A low Total Car Score for the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser reflects a lack of ability to be a lot of things to a lot of people. Instead, it succeeds at being a few specific things to a few specific people. Reviewers aim the FJ at those who want both off-road ability and interesting styling in the same package.
The "F" in FJ Cruiser does not stand for "frivolous" (FJ actually comes from the old Land Cruiser code name), but this vehicle hardly follows the usual conservative corporate design. Beneath those retro looks is a short wheelbase, 9.6 inches of ground clearance, plenty of wheel travel and a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. With the appropriate hardware, the FJ Cruiser can tackle pretty much the same terrain as any other production off-roader.
Yet its on-road behavior is quite civilized, with a precise feel to the steering and a smooth ride. The overall shape does create wind noise, however, and the smallish windows hamper visibility.
The easy-clean interior gets a thumbs-up from reviewers, but access to the rear seats is a pain (especially on the school run) because the small rear-hinged back doors require the fronts to be opened at the same time. Maximum cargo space is a pretty good 66.8 cubic feet.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has made the FJ Cruiser a Top Safety Pick.
Following its 2007 debut, there are no major changes for the 2012 model year and nothing official regarding the FJ's future.
The five-seat 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser comes essentially as just one model, offering rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and manual or automatic transmissions.
A 4.0-liter V6 engine provides 260 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. In rear-drive form, the transmission is a five-speed auto with a limited-slip differential. The 4WD FJ Cruisers can be equipped two ways: with a five-speed automatic and a part-time 4WD system, or a six-speed manual and fulltime 4WD that uses a Torsen center differential.
Basic equipment starts with air conditioning, power windows and locks, Bluetooth, satellite radio, an iPod interface, and 17-inch steel wheels. Options include a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, driving lights, specific off-road suspension, rock rails, a towing package and an upgraded sound system.
Standard safety equipment includes traction and stability controls, ABS with brake force distribution and brake assist, front seat-mounted airbags, side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and Toyota's Smart Stop brake override function (should the brake and throttle pedals be pressed simultaneously).
EPA ratings for the 2012 FJ Cruiser with rear-wheel drive are 17 mpg city, 20 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. The auto/four-wheel-drive setup returns 17/20/18 mpg, while the manual/4WD version achieves 15/18/16 mpg.
With the proper equipment, the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
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