According to Toyota's design team, urban-dwelling millennials like to go on "casualcore" getaway adventures. These off-the-cuff, spur-of-the-moment outdoor adventures are the quick afternoon or overnight getaways that reboot the busy urbanites' stressful lives.
The FT-4X Concept aims towards the idea of the "new Jeep," giving a tiny footprint to a larger idea. Where previous generations would turn to a much larger vehicle, such as a Jeep Wrangler or a Ford Bronco, the current generation is probably more likely to choose something smaller.
Dimensionally, the FT-4X Concept is smaller than a Toyota RAV4 and sized about on par with a Nissan Juke or just a tad shorter than a Jeep Renegade. In other words, the FT-4X would fit exactly into the compact crossover segment, which is currently the fastest-growing vehicle segment in North America. The new C-HR now fills that space for Toyota.
Toyota calls the FT-4X Crossover's design "rugged charm." That's a good start and although the introduction video for the FT-4X is a bit gimmicky (see it below), we do like the general idea of the concept and are definitely on board with some of its more thoughtful tricks.
For example, the rear hatch of the FT-4X opens upwards, as would be expected of a hatchback vehicle. But it can also split in half and open to either side, like cargo doors on a van. Like Tesla's "falcon wing" doors on the Model X, this is not likely to translate well to a production vehicle, but we do like the idea. The cool space-age handle that twists to switch between these opening modes is a sweet touch as well. It mirrors other Xs found around the FT-4X, including wheels and grille.
On the roof of the FT-4X Concept are tie-downs meant to allow cargo to be strapped to the flat deck-styled rooftop. Integrated with a couple of those tie-down points are 120V outlets, which can conveniently add power to a campsite, beach, etc. Add to that the nostalgic front and rear fascia elements that beckon reminders of the FJ Cruiser and there's some heritage thrown into this concept as well.
Inside, the FT-4X Concept has more to showcase. Toyota calls it a "Multi-tool Cabin," which is descriptive. We'd also add "Some of these things will get lost" but that's not good PR. The built-in cooler and heater for food, beverages, or gear is pretty neat. Imagine heating your ski gloves on the way to the slopes or cooling a t-shirt and soda for the evening drive back from the beach. Awesome.
Other great touches include the sleeping bag strapped in to become an integrated armrest (Jeep owners have long done this) and the "dirty" and "clean" storage options, color-coded to keep gear stowed correctly. Especially the deep storage compartment beneath the rear cargo floor, which is the perfect place for items that aren't needed in a rush.
Items that we put into the "Useful, but likely to get lost" category include the removable lighting that's found throughout the cabin, the door handles-cum-water bottles, and the removable "boom box" in-dash stereo. Cool touches include the rotating air vents that can be used to dry clothing (or hair) and the integrated GoPro camera in the rearview mirror. The idea of using your smartphone for navigation and instrumentation is also cutting-edge, hitting the Gen Y group squarely.
Although it is easy to make fun of some of the individual items shown on the FT-4X Concept, it's a thoughtful undertaking that looks at something that is only partially addressed in today's vehicle market. Urban-capable, outdoor-ready escape vehicles are not new, but are rarely this well thought out.
The point of the FT-4X is to show what is possible, not necessarily to show off a planned model for production. In many ways, though, this concept is definitely something that would catch an audience. Reaction at the New York International Auto Show (NYAIS) could determine whether the FT-4X inspires a production vehicle. Given that the new C-HR is aimed towards that segment, perhaps an FT-4X special edition might be possible?