It seems like car-based crossovers have taken over these days, but some folks still want old-school SUV versatility, which is exactly where the 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser comes in. If you're looking for a minivan replacement, then you're reading the wrong article, but if you need a butt-kicking SUV that can go just about anywhere, let's get down to business. Here are five reasons why the FJ Cruiser is a force to be reckoned with.

Off-Road Royalty

The first Toyotas that come to mind are probably the popular Camry or Corolla, but Toyota has some serious off-road-ready vehicles, too. The 4Runner is one, and the FJ is another. When you're off in the bushes and you see an SUV coming your way, there's a pretty good chance that it's an FJ Cruiser. Thanks to tough 4x4 underpinnings, the FJ has quickly become a favorite of the off-roading crowd. Our FJ test vehicle was an Ultimate Edition, which means it had race-inspired Bilstein shocks and a heavy-duty skid plate, but the truth is that any FJ commands respect on any trail.

True Versatility

The FJ Cruiser gets the job done in the real world, too. There's plenty of back-seat room behind the reverse-opening rear doors, and the rear seatbacks fold down to create a 67 cu ft. cargo hold. Also, the FJ isn't a large SUV, so parallel parking and city driving aren't that intimidating. You can easily drive this truck every day.

Unique Styling

The name FJ Cruiser is a nod to classic Toyota Land Cruisers, and you can see the family resemblance in the round headlights and the old-school grille with TOYOTA in block caps. But this Cruiser has a look all its own -- especially the Ultimate Edition with its Heritage Blue paint. It's one of the few vehicles on the road today that you'll never mistake for anything else.

Brawny V6

You won't win a lot of drag races in this rig, but that's not what the FJ is all about. When you need low-end torque on the trails, the 4.0-liter V6 is ready to rumble, and it can also tow up to 4,700 pounds. With 260 horsepower hooked to a responsive 5-speed transmission, the FJ can definitely get out of its own way. This big V6 is more motor than most folks will ever need.

Functional Interior

The FJ's funky dashboard is all straight lines and oversized knobs, with three auxiliary gauges on top for good measure. Countless cupholders and storage bins mean that there's always a place to stash your stuff. The coolest feature, though, may be the combination of water-resistant upholstery and rubber flooring. Whenever it gets dirty in there, just hose it out -- it can take the abuse.

AutoTrader Says

The 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a great deal at about $28,000 to start. Don't settle for a weak-kneed crossover when you can get the real thing for the same price.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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