Even if you’re not into off-roading or overlanding, a Toyota SUV is usually the way to go where reliability’s concerned. True, some of that reliability stems from a lack of significant design updates. However, that means, for something like a 4Runner or Sequoia, buying used is just as good as buying new. And besides saving money, buying used means you can get an SUV that Toyota sadly discontinued: the Toyota FJ Cruiser.
Why the Toyota FJ Cruiser is a great used SUV
In terms of design, the 2007-2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser was an homage to the original, iconic FJ40 Land Cruiser. And in addition to design, Car and Driver reports, the FJ Cruiser also inherited the original’s off-road capabilities.
For one, it was built on a shortened version of the 4Runner’s platform, Motor Trend reports. The FJ Cruiser also used the 4Runner’s 4.0-liter V6. 2007 and 2008 models produced 239 hp and 278 lb-ft. 2009-2014 models’ V6s were upgraded to 259 hp and 270 lb-ft.
Secondly, in addition to standard rear-wheel-drive, Toyota also offered the SUV with 2 different four-wheel-drive systems, MT reports. 6-speed-manual FJ Cruisers, Hagerty reports, got full-time 4WD, which included a limited-slip center differential, locking rear differential, and 2-speed transfer case. 5-speed-automatic models got a part-time system but could spec the locking differential as an option. The Toyota FJ Cruiser also had 9.6” of ground clearance, several skid plates, and a 27.5” wade depth.
Then there were the TRD and Trail Teams editions. These added features like Bilstein shocks, BFGoodrich all-terrain tires, and rock rails. 2013 and 2014 Trail Teams came with off-road cruise control. The final Trail Team got remote-reservoir Bilstein shocks, Autotrader reports.
But the Toyota FJ Cruiser wasn’t all about off-roading. It rode comfortably around town, Automobile reports, with a tighter turning circle than a contemporary Wrangler. The rear doors opened ‘backward’, for easier access. It came standard with stability and traction control, Autotrader reports. 2008 and later models added more airbags, with a Bluetooth-equipped audio system coming in 2011. Plus, if you tracked mud inside, the seats and floor are water-resistant, so you could just hose them down.
Toyota FJ Cruiser: issues and years to avoid
The most common issue was a shuddering sensation at 35-45 mph. This is seemingly linked to the automatic transmission’s torque converter, owner forum users report. However, 2008 and later models don’t appear to have this issue. 2007 and 2008 models also suffered from bulging and/or cracking fenders, owner forum users report, which could compromise front crumple zones.
Also, Toyota issued 2 recalls for the FJ Cruiser. The first covered TRD and Trail Team models, specifically their brake hoses. The second involved 2008-2011 models’ tire-pressure monitoring sensors.
It’s worth point out that the Toyota FJ Cruiser has rather poor rear visibility. It was a constant complaint and a consequence of the retro styling. However, Toyota did offer the SUV with an optional rearview camera on the 2009 and later models.
In addition, Four Wheeler reports there are several off-road brands, like Hella, which offer aftermarket cameras. Plus, you can also easily incorporate Hella’s off-road lights. That’s because the Trail Team editions had built-in accessory outlets.
The Toyota FJ Cruiser has held its value well, Autotrader reports, especially the TRD and Trail Teams editions.
Low-mileage 4WD base models have sold for $28,000-$29,000 on Bring a Trailer. The Trail Teams editions have sold for roughly $10,000 more. Even examples with close to 100,000 miles aren’t much cheaper, Autotrader reports.
However, while it is more luxurious, a contemporary Land Cruiser commands a roughly 50% premium. It’s also less fuel-efficient, and even larger. And while it’s mechanically almost identical, a contemporary 4Runner isn’t any cheaper. Plus, it doesn’t have the FJ Cruiser’s styling.
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