Recently, while searching through some, ah, Japanese-market literature left in a bathroom stall by a former TTAC E-I-C, we found out something so shocking that it cannot possibly be true. Did you know that the Toyota RAV4 was initially designed from the ground up to “destroy” the Jeep Wrangler?
According to our sources, Toyota became obsessed with world domination of the Tri-Delts-Going-To-Theme-Parties demographic. Correctly identifying that the Jeep Wrangler had easily dispatched potential adversaries as thoroughly capable as the Suzuki Samurai, the company decided to throw its global resources behind “Project Young Truck”. Over $3.4 trillion dollars were spent to create a clean-sheet effort that would dominate the Wrangler in every possible way. Hundreds of young women were kidnapped from southern-state universities and forced to participate in million-mile re-enactments of stopping by the “U Store” on the way to Sigma Chi. (The Sigma Chi house, naturally, was constructed by copying an existing Sigma Chi house to the very last detail, at the cost of one billion dollars. The cost of importing authentic American fraternity vomit alone was in the seven figures.)
With just ninety days left to go before release, the “PYT” had cleared all quality hurdles. But then tragedy struck. To make it easier to understand, we’ve translated everything from a recorded conversation in the document into standard American English, including the names.
Frankie, Chief Engineer Of The PYT: See who’s knocking at the door.
Johnny, Assistant Chief Engineer: Sure. (Opens Door)
Cooter, Chief Engineer Of Pre-Existing Off-Road Vehicle Projects About Which Everyone’s Forgotten: (Rushes In) Thank god I found you in time! Why did you locate your primary engineering facility on the dark side of the Moon?
Frankie: Ummm, it…
Frankie: I seem to remember it costing more and therefore being better. So what’s up?
Cooter: I heard you just spent three trillion dollars to make a Jeep Wrangler competitor!
Frankie: A Jeep Wrangler destroyer, you mean. Our car has a titanium V-11. The Jeep Wrangler is powered by engines found in junkyards around Greater Toledo.
Cooter: (Whistles Appreciatively) That sounds very sustainable, though!
Johnny: Shit, you’re right. Frankie, let’s arrange to have half a million titanium V-11s buried in the Marianas Trench so we can recover them and use them responsibly.
Frankie: Like I’m not already dialing the phone on that! (Shows phone)
Cooter: Never mind all that now! What’s important is that we have already built such a vehicle! It’s been on sale for years!
Johnny: Say what?
Cooter: Yes! It’s called “Land Cruiser” and it’s the best!
Frankie: I don’t ever recall seeing one.
Cooter: That is because, prior to taking this job, you were a sanitation assistant!
Johnny But, when you think about it, isn’t that exactly the kind of job in which you’d see something like that?
Frankie. Yeah. Johnny’s right. Sure you’re not thinking about the Nissan Patrol?
Cooter: You idiots! Here’s our current brochure!
Frankie: (to Johnny) Holy crap, you see this? We have a four-speed auto in the Corolla now.
Johnny: Suddenly, it’s 1993! Haven’t been future-shocked like this since seeing Blade Runner!
Frankie: You know, he’s right. We do make a Land Cruiser thing. In fact, we make twelve of them, all slightly different. I can’t tell the difference. Why is this one called “Amazon” and this one called “Prado”? Do you have time to go over this with us?
Cooter: You see! The “PYT” must be stopped!
Johnny: He’s right. Otherwise, we’ll have one of those situations like we had when we were trying to sell the Cressida and the ES250 at the same time in the United States.
Frankie: Cooter-san, we most humbly ask your help. We have a product to deliver in ninety days that can’t be anything like a Jeep Wrangler, and we spent all but about $400 Million of our original budget. What do we do?
Cooter: (Thinks quietly) I’ve got it. Corolla with long suspension arms and short wheelbase. Tall body. Easy as pie to do.
Frankie: Yeah… YEAH! That’s the ticket! And we’ll whip up some kind of open-diff one-wheel-drive system to make it relevant to Californians who like to be seen owning 4WD trucks!
Johnny: But how about, for the price leader, we just leave the back diff carrier empty?
All together: Whoa.
That story doesn’t seem very plausible at all, does it? I mean, who could confuse an Amazon and a Prado? But regardless, since that day on the dark side of the moon, the front-wheel-drive CUV has been with us.
I’ll tell you a secret: When I see an open diff carrier in the back of an Escape or similar, I feel a smattering of additional respect. Why bother with a bunch of expensive, delicate hardware that you might never use? And with fuel economy increasingly leading the discussion in this segment, the pumpkins are disappearing as the market mixes change.
What say you, B&B? Does a CUV need AWD? Is it a nice-to-have? Does it brand the owner as a dummy? Did we lean on the “PYT” joke too hard?