Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon good off-roaders

According to Insurance.com, 28.4 percent of Toyota FJ According to Insurance.com, 28.4 percent of Toyota FJ Cruiser drivers were ticketed, placing it in ninth place on the website's ranking of most ticketed cars in the United States. Photo Credit: Toyota

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Q. Is the Toyota FJ Cruiser good for off-road use? I am looking for an affordable, reliable and fun car for off-roading. I am choosing among the Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

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A. You're on the right (off-road) trail with the FJ Cruiser and Wrangler Rubicon, two highly capable vehicles for serious rock crawling. The FJ Cruiser Trails Team and 4Runner Trail models offer similar off-road capability, but we would go for the FJ because it is smaller and offers greater angles of approach and departure. Plus, it has lower prices and is available with a manual transmission; 4Runner is automatic only.

The Wrangler Rubicon, however, may be better overall for off-road use. Jeep prides itself on making trail-rated models, such as the Rubicon, the kings of the off-road world, and the Rubicon delivers with features such as 10.3 inches of ground clearance (compared with 9.6 inches for the FJ Cruiser) and the ability to ford waterways up to 30 inches deep.

As far as reliability, Toyota gets the nod over Jeep. Toyota consistently posts good scores in reliability surveys, while Jeep tends to be below average. For example, 4Runner had the fewest problems among midsize SUVs in the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study, which measured problems on 2008 models over three years.

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The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited makes its way through a track at the camp Jeep during the 2011 New York International Auto Show. (April 21, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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