Toyota unveils what it calls an urban 4-wheel-drive concept CUV this morning at the 2017 New York auto show.
The FT-4X, the FT standing for Future Toyota, was designed at the automaker’s Calty design studio in Newport Beach, CA, and brings “‘casualcore’ to Gen Y city dwellers,” Toyota says in a statement.
Casualcore is the opposite of hardcore – spur-of-the moment jaunts to scenic lookouts as opposed to thoroughly planned mountain-climbing excursions, for instance.
With this in mind, Calty President Kevin Hunter says, “The FT-4X is not simply a concept where style meets function; it is a thoughtful, charming and engaging experience that adds real pleasure and convenience to the journey.”
Design of the vehicle began, contrary to tradition, at the rear, not the nose, due to the fact “cherished experiences” by Gen Y typically occur at the hatch or tailgate of vehicles.
The FT-4X’s hatch is called multi-hatch and opens horizontally (urban mode) and vertically (outdoor mode). The former makes gear loading in limited space easier, while the latter creates shelter from the elements, Toyota says. A rotating handle selects the door-opening mode and can be gripped by a gloved hand.
A reinforced flat roof is designed to simplify hauling of large items, and there are tie-down hoops at each roof corner for secure hauling of goods.
The “rear cargo zone” has a completely flat load floor (the second-row bench seat also fold flat) with topside tracks to secure cargo. There is a deep storage bin underneath the floor, accessed by sliding the floor out toward the multi-hatch, Toyota says.
Also in the cargo area, nestled in the headliner, is removable lighting for when a flashlight may be needed. Rear door handles double as water bottles; USB outlets and rotatable window switches are placed in the doors’ armrests.
A horizontal grille, headlights and bumper harken back to Toyota’s vintage FJ Land Cruiser models. The concept CUV’s nose has a large embossed Toyota logo and LED headlamps, as well as reflective tie-down hooks in the lower bumper.
Other exterior design elements of the compact CUV include black-painted fender cladding, emphasizing the 18-in. Goodyear all-season tires; a vertical picture window with removable, changeable glass above the driver’s-side rear fender harkening back to Toyota’s Pickup Xtracab truck and first-generation 4Runner SUV; and sculpted rocker panels to enhance underbody protection.
The interior is meant to be a “rolling gear box” for those spur-of-the-moment trips, Toyota says.
An “ultra-compact North Face sleeping bag” is stored in the console between the front seats, making for an armrest atop the center console. The console has a high-grip, “hybrid mesh” surface for fast drying of wet items and has bungee-cord lattices to secure small items.
Touch was important to FT-4X designers, who wanted tech-savvy, screen-scrolling users to have good tactile experiences “at every button push, handle twist and dirt-road trekked.”
Bins are color-coordinated – blue for closed storage, orange for open storage – and one cold box and one warm box inside the multi-hatch can keep ice packs chilly or gloves heated.
Dash vents rotate down to warm, dry or cool clothing or gear, Toyota says, and the audio system is removable like a boombox.
A phone mount in the instrument cluster fills in for a navigation system, as the automaker foresees Gen Y drivers using a GPS app to get directions to their destination.
The FT-4X rides on the same Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) C-segment platform as does the new Toyota C-HR CUV. Envisioned under the concept’s sheet metal is a small-displacement 4-cyl. and a MacPherson-strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear.
No word from Toyota on whether it plans to put the FT-4X into production. Several automakers have or are planning more than one small CUV for the U.S., including Jeep, whose Renegade model debuted two years ago with a similar urban 4x4 theme.
Renegade sales last year tallied 106,606, WardsAuto data shows, making it the No.2 best-selling model in the Small CUV group in 2016, behind Jeep’s now-discontinued Patriot (121,926).
Meanwhile, Toyota’s first small CUV, the C-HR, goes on sale this month in the U.S., with the automaker expecting to sell 60,000 annually.