in 2012 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $25,520 - $27,465
Original MSRP: $26,115 - $27,705
MPG: 17 City / 20 Hwy
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2012 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 Toyota FJ Cruiser does exactly what it's supposed to do: excel as a top-notch off-roading machine. But it's still a decent enough performer on the pavement, and is even better than most other bare-bones off-roaders. Plus, it’s one of the only SUVs left on the market available with a manual transmission.

  • "More fun off-road than on, the FJ nevertheless has some charm. It feels huge and looks like it would handle like a tank, but it’s relatively maneuverable.” -- Car and Driver
  • "And just like the old FJ, it is as tough and agile as a mountain goat thanks to a robust engine, a rugged chassis and a nimble off-road nature.” -- Edmunds
  • "It even makes a very livable daily driver, something that can't always be said of the Jeep Wrangler soft-top.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser features a 4.0-liter V6 engine that makes 260 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. It is available with a five-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission or an optional six-speed manual, which is only available with full-time four-wheel drive. All FJ Cruiser models can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

According to the EPA, the 2012 FJ Cruiser gets 17/20 mpg city/highway in two-wheel drive models. Models with part-time four-wheel drive and the automatic transmission also get 17/20 mpg, but models with full-time four-wheel drive get only 15/18 mpg. That’s poor compared with crossover SUVs, but not too bad for a burly, four-wheel drive off-roader.

Reviewers say the FJ Cruiser’s engine is generally powerful enough, though it struggles in some situations, like going up hills or passing on the highway.

  • "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. The manual has long throws but light clutch action.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Acceleration from the V6 engine is brisk, particularly at low- and midrange speeds, and exudes a nice exhaust bark that increases the ‘sport’ quotient of this utility vehicle.” -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The FJ Cruiser has particularly good on-road manners for a short-wheelbase, truck-based SUV. Though it’s one of the best off-roaders for daily driving, it still isn’t as comfortable as competing crossover SUVs, though they don’t have boulder-bashing abilities. Test drivers note that its brakes feel particularly strong.

  • “Close-quarters maneuverability is good, and stopping control feels more than adequate.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The FJ is also surprisingly good on pavement, offering precise steering and a smooth ride that makes a Jeep Wrangler seem like an ox cart by comparison.” -- Edmunds
  • "The FJ Cruiser corners better than the Jeep in daily driving, but not as well as the Nissan Xterra. However, on the highway we think the FJ has the best ride of the three.” -- Kelley Blue Book


While the Toyota FJ Cruiser does well on paved roads, it really shines when you take it off the beaten path. Reviewers say it’s one of the most capable off-roaders around, and consistently compare it with the Jeep Wrangler and Nissan Xterra.

The 2012 FJ Cruiser comes standard with rear-wheel drive, though it’s available with either full- or part-time four-wheel drive. Full-time 4WD is only available with the six-speed manual transmission, while part-time 4WD can only be paired with the five-speed automatic. The FJ also comes standard with a tailgate-mounted full-size spare tire, mud and snow tires and skid plates. An electronically-locking rear differential is available, as are active traction control, upgraded Bilstein shocks, upgraded tires and wheel locks.

  • "The 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser is in its element when off-road. With ample suspension articulation, it crawls over boulders, ruts and most other obstacles with ease.” -- Edmunds
  • “The available off-road traction-control system keeps FJ going through very deep ruts and over extra-tall humps.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Venturing off road gave us a chance to really fall in love with the FJ, and fall we did. The 32-inch tires, 9.6 inches of ground clearance, steep approach and departure angles and electronically controlled traction control permit the FJ to go over just about anything it can clear, although the wide body does pose some challenges the Jeep Wrangler never worries about.” -- Kelley Blue Book

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