2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser 4×4 Review & Test Drive


Each year Toyota offers a new trail-oriented Trail Teams Special Edition Package and for 2011 the Trail Teams Special Edition is distinguished by a distinct Army Green exterior color, special green fabric trimmed seating and interior trim and a standard Off-Road Package.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Special Edition easily travels over the most difficult terrain that you can find off-road, and has successfully traversed the infamous ‘Rubicon Trail’ in the Sierra Mountains north of Sacramento.  There’s no stopping the FJ Cruiser when properly equipped with its full off-road package.  The toughest off-road obstacles are no problem for this model because on the outside it projects a tough, slightly menacing look in its Army Green exterior paint that is accentuated by black bumpers and black front grille.  The look is backed up by Trail Teams off-road capability.  Under the hood is a cyclone pre-air cleaner that is effective at trapping sand and dirt and is easy to clean.  The standard off-road package beefs up chassis performance with trail-tuned Bilstein gas-pressurized shock absorbers at each wheel, ground clearance of 9.6in., a rear differential lock, the active traction control (A-TRAC) system, engine, fuel tank and transfer cases skid plates, rock rails, plus Toyota Racing Development 16X7.5in. alloy wheels wrapped with tough BF Goodrich 265/75R16in. all-terrain tires with wheel locks.

The FJ Cruiser uniquely melds the brand’s off-road performance legacy with distinct heritage design in a modern SUV.  This year the FJ Cruiser offer improved passenger side walk-in, with a front passenger seat than can fold further forward, new folding headrests on the outboard rear seats help to improve rearward visibility and the heater performance is improved.  The new standard audio system features an AM-FM-CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, XM radio, auxiliary audio jack, USB port wit iPod connectivity, hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology.  The steering wheel now integrates audio system and Bluetooth controls for added ease of use.  A JBL ten-speaker premium audio system, including subwoofer, is newly optional.

The Special Edition also preps the JF Cruiser’s body and interior for trail driving fun, excitement and comfort.  The power side mirrors feature illumination markers, and the auto-dimming rearview mirror integrates a backup camera monitor.  Green fabric seat inserts and door trim complement the exterior styling.  The water resistant seats and rubber-type floor and rear deck make it easy to clean the trail out of the FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Special Edition, while 12-volt, 100-watt, and 120-volt, 400-watt outlets enable you to keep ‘plugged in’ to civilization when necessary.  In addition to the standard JBL ten-speaker audio system, the Special Edition comes ready for off-road and trail busting with a ‘floating ball’ type multi-information auxiliary display located in the center of the dashboard shelf with readouts for outside temperature, compass direction and inclinometer.  Also included in the Special Edition are remote keyless entry, cruise-control, rear privacy glass, and rear wiper.

The FJ Cruiser gained a more power and more efficient engine for the 2010 model year, along with a change to regular grade fuel to help reduce operating costs.  The DOHC, 4.0 liter V6 engine is equipped with dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i)-(variable phasing for both the intake and exhaust cams), and generates 260hp at 5,600rpm and 271lb.ft. of torque at 4,400rpm.  The broad torque curve makes for easy cruising on the highway, with plenty of torque to easily drive over logs, ruts, streams and large rocks.  The FJ Cruiser meets the stringent LEV II/Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions certification.

The FJ Cruiser 4X4 offers a choice between a six-speed manual transmission and an electronically shifted five-speed automatic transmission; the 4X2 model comes only with the five-speed automatic.  The automatic transmission varies the shifting pattern based on road conditions and your input.  A Flex Lock-Up feature allows the clutch in the torque converter to maintain a half-engaged position, enhancing fuel efficiency and increasing the lock-up clutch’s operational range.  You can manually shift the automatic transmission using a console-mounted, tall, gate-type shift lever.  The gearshift position is also displayed in the instrument cluster.

The FJ Cruiser’s two-speed transfer case provides a 2.566 low range.  With the manual transmission, the transfer case uses a TORSEN limited-slip center differential with a locking feature and distributes the engine’s power 40:60 under most driving conditions.  The TORSEEN unit varies torque distribution as needed, based on steering angle and wheel slippage.  In the Lock position, the differential switches to 50:50 torque distribution.

