in 2009 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $18,719 - $20,850
Original MSRP: $23,320 - $24,910
MPG: 16 City / 20 Hwy
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2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

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

  • "On pavement, the precise steering, smooth ride and surprisingly low wind noise at freeway speeds make for an affable commuter." -- Edmunds
  • "The FJ's most impressive attributes emerge when the road turns to dirt, mud and rock. A 4WD model equipped with the six-speed manual transmission had plenty of suspension travel for knotted terrain, negotiating a rutted, uneven and demanding off-road course with alacrity." -- Forbes
  • "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." -- BusinessWeek
  • "Tall tire sidewalls, compact wheelbase, and a crosswind-vulnerable body shape contribute to sub par straight-line tracking. Slow, vague steering doesn't help, and it also thwarts any sense of agility in changes of direction. High build and poor cornering grip from mud and snow tires dictate lots of slowing for most turns." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser features a 4.0-liter V6 engine with 239 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a five-speed automatic, but a six-speed manual is available on full-time four-wheel drive models. The FJ Cruiser's engine delivers more than adequate power for off-roading, but its fuel economy is disappointing in four-wheel drive models. According to the EPA, the two-wheel drive model achieves 17/21 mpg city/highway, while four-wheel drive models get 16/20 with the automatic transmission and 14/19 with the manual.

  • "The engine will delight you and drive you nuts. The torque-rich V-6, shared with Toyota's Tacoma and Tundra pickups, moves FJ smoothly at low speed, common in urban traffic as it is off-road, and gives the rugged truck an unexpected, easygoing nature." -- USA Today
  • "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." -- Cars.com
  • "Only 4WD FJs have been made available for testing. They have adequate pep with either transmission, though with the automatic, the V6 can feel overmatched by vehicle weight in passing maneuvers and on long uphill stretches. An automatic version did 7.2 seconds 0-60 mph in our test. The manual has long throws but light clutch action." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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." -- MSN

Handling and Braking

The consensus from reviewers was that the FJ Cruiser offers good handling, although it's not as smooth or nimble as crossover SUVs.

  • "On-road handling feels slightly better than a similarly outfitted 4Runner, where the FJ Cruiser enjoys a marginally more planted and stable cornering attitude." -- Road and Track
  • "As expected, the ... Toyota FJ Cruiser rocks off road, with its supple suspension articulation enabling it to clamber over boulders, tree roots and most anything else." -- Edmunds
  • "Firm but compliant suspension combines with tall-sidewall mud and snow tires to flatten most road bumps with little jolt or body quiver. FJ's relatively short wheelbase results in bouncy body motions on uneven surfaces." -- Consumer Guide

Next Steps: 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser

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