5 Great Toyota Off-Road SUVs

Oct. 26, 2016 By Tim Healey
In light of the news about Toyota filing a trademark for the name FT-4X, which could signal a planned off-road-oriented concept vehicle, we are taking a look back at five strong off-roaders that Toyota once sold.

Toyota FJ40
The FJ40 is one of Toyota’s most recognizable rigs, but it’s really just part of the J40 series which was sold in various parts of the world from 1960 to 1984 (1968-2001 in Brazil) – the F designation was given to any J40 that had a F engine under hood. The F engines were 3.8-liter and 4.2-liter inline six-cylinder gas engines, and the first F engine, the 3.8-liter F, was sold from 1960-1975 while the 2F was sold from 1975-1984. The 3.8 made 105 and later 125 horsepower while the 4.2 made 135 horsepower. When you think of off-road Toyotas, the classic FJ is probably the first to come to mind.

Third-Gen 4Runner
The 4Runner has been on the market since 1984, with the third generation running from 1996-2002. While this generation gained some more luxury to go along with more power, it also gained an available center differential that made it possible to engage four-wheel drive on paved surfaces. It also gained ABS and a coil-spring suspension (front and rear). The 4WD system remained shift-on-the-fly, but an electric rear locking differential was now available. This generation 4Runner remains sought after by enthusiasts.

100 Series Land Cruiser 
The Toyota Land Cruiser has always blended luxury and off-road ability, and the 100 Series, which ran from 1998 to 2007, followed that formula. Luxury items included a night-vision system and a rollover sensor, while mechanical items included an independent front suspension (a Land Cruiser first) and two then-new engines, including the first V-8 in a Land Cruiser. The V-8 was meant to spur sales in North America, and was the only engine available on North American models, despite other engines, including diesel mills, being available overseas. Score one for American love for eight-cylinder power.

FJ Cruiser
The FJ Cruiser, sold from 2006 to 2014 (2010-2016 in right-hand drive markets), was a modern nod to Toyota’s heritage, particularly the FJ40. Meant to compete with off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler and the Hummer, the FJ Cruiser never particularly took off, sales-wise, despite having a mix of off-road goodies and modern creature comforts to go along with its retro looks. Those off-road goodies included 9.6 inches of ground clearance, the ability to ford up to 27.5 inches of water, suspension travel of eight and nine inches (front and rear, respectively), and a 5,000-pound towing capacity. Alas, despite being marketed as a “halo” vehicle for Toyota, the FJ just didn’t achieve the popularity that one might have expected.

4th-Generation 4Runner
On the outside, the updates over the third-generation 4Runner were subtle, but this generation, which ran from 2003-2009, had bigger changes under the hood. Not only was there a new V-6, but there was also a 4Runner first – an optional V-8. Body construction remained body on frame, and the rear suspension remained solid rear axle (a double-wishbone suspension underpinned the front). While the V-8 and the V-6 used different types of four-wheel drive systems (full time on the V-8, part-time on the V-6), both had a Torsen locking center differential. Some trims came with an available advanced suspension system dubbed X-REAS, or X-Relative Absorber System. The available comfort and convenience systems (navigation, rearview camera) on this generation 4Runner helped it continue to keep up with the consumer demands of the modern market.

Toyota Trademarks FT-4X Name

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro First Drive

Toyota, Expedition Overland and an Epic Off-Road Journey

Off-Road.com Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!