- Retro exterior
- Simple yet stylish interior
- Uncompromised off-road ability
- Lacks passing power
- Noisy highway cruiser
- Difficult backseat access
Though the 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a bit of a one-trick pony—clearly emphasizing off-road ability to the detriment of on-road comfort—its unmistakable style and agreeable on-road performance make it worth considering even for weekend recreation types.
Serious off-roaders who also want to be stylish and fashion-conscious don’t have many choices. But the 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser offers unique, rugged, retro-chic style and excellent off-roading ability—all in a more cohesive, practical package than most other affordable SUVs.
There are few if any vehicles that combine retro and contemporary styling as well as the 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Looking a bit like a vintage 1960s-era FJ40, crossed with modern cues from the 4Runner and Land Cruiser, with a MINI Cooper-like edge, the FJ Cruiser has a lot going on, design-wise. Yet it all works, with an overall appearance that isn’t at all derivative and doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard to be retro. Small rear half doors aid access to the back. Inside, Toyota keeps it simple, with a basic, almost drab instrument panel, featuring traditional round gauges and a chunky layout.
Carried over from previous years is a 4.0-liter aluminum-block V-6 with variable valve timing. The engine makes 239 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, and is offered with either a five-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual transmission. The four-wheel-drive system on the 2010 FJ Cruiser uses a mix of traditional mechanical and more modern electronic means of gaining and maintaining traction; a system called A-TRAC helps reduce wheel spin and redistribute torque, and it's helpful on the road. But off-road is where the 2010 FJ Cruiser really shines; it’s built with some of the same components as Toyota’s proven 4Runner, though with a shortened wheelbase and more ground clearance. Additionally, skid plates protect the underbody, and components are tucked into frame rails. Suspension tuning aims to get good wheel articulation without making too many on-road sacrifices, and the FJ can ford up to 27.5 inches of water; approach and departure angles for the FJ are among the best of any stock vehicle.
On-road performance isn’t a complete afterthought in the 2010 FJ Cruiser. Its on-road ride is reasonably impressive on highways and relatively straight paths, but its hefty 4,300-pound curb weight, along with the high-profile tires and suspension tuning, get in the way of any quick changes in direction. Also, while the V-6 is extremely torquey from a standing start and strong at low speeds for confident off-road crawling, it doesn’t respond as well in highway passing.
Think of the 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser as a vehicle for two plus gear and you’ll be all right—the backseat is a little too cramped for adults, and access is a challenge despite the small rear-hinged access doors. Most will find the driving position and front seating comfort to their liking, Those looking for a lot of storage compartments for smaller items and electronics might be a little disappointed. Also, at highway speeds, a combination of tire noise and a slightly boomy engine note conspire to wear you down.
Respectable but not excellent is how we’d rate the FJ Cruiser for safety. It achieves four-star ratings in the federal (NHTSA) frontal test and five stars in its side test, while the insurance-affiliated IIHS find the FJ “good” in frontal offset and side tests—though its rating in the seat-based IIHS rear-impact test is “poor.” Side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, active headrests, and electronic stability control are all included, along with roll-sensing side curtain airbags that can detect a potential rollover and signal the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system to help reduce a lateral skid—and even deploy the side bags for a rollover.
All 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser models are equipped quite well and come with all the basics for off-roading, but packages and options help boost the off-road credentials. The Toyota Racing Development (TRD) package features Bilstein off-road shocks designed to reduce brake dive and squat, as well as enhance straight-line stability, also including TRD-specific 16-inch rims with BF Goodrich all-terrain tires; an all-black exterior paint scheme; and TRD performance exhaust and rock rails. The pricey $6,695 Trail Teams Special Edition package brings loads of convenience equipment and some off-road aids, such as a multi-informational display, compass, inclinometer, and temperature gauge. Other major options are grouped into an all-terrain package and several upgrade packages—with intuitive parking assist and a backup camera now on the list.