By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
The 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV is the modern take on the classic FJ40 Land Cruiser sold round the world from 1960 until the early 1980s. Whereas most original rugged off-road SUVs have morphed into luxury chariots capable of going – but rarely taken – off road, Toyota's FJ Cruiser off-road SUV is built for one thing and one thing only: to take you places no car-based crossover dare shine its headlights. Of course, unlike the Jeep Wrangler, you can't remove the FJ's top, and its awkward dimensions and styling create some serious blind spots, but FJ loyalists dismiss this as nitpicking and perhaps they are correct. Based on the Toyota 4Runner SUV platform, the FJ Cruiser is a unique package unlike anything on the road. Its closest rivals are clearly the Jeep Wrangler, Nissan Xterra and to some extent, the 4Runner itself. Offering a wide variation of options that do more than just look rugged, the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV can be equipped to tackle all manner of off-road obstacle courses.
It doesn't matter if you're looking for a vehicle to take serious off-roading or just on weekend camping trips, the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV covers all the bases. It even makes a very livable daily driver, something that can't always be said of the Jeep Wrangler soft-top.
No one will argue that the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV isn't fun, but it does have a number of practical drawbacks including poor fuel economy, some wicked blind spots and a not-so-roomy cargo hold.
This year's Trail Teams Special Edition Package comes in monotone Radiant Red paint.
Driving Impressions Surprisingly, we found the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV to be as equally welcome on road as it was off. With the exception of the poor side visibility and rather...annoying 41.8-foot-wide turning circle, the FJ Cruiser is as enjoyable to drive as any Toyota crossover or pickup. Venturing off road gave us a chance to really fall in love with the FJ, and fall we did. The 32-inch tires, 9.6 inches of ground clearance, steep approach and departure angles and electronically controlled traction control permit the FJ to go over just about anything it can clear, although the wide body does pose some challenges the Jeep Wrangler never worries about. Then again, the FJ Cruiser corners better than the Jeep in daily driving, but not as well as the Nissan Xterra. However, on the highway we think the FJ has the best ride of the three.
A big, console-mounted subwoofer on/off button makes it easy to optimize the listening experience when switching from talk to rock, for instance.
By automatically applying the brakes to a spinning wheel, Toyota's active traction-control system forces torque to the opposing wheel and boosts the FJ Cruiser's off-road capability.
Knowing what the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV's intended target audience is going to do with their trucks, Toyota engineers designed an interior that is functional and rugged while at the same time comfortable and modern. The FJ's supportive seats are covered in water-resistant fabric, while underfoot the traditional carpet is replaced with rubber flooring. The purpose-built interior also features removable rear-seat bottoms and large rotary control knobs specifically designed to be operated when wearing gloves. Yet, for all its rough-and-tumble preparedness, the 2012 FJ Cruiser SUV is a very comfortable place to spend time, even if you have to squeeze through the small rear-hinged door to gain access. Behind the seats is a small but useful cargo area that includes tie-downs for securing equipment. One cool option is the dash-mounted inclinometer, or as one of our editors affectionately called it, a "tip-overometer."
It's easy to pick out the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV in a lineup; just look for the hulking big truck with the two smallish inset round headlights flanking a low-profile, rectangular grille. The design is a tribute to the original FJ, as are the white roof, wraparound rear glass and tubular-style roof rack. Noteworthy features on the 2012 Toyota FJ include big 32-inch tires, available floodlights mounted to the side mirrors and three wiper arms to quickly clear mud from the windshield. But the fun doesn't stop there. Toyota provides a boatload of factory and accessory equipment including paint-protection film, auxiliary driving lights and a number of TRD performance enhancements. Backing up the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser's menacing look is some serious hardware, including available Bilstein heavy-duty shocks, available 4-wheel drive (4WD) with 2-speed transfer case and locking rear differential, and skid-plate protection for the engine, fuel tank and transfer case.
The most basic 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV is equipped with 2-wheel drive (2WD), a 5-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, power windows and locks, a 6-speaker CD/MP3 audio system, auxiliary audio jack, a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity for phone and streaming audio, XM Satellite Radio, steering-wheel audio controls, electronic stability and traction controls, front-seat side-mounted airbags, roll-sensing side-curtain airbags, two front airbags and 17-inch black steel wheels. Four-wheel-drive FJs come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, 2-speed transfer case and a locking rear differential (standard on manually equipped cars and optional with the automatic).
The 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV upgrades include keyless entry, cruise control, rear sonar parking assist, rearview camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 10-speaker JBL audio system with powered subwoofer, and a 115V/400W power outlet. Options for off-roaders include the Off-Road Package, an automatic transmission (4WD models) with a rear differential lock, A-TRAC active traction control and an inclinometer. New for 2012 is the Trail Teams Special Edition Package that brings with it the Off-Road Package, Radiant Red exterior paint with matching roof and black bumpers, front grille and door handles, mirror-mounted illumination markers, red seat inserts, cyclone pre-air cleaner, trail-rated Bilstein shocks, rearview camera, JBL audio system, BFG All-Terrain tires on TRD alloy wheels and a set of 12V/100W and 115V/400W outlets.
