Toyota explores the outdoors with the FT-AC adventure vehicle concept
Much like a kid on summer break, Toyota knows that it wants to play outside, it's just not sure how it wants to go about it. The automaker has been exploring a number of off-road-oriented utility vehicle designs this year, starting with a compact urban escape pod and working through to a gear-hauling MP-SUV. Now it's back with the FT-AC, a ruggedized, urban-to-wild crossover loaded with multifunctional equipment.
Not so different from other small crossovers, the FT-AC – that's "Future Toyota Adventure Concept" – is designed for the active urban adventurer, the weekend warrior that works hard all week and wants to escape to the mountains, desert or beach when tools are put down. It's no coincidence that Toyota debuted the concept in Los Angeles, a city surrounded by a diversity of outdoor opportunities.
Like the FT-4X from the 2017 New York Auto Show, the FT-AC packs some of the rugged off-road heritage inherent in vehicles like the Land Cruiser, 4Runner and Tacoma in a more urban-friendly crossover package. And like the FT-4X, the results are polarizing.
Toyota designers try a little too hard to make up for the softer, crossover-style base by dressing it with stylistic elements like the hovering fender flares, front and rear skid plates, and gear-hauling solutions. It comes across like a highway-bound crossover all dressed up for the SEMA Show.
That said, the FT-AC does have some useful off-road equipment, including beefy all-terrain tires hugging 20-in wheels, "generous" ground clearance and front recovery hooks. The safari-style roof rack up top can hold whatever gear you're bringing along and includes integrated LED lighting for use during driving or at camp. The rear bike carrier pulls out when it's needed and retracts into the bumper when it's not.
You don't make a concept like this these days without focusing a bunch of attention on selfie-snapping, social media-sharing millennials, and Toyota hooks them up with removable side cameras that double as action cams, along with integrated Wi-Fi for live-streaming and instant video uploads. The roof rack LEDs work as the flash for those cameras, and the fog lights pull out to work as bike lights.
Toyota hasn't engineered a specific powertrain for the FT-AC, but it imagines gas and hybrid drive options, along with an advanced torque-vectoring AWD system providing traction in all types of situations. It also mentions multiple terrain settings and a four-wheel lock for managing traction.
Toyota's 2017 adventure show cars have been fun, but we hope the company sticks closer to tradition when releasing a refreshed 4Runner or FJ Cruiser successor. No matter how many skid plates it adds or how burly it makes the fenders, Toyota just won't convince us that a dressed-up urban crossover is a proper Wrangler competitor.