Best & Worst Years For The Toyota FJ Cruiser

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The Toyota FJ Cruiser had a short lifespan. It was introduced in 2006, with sales starting the very next year, in 2007.

It was discontinued in 2014 due to dwindling sales. Regardless, it is still a highly sought-after SUV, loved by thousands of people.

The FJ Cruiser had a short lifespan, and it still had some models that were more unreliable than the others. This article will focus on the best and worst years for Toyota FJ Cruiser.

A section of the most common problems has also been provided to better understand which models to avoid.

Let’s list down all of the important years before we get into the details:

Best Years for Toyota FJ Cruiser:

  1. 2009
  2. 2011
  3. 2014
  4. 2012

Worst Years for Toyota FJ Cruiser:

  1. 2007
  2. 2008
  3. 2010
  4. 2013

Now that all of these models have been listed down, this article will be getting into the details of all of them, so you can understand better why they have earned their respective positions.

So, without any further ado, let’s get straight into it!

List Of The Best Years For The Toyota FJ Cruiser: What Years To Buy

Are FJ Cruisers reliable? Comparing each good and bad model years so you can avoid having lemon

I will not be wasting any of your time. We will be discussing the top models of the FJ Cruiser that were available in the market.

These years have been proven to be reliable. You can buy any one of them and be extremely satisfied.

#1 Best Year: 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser

The first model on this list is 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Although it is more than a decade old at this point, it is still very capable.

The SUV features a 4.0L V6 engine under the hood, which means it can power its way through anything.

The manufacturer even included options for a five-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual one.

Although the 2009 model of the FJ Cruiser is old, it does not mean it lacks safety features.

You are getting side and front airbags, antilock disc brakes, and stability and traction control too. All of them work in tandem to make the driving experience much safer.

The driving experience of this SUV is superb. The excellent suspension allows you to conquer any obstacles, making it perfect for off-roading.

#2 Best Year: 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Next up is the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser, which came two years later. This model was also very famous and is an excellent option for those looking to get a sturdy SUV.

Its distinctive look and off-roading performance make it the perfect option for people looking to use it for multiple purposes.

The engine that this SUV carries is excellent. It is the same 4.0L V6 engine found in the 2009 model.

It can pump out a decent 260 HP, which is more than enough for most people. It has an impressive towing capacity, at 5000 pounds.

But this model does suffer in the fuel economy department. It has an average of 18 mpg, which drops if you go for the manual transmission option.

This is why it has earned a lower spot than its predecessor.

#3 Best Year: 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser

The 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser was the last model to be in production.

Many people prefer it because Toyota may have worked out all of the kinks, as no real changes have been made since its introduction in 2007.

Well, that is indeed true. The engine is the same one, a 4.0L V6 engine that can output 260 HP.

This model has earned a lower spot than its 3-year-old predecessor because there was a drop in fuel efficiency.

With the manual transmission, the model had an average of 16 mpg, which is pretty low for today’s standards. That said, this model did makeup in the driving department.

It was designed for off-roading. It drives incredibly smooth on the road, thanks to that beefy suspension system. The handling and steering are also great.

#4 Best Year: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Coming in last place is the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser. This model has earned the last spot due to one major reason, and that is due to the cramped rear seats.

Even the entry is constrained, which is why this model is the worst of the best years of the FJ Cruiser.

The 2012 model is an amazing performer, just like its older and newer counterparts. It has the same V6 engine, which is capable but does consume a lot of fuel.

The fuel economy is similar to the other models, averaging at 16 mpg. It does have excellent safety features, making it a safe vehicle to buy and drive.

Talking about drive, you will be pleased with the handling and overall control. It is precise, allowing you to take sharp turns without any hassle.

List Of The Worst Years For The Toyota FJ Cruiser: What Years To Avoid

Next up, this section of the article will look at all those models of the FJ Cruiser that are the most unreliable.

This list will be short because many of them were reliable and have already been mentioned above.

#1 Worst Year: 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser

The first model on this list is 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser.

It was the first-ever model of the FJ Cruiser to be available in the market. Although many bought it, little did they know that owning it would be a pure headache.

The main complaint of this model was that the frame would start to rust. It is serious because the structural integrity is compromised due to rusting.

Some owners also complained that the paint would start chipping. The transmission system was also extremely unreliable.

The main issue was that the SUV would start shuddering as soon as it touched 35 mph on the speedometer. This would last until the vehicle would go faster than 45 mph.

Another issue was that the vehicle would not enter the fifth gear, which means it could not be taken on highways due to the required speed not being reached.

#2 Worst Year: 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Coming in second place is the 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Although it carried over most of the problems from its predecessor, its frequency was reduced, this is why it has earned a better spot.

The most common complaint was related to rusting yet again.

The frame would start to rust, which meant the frame’s integrity would be compromised, and the lifespan of the SUV would be shortened. Improper seals also led to leaks inside the cabin.

The braking system would also act erratically at times. Some users complained that the brake assist would turn on without any reason, which would result in the vehicle suddenly braking.

This is serious because it can cause a serious accident due to an oncoming vehicle. The shuddering issue was also present here, but it was present at speeds between 65 and 75 mph.

#3 Worst Year: 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser

The 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser came two years later. It did improve a bit, but it was an overall unreliable SUV. The rusting issue was still not resolved.

This is surprising because it was complained about for many years, and Toyota still did not resolve it.

Water leaks due to improper seals were also present, which meant that the vehicle could not be taken to a car wash or driven in the rain.

The transmission system had a strange issue where it would produce many sounds while shifting. The system would work, but the sounds made driving it a lot less pleasurable.

One owner also complained that the driveshaft would break, which prevented the SUV from being driven.

