Text and photos by Chris Jones
The 2009 FJ Cruiser is still unique as the day it was reborn in 2006. It has a very functional looking design, with elements taken from the original FJ40. The round head lamps and upright windshield, give it a retro feel. It definitely stands out from its competitors. The FJ we tested was the 4WD 4.0L V6 5-Speed Auto model. Fuel mileage is rated at 16/20. Seating is comfortable and cargo space ample.
If you are looking for a capable off road vehicle, then the FJ cruiser is the one for you. If you are not used to driving large vehicles, you will find that the FJ is a very comfortable ride on road and easy to handle. A Backup camera linked to a screen in the mirror, makes it even easier. It does however feel like a real off road vehicle. The center mount inclinometer isnâ€™t just for show. To drive this on pavement alone would do it a disservice. The Independent front suspension has higher mounted A-arms, which allows 7.88 inches of travel. A smaller stabilizer bar lends to 19.25 inches of articulation. The rear has 9.06 inches of travel and 21.45 inches of articulation. That makes for excellent off road performance.
We didnâ€™t want to scrape rocks with our test vehicle, so we decided to scrape sand instead. We drove all the way to Glamis sand dunes for our test. We didnâ€™t think it would get that dirty before the desert, but there was plenty of bug carnage along the way. There was about a 200 mile trip ahead of us to get to the desert. We burned up a bit of gas driving hilly roads to our destination. Fuel stops were to be expected, especially filling up before there were no station is sight. We had a lot if fun kicking up sand in the desert, once switching to 4WD mode. The FJ felt right at home maneuvering through the desert sand. We even found some fellow FJ cruisers during our trip. After that, we ventured to the Salton Sea. Once again, the ride was smooth and comfortable on road. After a long drive back and fueling up, we decided to fuel ourselves up.
The FJ is a good pick for those looking for a unique capable off road vehicle.