The Japanese carmaker tells us that it's committed to body-on-frame trucks.
If a leaked product map is to be believed, Toyota is currently preparing to reveal a slew of all-new body-on-frame vehicles based on an upcoming TNGA-F architecture. The Toyota Tundra is slated to be the first of these new models in 2021 followed by a new Toyota 4Runner and Sequoia in 2022, then a new Tacoma in 2024.
With the Bronco nameplate set to return, we wanted to know if Toyota had any plans to bring back its retro-themed SUV, the FJ Cruiser. Since the last-generation FJ was based heavily on the existing 4Runner at the time, we asked if Toyota could possibly modify the next-generation model to create a new FJ model.
"It's near and dear to my heart," Toyota Chief Truck Engineer, Sheldon Brown told CarBuzz of the 4Runner in an interview. "There is a long-lasting desire for the body-on-frame. I think the pendulum is going to swing the other way on it. We've heard through the grapevine that a few of our competitors want to be a part of it as well," he added in reference to upcoming entrants like the Ford Bronco.
"It's one of those legacy trucks. People love them," Brown said of the FJ Cruiser. "As we continue to develop the new body-on-frame platforms, we have to look across our strategic lineup to see where it makes the most sense. Toyota is still committed to a major truck presence. That gives us a lot of opportunity to select different wheelbase sizes and powertrains. If the market is such that it deems for another vehicle, our sales and marketing team will be beating down the door to let us know."
At least theoretically then, Toyota could take use the TNGA-F platform to built a retro-themed off-roader. Toyota will likely pay close attention to Bronco sales to see if there is a market for a new FJ Cruiser. As for more road-oriented performance trucks, like the Tacoma X-Runner, Ford F-150 Lightning, and Ram SRT-10, Brown was far less optimistic about their return.
"We just don't see the market demand that we see for off-road. Truck camping is at an all-time high. Off-road performance is where we seem to be happy with," he said.
Toyota last offered the street-tuned Tacoma X-Runner in 2013.
"We've made no secrets about having electrification across all vehicle lines," said Brown. "Electrification makes a ton of sense in the truck market," he added.
Specific details about these new vehicles are scarce. However, Toyota is currently rumored to ditch the current V6 and V8 engines in favor of a new twin-turbocharged, hybridized V6.
"Truck owners value torque. They value the ability to have that initial response," he explained. "[But] we don't believe there is a single bullet that covers all vehicle needs. We continue to look across how to electrify, whether that means BEV, hybrid, or fuel cell. Customer need varies from segment to segment and from vehicle to vehicle."