By on August 26, 2019

Toyota TJ Cruiser Concept

Toyota’s FJ Cruiser was big and brash — a gas-sucking, body-on frame bruiser that combined rugged off-road capability and distinctive looks with a clamshell door configuration that gives this writer goosebumps. While owners continue to enjoy high resale values, the FJ Cruiser is long dead, and pedestrian offerings like the RAV4 Adventure are not a valid alternative for true off-road minded individualists.

On paper, neither is the TJ Cruiser, a versatile 2017 concept vehicle that blends a unibody CUV with minivan trappings. It is, however, very distinctive, and it could be headed for a production line.

According to Japan’s Best Car, a production-ready version of the boxy people mover could appear at this October’s Tokyo Auto Show, with pre-orders for Japanese customers kicking off in December. The unverified report comes via dealer insider Toru Endo.

Toyota TJ Cruiser Concept

It seems the supposedly production-bound TJ won’t stray for from its concept car roots, with a hybrid drivetrain sending power to all corners. Underpinning the five- or seven-passenger vehicle is Toyota’s trusty TNGA architecture. The concept vehicle showed a highly configurable interior, with a flat cargo floor stretching to the dashboard in seats-down guise, and sliding rear doors for improved ingress/egress.

Do sliding rear doors automatically make a vehicle a van? The answer to that depends on who you ask.

While the TJ Cruiser looks large enough to host a swat team and their gear, its footprint actually falls below that of the RAV4. At 177 inches in length (according to the report) and with a wheelbase of 108 inches, the TJ is 3 inches shorter than the RAV4 but boasts an extra 2 inches between its axles.

Toyota TJ Cruiser Concept

If you like the TJ’s chunky, avant-garde looks, best cross your fingers. Best Car states that Toyota envisions it as a limited-production model, relegated to about 1,500 units a month — severely lessening our chances of seeing it on this side of the Pacific. That said, the model uses common architecture found beneath a slew of U.S.-market models. Two years ago, the TJ’s designer said his creation was under evaluation for a global launch.

[Images: Toyota]

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23 Comments on “Toyota’s TJ Cruiser Could be Headed for Production...”

  • avatar

    So AM General gave the MV-1 a slight update and sold the line to Toyota?

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I think Honda would like the plans and specs to the Element returned in a timely fashion.

    • 0 avatar


      But like the Pontiac Aztek, the Element was a decent idea, questionable execution, that didn’t really find an audience and really suffered from poor timing in the market. This too, I feel would not be butch enough to really move the needle. I would see this as more of Toyota looking for a market for its Hybrid tech which has not enjoyed sales success of late in the swooping bug shaped Prius line.

      • 0 avatar

        Considering their immense resale value, I think Honda now laments dropping the Element, it would fit right in with today’s crossover-heavy world with its’ “utilitarian/funky” vibe as a differentiator. Even at fairly low sales, using the CRV as the underpinning makes the business case easier.

    • 0 avatar

      I would buy one if I needed to replace my Element.

  • avatar

    I’m actually marginally excited to see how this turns out in production. My family owned a pair of MK1 MPVs, both of which saw some decent offroad use, hauled canoes and mountain bikes, etc. I currently have an old 4Runner which I wish was roomier, and a Town&Country, which might do okay if not for a few potential wash-outs on the gravel roads that lead to our favorite primitive camp site.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah they can “water down” the styling a bit if they want but don’t water down the functionality.

      I think there could be a market for that level of function in the interior.

      • 0 avatar

        I still think Subaru is missing a whole segment of butched up AWD minivan. Yes I know the segment is shrinking but plenty of Subaru-Outback/Forester families share driveway space with loaded up Sienna Limited AWDs in the NE. The Ascent filled an even more obvious gap in their lineup, but I’d think using that platform for a sliding-door taller minivan makes sense.

        Then again, with the failure rates of the CVT in the Ascent, I’m not sure I’d want to buy one myself lol

  • avatar

    I guess we should be thankful for the limited availability of hideousness. To date, Toyoduh sells all the ugliness it can build – a statement about Toyoduh buyers that is consistent with the way they drive.

  • avatar

    This screams “JDM-only”. They love sliding doors on all sizes of vehicles over there. Maybe Europe as well, but the chances of seeing it here are slim to none. It would sell even worse than the Venza.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota has a monumental problem from the start. How to create a model what will sell if everything else already sells? It is easy to create another non-selling model. Their CHR is already lagging the competition 1-to-2 (HRV)

      • 0 avatar

        The CHR and Lexus UX are FWD drive only unless you purchase the hybrid.

        When we were in the market early this month for a smaller CUV they didn’t make the short list.First time in almost 20 years we don’t have at least one Toyota product in the driveway.

  • avatar

    There is no way to be more space-efficient. This car is gonna sell to old people. Old people understand the rectangle.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    Is it amphibious? It looks amphibious. I’d buy it if it were amphibious.

  • avatar

    Scion xB reboot.

    • 0 avatar
      Mc Lean

      dal20402 and thelaine-

      You both are correct. Iam an old person. I bought one of the last new 2015 Scion XBs languishing on the dealer’s lot. Wife and I love it. I would probably buy one of these.

  • avatar

    Wow, the styling is… unfortunate.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Sierra Hotel India Tango Bravo Oscar X-ray

  • avatar

    This is the first vehicle I’ve seen that would stand a chance of getting my wife out of her beloved Element!

  • avatar

    It looks like a VW Bus rear-ended a VW Thing. Sublime. TAKE MY MONEY.

  • avatar

    Its a Honda Element

  • avatar

    I would love to see this with dynamic torque vectoring AWD, 8.5″ of ground clearance, the new 170 hp 2.0L Dynamic Force engine and the same transmission options as in the Corolla SE. If I had the option of the rev matching 6 speed manual, I would buy one in a heartbeat. A Subaru Crosstrek killer fit for all tasks.

    It would be the perfect all singing, all dancing camping car. The sliding doors are fantastic if you’re going to sleep in it, and don’t open into other cars if you have kids.

    Please Toyota, bring this to North America.

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