Toyota has been teasing a replacement for the dearly departed FJ Cruiser all year. What that compact 4×4 was meant to provide was a link between the very expensive Land Cruiser down to a more affordable price slot. But it never quite took, and so this year we’ve seen a number of design studies debut worldwide, including the longer Toyota Tj Cruiser Concept, that showed at Tokyo last month.
Toyota is being purposefully coy about powertrains with the FT-AC; they said it’s “envisioned” as a gasoline-powered rig with all-wheel drive and advanced torque vectoring. But they also said it could just as easily be a hybrid. Our bet is that you don’t debut three concepts in a single year without having a product line in mind, and what they’ve showed so far even looks like a product family, where Toyota could use its know-how from the Tacoma (and rigs we don’t get, like the Hilux) to create a hybridized 4×4 with two- or four doors, and perhaps even a short box truck bed, a la where Jeep is going.
Oh, sure, the FT-AC also showed off removable fog lamps owners could use to light a campsite, and even removable infrared and LED lamps, all of which would be cool, and most of which would be very unlikely to make it to market. The integrated bike-rack tray, that slides directly into the bumper is less insane and totally awesome, but might be tough to make work with crash tests.
The real lesson: Toyota wants to sell a more jacked-up looking SUV than the similarly sized RAV4, and it’s possible all these concepts signal either a new design direction for the RAV4, or an entirely new line of offerings.
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