Should You Take the Toyota FJ Cruiser Off-Road?

The four-wheel drive Toyota FJ Cruiser is a true trail warrior built for the rugged backcountry.
Written by Alison Daurio
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
With a design that focused almost exclusively on off-road capabilities, the Toyota FJ Cruiser is still a contender on the open trail and backcountry roads in 2022.
Originally manufactured between 2007 and 2014, the FJ Cruiser gives off-roading greats like
Jeep Wrangler
Ford Bronco
a run for their money. Even in the 2020s, the FJ is incredibly popular with off-roading enthusiasts—with some models selling for more than $30,000 on the used car market.
If you’re thinking about buying a Toyota FJ Cruiser for your weekend excursions to the mountains, check out this guide from super app and
car insurance
. We’ll go over off-roading essentials like ground clearance, torque, and drivetrain—and talk about what makes the FJ Cruiser stand out.  Plus, stick around for some tips on how to save on your
Toyota FJ Cruiser insurance costs

Can the Toyota FJ Cruiser go off road?

Yes! Even a base Toyota FJ Cruiser can handle the backroads, but when it comes to really tough terrain, a model equipped with some of Toyota’s optional upgrades—like four-wheel drive, improved traction control and shock absorbers—will offer superior performance. 
If you want the definitive off-road FJ Cruiser, then you should look for a Trail Teams Ultimate Edition. This special, limited-edition trim was released in the FJ’s final production year, and included perks such as a “trail-tuned” suspension, all-terrain tires, and improved shocks that offered high-speed stability. But because Toyota only made 2,500 of the Trail Teams Ultimate Edition—finding one on the used car market in 2022 could be a challenge.
Want to learn more about how the Toyota FJ Cruiser excels in even the most rugged terrain conditions? Keep reading to get the rundown on this off-road classic’s ground clearance, torque, tires, drivetrain, and angles.

Ground clearance

Your vehicle’s ground clearance, or the space between the lowest part of its chassis and the ground, is one of the most important things to look at before you hit the trails. Vehicles that ride higher perform better and are less likely to take frame damage when driving off-road.
Experts recommend 8.8 to10.8 inches of clearance for the best off-road experience—and the
Toyota FJ Cruiser
meets the mark. Offering a ground clearance of 9.6 inches, you should have no problem driving over moderately sized rocks and logs.
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How much turning power your car has can have a major impact on how well it performs on the trails—and vehicles that can achieve high torque at lower rpm pack the biggest punch. Unfortunately, torque is the one area where the Toyota FJ Cruiser falls a little short. 
Offering a maximum torque of 271 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm, the FJ has the power to perform adequately enough on most terrain—but since you can’t access that power at very low speeds, you could find yourself losing momentum while driving over extra-large obstacles like boulders. 


The base Toyota FJ Cruiser came standard with a set all-season tires—which aren’t a great choice for off-roading—but
all-terrain tires
were offered as an optional upgrade for car buyers who spend time driving both on and off the beaten path. 
If you’re looking at buying a FJ Cruiser with the standard stock tires, you’d be best served by visiting your local garage or tire shop and replacing them. A new set of aftermarket A/T tires will get you better cornering, improved traction and deeper treads—all of which are essential for peak off-road performance.


If you’re thinking about buying a used Toyota FJ Cruiser in 2022, here’s where you need to be a little careful. 
Models with the four-wheel drive system are true trail bosses that offer stellar performance on difficult trails. But beware! The FJ Cruiser was also available with two-wheel drive, and those vehicles are only capable of light to moderate off-roading—in fact, they’re much more likely to get stuck in mud, sand, or on any terrain where it’s difficult to maintain traction.


Before you drive up steep hills or over large obstacles, you should be aware of your car’s approach angle and departure angle. Here’s how those terms are defined:
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
Expert off-roaders suggest angles of at least 20 degrees for tougher terrain—and the Toyota FJ Cruiser exceeds this recommendation with approach and departure angles of 34 and 31 degrees, respectively.
Key Takeaway The four-wheel drive Toyota FJ Cruiser can be a true trail warrior—but a model equipped with the upgraded traction control, shock absorbers, and all-terrain tires offers the best experience.

Off-road rating: Trail boss

To help car buyers figure out which off-road vehicle is right for them,
created its super-technical DIRT rating system, which breaks down as follows:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
We believe that the Toyota FJ Cruiser deserves a T rating—but only if it’s a four-wheel drive model. Between its generous ground clearance, adequate torque, and impressive angles, the FJ ranks among the best used off-road SUVs you can buy.
Keep in mind that this high praise only applies to the 4X4 models. We give the two-wheel drive FJs an R rating instead.

The best off-road alternatives to the Toyota FJ Cruiser

While it’s easy to sing the praises of the Toyota FJ Cruiser when it comes to off-adventures, it does have one major downside—it’s expensive! According to Kelley Blue Book, the typical listing price for a used 2014 FJ is about $34,806. That’s over $3,000 more than the starting price of a brand new 2022
Jeep Wrangler
Here are a few alternatives for off-road enthusiasts working with a different budget:
Typical list price
With optional four-wheel drive, a powerful V6 engine, and 9.5 inches of ground clearance, the 2012 Nissan XTerra performs well on the backroads.
The 4X4 2011 Jeep Liberty has 35.1 cubic feet of cargo space, making it a great pick if you need to haul camping gear or other cargo.
Perhaps the FJ’s closest competitor, the 2010 Jeep Wrangler offers up to 10 inches of ground clearance, a V6 engine, and approach and departure angles of 45 and 40 degrees.
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