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Our 2012 FJ Cruiser Project Gets a Toytec Boss Lift & Toyo Tires

Onward & Upward

Evan PerkinsPhotographer, Writer

Life is full of hurdles. But hurdles are far easier to overcome in a lifted 4x4. So, after running a few trails in our 2012 FJ Cruiser Project and quickly finding the ground clearance limits, a lift and larger tires were the first boxes to check on our build list.

But first, a bit about the project. Introduced in 2006, the FJ Crusier was a throwback to the legendary Land Cruiser FJ40 and was a polarizing exercise in style by Toyota that channels either love or hate for most enthusiasts. Middle ground is scarce. However, underneath its subjective aesthetics, the FJ is packed with some serious, off-the-used-car-lot-capable hardware. An optional rear locker (which ours has), a 2.566:1 low-range, and a tough, coil-sprung solid rear axle are all part of the off-road equation. Add to the mix ATRAC, a wheel-speed-sensor-based traction aid, and Toyota’s legendary reliability, and you have a pretty competent wheeler. Prices for used examples of the breed have held high over the last couple of years but are beginning to taper off enough that a mid-mileage unit can be had for reasonable fare.

FJs were sold until 2014 and over their lifespan were offered in two iterations. The year break between those occurred in 2010, and later vehicles got a revamped engine with a slight power and fuel economy bump and a stouter rear axle with a ring gear measuring 8.2 inches and with larger spline counts on the pinion gear. There were a few other differences, but they are subtle and not deal breakers if the price is right.

Back to this ’Yota at hand. With nearly 80,000 miles on the clock it was time to elevate its status in life. The plan for the build was to add reasonably priced upgrades, beginning with a 3-inch lift from Toytec ($2,436.86 including SPC control arms) and a set of 285/75R17 Toyo Open Country M/T tires. The ultimate goal was a competent off-roading overlander with enough traction, gearing, and capability to get out of a sticky situation, and the just enough gear for moderate creature comfort. Follow along as we tackle the first part of that goal.