Toyota FT-4X Concept: Watch Out Jeep, We’re Coming For You

The recent reveal of the Toyota FT-4X Concept at the 2017 New York International Auto Show is significant. Like many show cars, the FT-4X is cool and imaginative, with several far-out features that could never make it to production. 

But it is also a look it where Toyota could be going next in the ever-expanding multi-niche world of SUVs, the hottest segment in the market. The FT-4X Concept may be gunning for a very iconic off-road vehicle that has no current competition – the Jeep Wrangler!

Wrangler – The Uncontested Champion

Throughout its long lifespan, the Jeep Wrangler has had little lasting competition. The original 1966-77 Ford Bronco was designed to compete with Wrangler, but fell victim to the irresistible Detroit urge to make it longer and wider – until it turned into the monstrosity made famous by O.J. Simpson. Then there was GM’s Hummer, which was on the verge of bringing out a Wrangler competitor when the side effects of the General Motors bankruptcy saw the whole brand closed down in 2010. Through it all, the Wrangler cruised along on its solid axles, selling well year in and year out. And now Toyota now wants a piece of the action. 

A Wrangler Done The Toyota Way

The production version of the FT-4X Concept is not likely to be chasing any lifted Jeep Wranglers across piles of boulders or through pits of deep mud. The FT-4X will be a vehicle that appeals to those who like the image of the Wrangler and would consider one as a daily driver. But these buyers want more practicality. They are looking for the ability to occasionally take it off the road and haul all their gear to a campsite, while still having it be a practical size to drive and park in an urban setting every day.

The FT-4X that appears at your Toyota dealer will likely be based on the same platform as the new C-HR, a subcompact SUV that is styled more like a car. The FT-4X will be the truck-type version. As the Concept shows, there will be Toyota off-road styling cues inspired by the heritage of their past FJ-40 and FJ Cruiser four-wheelers. 

Ready To Go From The City To The Trail

The Toyota FT-4X Concept was created at Toyota’s Calty Design Center in California. Calty’s designers worked hard to make the Concept “doable” as a production vehicle that could be built on the C-HR platform. Even the rear door handles are in the same location. 

The FT-4X has also been given many attributes of a vehicle that is ready to take its city dweller owners off the beaten path. Generous approach and departure angles enable off-road excursions, as does a mechanical four-wheel drive system with a selectable low range. A gutsy four-cylinder engine with good low-end torque provides pulling power off the road, as well as great response and excellent fuel economy in city traffic. 

The Only Question Is When

The production version of the FT-4X Concept is likely coming to your local Toyota showroom, sooner rather than later. It has been designed to go up against the Jeep Wrangler and the returning Ford Bronco. Things will be getting very interesting very soon in this suddenly growing, off-road ready segment of the SUV market!


About The Author

Stephen Fogel

Stephen follows the global automotive industry on a daily basis, including new model announcements, new technologies, sales trends, and the latest in "green" cars.