The FJ Cruiser with the automatic transmission employs a part-time 4X4 system with a 3.727:1 rear differential ratio and provides a 33.76:1 crawl ratio.  With the manual transmission, the front and rear differential ratio is a lower 3.909:1 for a crawl ratio of 41.84:1, an attribute that helped the FJ Cruiser traverse California’s famed Rubicon Trail.

An electronic locking rear differential is newly standard with the manual transmission for 2011, and it remains optional for the automatic transmission equipped model.  The ring gears on the 4X4 FJ Cruiser’s front and rear differentials measure eight inches.  The 4X2 model comes standard with a virtual automatic limited-slip differential, provided and operated by an advanced traction-control system to enhance traction of both rear wheels in slippery driving conditions.

Toyota designed the FJ cruiser for serious trail driving capability.  Its tough, wide stance is based on a boxed steel ladder-braced frame to which the welded steel body is mounted. Skid plates for the engine, transfer case (4X4 models only) and fuel tank are standard. The suspension features a precise, yet rugged double-wishbone independent front suspension with Bilstein gas-pressurized shocks and a 1.14 inch stabilizer bar that provides 7.87 inches of wheel travel for outstanding suspension articulation.  Its geometry is optimized for excellent road feel and ride comfort.

The solid rear axle uses a four-link coil-spring suspension system with a lateral rod, Bilstein tubular shock absorbers and a 0.75 in. stabilizer bar.  This system provides 9.1 inches of wheel travel.  That’s plenty of room for traveling over the toughest trails that you will encounter when challenging the back country. The FJ Cruiser employs a variable-ratio, hydraulically assisted rack & pinion steering system that gives precise and quick turn-in from your inputs and is rugged enough to steer the FJ Cruiser precisely when traveling slowly over obstacles big and small.

Quickly slowing the FJ Cruiser are large, 4-wheel, power-assisted disc brakes.  Up front are 12.6 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers, and 12.3 inch solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear.  Your braking control and power are enhanced with standard ABS, EBD and BA.

With the Trail Team’s standard 32 inch BF Goodrich tires, an excellent ground clearance of 9.6 inches and approach and departure angles of 34-degrees and 31-degrees, this FJ Cruiser is ready for you to challenge the toughest off-road trails.  The Trail Team’s Off-Road Special Edition eats up rocks, logs, ruts and easily travels through mud, sand and snow.  Maximum towing capacity with the optional Class Four receiver hitch is 5,000 pounds.

With styling cues reminiscent of Toyota’s famed FJ40 4X4 utility vehicle, sold in the U.S. from 1960 to 1983, the FJ Cruiser conveys a capable, contemporary spirit.  The original FJ40, which during its production life served around the world as the safari and expedition vehicle of choice, is today a sought-after collectable.

Heritage design feature on the FJ Cruiser include the front grille with two round, five inch headlamps, reminiscent of the FJ40’s frontal styling; the hood and fender contours; and a rear-mounted and exposed full-size spare tire with an off-center license plant mount.

The FJ Cruiser’s side access doors open 90-degrees in a clamshell fashion for easy-seat ingress and egress.  Additionally, a swing-up glass hatch is incorporated into the side-hinged rear door for easy access to the cargo area.  The glass hatch opens independently of the rear door and also helps accommodate longer items.  The angular wheel arches open to provide maximum clearance for the FJ Cruiser’s large 32 inch tires at full suspension deflection.  The arches are edged by flexible fender flares that resist damage during trail driving and also from opening doors of adjacent parked vehicles.  Three wiper arms provide nearly complete coverage of the wide, upright windshield.

The FJ Cruiser’s interior combine’s heritage-inspired design with the comfort and convenience of a modern Toyota SUV.  The dashboard is bordered by upper and lower tubular forms, which frame rectangular-shaped flat panels.  Large control knobs provide easy grip even when wearing gloves.  The standard full gauge instrument cluster-speedometer, tachometer, amp meter, engine coolant temperature gauge, and fuel gauge-uses round, black-white dials for enhanced visibility.  Switches for major functions, including climate and audio controls, and the optional locking rear differential, are mounted in the green painted center of the dash panel within easy reach.

