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2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser Review

The 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a reliable off-road SUV, but some shoppers may not be willing to sacrifice everyday livability and practicality for the FJ’s bold styling.

Pros & Cons

  • Off-road brawn
  • Well-made, easy-to-clean interior
  • Bold styling
  • Subpar on-road performance
  • Poor rearward visibility
  • Cramped back seat

New for 2009

  • Gained standard roll-sensing side curtain airbags and active head restraints
  • Available backup camera




Critics' Rating: 8.3
Performance: 7.9
Interior: 7.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.6
Safety: 9.2
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser Overview

When it was new, test drivers said the FJ Cruiser was a great choice for adventurers and weekend warriors. It’s an eminently capable off-roader, with roots in Toyota’s iconic FJ40 Land Cruiser, and it will get you noticed no matter where you go. Test drivers loved its easy-to-clean interior and logical dash layout, and shoppers who want to stand out from the crowd of jellybean-looking crossovers will find that the Toyota FJ Cruiser is one of the best SUVs for the job. Standard features are basic, including water-resistant upholstery, manually-adjustable seats and a six-speaker audio system. Even available features are more sensible than luxurious, including a rearview camera, daytime running lights, and rear parking sensors.

Anyone in the market for a comfortable, five-seat family SUV, however, should probably cross the FJ Cruiser off their shopping list. While its suspension and tires make it capable off-road, they also make it uncomfortable to drive on paved roads. Cargo space is in shorter supply than most other midsize SUVs, and the thick rear pillars hinder rearward visibility to an almost-alarming degree, in addition to cramping back-seat passengers. Two-wheel drive models get 17/21 mpg city/highway, which isn’t bad for an off-road SUV, but in four-wheel drive models with a manual transmission, the same standard V6 engine gets just 14/19 mpg city/highway.

Overall, the FJ Cruiser ranks highly because it’s great at what it’s built for – adventures off the beaten track – but other SUVs provide a better compromise between all-terrain capability and daily comfort.

See the full 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser specs »

Other Cars to Consider

If you like the FJ Cruiser’s off-road prowess, but need more seats, consider the 2009 Toyota 4Runner. The 4Runner has a more-practical interior, with a third row of seats that is ideal for kids.

Shoppers who don’t need more passenger space, but want a more-refined interior should consider the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Not only does the Grand Cherokee continue Jeep’s legacy for burly off-road abilities, but it has a near-luxury interior and comfortable on-road performance that test drivers loved. It won’t stand out in a crowd the way the FJ Cruiser will, but reviewers felt that the Jeep Grand Cherokee does a fantastic job of combining trail-rated performance with everyday refinement.

Compare the FJ Cruiser to the 4Runner and Grand Cherokee »

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