Let’s get this out of the way: The Toyota FT-4X concept, just unveiled at the New York auto show, is not the second coming of the FJ40 (sorry). Its stance and dimensions suggest that it’s a ruggedized, reskinned C-HR crossover at its core.
What sets it apart? Why, its Rugged Charm Persona™, which makes it perfectly suited for what Toyota sees as the emerging field of Casualcore Exploration™.
In other words, it’s Toyota’s take on the Jeep Compass — a unibody trucklet aimed squarely at the more adventurous edge of the burgeoning compact crossover field. It has just enough off-road attitude (and, presumably, an advanced all-wheel-drive system) to convince its urbanite owners that they can peel out of gridlock and get into the great outdoors at the drop of a hat.
The heater vents double as gear dryers! Those blue canisters in the upper corners of the photo are water bottles! The armrest is a sleeping bag!
You’ve got three basic types of concept cars: the ones that closely preview the production model (this seems to be Honda’s M.O.), vague “styling exercises” that have been built only to break our hearts (the Buick Avenir) and concepts that seem to be vehicles, so to speak, for as many goofy/cool ancillary features as possible.
The FT-4X fits in that last category. Here’s a look at some of the little details that came out of Toyota’s Calty design center:
– There’s plenty of clever storage, plus cargo hooks to tie down larger items!
– In-cabin vents can be rotated to point into dashboard coves, which lets you dry off wet gear!
– The door handles are removable water bottles, which doesn’t make much sense but is still sort of cool!
– In-cabin lighting can be popped out and used as flashlights!
– The dome light converts into some sort of emergency beacon in case you prosecute your adventure a little too aggressively!
– In a cross-branding exercise with higher-than-average functionality, the armrest is a North Face sleeping bag!
– The audio system pops right out of the car’s center console and can be used as a boom box!
– There are heated and cooled boxes for gear and/or snacks in the rear hatch!
– … and more!
Oh, there’s a GoPro camera mounted into one of the side mirrors — a cool way to capture your FT-4X-enabled tour of the wilderness, but perhaps not as easily accessible as the rearview-mirror GoPro mount already available on the Tacoma TRD Pro.
In any event, all of these features (plus the rough-and-tumble styling) add up to give the FT-4X “Rugged Waku-Doki,” which Toyota translates as “a palpable heart-pounding sense of excitement.”
The FT-4X is about the same size as a Toyota C-HR, but it comes equipped with way more “casualcore” options. Whatever that means.
Anyway, the FT-4X would (if built) be powered by a “small-displacement” inline-four and come equipped with a low-range-equipped four-wheel-drive system. So while it’s not exactly an FJ Cruiser, it might pack a little more capability than the average soft-roader. Toyota says the concept’s wheelbase is 103.9 inches, with a width of 71.7 inches and an overall length of 167.3 inches and a height of 63.9 inches. That first number is identical to the new C-HR compact crossover, suggesting that there’s a platform ready and willing to accommodate this thing.
But is it really necessary? Your author just went to Zion National Park in a rental-spec Kia Sorento, so the whole idea of needing an adventure-ready overlander (or some unibody approximation thereof) to actually have adventures is ridiculous. Then again, so is buying a Trail Rated Wrangler for grocery duty. If we’re facing down a future flush with crossovers, we’d prefer wacky, fun, emergency beacon-equipped crossovers to the soulless alternative.