Based on what I've read on owner's web sites for the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the primary consumer base for this SUV is -- as I suspected -- very much a male-focused crowd of mud-seekers and aftermarket enthusiasts. To be certain, I'm not that. I need wheels that get me through storms, navigate city parking spaces, and take off with punch on the highway.
Toyota's 2012 FJ Cruiser remains an interesting design break from the traditional sport utility. The rugged retro-styled four-door, five-passenger has a very distinct personality.
The FJ Cruiser is engineered for serious off-road roaming with its wide stance. Its steel body is welded to a steel ladder-braced frame. Toyota's double-wishbone independent front suspension and four-link coil-spring with tubular shock absorbers are optimized for exceptional road feel and ride comfort.
The 2012 FJ Cruiser comes standard with 32-inch tires and has a ground clearance of 9.6 inches (8.7 inches for 4x2 models) and the towing capacity is rated at 5,000 pounds. The 2012 FJ Cruiser starts at $26,115 for the 4x2 model and at $27,295 for the 4x4 version.
Toyota reports the FJ Cruiser is powered by a 4.0-liter V-6 engine that drinks regular-grade gasoline. The responsive V-6 produces 260 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque. The 4x4 offers a choice between a six-speed manual transmission and five-speed automatic transmission; the 4x2 model is equipped only with the five-speed automatic. Fuel economy is rated at 17 miles per gallon city, 21 mpg highway on the 4x4 with the five-speed automatic; and 17/22 mpg with the manual transmission.
The 2012 FJ Cruiser trumps through bad weather and serious potholes and kicks into high action with a gutsy engine sound on the open roads. As for city driving, I was more mindful when making tight U-turns on narrow streets and parallel parking. Toyota's curb-to-curb turning circle is 40.7 feet.
You sit up high in the FJ Cruiser. To step in you'll want to grab on a handgrip to get a foot up. The rugged-looking SUV is ready for all weather events with three wipers on the windshield, aided by big side mirrors.
The FJ Cruiser's design-driven cabin is a welcome departure from the predictable interiors we are way too used to seeing. For instance, the dash is trimmed in metallic silver, the center console is color-keyed to the exterior of the car, rubberized surfaces are soft to the touch, the large control knobs are made to grip with gloves as is the chunky wheel, and a covered container is carved into the dash (for keys and such).
The seating materials are water-repellant and the floors are covered in a rubber-like material for easy cleaning. Both the eight-way driver's seat and four-way passenger seats are plenty comfortable, but we found the back bench is a bit upright and stiff. All of the major dials and switches for climate and audio controls are mounted in the center dash panel for easy access.
The FJ Cruiser's side access doors open 90 degrees in clamshell fashion. It's easy for kids to slide into the back seat, however, closing those doors is another thing. They need to fold in first, before the front doors.
The rear seatback is split 60/40 with folding (removable) bottom and back cushions that convert to a nearly flat cargo floor. The rear cargo area is equipped with cargo-net hooks, grocery-bag hooks, and sturdy floor-mounted cargo tie-downs.
The FJ Cruiser has cargo space to spare. The side-hinged rear door has a swing-up glass hatch that opens independently of the rear door. I find this is handy for single-handed loading of groceries with your other hand free to grasp a child.
2012 TOYOTA FJ CRUISER
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger 4x4 SUV
BASE PRICE___________________ $27,295 (as tested: $27,705)
ENGINE TYPE_________________ 24-valve DOHC V-6 w/EFI
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________260 at 5600 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 271 at 4400 rpm
TRANSMISSION________________ 5-speed automatic
OVERALL LENGTH_______________183.9 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)__ 40.7 ft.
CURB WEIGHT__________________4,295 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY_________________19.0 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 17 mpg city, 21 mpg highway