2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Ultimate Edition

Waving Goodbye to a Dogged Off-Roader

2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Ultimate Edition

Getting a new puppy is actually a lot like buying a rugged off-road vehicle. Broken glass, busted screen doors and the occasional mess on the carpet are expected, much the same way as sloppy on-road dynamics are delivered from a purpose-built off-road suspension. But the second those puppy-dog eyes lock in with your own after the bad deed, it’s easy to forgive and forget… if, you’re a dog person.


Engine: 4.0-liter V6 that makes 260 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque.

Transmission: Five-speed automatic.

Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, 18 mpg combined.

Price: Base price $28,540. Our tester costs $37,455.

Lovable Style

Same goes for the Toyota FJ Cruiser. It’s lovable, quirky styling and amazing off-road capability make it easy to have hours of fun, but you have to be prepared to live with some pretty big compromises if you want all that enjoyment.

But this isn’t just any FJ Cruiser. Our tester is the 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Ultimate Edition, a limited edition package put together to celebrate the Land Cruiser FJ40 of the 1960’s. It is also the unofficial send off for FJ, as 2014 will be its last year on the market.

Based on the already capable FJ Cruiser Trail Teams, the Ultimate Edition package adds style and substance. It’s finished in Heritage Blue paint along with black accents and a white grille. Overall, the FJ’s style is plucky and fun, always giving you the impression that its ready to go play.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Not Just About Looks

A black roof rack helps if you need to strap anything down and is the most noticeable functional upgrade that comes along with the Ultimate Edition. Less visible upgrades are made to the suspension, which runs 66mm front shock assemblies along with TRD race coil springs, lifting up the front end slightly for a leveled-off stance. In the back, 50mm rear shocks with remote reservoirs ensure that hours of punishment on the trail will be endured by diminishing damping fade.


Rated at 17 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, we only managed 16 mpg in our week with the FJ. Power for every single FJ Cruiser comes from a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 260 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque.

That might not seem like much, but the FJ feels plenty powerful with a broad torque curve that helps it to access its torque at low RPM. Gearing is crucial in any off-road machine and the FJ uses a 3.727:1 rear-end axle ratio, along with a transfer case that includes a 2.56:1 low gear. A five-speed automatic transmission gets the power down and is controlled by a great big black TRD shift knob located in the center console, sitting adjacent to another TRD knob that controls the transfer case. With the automatic, the FJ is fully controllable, so you can run in two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive high or four-wheel drive low. For those who like to do it themselves, a six-speed manual is available, but only with full-time four-wheel drive.  


Freeway Flaws

On paper, the FJ clearly sounds like an off-road machine with its low-gearing and transfer case, so it makes sense that cruising down the highway exposes many of this vehicle’s weaknesses.
With the aerodynamics of a brick, wind noise is pretty bad in the FJ’s interior, but outward visibility is the most glaring issue. The small windshield barely allows you to see stop lights in the city, and it makes it hard to gauge exactly where the nose is at times. Combined with small side mirrors, small rear windows and rather large B-pillars, seeing other cars, obstacles and sensing where the wheels are can all be a challenge.

Driving dynamics don’t help the matter. The FJ likes to roll around thanks to its softened suspension that’s meant to eat up rocky roads. Steering feel is fairly tight, but the turning circle certainly isn’t. The FJ takes a massive 40.7 feet to complete a U-turn, more than its 105.9-inch wheelbase would suggest. For comparison, the Toyota 4Runner, which has a 109.8-inch wheelbase completes the curb-to-curb turn in 37.4 feet.


Hit the Trails

The same things that make the FJ tough to drive on the street make it a blast when the pavement ends. Ground clearance of 9.6 inches allows you to clear any moderate obstacle and short overhangs on the front and back make climbing a breeze. The BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires fitted to the Ultimate Edition grip the mud with strength and contribute to the overall feeling that in low gear with the rear differential locked, the FJ could roll over almost anything . Climbing steep hills and crossing fast running water up to the bottoms of the door never once slowed us down and even then running in four-wheel high was more than enough.

And once the mud was sticking to the roof rack, we came to appreciate the interior of the FJ. At first glance, the amenities inside seem a little sparse for a vehicle that costs nearly $40,000. There isn’t a touch screen, no navigation and not even a fuel economy gauge.


But, the cloth seats, plastic door sills and thick rubber floor mats make cleaning the interior especially easy. What’s more, the squared-off dash design and oversized controls add an almost toy-like quality, making the FJ reminiscent of the power wheels you had as a kid. It just adds to the fun-loving quality of this purpose built machine. 

The back seats are also hard to access thanks to forward-hinged suicide doors, but the rear-seat space is surprisingly livable once you’re in.



To get a FJ Cruiser Trail Team Ultimate Edition, of which only 2,500 will be produced, you will have to drop $37,455. Considering the capability you get, that price seems fair, even when compared to a loaded-up Jeep Wrangler. It’s at the base end where the Toyota loses its edge. You can pick up a base, stripped out Jeep for $23,390, while a bottom-of-the-barrel FJ will cost $28,540.  The value proposition weighs heavily in the Jeep’s favor, coming with four-wheel drive straight out of the gate while the base FJ only powers two wheels, although the FJ does get two extra doors and more cargo room.

The Verdict

So what really sells an FJ? Its style, character, capability and charisma make it fun to drive, and easy to love. You must be prepared to overlook some glaring compromises to appreciate the fun-loving and capable nature of this off-road buggy. If you’re not willing to forget about the small things and you could care less about leaving the pavement, the FJ Cruiser is the absolute wrong vehicle for you.


But, if you value getting into the great outdoors and tackling the elements above all else, the FJ will be a competent partner that will return many miles of absolutely joyous motoring. And let’s face it, when you think back to your childhood puppy, you don’t recall the broken glass or busted screen door, you just remember sunny days playing fetch in the park. That feeling is what the FJ is all about.

  • Cm Smitty

    I have the 2014 Ultimate Trail Teams (one of 2500) fully loaded with I think was every option available….4700 miles. I am contemplating selling it to replace it with a 4 Runner as it has spent every mile on pavement. I live in SW Missouri if anyone is interested.

  • Rozi

    Please send me your email address

  • Stan Moore

    Do you still have this?

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked