By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/4/2011
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.
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)
The 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $26,700 for the 2-wheel-drive model and jumps to just over $28,000 with 4-wheel drive and a manual transmission, and a fully loaded FJ tops out around $36,000. Our Fair Purchase Price values reflect real-world selling prices, so be sure to check them on kbb.com before you set out to shop. The Toyota FJ Cruiser's competitors include the Nissan Xterra with prices ranging from around $25,000 to about $35,000, the Jeep Wrangler ranging from $24,000 to more than $35,000, and, to a lesser extent, the Nissan Pathfinder, which ranges from just under $30,000 to well beyond $47,000. In terms of resale value, we expect the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV to perform better than the Xterra and Pathfinder, and remain on par with the Wrangler.