It looks like those great rugged-yet-friendly Tonka trucks you played with in the bathtub as a kid. Or was that just me? We love the great style and can-do attitude of the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser.
By Holly Reich
The Big Picture
This is no Rodeo Drive poseur. Though we could argue that it’s so cool looking, it would be right at home next to the Lamborghini Aventadors and Ferrari Californias. The Toyota FJ Cruiser was mainly built with guys in mind, and especially those who like to do off-roading. But anyone who lives in a rugged area, with wet, icy winters would do well to test drive this able-bodied ride. The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser is available in two-wheel or four-wheel drive versions.
An Inside Job
It’s easy to step into the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser, but you’ll want to grab on to one of the handgrips to get a hefty boost. Because hefty is what this SUV is all about, with a big dose of character and style.
The cabin is a design-driven environment—a nice departure from the vanilla interiors we are way too used to seeing. There’s a flat dash that is trimmed in metallic silver, a center console color-keyed to the exterior of the car, rubberized surfaces that are soft to the touch, large control knobs (made to grip with gloves), a chunky wheel, and a shallow covered container carved into the dash (for keys and such).
Yup, you sit up high in this rugged vehicle that has 3 windshield wipers on the oversize front windshield, chunky side mirrors (an undersized rear-view mirror), and a bright open greenhouse feel inside the cabin. All of the major dials and switches (climate, audio etc.) are mounted in the center dash panel for easy access. The seating materials are water repellant, and the floors are covered in a rubber-like material that is easy to clean. Both the 8-way driver’s seat and 4-way passenger seats are plenty comfortable but the backbench is a bit upright and stiff.
The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser has plenty of cargo space. The side-hinged rear door has a swing-up glass hatch that opens independently of the rear door. I find that this is really handy for loading groceries with a baby on the other hip.
The FJ’s rear seatback is split 60/40 with folding (removable) bottom and back cushions that convert to a nearly flat cargo floor. The rear cargo area is equipped with cargo-net hooks, grocery-bag hooks, and sturdy floor-mounted cargo tie-downs. A 115-volt accessory power outlet is available.
With two full doors and two access doors, there’s plenty of room for five. The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser’s side access doors open 90 degrees in clamshell fashion. It’s easy for kids to slide into the back seat and they think it’s cool. However, closing those doors is another thing. They don’t call them suicide doors for nothing. They need to fold in first, before the front doors.
The FJ Cruiser’s standard safety package includes front seat-mounted side airbags and first- and second-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags. Dual-stage front driver and passenger-advanced airbags deploy based on impact type and severity. (See VroomGirls’ All About Airbags Primer for details.)
The FJ Cruiser is also equipped with active headrests for the front seats. (In certain rear collisions, a mechanism in the active headrest moves the headrest upward and forward to help limit the movement of the occupant’s head.) The LATCH child-restraint system secures child seats.
The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser comes standard with Toyota’s STAR Safety System. That includes stability control, traction control, antilock brake system, brake assist, and smart stop technology (Toyota’s brake override system). All of these systems will activate the brake (if needed) and keep the vehicle stable on the road in all kinds of weather conditions.
Gizmos and Tech
The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser was engineered for serious off-road roaming with its wide stance. Its steel body is welded to a steel ladder-braced frame. I’m not going to go into the double-wishbone independent front suspension or the four-link coil-spring with tubular shock absorbers. Translation? It boils down to a web of parts that are optimized for exceptional road feel and ride comfort.
With the FJ Cruiser’s standard 32-inch tires, ground clearance is 9.6 inches (8.7 inches for 4×2 models). Maximum towing capacity with the optional Class Four receiver hitch is 5,000 pounds.
There’s also water resistant seating surfaces (excellent for those ski trips and river runs), plus hands-free phone with Bluetooth.
I perused a variety of owners’ clubs and fan clubs to get an idea of the FJ Cruisers audience. It appears that the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser is very much male driven with mud-seekers and after market enthusiasts. To clarify, I’m not that. I need some wheels that can get me through a snowstorm, navigate city parking spaces, and take off on the highway. No doubt about the snowstorm or serious potholes; the FJ could trump all that.
As for city driving, I was able to make tight U-turns on narrow streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan and parallel park with a few swift turns of the wheel. On highways, the FJ Cruiser kicked into action with a gutsy engine sound.
If you’re looking for wheels with style, personality, plenty of storage room, and the ability to get down and dirty, consider the FJ Cruiser. Check out the army green color, it's retro fab.
The design! The barn door in the back with the flip up glass hatch is a keeper. This car appeals to my cowgirl
If you have small children, the side access doors probably won’t work for you. I envision slammed fingers, a dented door, and tears