It is no secret that guys at Toyota are innovative. This time round, Toyota designers have blended an SUV body with that of a minivan to offer buyers a feel of both worlds. The result is the Toyota Tj Cruiser Concept which is set to officially debut at the upcoming Tokyo Auto Show later this October. With this vehicle, Toyota hopes to create a completely new market segment. The name Tj stands for ‘Toolbox Joy’, Toolbox due to the concept’s high functionality and Joy for its ability to venture into off-road terrains. The idea is very innovative but the execution, particularly the exterior of the model is quite poor.
Toyota Tj Cruiser Concept Exterior
I don’t know what Toyota designers were smoking as they designed the exterior of the concept but from the look of things, it must have been something quite potent. The van/crossover concept does not look appealing at all. It is much harder to compare the design with Toyota’s latest offerings such as the new Camry which has a stunning exterior profile. If at all this concept reaches production, I hope it will have had undergone a comprehensive redesign by then.
The Toyota Tj Cruiser Concept has a boxy look all-over starting with a squared-off front fascia with a hood similar to that of a minivan. The grille, bumper as well as its headlights look very bland. Only the fenders, door handles and the lights (headlights and taillights) have a round shape, everything else looks rather boxy and flat. At the rear, the concept features an almost square lift-gate that is however flanked by round taillights. These taillights are mounted on a blacked-out space created by the model’s open fenders. The concept looks so boxy that the front and rear almost look alike.
However, the automaker at least gave the concept a good ground clearance level and short overhangs which mean it can take you beyond the carpeted roads. The hood, fenders and the roof have a special kind of coating to prevent scratches. The Tj Cruise also rides on 20-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires. The rear doors of the model slide like those of a minivan.
Unlike the exterior, the interior is carefully designed (talk about cleaning the inside of your cup while the outside is dirty). Toyota has designed a very functional interior. The model comes with four individual bucket seats meaning it accommodates four passengers. Due to its high roofline, the model offers plenty of headroom while its flat floor offers ample legroom. The seating capacity is however on the lower side for a model intended for families that need the functionality of a minivan.
To help haul as much stuff as possible, all seats except the driver’s seat can be folded flat. To secure the cargo, there are holes in the trunk as well as pipes on the seatback edges. There are also adjustable cleats on the walls and on the aluminum rails in the model’s ceiling. In addition, there are plenty of canvas straps placed on the seatbacks to further secure cargo. When the three seats are folded, the Tj Cruiser can even accommodate 10-feet long objects such as surfboards.
It seems that this model is built to offer as much space as possible because even the dashboard has lots of storage spaces including a cubby hole that has an elastic band to secure cargo on the passenger’s side. Most of the dash styling is adopted from the Toyota Prius including the gauge cluster. In general, Toyota has made the cabin very functional, unlike the exterior which seems to have been put together in a hurry.
Engine and performance
Toyota did not talk about the Tj Cruise drive-train meaning the engine put under the hood was just for the show. Our sources revealed that the show model has a hybrid mill comprising of a 2.0 L, 4-cylinder mill and an electric motor supported by a battery pack. The concept was in FWD but I understand it could be hooked up with off-road capabilities supported by an optional AWD system. I think the Toyota Tj Cruiser Concept is a design study and much will change before it hits production.
Price and release date
As expected, being a concept, Toyota did not talk about release date of the model; prices or even if the model will reach production. However, if by any chance Toyota continues to smoke the same stuff and delivers the model into production, I don’t see a sane person spending over $25,000 for this crossover/van hybrid unless much changes by then.