All photos by Toyota
There is simply no mistaking the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4X4 on the road, and for those that own these modern day Tonka Trucks, I’m sure that puts a smile on your face. Toyota took a chance with the FJ Cruiser with the dynamic styling, and when you consider how conservative Toyota has been in the past, it’s a good step forward.
Our test model was decked out with 17-inch steel alloy wheels, two-toned paint in Army Green and white roof top, black bumpers with metallic silver trim, black over-fenders with integrated mudguards, silver trim door handles and mirrors, skid plates, power outside mirrors with illuminated markers, rear privacy glass, running boards, daytime running lights, engine transfer case and tow hooks with two front and one rear. Toyota embraced the styling from the iconic FJ40 4x4 utility vehicle which is well known for safaris and serious off-road capabilities. The look of the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4X4 celebrates the spirit of the FJ40 with features including a front grille with two round, five-inch headlights reminiscent of the FJ40’s frontal styling; the hood and fender contours; and a rear-mounted and exposed full-size spare tire with an off-center license plate mount. The overall look of the FJ Cruiser is top of the line in the cool department!
As tough looking as the FJ Cruiser might be, the interior design rivals much pricier competitors in the comfort and convenience departments. Look for “the standard full gauge package” – including speedometer, tachometer, amp meter, temperature gauge and fuel gauge – which uses round, black-white dials for enhanced visibility. Switches for major functions, including climate and audio controls, and the optional locking rear differential, are mounted in the center dash panel within easy reach of the driver. And you will be feeling like you are on an exciting drive while running mundane errands. That’s how interesting the interior and dashboard is in the FJ Cruiser! Features on our loaner included A/C with second row vent, AM/FM CD with 8 speakers, XM radio, USB Port with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth, tilt steering wheel with audio controls, digital clock, power windows and door locks, 8-way adjustable water resistant seats, rubber type floor and rear deck and rear cargo tie down hooks. Plenty of space for five adults and storage that goes on for days.
As good as the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4X4 SUV looks on the exterior and interior, there is no doubt that the performance and off-road toughness of this beast is a big selling point for consumers. Our FJ boasted a 4.0 liter DOHC 24 valve V8 with Dual Independent VVT-I, 260 hp with 271 lb ft torque, 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, part-time 4WD with 2-speed transfer case, cyclone air pre-cleaner assembly, rack and pinion power steering and full-size mounted spare. What does this all mean to the driver? Toyota says it best here:
“The FJCruiser's two-speed transfer case provides a 2.566 low range. With the manual transmission, the transfer case uses a TORSEN limited-slip center differential with a locking feature and distributes the engine's power 40:60 under most driving conditions. The TORSEN unit varies power distribution as needed, based on steering angle and wheel slippage. In the Lock position, the differential switches to a 50:50 power distribution.
The 4x4 FJ Cruiser with the automatic transmission employs a part-time four-wheel drive system with a 3.727:1 rear differential ratio and provides a 33.76:1 crawl ratio. With the manual transmission, the front and rear differential ratio is a lower 3.909:1 for a crawl ratio of 41.84:1, an attribute that helped the FJ Cruiser traverse California's famed Rubicon Trail.
An electronic locking rear differential is standard with the manual transmission and optional with the automatic transmission. The ring gears in the 4x4 FJ Cruiser's front and rear differentials measure eight inches. The 4x2 model comes standard with a virtual automatic limited-slip differential, provided and operated by an advanced traction-control system to enhance traction of both rear wheels in slippery driving conditions.
Toyota engineered the FJ Cruiser for serious trail driving capability. It’s tough, wide stance is based on a boxed steel ladder-braced frame to which the welded steel body is mounted. Skid plates for the engine, transfer case (4x4 models only) and fuel tank are standard. Double-wishbone independent front suspension offers 7.87 inches of wheel travel for outstanding suspension articulation. Its geometry is optimized for excellent road feel and ride comfort.
The solid rear axle uses a four-link coil-spring suspension system with a lateral rod, tubular shock absorbers and a stabilizer bar. This system provides 9.1 inches of wheel travel. The four-wheel disc brake system uses ventilated 12.6-inch front and 12.3-inch rear rotors. The FJ Cruiser employs a variable-ratio, hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. Standard wheels are 17-inch steel with P265/70 R17 tires; aluminum-alloy wheels are available. With the FJ Cruiser's standard 32-inch tires, ground clearance is 9.6 inches (8.7 inches for 4x2 models). Approach and departure angles are 34 degrees/31 degrees for the 4x4 model and 32/30 for the 4x2. Maximum towing capacity with the optional Class Four receiver hitch is 5,000 pounds.”
We truly enjoyed out time behind the wheel of the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4X4 SUV – from the reverse camera in the rearview mirror to its stealth good looks – and look forward to some off-road experiences in the future. The price is manageable with our 4X4 coming in at $32,147, which some thought was a bargain. For an SUV that looks rugged, the little things are what really stand out, like the chrome stereo system and three wiper blades that easily clean off the windshield. Fuel economy is respectable coming in at 17mpg in the city and 21 mpg highway driving. If you’re in the market for a true SUV, go test drive the FJ Cruiser, if only for the delightful ride this vehicle offers. But be careful, because you might drive this baby home for good after some fun times behind the wheel.
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