#4 Worst Year: 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Next up is the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser. This model came a year before this beloved SUV was discontinued.

Although the successor was pretty good and was on the best year list, this one, unfortunately, was not.

It was not as bad as other models on this list, but it did have its fair share of issues.

Many users faced one problem: the screen would be blurred whenever the reverse camera was activated.

The braking system was also unreliable. The brake disc results in the steering becoming improper, leading to loss of control. This is dangerous and can lead to an accident.

There were also reports of the engine producing knocking sounds, which can indicate a serious failure.

What Are The Most Common Problems With The Toyota FJ Cruiser?

Now that we are done with all of the important models of the FJ Cruiser, this section of the article will be focusing on all of the common problems that owners have had to face over the years.

It is recommended to read this section of the article entirely, as it can affect your decision to buy this vehicle.

1. High Oil Consumption

The first and most common issue on this list is high oil consumption.

Many owners of the Toyota FJ Cruiser complained that they needed to replace the oil very quickly, which is simply not viable in the long term.

So, why is oil consumption a common issue on this vehicle?

Well, the thing is, this SUV is quite old as of writing this article. If it is not maintained, the oil rings will not create a proper seal, which can help the oil seep through.

This oil can end up in the combustion chamber and is then burned. This issue is usually accompanied by black smoke coming from the exhaust system.

So, if you check a vehicle, you should make sure that there are no similar symptoms. If there are, you can expect to pay a lot to get the leaks fixed.

2. Increased Blowby

Now, this problem is an extremely dangerous one. For those who don’t know, blowby enters air inside the engine that has not been passed through the intake.

This air has not been filtered, which means it can contain contaminants. These contaminants can affect the lifespan of an engine severely.

So, how does blowby happen?

This happens when the piston rings are unable to maintain a seal at all times. They can let air get in, which is not good.

The air finds its way between the compression rings and the cylinder walls.

One question that people ask is, when does this happen?

After thorough research, piston rings usually start to fail after the FJ Cruiser has been driven for more than 200000 miles.

So, if you buy one that has been driven for this mileage, you should be extra careful.

3. Loss In Compression

The leaks in the seals not only give the air a way in, but they also provide a way out.

This means that a high enough pressure is not maintained at all times. The increased blowby issue can also lead to a loss in engine compression.

Before you ask, yes, the difference will be notable. Lower compression means that the engine will not perform the combustion process properly. This will result in reduced performance.

The issue can be checked by using a compression tester. It is installed in place of a spark plug. After turning the engine on, you check the reading on it.

If it is 100 or above, it is good enough. If not, then there is a compression loss. The only way to fix the problem is by rebuilding the entire engine, which can easily cost more than $2000.

4. Transmission Shudder

This is the least common problem on this list, but enough people have experienced that it deserved a spot here.

The transmission system of the FJ Cruiser itself is perfect. There were no complaints regarding it, during its short lifespan of 7 years.

But the issue they faced was that the transmission would shudder at some speeds. It was between 35 and 45 mph for some models, while for some others, the number was higher.

This raises the question, what can cause the transmission to shudder? As there was no official statement from Toyota regarding this issue, your guess is as good as mine.

The most probable reason can be the improper mounting of the transfer housing, which can cause this issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Many Miles Will An FJ Cruiser Last?

With the vehicle not being in production for such a long time, the first logical question that comes to mind is how many miles will the FJ Cruiser last?

This is because all remaining ones may already have racked up a lot of mileage. Well, there is good news for you. The SUV can be driven for 250000 miles without any issues.

If regular maintenance procedure is followed, the 300000-mile barrier can be broken too!

Q2. What Is Better FJ Cruiser Or Jeep?

Now, this is a competition many people are interested in. Well, the Jeep Wrangler wins when compared to the FJ Cruiser.

Although the Jeep engine looks a bit less powerful on paper, it is still stronger than the FJ Cruiser. Plus, the Wrangler is a much newer vehicle than the FJ Cruiser.

Both are excellent for on-road and off-road use, but the Jeep wins in this category once again.

Q3. Are FJ Cruisers Good On Fuel?

This has been discussed several times in this article. Whenever a manufacturer creates a vehicle, they balance performance and fuel efficiency.

In the case of the FJ Cruiser, Toyota went all out for performance. The fuel economy is not the worst, but an average of 16 mpg is not so impressive.

But the FJ Cruiser does makeup in the performance department. It is an amazing vehicle, making owners forget about the fuel economy.

Q4. Why Did They Stop FJ Cruiser?

Although when it was released, the FJ Cruiser was an instant hit. It combined looks and practicality like no SUV had ever done before.

Unfortunately, its design grew old, and the vehicle suffered from poor sales. With buyers settling for older models, Toyota made no point to make new ones.

This is also why they did not have any interest in revising the design. So, due to these dwindling sales, the FJ Cruiser was discontinued in 2014.

Q5. Why Are Used FJ Cruisers So Expensive?

Although Toyota discontinued the FJ Cruiser in 2014, due to lack of demand, the number of people who wanted to buy one still did not increase.

Current owners took advantage of this situation and kept the prices of the used SUV high. Plus, there is no rugged SUV out there that has been designed to take a beating.

So, if you are looking for an off-roading beast, then a used FJ Cruiser is the only way to go.


So, there you have it, guys, my take on the best and worst years for Toyota FJ Cruiser.

This article not only took a thorough look into all of the models of the SUV that were ever released, but it also focused on the common problems, which you can expect to suffer from if you buy this model.

Out of all of them, the 2009 model is the clear winner. It is the most reliable and is the perfect option for people looking to get an SUV that can be used for off-roading.

I hope this article helped you decide which model of the FJ Cruiser is suitable for you.