When we are looking for a sport utility vehicle that can negotiate the urban jungle as well as the real jungle, the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser TRD (Toyota Racing Development) is an outstanding option. This descendant of rugged Toyota off roaders is no longer a one trick pony and has added urban practicality to its impressive off road reputation. Toyota has made the FJ Cruiser TRD a utilitarian option that can do both jobs supremely well whether it is navigating the parking lot at the supermarket or crawling over a sand dune in the Sahara.
Of the different versions and options offered for the vehicle, we picked the the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser with the TRD package because it offers quite the bang for your buck ($33,461). For that price, we got a genuinely brilliant off roader that can seat five adults, but more importantly, receives a sportier feel with TRD 16-in. 6-spoke alloy wheels and hefty BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires. Then there’s the TRD-developed, high-speed–tuned Bilstein shocks for extra support.
The FJ is a relative newcomer to the market (introduced in 2006) . Now, the FJ is aiming to tackle the suburbs as well the trail. Let’s see if the FJ can truly be the best of both worlds.
Hit the jump to see if Toyota was successful.
The FJ Cruiser was designed as a modern interpretation of the FJ40,the classic Toyota off roader from the 1960’s. You can definitely see the resemblance with the square, stout shape and the short wheelbase (105.9 in). The addition of the TRD package helps solidify this resemblance due to the knobby all terrain tires. The FJ Cruiser TRD is almost like a nice set of hiking boots, it feels most at home covered in mud and many miles from home. It can handle any terrain and will bring you home in one piece. Then after your exhausted body comes home, you needn’t worry because all your trusty pair of boots needs is nothing more than a quick hose off. The exterior is so classically simple and such a welcome change from the angular trend in automotive design.
As soon as you open the door of the Toyota it feels like you just stepped into an REI store. As you plop down in seats that are covered in what could moonlight as a windbreaker, you are assaulted with outdoor paraphernalia such as the compass and the inclineometer on the dash. Initially we were shocked by the lack of the usual creature comforts. As we sat and drove it around town, we realized that it’s like camping in the sticks; there is an elegance that arises from its simplicity. What we also loved is the fact that the buttons are large and easy to understand and within easy reach. Don’t let the FJ fool you into thinking its a hardcore off roader that has no purpose being on paved road. The particular model we tested came standard with a 90 day trial subscription to XM satellite radio in addition to Ipod connectivity.
Our favorite feature was the fold flat seats in the back. With the seats folded, the back is a cave of convenience with 66.8 cu. ft of cargo room. Another subtle hint that this car is both designed for the ‘burbs and the dirt roads are the rubber floor and cargo area mats which are easy to clean. One small problem is the rear seat can be a little cramped with only 31.3 inches of legroom.
The FJ Cruiser is powered by a workhorse 4.0 liter V6 that has variable valve timing as well as dual overhead cams. This stout motor produces 260 horsepower and 276 lbs/ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. The model we tested came with a limited slip differential as well as a 5-speed automatic gearbox. This combination helped propel the FJ to 60 mph in an astounding 7.2 seconds. This was a pleasant surprise for an SUV with the aerodynamic properties of a shed. Even though its powered by a moderately sized engine and isn’t exactly as light as a ballet shoe (the 4x4 version tips the scales at 4300 lbs), it still returns 17 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway. In addition to this, our tester had the optional stainless steel exhaust tip which gave the engine a restrained but omnipresent sound.
One complaint we had is we noticed that in some corners, the FJ had a tendency to roll. However, the offroad manners of the FJ Cruiser are superb. Its standard skid plates protect all the important innards. In addition, the FJ Cruiser TRD comes with knobby BF Goodrich tires and off road tuned Bilstein shocks that help soften the uneven road. Its ground clearance of 9.6 inches and fording depth of 2.3 feet guarantees that any obstacle can be overcome.
The Toyota FJ Cruiser comes in three different version with a variety of options and a few packages for customization. Check out the table to see the base price for these models.
| Model || Engine || Transmission || Fuel Economy || Price |
| FJ Cruiser 4X2 AT || V6 || 5-speed Automatic || 17/22 || $25,790 |
| FJ Cruiser 4X4 MT || V6 || 6-speed Manual || 15/20 || $26,970 |
| FJ Cruiser 4X4 AT || V6 || 5-speed Automatic || 17/21 || 27,380 |
All in all we loved the Toyota. It was perfect for every occasion, from comfortably hauling dogs to carving up your favorite dirt trail. Its healthy power plant delivers fuel economy and get up and go. It also provides you a simple but elegant interior that gives you everything you want. This vehicle does all that and comes up south of 40K. What’s not to like?
Looks like a tank, but can still get up and go
Has a tendency to roll
Lacks creature comforts