FJ Cruiser Towing Capacity: Specs, Ratings & Maximums for Toyota's SUV

Sarah Khan
Sarah Khan
11 min read

Review by: Sarah Khan
Towing Tips

The Toyota FJ Cruiser, with its rugged and retro-inspired design, has captured the hearts of many off-road enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Beyond its impressive off-road capabilities, the FJ Cruiser also offers a respectable towing capacity, making it a versatile choice for those who need to haul trailers or recreational vehicles. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the towing capacity of the FJ Cruiser, factors that affect it, essential towing equipment and accessories, tips and best practices, comparisons with other SUVs, and real-world experiences from owners.


The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a midsize SUV known for its distinctive styling and off-road prowess. Its boxy, retro-inspired design harkens back to the iconic Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser, while its robust construction and capable four-wheel-drive system make it a formidable choice for adventurers seeking to explore the great outdoors. However, the FJ Cruiser's capabilities extend beyond its off-road performance, as it also boasts a respectable towing capacity that allows owners to bring along their favorite recreational vehicles or trailers.

Overview of the Toyota FJ Cruiser

The Toyota FJ Cruiser was produced from 2006 to 2014, offering a unique blend of retro styling and modern engineering. Powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine and available with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission, the FJ Cruiser delivered ample power and torque for both on-road and off-road adventures. Its body-on-frame construction, high ground clearance, and advanced four-wheel-drive system with locking differentials contributed to its impressive off-road capabilities.

Importance of Understanding Towing Capacity

While the FJ Cruiser's off-road prowess is undeniable, its towing capacity is equally crucial for those who wish to bring along their favorite recreational vehicles or trailers. Understanding the vehicle's towing capacity and the factors that influence it is essential for safe and efficient towing. Exceeding the recommended limits can lead to potential safety hazards, increased wear and tear, and even legal consequences. By familiarizing themselves with the FJ Cruiser's towing capabilities and following best practices, owners can enjoy their adventures while minimizing risks and maximizing the vehicle's potential.

Towing Capacity Specifications

The Toyota FJ Cruiser's towing capacity is determined by several factors, including the model year, engine and transmission configuration, and the presence of a towing package. It's essential to consult the owner's manual or official Toyota specifications to obtain accurate information specific to your vehicle.

Model YearMaximum Braked Towing CapacityUnbraked Towing Capacity
2007-20135,000 lbs (2,268 kg)750 lbs (340 kg)
20144,700 lbs (2,132 kg)750 lbs (340 kg)

The maximum braked towing capacity refers to the maximum weight a vehicle can safely tow when the trailer is equipped with its own braking system. For the 2007-2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser models, the maximum braked towing capacity is 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg). This figure represents the maximum weight the vehicle can tow when properly equipped with a trailer hitch and any necessary towing accessories, and when the trailer has its own braking system.

For the 2014 model year, Toyota slightly reduced the FJ Cruiser's maximum braked towing capacity to 4,700 lbs (2,132 kg). While still respectable, this reduction may have been due to changes in engineering or regulatory requirements.

The unbraked towing capacity refers to the maximum weight a vehicle can tow when the trailer does not have its own braking system. For all Toyota FJ Cruiser models, the unbraked towing capacity is 750 lbs (340 kg). It's important to note that towing without trailer brakes can be significantly more challenging and potentially dangerous, especially with heavier loads or at higher speeds.

Factors Affecting Towing Capacity

While the official towing capacity figures provide a general guideline, several factors can influence the Toyota FJ Cruiser's actual towing capability. Understanding these factors is crucial for safe and efficient towing.

Engine and Transmission

The Toyota FJ Cruiser is equipped with a 4.0-liter V6 engine producing 260 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque (2011-2014 models). This engine is paired with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. While capable, the powertrain's limitations can impact towing performance, especially when hauling heavier loads or navigating steep inclines.

Towing Package

Some Toyota FJ Cruiser models may have been equipped with an optional towing package from the factory. This package typically includes:

  • Higher-capacity transmission cooler

  • Upgraded suspension components

  • Other enhancements designed to improve towing capabilities

The presence of a towing package can significantly enhance the vehicle's towing performance and durability.

Payload and Weight Distribution

The Toyota FJ Cruiser's payload capacity, which is the combined weight of passengers and cargo, can affect its towing capacity. Exceeding the payload limit can lead to:

  • Poor handling

  • Increased wear and tear

  • Potential safety issues

Proper weight distribution, using a weight-distributing hitch if necessary, is also crucial for stable and controlled towing.

Altitude and Terrain

Towing at higher altitudes or in mountainous regions can significantly impact the Toyota FJ Cruiser's performance due to:

  • Reduced engine power

  • Increased strain on the powertrain

Similarly, towing on steep grades or rough terrain can also affect the vehicle's towing capabilities, requiring additional caution and potentially lower speeds.

