Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser.
It started out as a bit of a novelty but the Toyota FJ Cruiser is proving a popular choice among buyers.
Aside from the Jeep Wrangler, no other 4×4 offers as much fun and personality as the FJ and with distinctive and head turning looks you can see why people are drawn to it.
With a “one size fits all” model range and no drivetrain options beyond the 4.0L V6 and five-speed automatic transmission combo, the hardest decision is which colour(s) to choose.
That V6 is a capable unit providing a healthy 200kW and 380Nm, though it is certainly a bit thirsty returning 11.4L/100 combined and a touch under 15L/100 in the city.
If you are considering the FJ Cruiser for some off-road adventuring then you will enjoy very good ramp-over clearances thanks to the relatively short wheelbase, while approach and departure angles are also very good.
Toyota has also recently boosted the FJ Cruisers off-road credentials with the inclusion of a n extra 87 litre long-range fuel tank and the CRAWL speed control system which helps the FJ negotiate severe or slippery terrain.
On the road the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a touch disappointing though. The high centre of gravity, short wheelbase and rather soft and floaty suspension combine to provide an unsettling mixture of body roll and violent nose pitching under braking.
Inside the cabin Toyota has done a remarkable job of making what feels like an enormous vehicle on the outside feel like a compact hatchback on the inside.
The oversized and ridiculously square and imposing dashboard intrudes into the passenger cabin zapping, in particular, knee room for those in the front.
Leg room is poor front and back in the Toyota FJ Cruiser and with a low roof line it’s not hard to feel a bit claustrophobic.
Cabin storage areas are also ridiculously undersized, the sun visors are almost unusable because they block pretty much exactly half the windscreen, the gauges are unnecessarily busy, the rear door opens from right to left, and to top it off there’s no trip computer.
Speaking of blocking – the wing mirrors are so tall they block a large area of visibility to the right and left of the vehicle.
Overall I just found the Toyota FJ Cruiser a really difficult vehicle to get comfortable in.
There are some positives however inside the cabin – cargo area is generously sized, the air-conditioning controls are simple, it comes with Bluetooth, satellite navigation and a reversing camera in the rear-view mirror (not my preferred location but better than nothing).
The FJ also has a handy side window sun visor which is a great addition.
The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser is yet to gain a safety rating.
Summing it up – priced from $46,490 the Toyota FJ Cruiser is building a strong following among buyers looking for something a little different, for me though the cool looks and good off-road abilities (albeit without a diesel engine on offer) can’t overcome what is an otherwise genuinely disappointing offering.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 4.0 litre V6 petrol delivering 200kW and 380Nm
Transmission: Five-speed auto
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $46,490.
For further information, please see Recalls and faults: Toyota FJ Cruiser.