Toyota FJ Cruiser Overview

toyota fj cruiser grillWith its squared-off lines and round, close-set headlights, the 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser pays homage to the original FJ40 that tamed tough trails from the early '60s to the mid-'80s. Yet today's FJ has more than just retro styling to remind us of that rugged Toyota classic. As with its forebears, the FJ Cruiser is blessed with a torquey engine, a robust chassis and the chops to take on ruts, steep muddy hills or just about any other off-road adventure you can throw at it. Toyota introduced the FJ Cruiser for the 2007 model year, and this midsize SUV has stayed pretty much the same since. This year does see a couple notable changes. Revised variable valve timing is a new addition to the V6 engine, and the result is a bump in power (from 238 horsepower to 259) as well as a slight increase in fuel economy.

There's also a new Trail Teams Special Edition package, though it does little more than bundle hardware from existing packages with an exclusive Sandstorm exterior paint color and blacked-out trim details. Just as before, the FJ offers reasonable maneuverability and comfort even when it's not taking its owner to remote locations. However, there are two main drawbacks to this midsize sport-utility: hindered outward visibility and awkward access to the rear seats. The massive rear side roof pillars and tall hood line can make for anxious moments when parking, while the small rear access doors make entry to and exit from the second row a chore. For these reasons, the more conventional-looking four-door Nissan Xterra is a better choice for those seeking an off-roader with maximum daily versatility.

toyota fj cruiser tail lightsAnother option would be the venerable Jeep Wrangler. It's not as refined as the FJ, but it has four real doors (via the Unlimited model) and also boasts the best off-road capabilities of the bunch. That said, the 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser is without question a lot of fun to drive and own and will likely satisfy those desiring a vehicle with the boulder-crawling spirit of the earliest SUVs. The 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a midsize SUV technically with four doors. The front doors are standard-sized, but the rear doors are smaller and are reverse opening. A single trim level is offered, and its list of standard Toyota FJ Cruiser Accessories includes 17-inch black steel wheels, snazzy two-tone exterior paint, air-conditioning, power windows and locks, eight-way manual adjustment for the driver seat and a six-speaker CD/MP3 stereo.

Options include a Convenience package that offers keyless entry, power side mirrors, cruise control, rear privacy glass, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a rearview camera. Two "Upgrade" packages bring with them features such as alloy wheels, a locking rear differential, a premium audio system with a six-CD changer, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, active traction control (4WD models only), rear park assist and an information display that includes a compass and an inclinometer. Standard safety features include stability control, traction control, antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and rollover-sensing side curtain airbags. 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet -- very good performance for an off-road SUV.

toyota fj cruiser headlightsIn government crash tests, the Toyota FJ Cruiser earned a top five-star rating for driver safety in head-on collisions, while front passenger protection rated four stars. In side-impact testing, front and rear passenger protection received five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the FJ its top score of "Good" for the vehicle's protection of occupants in frontal-offset and side-impact collisions. Serious off-road enthusiasts will want to consider the following two packages. The All Terrain package includes special 16-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, performance shock absorbers and a locking rear differential. Taking it a step further is the Trail Teams package that includes most of the contents of the All Terrain and Convenience packages and adds blacked-out body accents, skid plates and special paint and seat fabric.

The 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser is in its element off-road. Thanks to its ample suspension articulation, it crawls over boulders, tree roots and most other obstacles with ease. It's also better than most customers would expect on pavement, with precise steering and a smooth ride. The FJ's boxy lines result in noticeable wind noise on the highway, though. In terms of power, this year's engine revisions have given the FJ a bit of a boost -- acceleration is brisk. Notably, the FJ no longer requires premium fuel either. The FJ's dash features retro themes and is color-keyed to match the exterior. For the most part, the controls are well placed and easy to find. The front seats are comfortable, but the rear compartment is a tight fit and requires a high step up for entry.