2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser Review (Pros & Cons)
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A 4×4 that has enjoyed limited patronage in the U.S. but massive success elsewhere, the 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a four-wheeler you can say was in the right place at the wrong time. Despite its expertly crafted engineering, it had too many market biases to overcome. In this article, you will learn the highlights that make it stand out and the design flaws considered unforgivable for some consumers.
Dubbed “SUV of the Year” by Motor Trend Magazine, the 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser is an iconic vehicle that has undoubtedly proven its off-roading mettle. Its retro-inspired aesthetics, impressive performance, and versatility are all a fitting homage to the FJ40 Land Cruisers of the ’60s and ’70s.
Despite falling short of U.S. sales projections, the FJ Cruiser’s distinct retro styling and dependable nature garnered a devout following. Not only does this versatile midsize SUV not break the bank, but it is also guaranteed to meet expectations.
A Fresh Interpretation of the FJ40
The 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser is the 3rd-year installment of the series inspired by the Land Cruisers of the previous decades. This label was initially unveiled as a concept car in 2003 before being mass-produced and distributed to international markets two years later.
Fresh off the showroom, the FJ Cruiser received positive feedback from enthusiasts and the automotive press. It came out in 2006 as a 2007 model — the same year also saw the introduction of the vehicle in Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East. It was not until November 25, 2010, that the FJ Cruiser was released domestically in Japan.
Other countries like Chile and the Philippines followed suit. And while the product lineup gradually pulled out from earlier markets — August 2016 in Australia and December 2022 in the Middle East (according to CarScoops) — the vehicle continues to be sold in Southeast Asia and South Africa.
2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser Specs & Features
A (3,956cc) 4.0-L V6 power mill powered FJ Cruiser models until 2009. This engine is known as the 1GR-FE and is a part of the Japanese OEM’s GR engine family. Furthermore, this mill came with a single variable valve timing (VVT-i) spewing 239 hp (178 kW) @ 5,200 RPM and 377 Nm (38.4 kgf-m, 278 lb-ft) of torque @ 3,700 RPM.
Its bore-stroke ratio is a near-square 94 x 95 mm (3.701 x 3.740 inches), while its compression ratio is 10.4:1 — a tad lower than the GR engine’s 11.8:1 ratio.
Fuel & Lubrication
Fuel tank storage is 72 L (19 USgal) of premium unleaded gasoline or petrol with a minimum Octane rating of PON 91. This tank capacity yields an average fuel mileage of 18 MPG — 16/20 MPG (14.7/11.8 L/100 km, CTY/HWY) — on premium gas.
Lubrication-wise, the FJ Cruiser has a forced system with a large-capacity oil pump and oil cooler, and a disposable oil filter.
Recommended lubrication is 1.5 L (1.6 US qt) of SAE 5W-30 or 10W-30 Toyota Genuine Motor Oil or its equivalent. Same-spec variants should have a minimum API grade of SJ meeting ILSAC or JASO T903 MA standards. Other lubes specified in the manual are permissible following changes in ambient temperature or riding conditions.
This midsize SUV is available in either rear-wheel drive or 4WD, with the latter version split into permanent or part-time. The Toyota FJ Cruiser uses a 5-speed manual gearbox or an automatic transmission with five or six speeds depending on the drivetrain.
The A-TRAC traction control system and suspension tuning were modded in 2008 — these changes were a direct result of the prototype testing in the technical trails of the Mojave Desert, the Rubicon Trail, and Moab.
The RA61F manual transmission found in FJ Cruiser models boasts a full-time 4WD system that employs a locking center TORSEN differential and distributes engine power 40:60 in typical driving scenarios. However, power distribution varies based on steering angle and wheel slippage. Engaging the “lock” position causes the differential to switch to an equal 50:50 power distribution.
Other transmissions that came standard with a limited-slip differential (only available in certain markets) are as follows:
- 5-speed A750E automatic transmission on rear-wheel drive models
- 5-speed A750F automatic transmission with VF2A transfer case on part-time 4WD models
- 6-speed RA61F manual transmission with VF4B transfer case on full-time 4×4 models
As for stock gear ratios, see the tables below:
|5-Speed Auto Transmission|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — I||3.520|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — II||2.042|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — III||1.400|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — IV||1.000|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — V||0.716|
|6-Speed Manual Transmission|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — I||4.170|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — II||2.190|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — III||1.490|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — IV||1.178|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — V||1.000|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — VI||0.797|
Tires & Brakes
Stock tire sizes varied depending on the specific trim level of the four-wheeler. Base models had P265/70R16 Bridgestone Duelers, upgraded trims had P265/70R17, and Trail Teams Special Edition FJ Cruisers had LT285/75R16 knobbies. TRD Special Edition trims, in particular, came equipped with 16-inch TRD aluminum wheels and LT265/75R16 BF Goodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires.
As for brakes, the FJ Cruiser utilizes power-assisted 4-piston front discs and 2-piston rear ventilated discs with ABS. Braking performance is further enhanced — thanks to EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), Brake Assist, VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), and a specialized traction control system, A-TRAC.
Enclosed in a body-on-frame chassis reminiscent of the 2-door Prado platform are high-mounted, front double wishbones and sway bar links (view on Amazon) and a rear linkage and lateral rod (complemented by coil springs and stabilizer bar). These units provide the FJ Cruiser’s respective wheel travels of 200 mm (8 inches) at the front and 230 mm (9 inches) at the back.
These suspension components lend to a minimum ground clearance of 240 mm, an estimated turning radius of 12.4 m, and a wheelbase of 2,690 mm — and are coupled with a 34° approach and 30° departure angles, and a 27.4° breakover angle.
