Test Drive: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser toyota car test drives reviews
2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Click image to enlarge

The vehicle was also equipped with the “Urban” package, which added a bunch of useful things like cruise control, keyless entry, multi-information display, power adjustable mirrors and folding passenger armrest. Kidding aside, the Urban package also includes cargo area mat, compass and inclinometer, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with back-up camera and back-up sensors (a necessity), JBL Synthesis audio system with 10 speakers and rear subwoofer, running boards and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

An “Off-road” package is also available, which is basically the same as the Urban package (no kidding)—just substitute Bilstein shocks and a retro roof rack for the running boards, JBL audio system and interior upgrades.

Leather seating, sunroof, climate control, navigation or any other modern convenience that might be construed as cushy is not available. And with an interior that emphasizes durability over creature comforts, it is a utilitarian space, the kind you’d clean with a bucket of water.

Test Drive: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser toyota car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser toyota car test drives reviews
2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Click image to enlarge

Seats are firm—an auto writer euphemism for rock hard—but guaranteed to last longer than your butt. Visibility is poor, particularly to the rear quarters, where the large C-pillars obscure a wide swath of territory. The side mirrors, which are tall but not wide, do not help much either. A low roof line over a wide dash top also obscures upward and foreground visibility, needed to avoid low hanging branches on a trail or to see over the hood when cresting a hill.

On this test, the FJ Cruiser did not venture off public roads. It has been hot and dry in eastern Ontario since spring and the fields and woods are ready to ignite. Not wanting to be the source of ignition, the decision was made to stay away.

However, I have driven the FJ Cruiser off-road on two other occasions and it demonstrated itself to be extremely capable, if unsophisticated. Short overhangs, front and rear, provide exceptional approach (34 degrees), departure (31 degrees) and break-over (27.4 degrees) angles. Despite 245 mm (9.6 in.) of ground clearance, skid plates protect vital components including the engine, transfer case, and fuel tank. The FJ can crawl up steep rock surfaces and ford 700 mm (27.5 in.) of water. The Towing capacity is 2,268 kg (5000 lb.).

But it is a basic off-road 4×4. Four-wheel drive with the five-speed automatic is strictly part time, great for off-road, not so good for the streets and highways where speed and surface conditions are constantly changing. And other than the inclinometer and the driver’s good sense, there are no other electronic or mechanical aids, such as crawl control, downhill assist, hill start assist, a multi-terrain system or the multi terrain ABS brakes that are available with the Toyota 4Runner.