The Toyota FJ Cruiser is the most capable of all Toyotas when the pavement gives way to gravel, sand and rocks. That's saying something, given the capabilities of the 4Runner, Land Cruiser, and Tacoma. All of these Toyotas are among the best in their respective classes for travel over rugged terrain.
The FJ Cruiser seats five. The front doors are standard, front-hinged units. Rear-hinged rear side doors provide access to the back seat; beginning with 2011 models, the right front seatback folds a little flatter, which makes squeezing in a little easier than it was before. Main access to the cargo area is through a door hinged on the driver's side of the vehicle instead of a typical roof-hinged hatch-style closure.
An Off-Road option package further enhances the FJ's capabilities, with BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires, trail-tuned Bilstein shock absorbers, and a rear differential lock that works in conjunction with Toyota's A-TRAC off-road traction control system; with this setup, the FJ Cruiser can hang with the Jeep Wrangler crowd. It also includes a multi-information display with a goofy floating ball inclinometer and compass.
The biggest change for 2012 is to the Trail Teams Special Edition, which sheds its army-olive paintwork for a new and exclusive shade called Radiant Red. Bumpers, grille, and door handles are still blacked out, and the package has been expanded to include even more off-road equipment.
The 4.0-liter V6 engine makes 260 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. It has dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which means variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust. We found the FJ Cruiser superb in rugged terrain yet comfortable on the road. Its V6 engine delivers more than ample power and torque for any foreseeable situation.
The Toyota FJ Cruiser comes in one model with a choice of three drivetrains: rear-wheel drive with 5-speed automatic ($25,990), part-time four-wheel drive with the automatic ($27,580), or full-time four-wheel drive with 6-speed manual ($27,170).
Standard equipment includes air conditioning; tilt steering; power windows and door locks; eight-way manually-adjustable driver's seat; six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with SiriusXM, auxiliary jack, USB port with iPod connectivity, plus hands-free phone and music streaming via Bluetooth; steering-wheel-mounted audio and Bluetooth controls; an engine immobilizer; and P265/70R17 tires on 17-inch steel wheels (with a full-size spare mounted on the back door). Upholstery is water-resistant fabric and flooring is a rubber-like mat.
A Convenience Package ($2150) adds keyless entry, cruise control, power side-view mirrors with illuminated markers, auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated backup camera, privacy glass, rear wiper, and spare tire cover. An Upgrade Package adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, locking rear differential, JBL 10 speaker audio with subwoofer, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) on 4WD models, 115V power outlet, floating ball type multi-information display (includes inclinometer, compass, temperature), leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls, and rear parking assist sonar. The Off-Road Package includes trail tuned Bilstein shock absorbers, locking rear differential, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires, and the multi-information display.
The Trail Teams Special Edition Package now features unique Radiant Red monochrome exterior paintwork, accented by a black grille, bumpers and door handles. Red accents in the interior complement the exterior styling. The Trail Teams FJ looks serious, even a little menacing, and backs that look up with the Bilstein shocks; locking rear differential; A-TRAC; skid plates for the engine, fuel tank and transfer case; rock rails; and the off-road multi-information display; plus convenience features such as remote keyless entry, cruise control, privacy glass, rear wiper, auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated backup camera, JBL 10-speaker audio with sub-woofer, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls, 12V 100W and 120V 400W outlets, Trail Teams badge, and TRD alloy wheels with BFGoodrich All-Terrain Tires and the correspondingly necessary wheel locks. Also new for 2012 are roof-mounted off-road lights flanking a rooftop air deflector. The Package is available with 4WD only, and, like some of the other packages described above, is priced differently depending on whether it’s ordered with manual ($6020) or automatic ($6360) transmission
Stand-alone options include 17-inch alloy wheels ($579), the rear differential lock ($340), and running boards ($345). Customers can also choose from a catalog of dealer-installed accessories, including: auxiliary driving lights, rock rails, roof rack, brush guard, taillight guards, sport exhaust system, receiver hitch and harness, wind deflector with off-road lights, a cargo mat and all-weather or carpeted floor mats.
Safety features include Toyota's STAR Safety System that combines Vehicle Skid Control to help the truck go where the driver steers, even on a slippery surface; traction control to reduce wheel slip and thus enhance traction; and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. Side-curtain and front-seat side-impact airbags are also standard, along with dual-stage airbags up front. So is a tire pressure monitor.