Overview

Overview

In the grand scheme of the automotive world, the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser is still just a baby. It started off in 1960 as the FJ40 before production halted in 1984 so Toyota could focus more on the Land Cruiser. Production restarted in 2006, spawning the 2013 version. Though its sales have waned in recent years, Toyota remains undeterred, claiming the lower sales are attributed to rising gas prices and stiffer competition in the SUV market.

Looking to boost those sales by targeting a specific market, the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser adds a new Trail Teams off-road-ready special edition package. This enhances its off-road ability but doesn't do much for the daily commute. Still, it does possess a unique style and boxy look that consumers who swim against the stream are bound to love.

Expert Reviews

"If you're looking for a daily driver that can double as an off-road weekend warrior, the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser is sure to please." (Kelley Blue Book) Like the flagship Land Cruiser, the FJ provides a rugged alternative to the standard small SUV. Its off-road capabilities are praised by expert reviewers across the board. What it possesses in off-road prowess only seems to enhance its on-road ability. Though there are those that seem to feel otherwise.

"FJ pays a price for its exaggerated styling and off-road-biased engineering. On-road performance and daily practicality don't match those of less-radical rivals. It is solidly built, extremely capable off-road, and looks like no other SUV." (Consumer Guide) As such, it will appeal to off-road enthusiasts but may deter some regular drivers looking for a standard family hauler.

Still, it does possess some major characteristics that any vehicle owner craves. "This dedicated off-roader is anything but straightforward and ultra-sensible. But what it lacks in sensibility, it makes up for with gobs of character; it's fun to drive and even more fun to look at. Plus, it maintains one of those well-known Toyota family traits: It's dependable." (Edmunds) If nothing else, that dependability may account for more than half its sales.

"The FJ's off-road prowess is superb, but otherwise this SUV is very flawed. Visibility is horrendous, and the rear-hinged rear doors provide poor cabin access and are difficult to close. The FJ has clumsy handling and can be disconcerting at its limits, although the stability control keeps it secure enough. The ride is compliant but jiggly. The V6 powertrain is smooth and punchy but returned just 17 mpg overall." (Consumer Reports)

Owner Reviews

Who really knows better how good a vehicle is other than the owners? And according to the owners of the 2013 FJ Cruiser, it's a blast to drive. "I've only had the car for two weeks, but I couldn't have asked for more. Whether I'm going off road or in town, there isn't anything that The Beast can't handle. I loaded up the back with some firewood this past weekend and was able to take out the rubber mat, rinse it off, and make it look brand new again." (Owner review taken from Kelley Blue Book)

One thing that remains valuable for owners, especially those in inclement climates, is the FJ's ability to keep you safe in rough driving conditions. "I will never be able to wear this vehicle out. I do not have to worry about my wife being out in bad weather in this vehicle." (Owner review from Illinois-based owner) That's a handy perk to have when the snow starts to fly in the northern climates.

Among the many positives listed by current owners, the dependability, durability, and sheer joy to drive are among the top. Not many list the unique body style but it is mentioned. Aesthetically, there doesn't seem to be too many displeased users, but the biggest negative is the lack of visibility in all areas. Most claim that it's worth dealing with for the pleasure of ownership.

Lineup

Like its big brother the Land Cruiser, the FJ Cruiser comes in only one trim level. There are a number of packages available but the standard options list alone is impressive. It includes equipment like full power accessories, water-resistant upholstery, Bluetooth,  heavy-duty vinyl flooring, satellite radio with iPod interface, eight-way adjustable driver's seat, a six-speaker sound system, and an electronically controlled locking rear differential (available on four-wheel drive models with the manual transmission only).

The Convenience package adds rear privacy glass, a spare tire cover, keyless entry, a rearview camera, and auto-dimming rearview mirror. There is also an Upgrade Package which includes 17-inch alloy wheels instead of the standard black-painted steel wheels, an upgraded traction control system on four-wheel drive models, rear parking sensors, and an 11-speaker JBL sound system with six-disc CD changer, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and extra gauges.

The two major packages that will appeal to trailblazing enthusiasts are the Off-Road Package, which includes an electronically locking rear differential, extra gauges, and the upgraded traction control system, and the Trail Teams Special Edition, which includes a special exterior trim with Toyota Gray exterior paint, 16-inch alloy wheels, a larger roof rack, upgraded suspension, and most of the content from the Convenience and Upgrade packages.

Interior

It makes sense that the FJ Cruiser is better suited to off-road adventures; when stepping inside it feels more like a high-tech Jeep Wrangler than a sporty Toyota SUV. The dashboard is wide with hardly any slope whatsoever. It consists of mostly hard plastics with a triple-eye cockpit display. The center eye is larger than the other two and houses the speedometer. The other two eyes house four gauges for rpm, voltage, oil pressure, and fuel.

The radio display is large and easily accessible. The center dash panel which houses the radio and temp control knobs is color-coded to match the exterior, but this is one of those things many will either love or hate. The JBL sound system's main woofer is housed in the rear along the right side, just under the rear window, and sits in a very nice speaker casing. The rear seats are coated in a heavy vinyl so that, when folded down, they become a nice waterproof surface for storage. All in all, the interior is built to handle some serious abuse.

Not all news is good on the interior however. The rear seats are rather cramped and difficult to get into. Visibility is at a minimum all the way around but especially in the rear. Wide rear roof pillars and the rear-gate-mounted spare tire attribute to the rear blind spots. Forward visibility is limited by the square hood and high dashboard. Cargo space is a maximum of 67 cubic feet with the rear seats down. This is comparable to the Toyota RAV-4 and the Honda CR-V.

Performance

The 2013 FJ Cruiser is powered by the 4.0L V6 engine pumping out 260 horses and 271 ft.-lbs. of torque. Buyers will have a choice between the five-speed automatic transmission and the six-speed manual with electronic locking differential. The choice of transmissions comes coupled with two different four-wheel-drive versions as well. The automatic comes with a part-time system that engages when under a heavy load. The manual tranny comes with a full-time system and the locking rear differential.

Fuel economy is estimated at 16/20 mpg (city/highway), not great but standard for this class of SUV. On the road is not where the FJ feels the most comfortable but it is indeed capable. The engine offers plenty of pep and the suspension is better than many competitors, including the arguable king of off-road capability, the Jeep Wrangler.

Ample ground clearance makes it hard to get the FJ stuck anywhere. The low gearing range and locking differential only help to enhance that capability. Maneuverability is excellent in close quarters, especially for an SUV. Stopping power is adequate but not exceptional, and the electronic traction control allows the FJ to climb over just about any obstacle.

Safety & Reliability

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser as Good in all crash tests, the best available score from the IIHS. The roof strength test received a score of acceptable, which is fairly standard for the SUV class. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not tested the FJ in crash tests as of this writing, but it did receive three out of five stars in the rollover test. This also is standard for many SUVs and shows no negativity toward the capabilities of the FJ.

As for reliability, you won't find many better than what's coming off the Toyota assembly line right now. J.D. Power and Associates gives it a four out of five rating in reliability, based on past models and the current hardware that comes equipped on the FJ Cruiser. There are currently no recalls.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
SUV - 4WD
4WD 4dr Man (Natl) V6 4WD 28210
4WD 4dr Auto (Natl) V6 4WD 28620
SUV - RWD
RWD 4dr Auto (Natl) V6 RWD 27030

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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