These figures may vary slightly depending on the trim package. The same goes for actual suspension components — the Trail Teams and TRD trims are fitted with Bilstein shocks (view on Amazon) from the factory. Conversely, standard versions share the same suspension parts with Toyota’s Land Cruiser Prado, Tacoma, 4Runner, and Hilux models.
Dimensions & Capacities
Overall dimensions are 4,670 x 1,895 x 1,810 mm (183.9 x 74.6 x 71.3 inches — L x W x H) for 2WD models and 4,670 x 1,905 x 1,830 mm (183.9 x 75 x 72 inches — L x W x H) for 4WD ones. These figures (paired with the vehicle’s wheelbase) make for excellent approach, departure, and ramp-over angles. Moreover, these dimensions enable the 4×4 to drive through a maximum of 700 mm (27.5 inches) of water depth.
Curb weight ranges from 1,837—2,015 Kg (4,050—4,442 lbs.). Meanwhile, the 2008 FJ Cruiser’s towing capacity is 2,268 Kg (5,000 lbs.) and is the same for both 4WD and 2WD iterations. GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is an estimated 2,526.5 Kg (5,570 lbs.) and includes curb weight, accessories, and payload.
The 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser’s interior boasts various design elements prioritizing off-road functionality. All interior surfaces are coated with washable rubber materials to facilitate easy cleaning after intensive outdoor use.
To add, the FJ Cruiser features larger controls to assist drivers wearing gloves. The final production model offers a 3-gauge cluster — including a compass, temperature, and inclinometer (view on Amazon) — and a 120V rear outlet.
Furthermore, the 4×4 offers side curtain airbags, side torso airbags, rear opening access doors, high-strength steel for side impact protection, and a unique design with throwback cues to the original FJ40.
Signature color schemes for the series include Voodoo Blue and Iceberg white monotone color with blacked-out trims for the Trail Teams Special Edition. An RHD (Right-Hand Drive) version was released in some markets, featuring side indicator markers on the vehicle’s fender panels.
Toyota FJ Cruiser Pros and Cons
- The 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser received 5-star NHTSA crash test ratings in frontal driver, side driver, and side rear passenger safety.
- It is also universally praised for its on-road manners, functional interior, and styling paying homage to the original FJ40s.
- The FJ Cruiser’s high ground clearance, advanced driveline features, and body-on-frame construction are designed to handle adverse terrain and driving conditions.
- 4WD models with the 5-speed manual transmission have a full-time 4WD system with a central Torsen locking differential. Meanwhile, part-time 4WD models have high- and low-range ratios and automatic locking front hubs, lending to the 4×4’s undeniable off-roading capability.
- Many owners find the off-road-oriented vehicle surprisingly comfortable and quiet.
- Personalization or conversion into an extreme off-road tank is easy, with many aftermarket upgrades available.
- If you wish to keep your 4×4 stock, sourcing replacement parts is not as difficult since the Toyota FJ Cruiser shares many components such as power mills, transmissions, and suspension with the Tacoma, Tundra, 4Runner, Hilux, and Prado.
- Pre-loved FJ Cruisers are seeing an increase in resale value in recent years.
- The 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser has a 3.5 out of 5.0 Reliability Rating, placing it 12th out of 26 for midsize SUVs in the U.S.
- Despite its NHTSA safety ratings, some reviewers took issue with the amount of body roll and low lateral grip performance that the four-wheeler had. These flaws were blamed on the stock suspension being soft with a long travel for off-road use.
- The FJ Cruiser’s design had many blind spots, leading to less-than-optimal visibility. These design flaws posed a significant challenge for unaccustomed drivers but not as much for seasoned FJ Cruiser owners.
- Blind spots aside, the vehicle also felt cramped and had a hard-to-access backseat — with little legroom for average-height passengers (measuring only 31.3 inches in the rear). It took another three years before this issue was resolved.
- The vehicle’s small rear ‘suicide’ doors cannot be accessed without opening the front doors first.
- Among the most complained FJ Cruiser problems were flimsy inner fenders and shuddering of auto-transmission versions. Toyota eventually revised the engine bay’s inner fender aprons to address bulging and cracking problems with 2007 and some early 2008 models. As for the shuddering at 35-45 mph (56-72 km/h), there is no clear resolution.
- Unit sales in the U.S. were cut in half less than three years from its inception (as seen in the table below, per Wikipedia), leading to the label’s complete discontinuance in the U.S. after 2014.
Depending on the trim and transmission, the MSRP of the 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser ranged from $23,045 to $29,240. Iterations with manual gearboxes were cheaper by at least $800 than those with automatic transmissions.
Standard models were between $23,045 and $23,845, Special Edition trims between $24,230 and $25,155, and TRD/Team Trails versions between $28,305 and $29,240.
In terms of resale pricing, the four-wheeler can keep its value well. Many FJ Cruisers in the used-vehicle market are in good shape, with prices ranging from $15,000 to $35,000.
Units worth over $20,000 can be expected to have aftermarket mods, new powertrain components, and additional equipment. Although rare, you may also find FJ Cruisers in near-mint condition.
Toyota Motor Corporation, originally a loom manufacturer, began producing engines in 1934 and automobiles in 1935. The company was a spin-off of Toyota Industries, founded by Sakichi Toyoda.
From its launch of the 1936 Toyota AA vehicle, the now automotive conglomerate has come a long way from marking its spot on the global map. The 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser, a nod to the iconic FJ40 Land Cruiser from the ’60s, is but one of Toyota’s many milestone products.
Conclusion — 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser Review
The 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser is one four-wheeler gone too soon from the assembly lines and the U.S. market. After all, seven years is not enough of a production run for any vehicle that has yet to improve and evolve.
Its absence from the region may seem inconsequential to casual off-roaders. But for savvy enthusiasts, it’s a spectacular 4WD that they’re begrudgingly missing out on.