Avg. Price Paid:$16,368 - $18,682
Original MSRP: $23,045 - $24,635
MPG: 16 City / 20 Hwy
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2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser was new.

The FJ Cruiser does exactly what it's supposed to do: excel as a top-notch off-roading machine. But it's a decent enough performer on the pavement, even though others in the have smoother rides and quieter engines.

Car and Driver praises the FJ Cruiser's "amazing versatility," and Kelley Blue Book gives it high marks for both off-road capability and on-road comfort. A minority of critics reveal faults with the FJ Cruiser's driving performance. BusinessWeek, comparing it to the Hummer, feels it doesn't quite match up to the latter's off-road abilities, and that "cruising along in the low gear, the engine has a high-pitched whine that makes you feel like you're filming a segment of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom TV show." And the Detroit Free Press found that "On surface streets and highways, the FJ Cruiser was reasonably quiet, but its rugged suspension proved quite bumpy over rough road surfaces."

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser is equipped with a 4.0-liter DOHC 24-valve SFI VVT-i V6 engine with 239 HP at 5200 rpm and 278 lb-ft of torque at 3700 rpm. It is available with either 5-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive or a 6-speed manual for the full-time 4WD model.

By and large, the FJ Cruiser's engine and transmissions have received good reviews, and most critics feel that it delivers more than adequate power for off-roading. MSN explains that "Not only does this engine have a larger displacement than the powerplants in the Wrangler and H3, it includes Toyota's variable valve timing system called VVT-i that's a staple of engines for cars." Autoweb gives both the 5-speed transmission and the engine a thumbs up, claiming that it "does an admirable job of scooting 4,295 pounds from a dead stop." Forbes agrees, calling the Cruiser "sophisticated and smooth." USA Today, however, claims that "the engine will delight you and drive you nuts" because it requires premium fuel and also the "burble.... could get tiresome on long trips." In regards to the transmission, the Cars.com reviewer explains that "I enjoyed driving both transmissions. The manual feels appropriate in a truck of this type, and its six gears are generous.... The automatic is typical Toyota: responsive, smooth and unobtrusive."

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates for the FJ Cruiser with four wheel drive and a manual transmission at 15 mpg in the city to 18 mpg on highways. With automatic transmission and four-wheel drive, the EPA estimates 15 mpg in the city and 19 on highways. Meanwhile, for the front wheel drive Cruiser with a five-speed automatic, gas mileage is estimated at 17 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

The Detroit Free Press reports a "disappointing 16.2-m.p.g. highway fuel economy on a 160-plus mile round-trip from Detroit to an off-road site," while Kelley Blue Book thinks that the FJ Cruiser's fuel economy is "marginal" at best.

Handling and Braking

The consensus is that the FJ Cruiser offers good handling. Although Car and Driver reports that the FJ Cruiser's "soft suspension hurts on-road handling," Road and Track states that "On-road handling feels slightly better than a similarly outfitted 4Runner, where the FJ Cruiser enjoys a marginally more planted and stable cornering attitude." Newsday adds that "The FJ Cruiser was responsive both in power and handling."

The FJ Cruiser has high-mounted, double-wishbone front suspension and 4-link rear suspension that reviewers find handy for off-roading. The Arizona Republic calls handling and balance "impressive" on dirt roads, while Edmunds writes that "as expected, the 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser rocks off road, with its supple suspension articulation enabling it to clamber over boulders, tree roots and most anything else."

The Los Angeles Times cites a problem with the Vehicle Stability Control, explaining that it "switches off when you shift the vehicle to 4WD mode." This, in the reviewer's opinion, could be problematic if you're tackling icy road conditions in 4WD.

Most reviewers have generally positive things to say about the FJ Cruiser's braking abilities and report that the brakes function well. Edmunds says that "Braking is strong too, with a stop from 60 mph taking just 126 feet -- very good for an SUV." And Consumer Guide reports "Good close-quarters maneuverability, and stopping power feels more than adequate."


The 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser is much praised for its ability to handle off-roading conditions. Forbes (which tested both the 2WD and 4WD) found that not only did they excel in highway driving, but that where the 4WD (with six-speed transmission) really shined was in "dirt, rock and mud," where it "had plenty of suspension travel for knotted terrain, negotiating a rutted, uneven and demanding off-road course with alacrity."

Newsday also put the FJ Cruiser through a rigorous test and it passed with flying colors: "The FJ Cruiser was responsive both in power and handling. The ride was surprisingly comfortable both on smooth, paved roads and on bumpy, off-road trails." Kelley Blue Book says that the FJ Cruiser qualifies as a serious off-roader due to its "body-on-frame construction, big tires, available four-wheel drive with two-speed transfer case and available locking rear differential." For 2008, Toyota offers a new off-road package that includes 16-inch wheels to "accommodate higher sidewalls," according to Cars.com.

Review Last Updated: 2/18/09

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