi S4 (except at speeds over 70mph, then of course there is more wind noise). I get compliments everyday on the car. It's spacious, reliable, rugged, unique, fun to drive, handles snow/ice/mud great, what else do you want? If you're considering buying this vehicle, it's just what you'd expect.

30 of 47 people found this review helpful

Laughing at the "professional" reviews

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 6M)

The reviews that have been published on the FJ crack me up. It's appears the reviewers don't understand the purpose of the FJ. This is no commuter car SUV, it is a body on frame vehicle with significant off-road capability. I have no issues with visibility or blind spots; check your mirrors and look out the window... My 11 year old son loves the back of this thing and the wife likes the ride better than our Ram 1500 quadcab. I got 18.5 mpg on the first tank and expect better as the engine breaks in. I bought this vehicle knowing what I was looking for and I'm thrilled with it. Can't wait to hook the camper to it and head to Marble, CO.

Talk About The 2012 FJ Cruiser

Gas Mileage


  • 15
  • cty
  • 18
  • highway
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Identifix Reliability Ratings

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