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2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser Overview
Rugged and versatile, a bear off-road, even tolerably compliant on-road - all of this describes the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser. This four-door, five-passenger, midsize SUV has the look of a brawler, and why shouldn’t it? It’s from the same people who manufacture the Land Cruiser, about as all-terrain-conquering an SUV as these things get. Available in a single trim that’s delivered with standard rear-wheel drive, this competent sport ute can be optioned with part-time or full-time four-wheel drive (4WD). With the standard automatic transmission and part-time 4WD, the Base morphs into the 4WD AT sub-trim, while full-time 4WD and the available manual transmission result in the 4WD MT sub-trim. Cargo space in all trims is a respectable 66.8 cubic feet, but though it’s called a four-door, the FJ Cruiser has only two full-size front doors, with two rear-opening “suicide doors,” euphemistically called “access doors” by Toyota, in the rear. Meanwhile, a few new and upgraded features are available for 2011, including a new audio system, marginally improved rear-seat access, and folding rear-seat headrests. Additionally, a new FJ Cruiser Trail Team Special Edition sub-trim with Army Green paint, beefed-up underpinnings and water-resistant seats and floors is scheduled to debut later in 2011.
Serious competition for the FJ Cruiser consists of the legendary Jeep Wrangler and Nissan’s family-friendly Xterra. The Wrangler is one of the most off-road-capable vehicles on the face of the planet, while the Xterra, with four full-size doors, eases the burden of entry and exit, as well as flaunting its own off-road flair. Reviewers, however, describe the FJ Cruiser as a serious backwoods brawler that demonstrates surprisingly comfortable on-road manners - better, indeed, than either of the others.
The standard (and only) powerplant for the 2011 FJ Cruiser is a 260-hp, 271-lb-ft/torque 4.0-liter V6 engine. When mated with the standard 5-speed automatic in the rear-wheel-drive Base, the V6, packing variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i), ensures 17/22 mpg, and in the 4WD AT, marginally less. A 6-speed manual transmission is available in the 4WD MT sub-trim that’ll get 15/20, and the six-banger is capable of towing 5,000 pounds with the optional trailer hitch and wiring installed. The part-time 4WD AT features manual hi-lo gear selection and auto-locking hubs, while the full-time 4WD MT boasts hi-lo gear selection and locking center and rear differentials.
Standard skid plates and 17-inch wheels complement this able bushwhacker’s rugged good looks, while premium cloth upholstery pampers passengers inside. Additional cabin amenities include power door locks, tilt-wheel steering, air conditioning and a simulated alloy steering wheel with mounted audio controls. Entertainment and techno-gadgetry includes a single-CD player with six speakers, satellite radio, a USB connection and Bluetooth hands-free phone technology.
Standalone options include upgraded TRD (Toyota Research Department) 16- and 17-inch alloy and aluminum wheels, rock rails, running boards, a locking rear differential, roof rack and an iPod interface kit. Interior- and appearance-oriented option packages include the Convenience Package with remote keyless entry, cruise, power mirrors and a rear-view camera, as well as the Upgrade Package with 17-inch alloy wheels, a 6-CD changer with 11 speakers and rear parking sensors. Performance option packages, meanwhile, include the Off-Road Package, with trail-tuned Bilstein shock absorbers, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and a multi-information dashboard display, and the TRD Package, with 16-inch six-spoke alloy wheels, all-terrain tires and high-speed tuned Bilstein shocks.
Standard safety equipment aboard the 2011 FJ Cruiser includes four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags, and front head-restraint whiplash protection. Daytime running lights, meantime, are optional.
Limited visibility, difficulty in accessing the rear seats, and some cramped quarters when the rear seats are reached are a few glitches owners find with the current edition of the FJ Cruiser. Also those pesky rear seats don’t fold all the way flat, causing a bit of owner frustration when proper cargo stowage is needed. Positive owner feedback, on the other hand, notes the toughness and versatility of this midsize ute, as well as its surprising on-road manners and decent acceleration, leading a number of owners to describe it as “fun to drive.” Off-road capabilities and its especially traction-savvy demeanor in snowy conditions also have owners praising this capable cruiser.
Have Laptop, Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.