The Toyota FT-AC Concept Is The 'Tough Guy' Crossover Americans Would Totally Buy

Image: Toyota
Image: Toyota

America wants crossovers, and not just any crossovers. We prefer our vehicles to look “rugged” even if they totally aren’t. That’s probably why today at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota showed off its “Future Toyota Adventure Concept,” filling the press release with “tough guy” terminology.

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It seems like these days crossovers are trying to make up for their intrinsically boring, aero-tuned shapes with odd headlights, fun paint colors, and two-tone tops (admittedly, this also applies to other segments). Body cladding also seems to still be in style. On those fronts, the new “Future Toyota Adventure Concept” is pulling out all the stops. Just look at those Nissan Juke/Jeep Cherokee/Citroen Cactus-style lights up front, the white top, and those chunky fender flares.

The press release for the new concept makes it very clear that this is not just a car with extra ground clearance; it’s a rough and tumble, go-anywhere machine. The release includes some classic crossover 4x4 marketing terminology like “active lifestyle,” “exploration,” “excursion,” and “versatility,” and then there are the fun macho words like “beefier,” “rugged,” and—my favorite—“grunt.”

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But if that’s not enough to convince you that driving a car like this will lead to instant chest-hair growth, even Toyota’s vice president Jack Hollis makes sure everyone understands that this vehicle is an outdoorsman’s dream machine:

FT-AC is perfect for those outdoor enthusiasts who want to dial up the adventure on their weekend getaways...No matter the roads, the activities, or the people, FT-AC sparks authentic fun and conversation.

The press release paints pictures of all the cool stuff this little SUV concept could help us do, even though—let’s be honest—most of the time, we aren’t going to do them. Things like heading out to the “hills, deserts, or beaches for... much-needed weekend recharges,” and also “going for a paddle on the river. Climbing a favorite rock face. Hitting a trail on a mountain bike.”

Image: Toyota
Image: Toyota
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The FT-AC’s skid plates, removable fog lamps (which can be “attached to a mountain bike for occasional night rides”), roof rack (with integrated LEDs), bike rack, and the tow hooks make it clear that this machine means business. There are also cameras on the side-mirrors that can be removed and used like GoPros, and “geolocation capabilities” in case you need to get back to “basecamp.”

It’s just a design experiment, but Toyota says this FT-AC could offer torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain. Let’s be honest, though, more so than actual capability, it’s really the “image” that you and your suburban family of accountants so desperately want. And what’s better for that than a vehicle that Toyota says is “experience-centric”? I don’t really know what that means, but damn if it doesn’t sound tough as nails.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

hammerheadfistpunch
HammerheadFistpunch

Ah nerts, I was just writing this up for oppo. Oh well.

Basically what you are looking at is a Toyota Renegade. Looks tough, cheap(ish), appeals to weekend warriors who are tired of seeing their Subaru dealer for transmission and engine issues.

Basically now that their best selling RAV4, which is an acronym for Recreation Activity Vehicle, has gone a little mainstream the brand needs something to pick it the torch for cheap adventure and run with it.

That they have moved to a more mature design from the C-hr is a good sign, that they still think that removable lights and gopros on the mirrors is still a thing people want is not.