Toyota seems awfully keen to shed its ‘boring’ car image, and it’s doing that in a number of ways. However, the most pronounced would be the various ruggedised concepts they’ve brought into the light as well as a concerted effort to give more flair into the designs of their existing line-up.
The Tj Cruiser, this odd but awesome amalgam of an MPV, SUV, utility van, and petrol-electric hybrid, is something we weren’t exactly expecting. Toyota had previously patented the name in early 2017, leading many to believe the company was soon to preview a successor to the quirky but loved FJ Cruiser. In the end, that came in the form of the FT-4X, which left thing ambiguous as to whether they had plans to move forward with it as a real addition.
This high-riding, boxy concept car will be gracing this year’s Tokyo Motor Show at the end of October, where it will sit alongside the GR HV Sports concept. But while that car’s intentions are easier to grasp, the Tj Cruiser’s are a little more complex.
It’s not a people move, for one thing, in spite of having the correct proportions and requisite sliding rear doors. In fact, at 1,775mm wide, 1,620mm tall, and 4,300mm long, it isn’t especially huge - its basis on the new TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform shared with the Prius and C-HR only confirms this, as does the fact that it only has four seats.
Instead, the focus here instead lies in its pure utilitarian value. What it lacks in passenger capacity, it makes up for in cargo carrying prowess and includes some clever solutions to make the most of its interior space for load lugging. The Tj Cruiser is very long, and to accommodate lanky items (like surf boards) the front seat and rear seats can fold flat to create a continuous flat surface that runs nearly the length of the car.
The outside, the higher ride height ensures that it’ll have enough clearance to handle far rougher terrain than any normal van, aided by its deeply grooved tyres and decidedly less useful 20-inch bling-heavy wheels - a concept car, mind you, so big alloys just come with the territory. Further, boot lid hinges are built further forward to create a larger loading aperture, the paint is coated with a special layer to resist scratches, and the certain pieces of its body are constructed from a thicker, more impact-resistant material.
Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre petrol engine that’s optionally augmented by an electric motor. The configuration of this, as well as the expected power output, remains a mystery. However, we can extrapolate that to not have a obstructive driveline run the middle of the Tj and negative impacting interior space, variants with the electric motor will use that secondary source of thrust to propel the rear wheels. Judging by how much negative camber Toyota have dialled into what’s meant to be a beast of practicality, maybe they’re expecting this to surprise in the corners too.
We’ll definitely hear more from Toyota as the unveil date at the Tokyo show draws closer. Hopefully, Toyota does plan to put this into production somehow, and with a little bit of luck they’ll choose to risk putting it up for sale in markets outside of the eclectic home dome of Japan.