The driver’s seat is eight-way adjustable, and the front passenger seat offers 4-way adjustment.  A 33-degree footwell floor angle helps you and your front passenger to maintain proper seating position for greater comfort.  Seating materials are not only water-repellant, but also provide excellent ventilation and are cut for good lateral support.

The seating fabric is backed by a special breathable resin coating, which helps it to shed liquids and make cleanup easier.  Even the stitched seams of the seat covers are treated with sealant to prevent liquids from penetrating.  The FJ Cruiser’s floor surfaces are covered with an easy-to-clean rubber-like material.  With the optional upgrade packages, the front interior door panels are color-keyed to the exterior color.  The 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, multi-purpose grocery-bag hooks and sturdy, floor-mounted cargo tie-down anchor points.  A 120-volt accessory power outlet is also available.

The FJ Cruiser’s long list of standard features include: A/C, power windows and door locks, water-resistant seats, tilt steering wheel, four cup holders and two bottle holders, rear-window defogger, rear-door mounted full-size spare tire, front and rear tow hooks, mudguards, grab handles above each door plus one at each A-pillar and one folding sunshade mounted atop each front door, dual vanity mirrors, dual map lamps, second-row reading lamp, rear cargo lamp, intermittent wipers and washers, and a deep and wide glovebox.  The available Convenience Package includes keyless entry, cruise-control, power sideview mirrors with illumination markers, daytime running lights, rear privacy glass, rear window wiper/washer, and a spare tire cover.  This package also includes a rear backup camera integrated into an auto-dimming rearview mirror.  The FJ Cruiser can further be upgraded with comfort amenities without compromising its rugged capability with a floating ball type multi-information display (compass, inclinometer, and outside temperature gauge), a JBL Premium Audio System, a 120-volt AC power outlet, 17 inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integral audio controls and cruise-control function, a metal-colored shift lever, and interior door inserts keyed to the vehicle’s exterior color.  Toyota dealers offer a catalog of more options including auxiliary driving lights, rock rails, roof rack, brush guard, taillight guards, sport exhaust system, receiver hitch and harness, wind deflector with off-road lights, a cargo mat and all-weather or carpeted floor mats.  You can option and dress up your FJ Cruiser just the way you want for on-road and off-road comfort, safety and convenience.

The FJ Cruiser keeps you safe on the road or off the road with standard front-seat mounted side airbags, and first-and second-row roll sensing side curtain airbags. Dual-stage front driver and passenger airbags deploy based on impact type and severity.  Additionally, the FJ Cruiser is equipped with active headrests for the front seats: in certain rear collisions, a cable-actuated 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.  As with all Toyota’s, the FJ Cruiser is equipped as standard with Toyota’s STAR safety system that includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TC).  The roll-sensing side curtain airbags can detect a potential rollover and signal the VSC system to help reduce a lateral skid.  In addition, the rollover sensor can signal the standard seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags to deploy.  Seatbelts include front and rear outboard seating with front pretensioners and load limiters; front and rear crumple zones, steel beams in each side door, a tire pressure monitoring system and an engine immobilizer.

The new 2011 FJ Cruiser is a ‘beast’ when off-roading easily eating up the most feared trails and when you are exploring for new, exciting and tougher trails, all the while giving you and your passengers a comfortable off-road ride and smooth on-road ride with the latest in automotive high-tech innovations.

I tested the All Terrain Package with all of the Trail Teams Special Package except the audio system and exterior full green paint scheme.  The base price for this model is $25,270.00 and $30,707.00 including destination.




  • Price: Base $25,270 As-Tested $30,707
  • Wheelbase: 105.9in.
  • Total length: 183.9in.
  • Total width: 75in.
  • Total height: 72in.
  • Tread: f/r-63.2/63.6in.
  • Turning circle: 40.7ft.
  • Headroom: f/r-41.3/40.3in.
  • Legroom: f/r-41.9/31.3in.
  • EPA cargo volume: 66.8cu.ft. with seats folded, 27.9cu.ft. behind rear seat
  • Curb weight: 2,295lbs.
  • Fuel tank: 19 gallons
  • EPA mileage: 17mpg/city, 21mpg/highway