2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser – New Trail Team Special Edition rocks

For 2013, the Toyota FJ Cruiser core attractions include its excellent off – roading ability , unique almost retro military styling and heritage-design features including a front grille reminiscent of the legendary original 1960’s FJ40 that is now a much sought after collectible classic.

The FJ Cruiser uses a 4.0-litre V6 engine raising horsepower from 239 to 260, with an improvement in fuel economy. There is a choice of two 4WD systems, Music versatility with USB Port, iPod® connectivity and XM Satellite Radio Capability, Standard locking rear differential, a six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic transmit power, while the full-time four-wheel drive includes stability control, Active Traction Control, two-speed transfer case, and fuel tank and transfer case protector plates. The FJ Cruiser’s side access doors open 90 degrees in clamshell fashion and the glass hatch opens independently of the rear door and helps accommodate longer items.

Our latest FJ tester was the 2013 Trail Team Special Edition which adds off-road lights, an aluminum shift knob and aluminum scuff plates, plus body color-matched interior highlights. Our tester was featured in a very unique monotone Cement Gray exterior with black bumpers, front grille and door handles. Matching Cement Grey accents on the door trim, steering wheel and fabric seat inserts complement the exterior styling.New TRD aluminum doorsill scuff plates stand up to wear and mud; and a chunky pleasingly hefty aluminum shift knob and transfer case knob and “floating ball” type multi-information displayadd to the rugged interior design.

The Trail Teams edition also features a cyclone pre-air cleaner (standard on all models) effective at trapping sand and dirt, trail-tuned Bilstein® shock absorbers; rock rails; plus Toyota Racing Development (TRD) alloy wheels and BF Goodrich 265/75R16 All-Terrain tires with wheel locks.

The Trail Teams Edition also adds power-side mirrors feature Illumination markers, and the auto-dimming rear-view mirror integrates a backup-camera monitor. The water-resistant seats, rubber-type floor and rear deck make it easy to clean, while 12V, DC/120W and 120V,AC/400W outlets enable the driver to keep accessories and mobile devices plugged in.

A pet peeve of mine is the impractical rear doors impractical in my opinion. Still people will say the clamshell doors do open 90 degrees and add to the unique styling. However I think the rear cabin is still tight although folding the rear seatback which is split 60/40, with folding (removable) bottom and back cushions convert to a nearly flat cargo floor. The rear cargo area has cargo-net hooks, multipurpose grocery-bag hooks and sturdy, floor-mounted cargo tie-down anchor points. A 120-volt accessory power outlet is available. Seat allow for decent enough cargo area.
Ergonomics for the driver are good with large control knobs provide easy grip, even when wearing gloves. The standard full gauge package – including speedometer, tachometer, amp meter, temperature gauge and fuel gauge – uses round, black-white dials for enhanced visibility. Switches for major functions, including climate and audio controls, and the optional locking rear differential, are mounted in the center dash panel within easy reach for the driver.

The FJ Cruiser’s 4.0-liter V6 engine takes regular-grade fuel and incorporates dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence to produce 260 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of peak torque.A Flex Lock-Up feature allows the clutch in the torque converter to maintain a half-engaged position, enhancing fuel efficiency and increasing the lock-up clutch’s operational range. Off road fans may like to know that FJ Cruiser is fully designed for serious trail driving. The FJ Cruiser’s ground clearance is 9.6 inches (8.7 inches for 4×2 models) whilst the critical approach and departure angles are 34 degrees and 31 degrees, respectively, for the 4×4 model, and 32/30 for the 4×2.gropn capability. The skid plates for the engine, transfer case (4×4 models only) and fuel tank are standard and help protect vital components, whilst the double-wishbone independent front suspension offers 7.87 inches of wheel travel and excellent suspension articulation on rough trails.

Transmission-wise, the FJ Cruiser’s two-speed transfer case provides a 2.566 low range. With the manual transmission, the transfer case uses a TORSEN® limited-slip center differential with a locking feature and distributes the engine’s power 40:60 under most driving conditions. The TORSEN unit varies power distribution as needed, based on steering angle and wheel slippage. In the Lock position, the differential switches to a 50:50 power distribution. An electronic-locking rear differential is standard with the manual transmission and optional with the automatic transmission. The solid rear axle uses a four-link coil-spring suspension system with a lateral rod, tubular shock absorbers and a stabilizer bar.

The four-wheel disc brake system uses ventilated 12.6-inch front and 12.3-inch rear rotors. The FJ Cruiser employs a variable-ratio, hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. Standard wheels are 17-inch steel with P265/70 R17 tires; aluminum-alloy wheels are available.The Trail Team Edition uses unique 16″ Black TRD Beadlock-style Alloy Wheels with meaty B.F.Goodrich tires. The maximum towing capacity with the proper receiver hitch is 4,700 pounds.

On the road the comfortable seats make the front cabin a pleasant place to be with fine visibilitythebrawny V6 sound more like a V8 and sounds very thrilling woofing and barking as you accelerate. The broad torque curve facilitates easy cruising on or off-road and the ride is comfortable and without drama thanks to the meticulous engineering. It feels comfortable to drive and I didn’t hear any passengers complaining about the ride. However fuel economy is not a strong point and the FJ is a challenge to manoeuverin confined areas due to the decreased visibility thanks to the big C pillars.

The FJ Cruiser’s comprehensive standard safety package includes front seat-mounted side airbags, and first- and second-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags. A front driver and passenger Advanced Airbag System deploys based on impact type and severity. Active headrests for the front seats LATCH child-restraint system. As with all Toyota models, the FJ Cruiser is standard equipped with Toyota’s STAR Safety System™ that includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), an Antilock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology (SST), Toyota’s brake override system. The roll-sensing side-curtain airbags can detect a potential rollover and signal the VSC system to help reduce a lateral skid. In addition, the rollover sensor can signal the standard seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags to deploy.

From the big chunky tires to the almost military-styled, tough looking interior this SUV you buy because you like it not because it is the most practical. There are more practical SUVS from Toyota but I would argue the FJ Cruiser has a totally original look and feel of a retro- styled vehicle that gives it a certain ambience and desirability.

Even a trip to the grocery store gives you a sense of adventure and invincibility in the FJ. If you like the look and the overall packaging, the FJ Cruiser is the ultimate four wheel drive lifestyle vehicle and has a lot going for it. By Veeno Dewan.

2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser Priced from $33,440. Trail Team Special Edition as tested $41,495