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.
The “free-revving V-6 is up to the task of moving the FJ down the road (or trail) with ease,” beams Road & Track, and Edmunds says that it is “able to get the FJ up to speed in quick fashion.” While the V-6 is extremely torquey from a standing start and strong at low speeds for confident off-road crawling, TheCarConnection.com finds that it doesn’t respond as well in highway passing. ConsumerGuide echoes this, warning that it can feel “overmatched by vehicle weight in passing maneuvers and on long upgrades.”
Interestingly, the six-speed manual that comes only with full-time 4WD achieves lower EPA mileage figures, perhaps due to powering all four wheels at all times—15/18 mpg versus the five-speed automatic (in 2WD or 4WD guise) at 16/20 mpg. ConsumerGuide reports “the manual has long throws but light clutch action,” and Edmunds states “the automatic transmission shifts smoothly and accurately.” Road & Track notes that “all 4wd models come equipped with a 2-speed transfer case that proves invaluable” in serious off-roading.
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. Edmunds declares it “one of the best off-roading rigs you can drive off the showroom floor.”
A-TRAC, a step above the standard stability control, automatically applies the brakes to a spinning wheel, forcing “torque to the opposing wheel” and boosting the “FJ Cruiser’s off-road capability,” according to Kelley Blue Book.
Other aspects of on-road performance aren’t a complete afterthought in the 2010 FJ Cruiser. Its on-road ride is reasonably impressive on highways and relatively straight roads, 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. Motor Trend says that while the FJ might be capable of being hustled, “it doesn't exactly accept the invitation with a smile.” They continue: “Drive at 6/10ths, and the FJ is a peach, its communicative steering and beefy brakes feeling perfectly suited for the job. Take it to 7/10ths, however, and the stability-control nanny incessantly blinks and beeps her disapproval.”
If you take the FJ for what it’s worth, it’s actually quite good on the road, several reviewers concede. “The FJ's faults are pretty easy to overlook given how enjoyable it is to drive and own,” commends Edmunds. Road & Track notes it feels “slightly better than a similarly outfitted 4Runner, where the FJ Cruiser enjoys a marginally more planted and stable cornering attitude.”