Despite having only recently retired its retro-themed FJ Cruiser four-wheel drive, Toyota has “reincarnated the spirit” of the FJ with its newest FT-4X Concept, revealed recently at the New York Auto Show.
Designed by Toyota USA’s Calty design studio (just like the FJ Cruiser), the FT-4X has been conceived with durability, capability, and simplicity in mind, while keeping dimensions small in an attempt to make the concept more nimble and agile in off-road situations.
Hardcore four wheel driving isn’t high on the FT-4X’s agenda though – under the Tonka-toy skin the concept is built atop the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) the same that underpins the Prius and 2018 Camry – with a mechanical four-wheel drive system added, showing off the new platform’s flexibility.
Compact dimensions (the FT-4X is 80mm shorter than a Corolla hatch, but 60mm wider and on a 60mm longer wheelbase) give way to an interior that maximises flexibility with colour-coded storage bins – blue for closed storage, orange for open – hot and cold areas, waterproof wet-item areas, a removable torch and door handles that double as water bottles.
A traditional navigation unit has been ditched, replaced by a mobile phone holder above the instrument cluster to allow owners to use their preferred mapping app, and the stereo pulls out of the dash to function as a portable boom-box at camp sites.
A North Face sleeping bag tucks into the centre console, a Multi Hatch tailgate can be opened vertically or horizontally, and oddly, despite a heavy Gen Y focus, the FT-4X relies on chunky tactile interior knobs and controls in place of a plethora of touchscreens – perhaps finally realising the shortcomings of touch systems for gloved hands in icy conditions.
No specifics for the concept’s engine have been given, though Toyota imagines that a low-displacement four-cylinder would be up to the job, without mentioning if it might be petrol or diesel-fuelled.
The vertical window mounted in the concept’s left hand side can be swapped out according to Toyota, allowing a range of personalised tinted or opaque options to be slotted in, giving the FT-4X a personal touch, while on the right hand side a GoPro mount under the mirror can be used to capture off-road adventures.
Despite describing the concept as a glimpse of Toyota’s off-road future no plans exist at this time to put the FT-4X into production, though some of its themes may shape a future FJ Cruiser replacement.
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