Toyota has registered a trademark application on the name “TJ Cruiser” in the United States, a firm clue that the Japanese carmaker intends to follow on from the successful FJ Cruiser with an all-new lifestyle off-roader.
It’s not entirely unexpected. Toyota wheeled out the FT-4X concept at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, a boxy take on a 4x4 wagon that many expected would spawn a production-ready version to capitalise on the world’s ever-increasing appetite for SUVS.
Its chunky, utilitarian styling was also seen as a futuristic take on the now-departed FJ Cruiser, a retro-styled homage to Toyota’s original FJ-series LandCruiser and a car that enjoys a cult following in the USA – as well as more than a few sales in Australia.
However, if the TJ Cruiser is indeed based in any way on the FT-4X, don’t count on it being quite the rugged go-anywhere device that the Prado-based FJ Cruiser was. With the concept using a MacPherson strut front suspension, double-wishbone rear end and four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, its mechanical layout resembled a road-biased C-HR more than it did the highly capable FJ Cruiser.
And that’s no surprise. Toyota pointed out at the FT-4X’s New York debut that the design was targeted squarely at millenials, and boasted features more attuned to facilitating social media updates from a bush campsite instead of genuine rock-hopping.
“We think it can do a lot and there’s a great spot for this in the market,” said Hunter. “We identified these millennials as casual users; they’re not interested in doing that [off-road] crazy stuff. This is perfect for them,” said the head of Toyota’s Calty design studio, Kevin Hunter, at the New York Auto Show.
“They [millennials] share the same desire to get away and explore, but their needs and appetites are less hard core and more of what we like to call casual core.
“In generations past, base camp symbolised the beginning of a journey but today for many millennials base camp has become the destination.”
Will the soft-roading FT-4X morph into the FJ Cruiser’s successor, or is the TJ Cruiser instead being reserved for something that boasts the same off-road chops as the dearly departed FJ? We’ll have to wait and see – right now, Toyota has yet to announce its intentions.