Toyota disappointed its most hard-core off-roading fans and customers when it pulled the FJ Cruiser in 2014, and ceased production altogether last year. But it could introduce a new model to take its place in the near future.
“There’s room for an authentic small off-road SUV,” Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz told Motor Trend at the Detroit Auto Show this week. “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.”
The automotive giant has recently showcased two concepts for just such a vehicle in the forms of the FT-4X in New York and the FT-AC (pictured) in Los Angeles. Those appeared more as design studies than pre-production models, but with the demand evidently there, it could put one into production – if it can meet restricting regulations.
“There is room on the lower end, in terms of price or authenticity, for an off-road, frame-based SUV,” said Lentz. “This would be for people going outdoors, but truly going offroad. This would not be all-wheel-drive for safety, this would be four-wheel-drive with ground clearance.”
The new model would slot in under the 4Runner and alongside the RAV4 crossover, but with an entirely different approach – closer to that of the Jeep Wrangler.
“The difference is in wheel travel, and you can only do that with frame-based,” Lentz said. “This could be FJ sized, but for an enthusiast, it’s gotta be something with a small wheelbase to be more maneuverable when in the rocks.”