If you think Toyota has given up the rugged off-road sport-utility minded vehicle since the cancellation of the FJ Cruiser, you might look at the Toyota FT-4X Concept unveiled at the New York Auto Show.
Comparing it to the FJ Cruiser may indeed be a stretch as this is a softer shelled crossover dialed in for the “casualcore” outdoor enthusiast more so than the dedicated off-roader that went after the FJ. The commonality here is the style and swagger of active lifestyles it brings to the table.
The Toyota FT-4X was designed to be built on the TNGA-C architecture which means transverse four-cylinder engine and a four-wheel drive system along with raised suspension and plenty of crossover butch off-road trim and underpinnings.
About the same size as the new Toyota C-HR upon which it shares that TNGA-C architecture, the FT-4X is a couple inches taller due to its lifted suspension and large 18-inch alloy wheels with off-road tires.
Styling is pretty fresh and not so much retro but there are some Toyota heritage touches here and there like the TOYOTA lettering across the bold grille and the rear windows that reach up into the roofline much like the original 4Runer and Xtra Cab pickups of the 1980’s. Those window panels are removable too and can be easily customized for different looks.
The rear hatch shows a design that could make it to a production model with a twist handle that can open it a number of different ways. What Toyota calls “Multi-Hatch”, it can open in Urban Mode or Outdoor Mode. That means sideways or vertically. Shopping mall or trailhead. You decide.
Other thinking cap details are hooks on the lower bumper and a flat roof panel that can allow for strapping on your gear. Up there too are AC power outlets for those tailgating adventures at the park or again, the trailhead. Another neat detail on the exterior is an integrated GoPro HERO5 Session camera built into the side mirror for recording your soft-roading trek.
The interior is really where Toyota shows some design thinking that can really make a vehicle like this practical. Storage, storage, storage. In the dash its there, I presume where and airbag would be. There’s also cool and warm storage boxes for food, would be optional equipment of course.
The center console has a North Face sleeping back pouch that doubles as an armrest, check. When folded up the center console also doubles as a gear zone with Bunjee cords to hold everything down. This one is pretty neat I think.
But there’s more. Removable flashlights that double as dome lights are found built-into the headliner and door handles for the rear doors are also removable water bottles. I love these ideas but humans are stupid and will lose them.
But since we’re trusting humans not to lose or steal anything, the entire audio system itself is removable to take on the go when you are hiking, camping or just tailgating at the car next-door. Even the navigation system is removable because, it’s your own phone.
The Toyota FT-4X Concept isn’t likely headed to production as we see it but it does show Toyota is thinking beyond the C-HR in terms of compact sport-utility vehicles and that off-road 4×4 cred isn’t entirely dead.