Indefinitely Wild

Toyota’s Newest 4x4 Is Like an REI Store on Wheels

The door handles are water bottles and the arm rest is a sleeping bag

Styling references legendary off-road Toyotas like the first-gen 4Runner, and the FJ series, but this thing is the size of a Mini Cooper. (Toyota)

Compact crossovers are great everyday vehicles, but because they use all-wheel drive instead of true four-wheel drive, their ability off-road is extremely limited. Enter Toyota’s new FT-4X concept, which debuted Tuesday night at the New York Auto Show. With true 4WD and selectable low-range gearing, this concept will be very off-road capable. It's also kitted out like a rolling REI. 

Here you can see the water bottle door handles, and sleeping bag arm rest. That big twist-handle on the radio is a tactile theme continued throughout the car, but if you twist this one, the rechargeable radio pulls out, so you can play music in camp. (Toyota)

The door handles? They’re removable water bottles. The radio? It’s removable, too, and includes a battery so it can stream Spotify in camp. The center armrest is a North Face sleeping bag, the rearview-mirror-mounted camera is a removable GoPro Hero Session, and the dome light is a removable LED flashlight and lantern. 

The idea is to create a vehicle that can work in the city day-to-day, as well as give urbanite drivers true access to the wilderness. You can parallel park it, but it can also tackle a real off-road trail. 

The car-like unibody construction creates the kind of spacious interior that Wrangler drivers can only dream of. And just look at how much cargo room this thing has with the seats folded down! (Toyota)

If, or when, a production model of the FT-4X happens, it’s obviously not going to come with a removable GoPro or any of the other items. But a compact SUV with true 4WD? That’d be a great vehicle. It’d have better fuel economy than the larger and taller Jeep Wrangler, and, thanks to its car-like construction, it would actually be more spacious inside than that Jeep. Thanks to that ability to lock the speeds of the front and rear axles together, it’d also be capable of going most of the places the Jeep can go. 

In short, this Toyota could be an ideal vehicle for driving in the city during the week, then heading for the hills on weekends. Fingers crossed the company makes it. 

The tail gate can open upwards, to protect you from the elements, or split in half side-to-side to minimize the space needed to open it. For off-road use, what you want is a one-piece side-opening hatch. That will create the easiest platform on which to mount a full-size spare, and allows you to attach tools, jerry cans, or a table, to the inside. Still, this thing has real potential. This is the Renegade Jeep should have made. (Toyota)

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