It could be inspired by the Toyota FT-4X and FT-AC concepts.
The iconic Toyota FJ Cruiser was an extremely capable off-roader thanks to its body-on-frame construction that put it in the same class as the rugged Wrangler, but it was sadly short-lived as poor sales in Japan ultimately led to it being scrapped in 2014. However, there’s now renewed hope that Toyota could revive the small SUV in the future. Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz told MotorTrend at the Detroit Auto Show that the Japanese automaker is considering bringing it back in the form of a hardcore off-roader to challenge the new Wrangler.
There’s room for an authentic small off-road SUV,“ said Lentz. ”Everyone moved out of that segment because of truck CAFE ratings. But we’re getting a lot of requests from folks who want another FJ or some variant.” Toyota has already revealed a number of rugged SUV concepts, like the FT-4X at the New York Auto Show, and the FT-AC concept at the LA Auto Show, but it wasn’t clear if they were previews for upcoming production models. According to the CEO, the revived FJ Cruiser could be heavily inspired by these concepts, confirming that it will be “along the lines” of the FT-4X and FT-AC if it goes into production alongside the RAV4.
“There is room on the lower end, in terms of price or authenticity, for an off-road, frame-based SUV,” Lentz continued. “This would be for people going outdoors, but truly going off-road. This would not be all-wheel-drive for safety, this would be four-wheel-drive with ground clearance.” Lentz explained that the increased capability of AWD car-based platforms has made cargo and towing specifications almost on par with four-wheel-drive framed platforms. However, the difference “is in wheel travel, and you can only do that with frame-based.” If it enters production, Toyota's new off-roader will be slightly smaller than the FJ Cruiser to be “more maneuverable when in the rocks” to appeal to enthusiasts.