Toyota took the wraps off the FT-AC (Future Toyota Adventure Concept) at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show revealing their next iteration of what many have been hoping would be a credible replacement for the discontinued FJ Cruiser. During the reveal, Toyota executives said it was not a coincidence that Los Angeles was chosen for the unveiling noting that its population routinely heads to the hills, deserts and beaches for weekend recharges after a long week’s work.
“FT-AC is perfect for those outdoor enthusiasts who want to dial up the adventure on their weekend getaways,” said Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager, Toyota division. “No matter the roads, the activities, or the people, FT-AC sparks authentic fun and conversation.”
In contrast to the FT-4X concept they shown earlier this year that, according to Toyota, was aimed at those who want to get to their adventure basecamp, the FT-AC has been developed to take adventurers beyond the basecamp – deep into the adventure – and back.
The FT-AC Concept – from our perspective – is a rugged reflection of the current Toyota SUV line-up (4-Runner and Landcruiser) and the Tacoma medium-duty truck and even shows design cues reminiscent of the FJ Cruiser. In addition, the FT-AC showed lots of new innovation.
Designed on a long and wide wheel base, we saw a wide black grille flanked by LED headlights and fog lights that can be removed from their pods and used as portable lights and can be attached to a mountain bike for night riding. Extra wide fender flares with black armor cladding accommodate 20-inch wheels and beefier all-terrain tires imply significant ground clearance. To protect the running gear, there are the obligatory recovery hooks and skid plates.
An interestingly designed ‘safari-style’ cargo rack can carry all kinds of adventure gear and – another nifty innovation – has LED lighting front and rear for nighttime trail driving or camp lighting. The lights can also be toggled as a flash for the side mirror embedded cameras. The cameras are infrared for documentation of the drive in all conditions, but also can be removed and used portably like the fog lights. The FT-AC includes a Wi-Fi hotspot that automatically uploads camera footage to the cloud for remote (or later) editing. In addition, the FT-AC featured an innovative integrated bike rack that retracts out of the way when not in use.
Toyota says the FT-AC will be powered by a gasoline power plant with an advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system that includes variable terrain-response drive settings and 4-wheel lock functionality for traction control and throttle management to maximize traction by wheel as needed.
Production Version Coming?
We understand that we will likely see a next iteration of the FT-AC – maybe even a production-ready version – sometime in the first part of 2018 (the New York Auto Show was mentioned). The hints were there that this next iteration could well be the long-awaited replacement for the venerable rugged FJ Cruiser. The FT-AC shows promise – what they reveal in terms of ‘under-the-hood’ chops and off-road running gear will be a key for the faithful. We shall wait and see.
Reflections on the FT-4X Concept
It was at the New York Auto Show back in April 2017 that Toyota revealed the FT-4X (Future Toyota Four-Wheel Drive) concept, their first iteration of what some hoped was the path to a replacement for the FJ Cruiser.
We did not think so – especially when they told us that the inspiration for the FT-4X concept came from focus group work with Bay Area ‘outdoorsy’ millennials with less hardcore values – or what they called a ‘casualcore’ attitude to adventuring.
As a result, the Toyota CALTY Studio crafted a vehicle that embodied what they called “Rugged Waku Doki” (rugged charm) elements in lieu of the ‘bulletproof off-road’ features and functionality that a FJ Cruiser faithful would be looking for.
We have looked at it closely several times since. Charming it is – rugged it is not.
To be fair, we think there is a place in the Toyota truck line for a vehicle that is more casual for those ‘Bay Area outdoorsy’ types. It will be interesting to see if Toyota finds a path in this effort to be able to satisfy both ends of the adventuring population.