By on December 27, 2019

[toyota-ft-4x-concept, Image: Toyota]

Toyota has hinted in the past that perhaps fielding one vehicle per segment is foolish, old-timey thinking. At the same time, automakers have fallen in love with the idea of splitting segments, shoehorning tweener models into any narrow wedge of daylight that appears in their already crowded lineups. General Motors is especially preoccupied with this.

It’s against this backdrop that a new U.S. trademark application filed by Toyota emerges, and the name provided only bolsters speculation that the company’s light truck stable is due for a new member.

The application for “4Active”, filed on December 9th and first noticed by Motor1, is naturally vague, sounding like the name of a new all-wheel drive system or a standalone utility vehicle. It’s most likely the latter.

Bolstering this assertion is a summertime announcement from Toyota regarding its yet-to-open joint assembly plant in Alabama. The $1.6 billion facility, shared with Mazda, will start cranking out vehicles in 2021, but the Corolla production originally slated for the plant will instead swap to a “new, yet-to-be-announced SUV.”

It is believed the mystery utility vehicle will be a production version of the 2017 FT-4X Concept — a small, sub-RAV4 crossover that boasts the rugged exterior and all-wheel drive capability the brand’s subcompact C-HR lacks. If you’ll recall, that concept bowed with some of the most infuriating marketing copy ever put on a page.

Shortly after the concept’s New York debut, Toyota suggested there was room for more than one vehicle in a hot segment. With the RAV4 a sales leader and the C-HR considerably less so, the low end of the Toyota CUV totem pole seems like a good place to add a new vehicle. Ford executives chose to tread a similar path for the 2020 Escape and upcoming “baby Bronco” — a butchier, alternatively styled version of the same vehicle. Mazda went the segment-splitting route in its product plan, inserting the CX-30 between the subcompact CX-3 and compact CX-5 for 2020. Not to be outdone, Chevrolet debuted the Trailblazer as its own subcompact/compact tweener.

The highly configurable FT-4X was created to attract fun-loving urban Millennials to the brand, and that demographic hasn’t fallen off Toyota’s radar in the years since. Expect to see the brand’s TNGA architecture put to use beneath the 4Active, if indeed the name heralds a new AWD CUV.

[Image: Toyota]

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