The Toyota FJ Cruiser is one of the Japanese brand’s most popular SUVs to date, but is it as tough as it looks? Can you use this car to tow a camper or a boat trailer, or is it just a nice-looking lifted SUV? Just how much is the Toyota FJ Cruiser towing capacity?
The Toyota FJ Cruiser has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, give or take a few. It also has a payload capacity of 1,285 pounds, so it can haul quite a lot of weight and is not just for show.
Read on to learn more about the towing capacity of the FJ Cruiser, as well as its key specs and features.
Toyota FJ Cruiser Towing Capacity
If you own a Toyota FJ Cruiser, which is already a classic, then one thing you may want to know about it is its towing capacity. You may be wondering if you can tow a trailer behind it. Long story short, yes, you can tow certain trailers with ease, but you need to be careful when doing so.
The Toyota FJ Cruiser uses a gasoline V6 engine to power it. This engine is capable of producing up to 260 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft of torque. It means that the FJ Cruiser is more than just a nice-looking car. It does not also have any problems towing up to 5,000 pounds.
The most popular travel trailers are those that measure anywhere between 18-22 feet. On average, they weigh 2500 to 2750 pounds. Taking into consideration that you load the trailer with the usual camping gear and supplies, it is safe to say that you will end up with a trailer that is roughly 3000 pounds heavy.
So, yes, your Toyota FJ Cruiser would have no problem towing your travel trailer.
About the FJ Cruiser
The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a mid-size SUV with a familiar retro styling, a homage to the classic FJ40 Land Cruiser. Toyota first introduced the FJ Cruiser as a concept vehicle in the North American International Auto Show in 2003.
After favorable consumer responses to the concept, Toyota approved the production of the FJ Cruiser. In 2005, the FJ Cruiser debuted its final production form in the North American International Auto Show. The FJ Cruiser model year 2007 went on sale in early 2006, which is why people refer to it as the ’06 Cruiser, even though technically, there is no such thing.
Months before the official release, Land Cruiser and most other off-road enthusiasts laid down thousands of dollars to reserve their Cruisers when they come out. The FJ Cruiser concept came in Voodoo Blue, which would then become the signature color of the production model.
The bold yet familiar styling of the FJ Cruiser immediately became a hit with the automotive media and the public in general. Because it resurrected most of the design traits of the iconic FJ49 Land Cruiser, people viewed the FJ Cruiser as the new halo car of Toyota.
However, even though it was vastly popular on launch, the FJ Cruiser’s sales dipped the following years sharply. The FJ Cruiser did not even manage to last ten years, with 2014 being the last official model year.
Is the FJ Cruiser Good for Towing Travel Trailers?
Basing on its towing capacity, you will surely have no problems doing so. The FJ Cruiser has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, so it should have no problems pulling a mid-sized trailer. However, towing capacity is not the only basis to judge if a vehicle is ideal for towing travel trailers.
One of the biggest design issues that many people have about the Toyota FJ Cruiser is that the small windows make outside visibility a challenge. Now, when you are towing a couple of thousand pounds behind you on a trailer, you will need to see behind you as much as you can. It is a problem that you will need to address when you are using an FJ Cruiser.
Another thing you may consider is the vehicle’s fuel consumption. The FJ Cruiser has a not-so-impressive fuel economy, averaging just around 20mpg on the highway.
Now, add to that the added load of a 5,000-pound trailer behind it, and the fuel economy will drop even lower, maybe to around 12-13mpg—factor in the fact that Toyota recommends that you use only premium fuel for top performance.
Tips for Safely Towing a Trailer with the FJ Cruiser
You may be super excited to take your FJ Cruiser out camping, but if this is your first time hauling a trailer, you need to ensure that you are doing it right.
Here are some tips on how you can safely tow a trailer:
1. Ensure That You Have a Capable Vehicle
Just because your vehicle has a tow hitch does not automatically mean you can hook up any trailer on it. Even some large trucks have a surprisingly low towing capacity.
Your FJ Cruiser has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. It means you won’t have any problem towing travel trailers up to 22 feet in length. Those trailers usually do not weigh more than 3 ½ tons, so your Cruiser would do fine. Just make sure that you don’t pile on more than 2,000 pounds of gear.
However, just because your Cruiser can tow up to 5,000 pounds, it does not mean you should get as near to it as you can. When towing a trailer, every pound towards the towing limit decreases your safety.
2. Travel Light
Water weighs more than 8 pounds per gallon, which is why it is best to fill up your RV’s water tank on the campsite unless you will be camping somewhere remote. In that case, fill up somewhere near the campgrounds. It is much better than carrying a full tank the entire trip. Also, all that water sloshing about in the tank will make it harder for you to control the trailer.
You should avoid packing too many clothes and gear. Just bring enough for the duration of your trip. Besides having more room in your travel trailer, it would also make it much easier to haul.
3. Ensure Proper Trailer Weight Distribution
Trailer weight distribution may sound like a complicated matter, but it is not. You have to make sure that you position at least 60% of the trailer’s total weight at the front end. If there is too much weight at the back of the trailer, it will become prone to fishtailing. It means that it could sway uncontrollably from side to side.
