What is this new mystery model?
Toyota is no stranger to building off-road-capable SUVs and pickup trucks. The Japanese brand currently builds a slew of TRD Pro variants, including the Tacoma, Tundra, Sequoia, and 4Runner, plus the legendary Land Cruiser (for now). Despite catering to off-road enthusiasts, Toyota has never taken a direct swing at the Jeep Wrangler or the upcoming Ford Bronco; even the old FJ Cruiser was not a direct Wrangler rival. But that may soon change.
According to a USPTO filing made on March 10, 2021, Toyota may be preparing a new model called the "Trailhunter." Though the inclusion of the word "trail" doesn't always relate to off-road prowess (see Chevrolet Trailblazer), we believe the name "Trailhunter" points to something rugged.
There are no other details available about the Toyota Trailhunter, but the trademark filing is "intended to cover the category of automobiles and structural parts thereof." Toyota knows there is a market for dedicated body-on-frame off-roaders, as evidenced by the high prices commanded by old FJ Cruisers. The company is currently developing a new TNGA-F architecture that will underpin the next-generation Tacoma, Tundra, Sequoia, and 4Runner. Still, Toyota has been coy on the return of a retro-themed model like the FJ.
If Toyota is not ready to bring back the legendary FJ name, perhaps it could take on Ford and Jeep with a brand-new model like this rumored Trailhunter. It's certainly a cool name, and we'd consider one if it boasts similar off-road capability.
It's also possible that the Trailhunter name could go on a new series of special editions, similar to the 2021 Trail Editions. The name could just as easily go unused, as many trademarks of this nature tend to. Toyota never ended up putting the TJ Cruiser into production and we have yet to see Toyota do anything with its recent Celica application. This space will be interesting to watch.