Vital Stats

Engine:
4.0L V6
Power:
260 HP / 271 LB-FT
Transmission:
5-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain:
Four-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,343 LBS
Seating:
2+3
MPG:
16 City / 20 HWY
Base Price:
$28,540
As Tested Price:
$39,439
Introduced at the end of 2006, this is the last year for the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the reincarnated FJ40-series Land Cruiser that will shortly journey to Takama-ga-hara, the Plain of High Heaven. In its first model year, we drove it to SEMA and found it, shall we say, coarse. It bobbled on the freeway and droned in the cabin, its boxy interior providing four bounce-boards for unpleasant frequencies. Tall mirrors helped one work around the eclipse of vision aft of the B-pillars, but navigating traffic required forethought and technique. Its turning circle was measured in kilometers. For the first two years of its life, it needed premium gas. It may have been fun to look at, but we couldn't wait to get out of it.

That's not the case anymore, and now the FJ Cruiser is poised to join a long list of vehicles that got better and better, then got axed.

Driving Notes
  • The current FJ is rugged, and surprisingly it's not really all that coarse dynamically. We drove into the California desert, spent nearly a week playing around off-road, drove it back and then did a lazy Sunday drive to Santa Barbara, all in amiable comfort. That could have to do with our Ultimate Edition being fitted lots of Toyota Racing Development parts, like the TRD coils wrapped about Bilstein shocks affixed to handsome 16-inch TRD wheels on 265/75 R16 BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A tires. The bellow from the TRD-engraved tailpipe is totally copacetic at steady throttle, but gets a touch frenzied if you bury the accelerator.
  • Moving is not a problem, though. The 4.0-liter V6 puts out 260 horsepower and 271 pound-feet, not a raging amount of go for a 4,343-pound truck, but plenty to do whatever you need to do as long as you remember you're in an SUV. (When the FJ first came along, it had 239 hp / 278 lb-ft).
  • Beyond its quadratic styling – that we still think looks good – the FJ remains full of quirks, like the three miniature windshield wipers, the sun visors for the side windows, the backup camera screen in the rearview mirror, the fact it's available in two-wheel drive and, on the 4x4 versions, with a six-speed manual transmission.
  • It still feels like Toyota knew this was only going to be a fling and not a love story, so it didn't lavish its heart nor its wallet on the relationship. The FJ Cruiser only ever received incremental improvements, the interior is barely different now than it was in 2007. You can't get factory navigation or automatic climate control, the audio system's dot matrix and glowing orange display take us back to 90s-era Sony Walkmans, and the giant HVAC dials are useful for those who wear wearing welder's gloves while they drive.
  • The interior is likely a big part of the reason sales have declined from more than 56,000 in its first year to just over 13,000 for the last two years. It can't be the off-road ability – the FJ digs dirt like hippos love mud. In addition to the trail-specific suspension, there's a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential, hill descent control, a quarter-inch aluminum skid plate and rock rails outside, the triptych of compass, clock and inclinometer completing the feature set inside. It will do its fair share of rock crawling, and it will happily dine on rocky stretches of desert and covers pure desert ground with the calm of an ostrich.
  • We'd take the manual, preferring to have full control in the tricky bits, but the five-speed automatic puts on a good performance.
  • Many complain about interior room, but we didn't find it problematic. Once you get past the shoebox ambience, it's easy to get in through the giant front doors, and although your grandfather might make a mess of getting into the back seats, we couldn't see how it would be a problem for anyone purchasing the FJ Cruiser for its intended purpose – off-roading. Open the rear-hinged back doors, slide the front seats up, haul in. A deep cutout in the back of the front seat left swinging-knee room for us, and that was with the front seat as far back as it would go. Bonus points for the genuinely adjustable armrest on the driver's seat, a feature we're not used to seeing outside of a Land Rover.
  • There are only 2,500 Ultimate Edition FJ Cruisers on offer this year, all in Heritage Blue and sporting the white headlight surround mimicking the FJ40 face that launched a squillion off-road adventures.
With the Hummer H3 gone and the FJ Cruiser in hospice, the Jeep Wrangler will once again be left alone in the US market as the ideal post-nuclear, go-anywhere truck for the misanthropic survivalist. One of the most popular games in the off-road party is to take sides as vehemently as Union and Confederate when it comes to one's choice in rig, but no matter which side you're on the party is a lot more fun when there's more choice. For that reason and more, and turning 180 degrees from our first experience in 2006, we say it's a shame the FJ has to go.