Towing Equipment and Accessories

To ensure safe and legal towing with the Toyota FJ Cruiser, it's essential to have the proper towing equipment and accessories installed. These components not only enhance the vehicle's towing capabilities but also contribute to overall safety and stability.

Trailer Hitch

A properly rated and installed trailer hitch is a fundamental requirement for towing. For the Toyota FJ Cruiser, a Class III hitch with a 2-inch receiver is recommended, such as:

  • Draw-Tite Max Frame Receiver Hitch

This hitch is designed to handle the FJ Cruiser's maximum towing capacity while providing a secure and stable connection to the trailer.

Wiring Harness

A trailer wiring harness, like the Tekonsha T-One Vehicle Wiring Harness, is necessary to connect the trailer's lighting system to the Toyota FJ Cruiser's electrical system. This ensures that the trailer's:

  • Brake lights

  • Turn signals

  • Running lights

Function correctly, enhancing visibility and safety on the road.

Brake Controller

If towing a trailer with brakes, a brake controller is required to synchronize the trailer's brakes with the Toyota FJ Cruiser's braking system. The Tekonsha Prodigy P3 Trailer Brake Controller is a popular choice for the FJ Cruiser, as it provides:

  • Smooth and proportional braking

  • Helps prevent trailer sway and instability

Weight Distribution System

For heavier trailers or when experiencing sway or instability, a weight distribution system can help distribute the trailer's tongue weight more evenly, improving handling and control. These systems typically consist of:

  • Spring bars

  • Torsion bars

That transfer some of the tongue weight to the vehicle's front axle, reducing the strain on the rear suspension.

Towing Mirrors

Towing a trailer can create significant blind spots, so investing in towing mirrors or extension mirrors can greatly improve visibility and safety. These mirrors extend outward, providing:

  • Wider field of view

  • Ability to monitor the trailer's position and surroundings more effectively

Towing Tips and Best Practices

Even with the proper equipment, towing with the Toyota FJ Cruiser requires careful planning and execution. Following these essential tips and best practices can help ensure a safe and enjoyable towing experience.

Observing Weight Limits

  • Never exceed the Toyota FJ Cruiser's towing capacity or payload limits

  • Overloading can lead to:

    • Dangerous situations

    • Increased wear and tear

    • Potential damage to the vehicle

Always consult the owner's manual or official Toyota specifications to determine the maximum towing and payload capacities for your specific model.

Proper Loading Techniques

Proper loading of the trailer is crucial for stable and controlled towing. Follow these guidelines:

  • Distribute the trailer's load evenly

  • Place heavier items closer to the axle

  • Ensure the tongue weight (weight exerted on the hitch) falls within the recommended range, typically 10-15% of the trailer's total weight

Improper loading can lead to:

  • Trailer sway

  • Instability

  • Increased strain on the vehicle's suspension and powertrain

Driving Techniques for Towing

When towing with the Toyota FJ Cruiser, it's essential to adjust your driving techniques accordingly:

  • Maintain a safe following distance

  • Allow for longer stopping distances

  • Avoid sudden maneuvers or excessive speed

  • Use lower gears when descending steep grades to reduce strain on the brakes and take advantage of engine braking

Maintenance Requirements

Regular maintenance is crucial for safe and efficient towing. Follow these guidelines:

  • Adhere to the recommended maintenance schedule in the owner's manual

  • Perform fluid level checks

  • Inspect brakes

  • Monitor tire pressure

Neglecting maintenance can lead to potential issues and increased wear and tear on the vehicle and its components.

Fuel Efficiency Considerations

Towing a trailer can significantly impact fuel efficiency. To mitigate this:

  • Plan your routes accordingly

  • Consider using cruise control on highways to maintain a consistent speed and improve fuel economy

  • Reduce unnecessary weight in the vehicle and trailer

Safety Precautions

  • Always secure the trailer properly

  • Ensure the hitch is correctly connected

  • Ensure safety chains are in place

  • Check for proper lighting and signal functionality

  • Ensure the trailer's load is adequately secured before hitting the road

  • Obey all traffic laws and regulations related to towing

  • Be aware of potential hazards such as strong crosswinds or inclement weather conditions

Comparison with Other SUVs

While the Toyota FJ Cruiser's towing capacity is respectable for its size and class, it may not be sufficient for those with larger towing needs. Here's how it compares to some other popular SUVs:

SUV ModelMaximum Towing Capacity
Toyota 4Runner5,000 lbs (2,268 kg)
Ford Expedition9,300 lbs (4,218 kg)
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited3,500 lbs (1,588 kg)

Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota 4Runner, a midsize SUV from the same manufacturer, offers similar towing capabilities to the FJ Cruiser. With a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg), the 4Runner is a viable alternative for those seeking a more modern and refined SUV with comparable towing capabilities.

