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2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser Overview
Most of us don’t need a vehicle that's made for serious off-roading like a Land Rover or a Jeep Wrangler. What we do need is a dependable SUV that can haul and tow things on the weekends and during the week can still get us around town without too much drama - and look good doing it, thank you very much. I don’t know about you, but my plans always include me staying on the actual road. The 2012 FJ Cruiser is all of those things – it looks cool, is Toyota dependable, and is a pleasure to drive.
The FJ Cruiser comes with a 260-hp 4.0-liter V6 engine with 5-speed automatic transmissions in the two-wheel drive versions, and the all-wheel drive versions come with either the automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. For adventurous types, there is an all-wheel-drive system available with both automatic and manual transmissions with a low-range gear for off-roading. If you can’t make your mind up, get the manual transmission, as it is the only one that can be left engaged on all surfaces. The FJ Cruiser can tow up to 5,000 pounds, is rated at 17 mpg city/20 highway and takes regular unleaded gas.
Known for its retro styling and distinctive white roof, the 2012 FJ Cruiser has not substantially changed since it was introduced back in 2007. It still has room for five with those funny half-doors in the rear. Getting in and out of those doors is also pretty funny, unless you are wearing a skirt, then not so much. The front seats are very comfortable and have lots of leg- and headroom for long trips, but the rear seats are a bit cramped for 3 full-size adults. Toyota may offer some new color combos for 2012, but that is really the only expected change.
The only trim level available comes standard with 17-inch powder-coated black steel wheels, air conditioning, power windows and doors, a manually adjustable driver's seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, water-resistant cloth upholstery, heavy-duty washable flooring, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a 6-speaker JBL sound system with a CD player, satellite radio (free for 90 days), an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB port and steering-wheel-mounted controls.
The Convenience package adds power mirrors, rear privacy glass, a rear wiper, a spare tire cover, keyless entry, cruise control, a rear-view camera and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. An Upgrade package adds 17-inch alloy wheels and an upgraded traction control system on all-wheel-drive versions, an electronically controlled locking rear differential, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, extra gauges and an 11-speaker JBL sound system with a 6-CD changer. The Off-Road package adds Bilstein shock absorbers, the locking rear differential, the upgraded traction-control system and the extra gauges. The TRD package adds special 16-inch alloy wheels, off-road tires and different Bilstein shocks.
The 2012 FJ Cruiser does have its detractors, and some criticism stems from the poor sightlines within the vehicle. The pillars to accommodate those rear-opening doors block some side views, and the rear-mounted spare tire doesn’t help the view through the rear window. The optional rear-view camera would come in very handy. The mileage is not great either, but these are not uncommon flaws in this class of SUV. What makes the FJ Cruiser stand out is its ability to behave during the work week, not just on the weekends.
The ride is what you would expect in a truck of this size – a little clunky over bumps and a stiff ride generally. Handling, while not nimble, is certainly adequate for its size, and maneuvering into tight spaces is surprisingly good due to its relatively short wheelbase.
The FJ Cruiser’s cargo room is ample but not overly so. The backward-opening doors and rear seats that don’t fold flat limit large items a bit. The rear door is also very heavy to use with the spare mounted on it, which can make loading items difficult. Interior controls are large and easy to use, but some reviewers have described them as cartoonish. However, they function well and are within reach. The cab details are more utilitarian than luxurious, but then that is what the FJ Cruiser is all about.
The 2012 FJ Cruiser comes with Toyota’s standardized safety package, which includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, active front headrests, front-seat side airbags and full side-curtain airbags, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), a tire pressure monitoring system and an engine-immobilizing Smart Key antitheft system. There are some optional safety features available with the upgraded package, such as rear parking-assist sonar and daytime running lights.
The 2012 FJ Cruiser should appeal to families with rough-and-tumble things to do who don't want to sacrifice the ability to use it as a family car the rest of the time.