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Toyota FJ Cruiser Review


Say hello to the burliest Toyota you’ve ever seen or driven. Pull on the giant door handle and you feel the heft of the door, the size of the frame, and you realize that the $25,279, 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a tank. And it’s a tank with 9.6 inches of ground clearance that rolls on 16-wheels, giant BF Goodrich off-road tires and a tank that can roll up and over boulders thanks to 4WD, a rear locking differential and 274-lb feet of torque delivered by its 260-horsepower, 4.0-liter V6 engine. Even the interior looks like it was designed with the world’s toughest environments in mind: the large heat and A/C controls let drivers wearing ski gloves operate them, the handles on the doors and ceiling that passengers can grab to stabilize themselves look like they contain steel reinforcement. Everything about the FJ seems built to reassure the driver and the passengers that whatever nastiness outside will stay outside.

That sense of security comes at a price, however. If you’re buying a 4WD to get back to nature and head off into the unknown with the top down and the breeze blowing through your hair, the FJ’s not for you. But, if you’re looking to drive down through Central and South America on your way to Patagonia—or just want something to plow through snow drifts on your way to a ski resort—this Toyota will likely do it spectacularly well. One downfall: the FJ requires premium fuel, and that may be why a noticeable number of FJ’s in remote areas seem to have a jerry can bolted onto the outside of the SUV. Finding high-octane gasoline is never a sure thing in the remote corners of the globe.

AN SUV BUILT TO TRAVEL THE WORLD

The Toyoya is built to wade through water crossings that are 2 feet deep. Open up the hood, and the 6-cylinder engine inside comes with something you don’t see much of these days, space around it to maintain it or fix it if something goes wrong in the middle of nowhere. But, it’s not likely that it would, since this engine comes from Toyota’s legendary Tacoma pick-up truck and 4Runner SUV and has been powering millions of those trucks with few problems.

When it comes to hauling people and gear, the FJ can seat four people relatively well, even six-foot tall people can get comfortable in the back seat after they climb through the clamshell doors. The cargo area is quite large for a jeep-like vehicle and can be piled to the ceiling—and it should since you really can’t see much out of the high rear window anyway due to the spare tire mounted on the rear door. For this reason, the FJ’s rear camera (mounted in the spare tire cover and viewed via a screen that appears in the rearview mirrow whenever the truck is put in reverse) is a necessary option (Part of the $2,275 Convenience package). If you need more cargo space throw your stuff up on the roof; the burly roof rack and the roof itself can handle the weight. It could probably also double as a deck—toss some beach chairs up top, climb up, and enjoy the view.

NOT COMMUTER FRIENDLY

As an everyday commuter, the FJ is fine as long as you’re moving forward and not pushing it over 70 mph. But its high stance and horrible blind spots and rear view access make parking and driving in traffic less than ideal. The most stressful part about driving this Toyota in the city is backing out of a tight parking spot; you’re never totally sure what’s behind you. But in the FJ’s defense, the city is not what this personal tank was built for. It was built to take you to the ends of the earth. And back.

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