Toyota Off Road Series: 2013 FJ Cruiser

The next generation of this iconic model, the award-winning 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser is hailed by the company as the epitome of “street cred, minus the street.” Indeed, with its funky retro box design it brings to mind the toughness of a stocky street brawler that more than holds its own against similar SUV’s in its class.

It certainly proves that there’s more to Toyota than the Prius, who are keen to highlight that they’re capable of doing off-road as well as anybody and the Cruiser’s short base handles all terrains, no matter how rocky, sandy or steep the hills. It’s available in three models, the 4×2 AT is a five speed automatic rear wheel drive and costs $26,880 and two 4×4 models, the MT and AT, with the manual priced at $28,060 and the automatic transmission $28,470.

All come equipped with a 4 liter V6 280 HP engine that can hit 60 miles per hour in a not-so-shy seven and a half seconds. It boasts 272 pounds per feet of torque and beneath the hood you’ll find a cyclone pre-air cleaner that traps the dirt and sand – especially handy when you leave the safety of those tarmacked roads.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser is designed with wraparound rear quarter windows for optimum visibility and the front windshield even has three wipers. At the back there’s rear-hinged access doors and a swing gate with a spare tire. The power side mirrors come with turn-signal indicators as standard. You can pick a from a choice of six colors, all ruggedly named: iceberg, army green, magma white, quicksand, cavalry blue, and good ol’ black, and all with a cool contrasting white roof.

Inside you’ll find climate control technology and water-resistant seating surfaces – especially handy when you hit those off-road bumps. Your ears are in for a real treat too with the top notch stereo and the hands-free Bluetooth enables calls and music streaming.

For ultimate attitude, available with the 4×4 models only, the Trail Teams Special Edition Package boasts a mean cement gray exterior with a unique color-coded roof, a blacked-out grille, bumpers and door handles. It features Active Traction Control, Crawl Control and 16 inch off-road wheels with a matt black finish. The trail-tuned Bilstein shocks, rock rails and electronically controlled locking rear differential will make light work of all of your off-road endeavors.

That aside, all models will still hold their own in the dirt. The body-on frame design is similar to that endorsed by trucks, mounted on a Prado platform that incorporates high mounted double wishbone front suspension and four link rear suspension. Air disc anti-lock brakes, an electronic stabilizing system and Toyota’s star safety system means that you’ll be in very good hands and its 5,000 pound towing system ensures that your fellow off-roaders in lesser vehicles will be very glad of your presence if they get stuck.