CASUALCORE: Toyota FT-4X

Nope, Toyota didn’t reveal the next generation Land Cruiser or FJ Cruiser that we all hoped for today at the NY Auto Show. They did however release the FT-4X, or “Future Toyota” Four-Wheel Drive Crossover, concept vehicle, which is an adventure focused small SUV that should have broad appeal.

This vehicle is aimed squarely at Generation Y urbanites who are more “casualcore” than hardcore in their adventure preferences. The press release actually states: “No time for summiting a mountain – a drive to the scenic point will do!” While this sentiment might not resonate with me, or many of you, it is really what most people do with their off road vehicles. Toyota designed the FT-4X for “adventure seekers,” and call the design language “rugged charm.” They explain this “rugged charm” design ethos as; simplicity, capability, durability and Toyota identity/heritage.

This little 4×4 is designed to get you there, and back again, but again to the overlook, not the summit. The FT-4X has quality approach and departure angles, and also has large easily accessible recovery points on each bumper. While just a concept, without a powertrain, Toyota states that it can be assumed that it would employ a small displacement four-cylinder engine, and be equipped with mechanical 4wd, with selectable low-range. It also employs a MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension system, which should provide a good balance of on and off-road performance. The low profile Goodyear tires look aggressive, but provide no useable sidewall for airing down. There also seems to be ZERO room for any wheel articulation, which should cause this little SUV to do the 3-wheel dance when the terrain gets technical.

The FT-4X is designed to be an adventure toolbox. It has removable everything, integrating all the things you’d want around camp into the vehicle itself. Everything from the dome light being a flashlight, storage box armrests, door handle water bottles, center armrest padding is a North Face sleeping bag and the stereo doubles as a potable bluetooth speaker system. Lose or wear out this camping gear, and you’ll be facing some expensive OEM replacement parts. Integration is the name of the game with the FT-4X, and Toyota further expands it’s GoPro partnership, which started with the 2016 Tacoma windshield mount, with a GoPro HERO5 Session built into the driver’s side rearview mirror.

There are some great little features on the FT-4X, which I hope will make it to production on other Toyota vehicles. One being the reinforced roof, which has built in tie down hoops and integrated power outlets. Being able to power exterior lighting, roof rack accessories and other items around camp from the exterior of the vehicle is quite convenient. The rear “multi-hatch” door is also an engineering marvel, allowing the door to split into two and open sideways, while also being able to open upwards as a one-piece hatch. This makes for an extremely useable rear door in all situations, and provides some cover over the rear of the vehicle to escape the weather, while you take in the views from an overlook.

The FT-4X also has some absolutely absurd features, which I doubt make it to a production vehicle. The most absurd has to be the rear side panel glass panels, which are removable and interchangeable. Toyota says this will allow owners to personalize their vehicle with colored or tinted glass options, but I have to just ask why? It seems like a pretty useless part that will be prone to break and expensive to replace. The rear of the vehicle also features a “hot box” and a “cold box.” Both seem extremely small, but Toyota doesn’t offer up many details. They are supposedly designed for snacks and heating up gear like gloves in the winter. Seems like that space could be used more efficiently for other gear, in my opinion.

There is a strong “X-Theme” to the overall design, which reminds me a ton of the X-theme used throughout the Jeep Renegade, which this vehicle looks to squarely compete against. If you removed the Toyota logos and added a seven slot grill I’d swear this was a Jeep concept vehicle, which would be fitting, as it was released while Jeep was showing off it’s concepts at Easter Jeep Safari in Moab this week.

In the end, this is probably the type of “adventure” vehicle we can expect from most manufacturers in the future. Fingers still crossed that Toyota and Land Rover both produce proper off roaders for their next generation Land Cruiser and Defender models. Only time will tell.

TOYOTA FT-4X CONCEPT DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 103.9 in.
LENGTH 167.3 in.
WIDTH 71.7 in.
HEIGHT 63.9 in.

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