Fortunately, modern RVs are already designed with preventing fishtailing in mind. This is the reason why you can see the heavy components already installed in front. However, to be on the safe side, you should still avoid piling your camping gear on the rear of the trailer.
4. Drive Carefully
Although you might feel the urge to beat the travel time set by your GPS, there is one rule on towing trailers that you should never ignore. Take it easy and stay well below the speed limit.
Remember that you are hauling a couple of thousand pounds of weight behind you, making it harder to slow down and stop. Although there isn’t a magic speed range that will ensure your safety, a good rule of thumb drives at a leisurely pace – around 10 mph below the speed limit should be good.
It also means you will be hanging out at the rightmost lane for the trip duration, so you need to get used to being passed a lot. Relax and enjoy your trip. Remember that you are not in a race. You will get there when you get there.
5. Do Not Slam on the Brakes
Suddenly slamming on the brakes while driving at highway speeds is dangerous enough with just your vehicle alone—the risk of jack-knifing increases exponentially with a trailer.
No matter what happens, even if a jerk driver cuts in front of you and brake checks you, never slam on the brakes as it will only cause a worse accident. It is also a good reminder to invest in a good dashcam to record your trips. On the other hand, if you follow the previous tip, you would probably not need to slam on the brakes anyway.
Most modern trailers come with electronic braking systems to assist in braking, but you should not depend too much on them. Do not forget that you hooked your FJ Cruiser on a travel trailer. It is not the time for you to test out the V6 engine’s limits.
Again, what is the Toyota FJ Cruiser towing capacity? The Toyota FJ Cruiser has a towing capacity of about 5,000 pounds. It also has a payload capacity of 1,285 pounds, so it can haul quite a lot of weight and is not just for show.
Toyota FJ Cruiser Issues
Although the FJ Cruiser has its merits, and many consider it one of the best mid-size SUVs ever made, it does have its share of problems.
Some of these issues are the following:
1. Transmission Shudder
A common complaint of FJ Cruiser owners is that the transmission would shudder when the engine hits the 1500-1800 rpm range. At first, they thought that the brakes and wheel bearings were the reason for the issue. However, when changing them did nothing. They discovered that it was the transmission that was at fault.
Some FJ Cruiser owners even tried to flush their transmissions, but it was all for naught as the vehicles have sealed transmissions that contained lifetime transmission fluid. The problem seemed to be either an imbalance in the transfer casing, which worsens when the engine hits a particular rpm range or a faulty torque converter.
The transmission shuddering does not affect all FJ Cruisers, but if you experience this problem in your vehicle, it is best to take it to a professional mechanic to have it checked out.
2. Slipping Gears
Some ’11 FJ Cruiser owners complained of slipping gears. The problem is that there would be a hard jerking sound when the gearbox changes from 1st to 2nd gear. The gearbox would then shift at random RPMs until it finally slips out of gear. Experts believe that this issue is linked to the shuddering transmission problem.
3. Fender Tear or Bulge
There is a running joke in the FJ Cruiser community, and that is there are only two types of FJs – those with fender bulge or tears and those that haven’t got them yet. This is a problem that typically exists in the 2008 model. Once the fender starts to bulge, there is no stopping it until it tears.
Although the fender tearing issue is not a life-threatening problem, there are instances when it made it difficult to close and open the doors. The following model years had a double-layer fender that seemed to fix the issue.
4. Seat Belt Retractors
Between 2007 and 2013, Toyota recalled more than 300,000 FJ Cruiser units because there was a serious problem that involved seatbelt retractors. Normally, the seatbelt retractors would be mounted on the door pillars, but seeing as the FJ Cruiser does not have any, Toyota mounted them on the rear door panel.
However, since the rear door panel does not have sufficient strength, cracks would develop over time. This can cause the retractors to loosen and detach.
5. Brake Master Cylinder
Quite a lot of people have reported a dangerous issue with the FJ Cruiser. When they step on the brakes, the pedal will go straight to the floor without slowing down the vehicle. The problem is with the brake’s master cylinder malfunctioning. There might have been air in the brake lines, which caused the spongy brake pedal.
Toyota recalled more than 740,000 vehicles in 2010 due to faulty brake master cylinder seals. Included in the recall were the 2010 FJ Cruisers.
Conclusion – How Much Can an FJ Cruiser Pull?
The Toyota FJ Cruiser’s V6 engine produces more than enough power to tow up to 5,000 pounds. The vehicle itself also has a payload capacity of 1,285 pounds. This makes the Cruiser one heck of a weekend warrior.
Although the FJ Cruiser is no longer in production and has quite many problems, it is still a well-loved vehicle that deserves its place in the hearts of car and off-road enthusiasts.
To safety tow a trailer using the FJ Cruiser, here are some tips you should take note:
- Ensure That You Have a Capable Vehicle
- Travel Light
- Ensure Proper Trailer Weight Distribution
- Drive Carefully
- Do Not Slam on the Brakes