At the New York Motor Show, as expected, Toyota pulled the sheets off their FT-4X concept, an off-roader that many, including us, speculated could be early signals of an imminent FJ Cruiser replacement down the line.
Upon seeing the full concept, however, that is still a possibility, but certainty is now a little further than it was prior, where all that was teased was a rugged off-road tyre wrapped around an equally rugged orange-tinged wheel.
It’s most definitely an off-roader in the sense that it has a high ground clearance, thick skid plates, and an appropriately utilitarian design. But more than that, it’s very much a concept in that there’s probably very little gimmickry on display here that will survive the transition to a production model, should that ever happen.
It was penned by Toyota’s Calty Design Research Studio in California, and though it looks big and boxy (and orange) like a proper 4x4 should, the FT-4X is built on the same TNGA platform that underpins the new Prius and even newer C-HR crossover, hence is actually not that much dimensionally different than the latter.
The bigger story, though, lies inside, where the nearly everything about the cabin can be categorised as ‘concept car’, and one that makes no bones about its aim to snare young millennial buyers.
The first thing you’ll notice about cabin is the bright orange dashboard that, minus the glove box and air conditioning bar that runs the width of the dashboard, is how minimal it is. While other cars are moving to larger and larger digital displays to replace analogue gauges, the FT-4X’s equivalent is tiny by comparison - like a larger-ish smartphone display.
Other oddities are abound, such as door panels that integrate with water bottles that double up as handles, a centre stack that’s basically just a removable boombox, and an armrest that unfurls into a North Face sleeping bag.
At the rear, the ‘multi-hatch’ is an innovative but somewhat convoluted solution to a problem few have. You’ll open it like your typical nuclear reactor chamber, for starters, and depending on how you turn it, either half or entire tailgate opens. There’s also two built in boxes, with one to stow cold items and the other for those you’ll want to stay warm.
There’s yet more contrivances to the FT-4X, some are head scratchers while others inspired, such as plug points located at nearly all areas of the vehicle to charge up various adventure and non-adventure gear, built-in torch lights, and even a slot within the side mirrors to house a GoPro. Why? To record your casual drive up a mountain or off a cliff, naturally. It’s your choice.