Now it might sound like a detective series from the eighties, but this Toyota concept is way more up-to-date and intends to grab the SUV van crossover market – and if there isn’t really such a market as yet, they hope to create it with the TJ Cruiser.
As concepts go, the TJ Cruiser offers all sorts of usefulness with the passenger seats able to be folded into all sorts of patterns to make full use of the large interior space. There are only 4 seats though, so this is certainly more van than people carrier, which one might immediately have thought it was when seeing the vehicle for the first time.
In van mode, the Cruiser is kitted out with all manner of boxes, straps and hooks for safely securing anything from a full-length surfboard to your favourite custom mountain bike. With those seats folded away it’s actually a deceptively large storage area, which in reality is not really any bigger than your average Ford Focus.
Access to the rear is well thought out with a sliding rear side door and lift-up rear. With the front side door open and the rear sliding door slid away, access is as good as you could possibly expect, with that essential b-pillar being the only obstruction.
The engine is a 2-litre effort combined with a hybrid electric plus automatic gearbox with a choice of 4-wheel drive or standard front-wheel drive. It won’t be breaking any speed records, but that’s not the point of this surprisingly good SUV crossover vehicle.
The look of such vehicles can often be overlooked with design teams misunderstanding what the target audience wants to be seen in – or come to think of it, maybe they’re just more sly than that, realising that most purchases will be road-going vehicles only. No such design misfiring here though, the TJ Cruiser has got a rugged, tough appearance (thanks to the Toyota design facility based in Tokyo) that is sure to endure it to the action/extreme sports crowd – and with 4×4 as an option, access to the more inhospitable terrain should be taken care of too.
It’s not just rugged looking either, Toyota expect that this will be the sort of vehicle potential customers will be willing to pay a price for in the knowledge that the vehicle will withstand the knocks and scrapes it’s likely to suffer through its intended use – including resisting flex if anything heavy is laid across the roof. In short, it’s built to last.
So what does everyone think about it then? It’s safe to say that the big reveal of this sport-utility vehicle at the recent Tokyo Motor Show was met with a very positive response and ultimately, the likelihood of this curious beast entering into full production actually seems very likely to happen.
By the way, ‘TJ’ stands for ‘Toolbox Joy’, but I guess there’s still plenty of time to rethink that.
For more articles like this, receive our weekly e-newsletter, including partner deals and all things motoring, register your email below.