The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a midsize SUV that harks back to the company's iconic FJ40 Series of Land Cruisers. Like the old 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 meant to appeal to younger and more active consumers.
Most Recent Toyota FJ Cruiser
The Toyota FJ Cruiser was produced from 2007 through 2014, with only relatively minor changes made throughout that eight-year run. A midsize SUV, the FJ Cruiser focused on off-road performance and thus in personality and in some cases styling (such as the grille and headlights), paid homage to the original FJ40 of the 1960s. The FJ Cruiser featured two standard front doors supplemented with a pair of smaller, reverse-opening rear doors to provide easier access to the rear seat.
The sole engine used was a 4.0-liter V6. Output depended on the year, as the first three years it was rated at 239 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque while for 2010 and later the specs stood at 260 hp and 270 lb-ft. Rear-wheel drive was standard and two different 4WD systems were available. One was a part-time system, while the other was a full-time system. All FJ Cruisers except those with the full-time 4WD came with a five-speed automatic; those with the full-time 4WD had a six-speed manual along with a locking rear differential.
There was just one trim level with the FJ Cruiser. Standard feature highlights included 17-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, power windows and locks, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, water-resistant cloth upholstery, Bluetooth phone and audio, a CD player, satellite radio and auxiliary/iPod/USB inputs. Options (which sometimes depended on region and model year) included alloy wheels, a rear wiper, a rearview camera, an electronic locking rear differential, rear parking sensors and extra gauges. Several off-road-oriented features (such as heavy-duty suspension components, tires, roof racks, driving lights, rock rails and cargo covers) were also available, as were similarly themed packages that usually included specific styling details.
Changes throughout the years were essentially limited to features availability. First year FJs offered optional side and side curtain airbags, but they were made standard for 2008, while the following year saw the debut of the rearview camera option, which we highly recommend. For 2011, the FJ Cruiser received an upgraded audio system and better access to the rear seat (which also gained folding headrests). Three years later, Toyota celebrated the FJ's last year with the limited-production (only 2,500 built) Trail Teams Ultimate Edition package.
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.
In reviews, the Toyota FJ Cruiser 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 included limited outward visibility and a rear seat area that wasn't particularly comfortable or easy to access even with the reverse-opening rear doors.