Toyota TJ Cruiser May Reach Production If the World Proves Itself Worthy

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Toyota is parading the TJ Cruiser concept around the Tokyo Motor Show, taking the public’s temperature on how it might be received as a production model. The vehicle itself is an amalgamation of a traditional sport utility vehicle and ultra-practical cargo van. With an emphasis of being simple, rugged, and sensible, it’s everything a specific subset of enthusiasts have been clamoring for.

We already hinted at our approval of the general idea with our own Tahoe Grande concept — a hypothetical model merging the dynamic features of Chevrolet’s Tahoe SUV and the unparalleled practicality of the family-friendly Dodge Caravan. It was pure sex and so is the Toyota TJ Cruiser, sagaciously speaking.

However, the TJ is more of a utilitarian box with retro-futuristic styling than anything we envisioned. Whether or not you find its hard edges appetizing, its flexible interior is not something to be ignored.

Every seat not essential for driving can be folded flat, allowing it to house cargo measuring nearly 10 feet in length. Anchor points make securing your haul easier and sliding doors facilitates simple access and egress for human occupants or whatever junk you procured from the local swap meet.

The manufacturer previously stated that the TJ would ride on the common Toyota New Global Architecture and possess a roof, hood, and fenders coated in scratch-and-dirt-resistant materials. Clearly a workhorse vehicle, Toyota even claims the TJ name is a collaboration between the words “toolbox” and “joy.”


According to Autocar, the company is serious about bringing the joyful toolbox to market and is gauging the public’s perception of it at the Tokyo show. Design chief Hirokazu Ikuma confirmed that the car is currently under evaluation for a global launch in 2022 — including Japanese and European markets.


Potential North American deliveries remain a big question mark, however. While we’d like to see the TJ arriving here instead of the infuriatingly marketed FT-4X Concept, there may not be enough room for it in the West. Still, if it did arrive, we could see its 108.3-inch wheelbase and exceptionally short overhangs competing with the Ford Transit Connect rather nicely. After all, Honda’s Element sold reasonably well for a time and the TJ would fit perfectly into the quirky void left in its absence.


Toyota claims that, were the TJ Cruiser to enter into production, it would probably arrive with both front and all-wheel drive. It’s also expected to use a 2.0-liter engine, but may come to market as a hybrid if Toyota doesn’t want to provide an option between powertrains.

[Images: Toyota]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Guardian452 Guardian452 on Oct 25, 2017

    I like the hinge point of the rear hatch. Could prevent some goose eggs.

  • Bicepeak Bicepeak on Oct 29, 2017

    I like that it is only as long and tall as a Honda H-RV, but a lot more useful. It is also 10" shorter than a RAV-4.

  • AZFelix Fun duo who lived and worked in China for many years have a candid and crushing assessment on their EV manufacturing.
  • Vatchy Just think how many electric vehicles could be charged from a new nuclear power plant...
  • Arthur Dailey 'The capitalists will sell use the very rope that we use to hang them.' In our household we have cut down our shopping/spending and pay more to purchase products from 1st world nations or 2nd world nations that are our 'allies'. That also means quite often only buying and eating fruit and vegetables that are in season. Just like our parents and grandparents did.At least TTAC published an article on May 21st regarding LAN transformers that contravene the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act being used in some BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, and VW products?
  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
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