Ford Expedition

The full-size Ford Expedition boasts a maximum towing capacity of 9,300 lbs (4,218 kg), making it a better choice for those with heavier towing requirements. However, it's important to note that the Expedition is a larger and more expensive vehicle, with different capabilities and considerations compared to the FJ Cruiser.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, a popular off-road SUV, has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 lbs (1,588 kg), which is lower than the FJ Cruiser. While the Wrangler Unlimited may be suitable for light towing needs, it may not be the best choice for those requiring higher towing capacities.

Real-world Experiences and Reviews

While official specifications provide a good starting point, real-world experiences from Toyota FJ Cruiser owners can offer valuable insights into the vehicle's towing capabilities. Many owners have reported successfully towing small to medium-sized travel trailers, pop-up campers, and utility trailers with their FJ Cruisers, although some have noted a noticeable decrease in performance and fuel efficiency when towing near the maximum capacity.

Successful Towing Scenarios

Numerous FJ Cruiser owners have shared their positive experiences towing a variety of trailers and recreational vehicles within the vehicle's towing capacity limits, including:

  • Small camping trailers

  • Pop-up campers

  • Utility trailers for hauling motorcycles or ATVs

The FJ Cruiser has proven its versatility and capability in real-world scenarios.

Potential Issues and Limitations

While the FJ Cruiser is generally capable of towing within its rated capacity, some owners have reported issues with:

  • Transmission overheating, particularly when towing in hot weather or on steep inclines

  • Trailer sway or instability due to the vehicle's relatively short wheelbase and high center of gravity when towing heavier loads

Owner Modifications and Upgrades

To address some of the potential limitations and enhance towing performance, many FJ Cruiser owners have undertaken various modifications and upgrades, including:

  • Installing auxiliary transmission coolers

  • Upgrading suspension components

  • Adding aftermarket engine performance upgrades

Such modifications can help mitigate issues like transmission overheating and improve overall towing capabilities.


The Toyota FJ Cruiser offers a respectable towing capacity that makes it a versatile choice for those who need to haul small to medium-sized trailers or recreational vehicles. However, it's crucial to understand the vehicle's limitations, properly equip it with the necessary towing accessories, and follow best practices to ensure safe and efficient towing. By considering factors such as weight limits, proper loading, and driving techniques, FJ Cruiser owners can enjoy the freedom and adventure that comes with towing while minimizing potential risks and issues.


What is the maximum towing capacity for the Toyota FJ Cruiser?

The maximum braked towing capacity for 2007-2013 FJ Cruiser models is 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg), while for the 2014 model it is 4,700 lbs (2,132 kg). The unbraked towing capacity for all models is 750 lbs (340 kg).

Is a trailer brake controller required when towing with the FJ Cruiser?

Yes, a trailer brake controller is required when towing a trailer with brakes to synchronize the trailer's brakes with the FJ Cruiser's braking system.

A Class III hitch with a 2-inch receiver, such as the Draw-Tite Max Frame Receiver Hitch, is recommended for the FJ Cruiser.

Can the FJ Cruiser tow a car on a trailer?

The FJ Cruiser can tow a car on a trailer, provided the combined weight of the car, trailer, and any additional cargo does not exceed the vehicle's maximum towing capacity.

What are some common modifications or upgrades for improving towing performance?

Common modifications include installing auxiliary transmission coolers, upgrading suspension components, and adding aftermarket engine performance upgrades.

Is the FJ Cruiser's towing capacity affected by altitude or terrain?

Yes, towing at higher altitudes or in mountainous regions can impact the FJ Cruiser's performance due to reduced engine power and increased strain on the powertrain.

The recommended tongue weight range is typically 10-15% of the trailer's total weight for proper weight distribution and stability.

Can the FJ Cruiser tow a horse trailer?

The FJ Cruiser can tow a small to medium-sized horse trailer, provided the combined weight of the trailer, horses, and any additional cargo does not exceed the vehicle's maximum towing capacity.

What are some potential issues or limitations when towing with the FJ Cruiser?

Some potential issues include transmission overheating, trailer sway or instability due to the vehicle's short wheelbase and high center of gravity, and reduced fuel efficiency.

Is it necessary to have a towing package installed on the FJ Cruiser?

While not mandatory, having a towing package installed from the factory can significantly enhance the FJ Cruiser's towing performance and durability.

Sarah Khan
Sarah Khan

Sarah isn't your average gearhead. With a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Automotive Technology, she dived straight into the world of car repair. After 15 years of turning wrenches at dealerships and independent shops, Sarah joined MICDOT to share her expertise and passion for making cars run like new. Her in-depth knowledge and knack for explaining complex issues in simple terms make her a valuable asset to our team.

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