Based on Toyota’s advertising campaign, one would assume that the FJ Cruiser not only commutes well, but that it also performs quite well in light to medium off-road environments. But let’s face it, ads are designed to sell a product. Because of this, it can be difficult at times to separate fact from fiction. From my own experience, I can attest to the FJ’s on-road capabilities. As my primary mode of transport to and from work, I find it’s road performance to be quite mannerly, combining the functionality I require with all of the creature comforts I’ve come to expect from a Toyota vehicle.
As of early 2009, with the exception of the occasional snow storm or foray into the field behind the house, my FJ had not yet seen any real dedicated off-road use. But that all changed in April, 2009, at the FJ Northeasters Run at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park in Tremont, Pennsylvania. As both a driver and casual observer (watching all the other FJs on the trail), I witnessed the FJ’s off-road handling first hand and can now attest to the truth behind Toyota’s ads. In my case, I stuck with green- or blue-rated trails and despite a few more challenging obstacles, the FJ handled beautifully with absolutely no issues. Upon returning to the trail head, however, we discovered that others had not been so lucky. A few of the more courageous folks had ventured into some of the black- and purple-rated areas, in near-stock configuration, only to discover that large boulders when combined with a stock FJ is almost always a recipe for carnage. Continue Reading →