Toyota Unveils Compact 4×4 in New York: the FT-4X

Is this the off-roader we really want from Toyota?

At a press conference this morning at the New York International Auto Show, Toyota showed the world their newest concept car: the FT-4X. With electronic music blaring and black-clad young people rushing to the stage with spray paint cans in hand, the message was pretty clear. This car, no matter what it is or what it looks like, is going to be aimed at young people. This is interesting, because Toyota 4×4’s are traditionally renowned for their quality, not their youthful spirit.

With the Scion brand gone, it was no surprise that this concept came out to be so much like cars out there directed at the same market. Subaru has the Crosstrek and Jeep as the Renegade. Both are small, cheap compact SUVs that offer everyday practicality with just a hint of adventurous spirit. Toyota’s answer to those actually resembles a Honda Element that has been combined with an FJ Cruiser. That is a great thing, as I really enjoy both of those cars.

It takes the adventurous aspect a full step further than the competition, in typical Toyota fashion. But they sort of have to. Off-road prowess is synonymous with the Toyota name. If their quirky, boxy little 4×4 couldn’t offer somewhat decent performance when the terrain gets tricky, there would really be no point. The words used were “rugged charm”. I can see what they mean, too.

While the body itself is boxy, there have been X’s worked in all over the place that aid in safety while adding to the whole design. It looks pretty fun, and there are big surfaces to grab onto all over the place. Overhead lights can be removed and used as flashlights, and the radio in the center console is removable as well, doubling as a boombox. There is even a GoPro camera mounted in the side mirror.

The thing is, it’s a bit out there. I know it’s a concept car, but the concept did revolve around the underlying sense that the vehicle was, at heart, practical. All of the removable bits and light up odds and ends kind of clutter that. Sure, having big bubbly rear windows and refrigerators in the rear doors is neat, but it’s not exactly a rugged look. Hopefully the final vehicle will have a more normal rear hatch and blind spots that are less massive.

I can’t dislike this car, I love little boxy 4×4’s and I am a lifelong fan of Toyota vehicles. I just think that, in typical concept car style, the whole idea was pushed a little too far and some details need to be toned down. Overall, though, I love the concept of a practical car that you could own in a city that could also get way off the beaten path.

I am glad that the vehicle unveiled by Toyota at the 2017 New York International Auto Show was a 4×4. Anything that is meant to get out into the wild is fine by me.

Categories: Auto Shows, New Cars

Ian Swan
About Ian Swan

I am a life-long car enthusiast and the proud owner of what is likely the only Mini Cooper S to have ever been hit by a Snow Cat. I live in Brooklyn, New York, where I spend too much time looking for neat cars.