Toyota's FT-4X concept is a rugged rolling toolbox

The FT-4X shares its underpinnings with the coming C-HR and signals Toyota’s broader ambitions in the red-hot subcompact crossover market. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
UPDATED: 4/12/17 10:12 am ET - corrected

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong day for the FT-4X's unveiling.

NEW YORK -- Toyota is using the term “casualcore” to describe the FT-4X, an all-wheel-drive concept vehicle that’s more rugged than the typical subcompact crossover but not as hardcore as the larger, body-on-frame FJ Cruiser that was dropped in 2014.

A veritable toolbox on wheels, the FT-4X unveiled here on Wednesday is designed for millennial-generation professionals who are often confined to urban environments but ever-ready for an unplanned outing that’s less than extreme, such as zipping off to a national park.

The FT-4X shares its underpinnings with the coming C-HR and signals Toyota’s broader ambitions in the red-hot subcompact crossover market.

The look is chunky Tonka-toy, with useful tricks such as interior door handles that double as water bottles, warm and cool storage boxes, a ceiling-mounted flashlight and a sleeping bag that fits between the seats and serves as an armrest. The vehicle was given “generous approach and departure angles” that make it capable on unpaved paths, the company said.

“We focused on how a crossover vehicle can add fun and value to casual adventures both in and out of the city,” said Kevin Hunter, president of Toyota’s Calty Design Research center in California.

While the FT-4X clearly fits into the “concept” category with its novel design and equipment, it is based on Toyota’s global TNGA platform. That platform also underpins the C-HR, which is available with four-wheel drive in markets other than the U.S.

The concept crossover’s dimensions are within a few inches of the C-HR in length, width and height (the FT-4X is slightly taller). The vehicles’ wheelbases are the same.

“Albeit a concept, one could assume the FT-4X could potentially employ a small-displacement four-cylinder engine,” Toyota said. The C-HR has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplant putting out 144 hp.

The exterior design includes nods to Toyota’s classic FJ Land Cruisers, such as tie-down hooks and the horizontal orientation of the grille, headlights and bumper, the company said.

The FT-4X lacks a traditional navigation screen, but has a mobile-phone mount directly above the driver’s cylindrical instrument cluster, Toyota said.

Although the U.S.-spec C-HR has an infotainment screen, it isn’t available with onboard navigation, meaning its buyers are likely to have to use their smartphones and an aftermarket cradle to keep within sight of the driver.

You can reach Laurence Iliff at liliff@crain.com

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