Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser If...
Whether you’re drawn to it as a comfortable and versatile daily driver, a weekend off-roader or just an expressive way to get from Point A to Point B, you’re sure to appreciate how well the 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser does it all.
You May Not Like The 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser If...
Depending on what other vehicles you might be considering, the FJ Cruiser’s potential faults include marginal fuel economy (although it’s slightly more fuel-friendly than the Xterra), big blind spots at the sides and a cargo area that’s not as accommodating as those of some other SUVs.
The 2009 FJ Cruiser adds two new safety features: A standard roll-sensing side airbag curtain and whiplash-preventing front seat active headrest. A revised Convenience Package adds a rear backup camera and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Equipped with water-resistant seat fabric, rubber flooring, removable rear seat bottoms and big control knobs designed for easy operation when wearing gloves, the FJ Cruiser’s interior is decidedly purpose-built. Still, it’s a very comfortable cabin for front and rear passengers alike, even if entering or leaving the rear seat through the small rear-hinged doors is tough to do elegantly. The rear cargo area isn’t huge, but convenient hooks and tie-downs add functionality. A color-keyed center cluster adds a touch of whimsy.
With two smallish round headlamps flanking a low-profile, rectangular grille, the FJ Cruiser’s face provides the strongest link to its FJ40 ancestry. The contrasting white roof, wraparound rear glass and available roof rack are also familiar. In total, though, the 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser isn’t as stylistically true to the original as the modern MINI or VW New Beetle are to their ancestors. Exterior features worth noting are the FJ Cruiser’s big 32-inch tires, three windshield wipers and available side mirror-mounted lamps. Toyota also offers plenty of add-ons geared toward off-road duty.
Whether you’re hoping the FJ Cruiser shines brightest as an off-roader or a daily driver, you’ll be happy to hear it fills both rolls exceptionally well. Except for its limited side visibility and a wide 41.8-foot turning circle, Toyota’s newest SUV is as pleasant to drive as many sedans. Off-road, the FJ Cruiser’s 32-inch tires, steep approach and departure angles and sophisticated traction aids combine to deliver world-class off-road capability. Compared with its most closely matched competitor, the Nissan Xterra, the FJ doesn’t corner as eagerly around town but does deliver a marginally softer highway ride. As for the off-road comparison, we’ll give the nod to the Toyota, although the Nissan remains impressive.
The 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $24,000 for the two-wheel drive model and jumps to just over $25,000 with four-wheel drive. A fully-loaded FJ tops out around $31,000. Our Fair Purchase Prices reflect real-world selling prices, so be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price before you set out to shop. The FJ’s competitors include the Nissan Pathfinder with prices ranging from $28,000 to just about $41,000, the Jeep Wrangler which ranges from $21,000 to more than $33,000 and, to a lesser extent, the HUMMER H3 which ranges from $34,000 to well beyond $40,000. In terms of resale value, we expect the 2009 FJ Cruiser to perform better than each of the competitors listed above.
Base FJ Cruisers are equipped with two-wheel drive, automatic transmission, air conditioning, power windows and locks, a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio system, auxiliary audio jack, electronic stability and traction controls, front seat side-mounted airbags, roll sensing side curtain airbags, two front airbags and 17-inch black steel wheels. Four-wheel-drive FJs come standard with a six-speed manual transmission.
FJ Cruiser upgrades include keyless entry, cruise control, rear sonar parking assist, rear backup camera, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, eight-speaker audio system with six-disc CD changer, subwoofer, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a 115V/400W power outlet. Options for off-roaders include the new Off-Road Package, an automatic transmission (4WD models), a rear differential lock, A-TRAC active traction control and an inclinometer.
Subwoofer SwitchA big, console-mounted subwoofer on/off button makes it easy to optimize the listening experience when switching from talk to rock, for instance. A-TRACBy automatically applying the brakes to a spinning wheel, Toyota’s active traction control system forces torque to the opposing wheel and boosts the FJ Cruiser’s off-road capability.
Under the Hood
A sophisticated aluminum V6 anchors three powertrain combinations that include a five-speed automatic transmission coupled with either two-wheel-drive or a part-time four-wheel-drive system, or a six-speed manual transmission teamed with a full-time four-wheel-drive system. Four-wheel-drive models include a two-speed transfer case. Off-road capability is enhanced with locking differentials and electronic traction controls. Rock-crawling specs include approach and departure angles of 34 and 30 degrees, respectively (32 and 29 degrees for two-wheel drive models). The FJ Cruiser has an independent front suspension and solid rear axle, and its maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.4.0-liter V6239 horsepower @ 5200 rpm278 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3700 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/21 (2WD, automatic), 14/19(4WD, manual) 16/20 (4WD, automatic)
Sold in the U.S. from 1960 to 1983, the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser remains one of the most respected off-road vehicles of all time. The Land Cruiser nameplate survives to this day, in fact, but affixed to a much bigger, much more expensive vehicle. Toyota’s 4Runner has also grown, both in size and in price, to a starting sticker near $30K, which necessitated the need for the FJ Cruiser. The 2009 FJ Cruiser is Toyota’s answer to the popular Nissan Xterra and the venerable Jeep Wrangler. The FJ Cruiser backs up its distinctive, retro-esque styling with serious off-road capability, thanks to features like body-on-frame construction, big tires, available four-wheel drive with two-speed transfer case and available locking rear differential.