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  • 35 Comments
      biorchang
      • 5 Months Ago
      Dealer told me last week that July is the last month to order the Ultimate Edition...so get it while it's HOT!
      gork
      • 5 Months Ago
      I can relate to everything said about driving one. It's like a tank on the freeway and every lane change must be navigated and thought out in advance, prior to maneuvers. I drove one without the rear view camera, and it was the first time I ever felt that a vehicle absolutely needed one. Still, the exterior was appealing.
      Sean Victorine
      • 5 Months Ago
      I've never understood what Jeep owners have against these cars. Anyway, I own one and yes, rear visibility sucks but it's nothing I can't live with. It's a niche car, with a lot more character then 90% of other cars on the road. I really like 4Runners a lot as well but personally, I think FJ looks better. Sad to see it go.
        Tom
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Sean Victorine
        From every Jeep circle I've ever been in, their main complaint is the FJs have weak frames. Too much off-roading/flexing and the windshields actually crack and the doors don't latch right. They're great for on-road or mild off-roading, but they can't match a Wrangler Sahara, nevermind a Rubi.
          Marcus
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Tom
          What does the Frame have to do with the windshield? It's a body riding on frame vehicle. The frame has no real effect to he body and the frame itself is way stiffer than the Wrangler frame. This is a 120 series frame used in 3rd world countries for far more harsher driving on a daily basis than the average jeep owner would ever put their jeeps through. If a "Jeep Circle" stated this, it means they're hating on another brand fabricating anything to make their product superior. You search the internet for said "Windshield" cracking from frame flexing and you'll see its nothing more than something you either heard or fabricated. It's rugged as any jeep and its capable of going anywhere a Jeep can and it'll do it a lot longer than a Jeep.
        billfrombuckhead
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Sean Victorine
        FJ="fake Jeep", that's what actual off road fans have against this homely flimsy fraud from JapanInc.
          Sean Victorine
          • 5 Months Ago
          @billfrombuckhead
          billfrombuckhead: That makes no sense…but nice try trolling.
      Mark Andrews
      • 5 Months Ago
      FJ cruiser continue to sell in large numbers across the Middle East, the model is expected to continue to 2016. In the desert sands, the fj constantly out performs the jeep wrangles, unless the 6.2 liter Hemi is retro fitted. The FJ holds its value like no other 4WD especially in USA? I have two Fj's my 2007 has been bashed in the desert for 6 years before i had ANY problems. Every desert trip the jeep guys have broken suspension, Engine fault lights, over heating, no Ac and bent chassis. In the Dessert , the FJ operates like a trojan, its un stoppable on the big climbs, uses less gas and the ac will work way past the 121 deg we often drive in. Look the 2012 Jk is a good car, but the on going issues with the Pentastar motor burning oil and the crappy auto box, means its a high risk purchase, plus as soon as you buy it you need to replace the bumpers and upgrade the lights, replace the rims and tyres... The FJ is a very popular choice for chic women in the middle east, its very common to see the FJ in the mall of Dubai with foxy chicks driving them. The addition of the factory fitted 2nd tank enables driving ranges 850 miles! Ant way, i beleive they are a god solid safe car to drive and i am happy my wife drive an fj and not a JK, as any crash and the JK folds, like a coke can bolted to to a pram. Type chassis frame .
      Lucky Stars
      • 5 Months Ago
      these could become classics in the future
      hboi18
      • 5 Months Ago
      They still make this?
      Avinash Machado
      • 5 Months Ago
      It hardly sold anyway.
      billfrombuckhead
      • 5 Months Ago
      The CONfederates lost the war and so has the FJ(fake Jeep) Loser. Wrangler is selling better than ever and this dog is going on the junk heap of history.
        jtav2002
        • 5 Months Ago
        @billfrombuckhead
        The FJ was more of a niche vehicle and didn't appeal to women the way the Wrangler does. I'd be interested to see how many sales of Wranglers go to women, especially those that will never put the tires in the dirt.
          madlion8
          • 5 Months Ago
          @jtav2002
          While a lot of women do buy jeeps, I've never seen a man driving an fj cruiser ever.
          billfrombuckhead
          • 5 Months Ago
          @jtav2002
          I've seen some Napolean complex kind of guys driving FJ Losers. Maybe now TRDyota will get serious and team up with Subaru and make some really extraordinary piece of crap replacement for the FJ Loser only with that ridiculous boxer lump, paint it that horrible "cement" color or or some sick turd brown color.........use some really thin metal.....use some really cheap plastic--........ROFL Mopar Uber Alles
        luigi.tony
        • 5 Months Ago
        @billfrombuckhead
        Forza Italia!
      Nomad
      • 5 Months Ago
      Americans hate this thing because its not a jeep. There is a very limited market for true off road vehicles in the US and it happens to be the anti import conservative crowd that buys them, so the fj never found a market. The more open minded Americans who buy foreign cars have become sissies and don't want such a vehicle.
        Humberto Yi
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Nomad
        Americans hate this because it's terriable. You can't see out of it, you can't get 4 doors, it has way less off-road ability than a wrangler, the interior is garbage (even compared to a wrangler, how dad is that!), and because Toyota abandoned it early. Did you miss the part about sales? It sold great after it was introduced, but you can't just leave it the exact same for years on end without fixing some glaring issues (b and c pillar being wider then most houses comes to mind...) and expect people to keep buying them. Why is that every time a foreign vehicle fails people think because it's foreign? You know how many off roaders would LOVE to have the defender back?? Last time I checked honda and Toyota sell just fine in the United States, just not the crap they try to sell, and that goes for domestic auto makers as well, did you forget about the ford 500?
          cololx6
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Humberto Yi
          To wit, I lusted after an FJ Cruiser… and then I sat in one. My neighbor made the mistake of actually signing the paperwork on one. After a year of griping about it, he managed to sell it to some poor sucker who paid nearly what he had.
      JaredN
      • 5 Months Ago
      While I like some of the throwback styling of the FJ, the 4Runner is basically the same vehicle and it does just about everything better. The 4Runner has better overhead visibility to the front, so it is easier to see overhead traffic lights. The 4Runner has smaller blindspots, so changing lanes is easier. The 4Runner has much better view out the rear, due to the larger rear window and the fact that it doesn't have the spare tire mounted on the rear door. I also greatly prefer the 4Runner's standard rear hatch door (with opening window) versus the FJ's barn door. Finally, the FJ's rear side doors are a royal pain when you are parked next to another vehicle. The only think the FJ does better is go offroad -- the shorter wheelbase and less rear overhang give it better angles.
      PM
      • 5 Months Ago
      Why are you mixing pictures, and using one as the lead in picture, of a previous year Trail Teams in Cement paint, when the story is specifically about the final year Ultimate Edition, which will all be in Blue?
      d.hollywood
      • 5 Months Ago
      It will become a "cult vehicle".
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