Toyota to Debut Tj CRUISER Concept at Tokyo Motor Show
SUV/Van Crossover Boasts High Utility, Hybrid Power
Hot on the heels of the FT-4X concept from the New York International Auto Show, Toyota will bring a new concept off-roader to the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, called the Tj CRUISER.
In PR-speak, the Tj CRUISER was “designed for drivers with lifestyles where work and play dovetail seamlessly.” Furthermore, Toyota says the name takes from the words “toolbox” and “joy,” while also recalling the company’s most famous off-roaders. Uh-huh. Toyota says the design symbolizes a new type of vehicle that integrates the “strengths of a van with those of an SUV.”
However, the Tj CRUISER concept almost backs up its company’s hyperbolic promotional materials with a very useful-looking setup. The large, squared-off cabin features spacious seating for four, and the front passenger and rear seats fold down, creating a load space that’s more than nine feet long. The cargo decks and seatbacks incorporate multiple tie-down points, and the rear doors are of the sliding variety, aiding with cargo loading and passenger entry/exit.
Rugged-for-a-concept tires and all-wheel drive represent the SUV side of the ledger. A specially coated material used on the hood, roof, and fenders helps resist scratching and dirt. Inside, the interior gets modern, rugged styling that we’d love to see appear on a future Toyota product (that oval steering wheel is pure 1970s).
At 169.3 inches long, the Tj CRUISER is shorter than the Toyota RAV4 crossover or the bygone FJ Cruiser SUV, but it’s longer than either the FT-4X concept or production-spec C-HR crossover. It’s also somewhat wider and rides on a longer wheelbase than those two subcompacts, although it rides slightly lower than the off-road–oriented, low-range FT-4X.
Toyota says the Tj CRUISER is powered by a 2.0L engine (likely an I-4) and battery-electric hybrid powertrain, and it’s built on the next-generation TNGA platform that will underpin most of the company’s cars and crossovers for the next several years. Does that mean Toyota is thinking about building a compact van/trucklet like the Tj? If so, it'll likely be a Japan/global-market offering only.
However, were the company to offer the Tj CRUISER in the U.S., it’d be arguably the most interesting crossover in Toyota’s stateside stable. With a massive, well-packaged interior and a modicum of rough-road capability, it could be a great fit for active lifestyles. Alas, the funky Tj CRUISER is likely to remain a concept only, and that’s a shame.