The FJ Cruiser is Toyota’s all-new retro-styled off-roader. I’ve had the opportunity in the past to take the FJ off-road, and found it to be extremely capable. However, this was my first chance to see how it takes on day to day driving.
The bold styling of the new FJ Cruiser is a big attention getter. Available in a number of bright colors, my tester was painted Voodoo Blue. It seems that everything about this vehicle is big: it’s got big tires, large grille, oversized mirrors trimmed with running lights (carry over from the original concept) – even the door handles are super sized. And one-upping all of the competition, the FJ Cruiser has three front windshield wipers, where all others just have two.
This big theme carries over to the interior, where knobs were designed to be operable while wearing gloves. Unfortunately, the back seat is not as large as everything else. Rear seat passengers are a bit cramped, and given the small rear windows, it’s also somewhat claustrophobic back there. Access to the rear seat is easy with rear-hinged access doors unless you’re parked in a narrow parking spot, in which case it’s almost impossible to access the rear seat. Cargo space is plentiful, and rear seats can be folded flat to extend the space.
The FJ Cruiser has plenty of power from its 239-hp V6, and it rides rather smooth on the pavement. Handling is not bad for a big SUV, however it is not terribly maneuverable in parking lots. The FJ needs almost 42 feet to turn around compared to a Hummer H3 that can make the same maneuver in five fewer feet. Visibility is also an issue – there is not much window between the back door and the rear of the vehicle. A very large blind spot.
Overall, Toyota has built the FJ Cruiser with the purpose of handling severe off-roading. And while a higher percentage of FJs will leave the pavement (intentionally) than most other SUVs, it’s still likely that most will never leave the road.