A sophisticated aluminum V6 anchors three powertrain combinations that include a 5-speed automatic transmission coupled with either a 2-wheel-drive or a part-time 4-wheel-drive system, or a 6-speed manual transmission teamed with a full-time 4-wheel-drive system. The 4-wheel-drive models include a 2-speed transfer case. Off-road capability is enhanced with locking differentials and electronic traction controls. Rock-crawling specs include approach and departure angles of 34 and 30 degrees, respectively (32 and 29 degrees for 2-wheel-drive models). The FJ Cruiser has an independent front suspension and solid rear axle, and its maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.
260 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
271 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/20 (2WD, automatic), 15/18(4WD, manual) 17/20 (4WD, automatic)
By Rick on Sunday, March 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Specially niche."
Cons: "Better vehicles for the price"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Drive train is well proven and reliable. Visibility is poor at best. Rear wheel spare is in the way of sight. Fold down seats have on place for head rests when folded. Need to be stored separately. Towing is difficult due to short wheel base. Truck has been good overall."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By jimilivz on Sunday, March 15, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Off road skills as stock, styling, solid feel"
Cons: "Plastic, plastic, plastic, plastic, plastic, pl..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Basically happy with it after 8k miles. Wouldn't choose it for a family type car, but for my situation, it's close to perfect. Two main gripes: 1) Way too much plastic. The interior makes me cry it has so much. 2) The engine needs a lot more low end torque. It makes plenty of top end power, but a truck needs low end."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Fire Girl on Saturday, March 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Crash rollover ratings, stereo, handling, passing"
Cons: "blind spots, back seat access, rutty ice driving"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I live in Alaska, and have teen and preteen kids. I have the Trail Teams Edition, so it comes with more bells and whistles. I LOVE my Land Cruiser! I get A LOT of complements. So many pluses that the negatives are easy to learn, but with each vehicle, this is what you should expect. I get 17 mpg in town/4 wheel, and 20-21 mpg on the highway. Very low maintenance. With kids and pets, I love that the interior can be sprayed down. The stereo this model came with has a subwoofer and it ROCKS!! Passing with the automatic is pretty good for a V6. The only negatives: with owning 4WD vehicles my whole life, this is one vehicle I HAD to put studs on. The body sits wider than a normal vehicle, so on rutty ice/slushy conditions, this vehicle will fish tail without the studs. Just need to drive with more reactiveness because of it. I have also needed a new windshield almost yearly because of its almost straight up aspect, it doesn't deflect rocks well. There are major blind spots, but being a fire fighter and married to one, we love the crash and rollover ratings on this vehicle and understand that the beams are much beefier than other vehicles. You learn to use extra caution on changing lanes, turns, and merges. Since this has suicide doors on more of a lifted vehicle, this is a car you can put kids, teens, or smaller adults in the back. I have put 6'+ in back, and a friend who is 6'6" was surprised at how well he fit comfortably in the driver seat. Lots of head and leg room in FRONT. Other than that, this vehicle will go ANYwhere you want it to. Absolutely fun to drive. It's not a Cadillac CTS so don't expect it to drive like one. This is definitely a vehicle for someone who wants sporty over luxury. You want more luxury? Get the larger Land Cruiser."
By Jen on Wednesday, March 11, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I ordered this car brand new and have owned it for 8 years. I cannot say enough about how well built it is. In 8 years, I have had one repair, an alternator that went out. Total cost to replace, about $250.00. I simply stated up to date on regular maintenance and this has been a great car. I feel like it could easily go another 100K miles. Only minor issue on the interior with the stereo system. It goes a little wonky in extreme heat or cold but all the controls work off the steering wheel."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Sundance on Friday, February 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Everything. Except they stopped making it."
Cons: "They stopped making it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My 07 FJ is the best off road vehicle I’ve ever owned. It will go anywhere a Jeep, Hummer, 4x4 Truck (lifted) will go, and then some. I love the look and the ride. Comfortable and stable on the black top, and formidable off road capability. It fits my kids and all our gear for a week or more. And the style and personality can’t be beat. Besides the fact that it’s a Toyota and will run forever, which I intend to see happen."
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Themadtrojan on Wednesday, January 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solid car. 4X4 is great"
Cons: "Back seat space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've had this car for a year and a half. The FJ will go ANYWHERE and climb ANYTHING. I have a manual speed transmission which I absolutely love. Fun Rig to drive. No mechanical issues. No issues whatsoever. My only complaint is the rear seat. Not enough room. I have 2 daughters ages 11 and 14. They have no leg room for long drive and for 4X4 its uncomfortable on back seat passengers. Fully recommend the FJ."
10 people out of 14 found this review helpful