By on October 6, 2017

Toyota Tj Cruiser concept

Okay, maybe not the specific vehicle itself, but the key feature that sets it apart from every other crossover/SUV on the road or in conceptual blueprints.

Seen here is the just-revealed Toyota Tj Cruiser, a commodious concept car heading to the upcoming Tokyo Auto Show. “Tj,” Toyota tells us, is a combination of “toolbox,” which this versatile box-on-wheels can certainly be, and “joy,” which you’ll certainly be feeling when behind the wheel. Take the company’s word for it — there’s joy here.

Whether you find it ungainly or endearing, the Tj Cruiser seems to be an answer to a question few are asking. However, TTAC was one of those askers.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Grande sliding doors - Image: Chevrolet, FCA, The Truth About Cars

Just a few weeks ago, we brought you the Chevrolet Tahoe Grande — a full-size SUV with sliding rear doors for better ingress/egress, side loading, and to generally help the kids scamper all about. This concept, of course, emerged from the TTAC Design Studios, helping illustrate our Question of the Day (which was, does rear sliding doors turn a utility vehicle into a van?).

The jury that day couldn’t reach a verdict, but the Tahoe Grande concept lives on in the Tj Cruiser, which Toyota claims represents the “harmonious balance between the roominess of a cargo van and the powerful design of an SUV.”

Toyota Tj Cruiser, Image: Toyota

A versatile, easily reconfigurable interior. A long, flat cargo floor capable of swallowing objects 10 feet in length. Available four-wheel drive. Sturdy suspension. A bulky, slab-sided body with crossover-like ground clearance. An off-the shelf four-cylinder engine with attached hybrid system. While all of these attributes scream “utility!” (as well as “doable”), those sliding rear doors pull the vehicle right back into vandom.

It’s interesting Toyota is thinking about what it calls a “new crossover genre concept vehicle.”

Toyota Tj Cruiser, Image: toyota

However, Toyota is not thinking about building this TNGA-platform vehicle. According to Automotive News, the automaker has no plans to build either the Tj Cruiser or the Toyota 86-based GR HV Sports concept joining it at the auto show.

Given the automaker’s concerns about its bland, conservative image, and the fact that the funky Tj Cruiser looks like something Scion might have created (had it not died at the hands of its parent company), perhaps Toyota execs might want to give serious thought about adding such a vehicle to their already crowded utility vehicle lineup. Or would that be a waste of time?

Toyota Tj Cruiser concept, Image: Toyota

[Images: Toyota; Chevrolet, FCA, The Truth About Cars]

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36 Comments on “Wait a Minute – Haven’t We Seen This Toyota Vehicle Before?...”

  • avatar

    ““Tj,” Toyota tells us, is a combination of “toolbox,” which this versatile box-on-wheels can certainly be, and “joy,” which you’ll certainly be feeling when behind the wheel. ”

    stahp toyota


    • 0 avatar

      Why should Toyota stop creating concept vehicles? More choices is a good thing.
      How about a mini motor home version, with a bed, sink, stove, and a pop-up tent roof, Westfalia style? And a weird pickup version that sells in the low hundreds. If the Tj Cruiser had two-tone paint and a VW label on it, the press would be all over it.

  • avatar

    Well, at least the grille doesn’t suck.

  • avatar

    Sport Utility Van?

  • avatar

    Dear Toyota people-please make the rear window open so that long cargo can go thru and out the back. The 2006 CRV is the last year with this feature on Honda’s, I think.

  • avatar

    I would buy one. Toyota, please build it and please only build it for 5 years and then don’t make a new one. That way I can keep mine for 4 years (won’t buy first year model) and sell it for more than I paid for it.

  • avatar

    Honda Element reincarnated!
    That’s remarkably understated styling for Toyota these days,

  • avatar

    Interesting how they borrowed at least one concept item out of a 15-year-old Saturn product. Definitely some good design elements there for utility but I simply do not like the ‘edgy’ look of it. The door? Honestly, considering how tight parking areas are getting, what with trying to fit more vehicles into old space, the sliding doors or Tesla’s “Falcon Wing” doors are becoming a necessity, not a luxury.

  • avatar

    I don’t see people going for this; looks too mini-van ish.

  • avatar

    Neat. That flat cargo floor is really fantastic!

    • 0 avatar

      No Kidding!

      The shortest vehicle in which one can comfortably lay flat, stretched out and sleep in, wins.

      • 0 avatar

        “No Kidding! The shortest vehicle in which one can comfortably lay flat, stretched out and sleep in, wins.”

        That would be the ’02 Saturn Vue or the Dodge Magnum wagon, then. Seats fold flat and offer 8′ of floor, not counting driver’s seat.

      • 0 avatar

        I have a 2002 Honda Stream. After a bunch of Volvos, the decidedly non-flat, but rather gap-infested and uneven height in this Honda is pretty dilettante-ish. If I throw in a madrass for overnight stays, I have to build it up.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Our 1987 Honda Civic Wagovan. The back seats flipped, folded the same way as a Honda Fit and the front seats also reclined straight back once the headrest was removed to create a flat surface throughout the length and width of the car’s interior.

        Prior to that I had a VW Type IV squareback/shooting brake and the back seat could be folded to create a large ‘bed’ area.

  • avatar

    A Gen III Scion xB — only bigger.

  • avatar

    IMO, vehicles like this will be everywhere in the not too distant future. The SUV/minivan morph has already begun, and this is a logical result.

  • avatar

    If you think mid-sized cars are on the way out now, if Toyota builds this, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

    Think about it – cars are getting less functional regardless of the number of doors, and crossovers are growing. More practical in every way.

    This thing looks like a hoot.

  • avatar

    Every time I read “Tahoe Grande” I can’t help but think of Weird Al’s “Taco Grande”.

  • avatar

    Looks to me like a stretched and improved Honda Element. I like it and the idea.

  • avatar

    You guys would be surprised at how many customers ask about sliding rear doors on their full sized SUV. They actually SAVE your cars when they park next to you. Think about all of the door dings you get. They are mostly because of kids flinging the doors open and not thinking about their surroundings. Not only that, but it is safer, since sliders have the power sliding feature. They close all the way and latch closed as compared to a swinging door that the child may not close all the way. Yes, I understand that those mechanisms can fail, but if you maintain your vehicle, that usually isn’t an issue. Believe me, I have seen some nasty cars where the tracks fill up with debris and stop closing.

    My personal request is a third door, possibly on the passenger side, that opens with the hinge on the rear of the door. This would allow far more room to enter and exit the third row. If a company made one like that, I know that they would sell a lot, just because of that feature.

  • avatar

    I don’t think you call it a mini van since the dimensions are a little bigger and it is well, larger, and has a taller profile and groind clearance.

  • avatar
    Tony C

    “However, Toyota is not thinking about building this TNGA-platform vehicle.”

    Who ya gonna believe? Automotive News or a trademark filing?

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