Toyota’s Calty designers use FT-4X as innovation show car

  • ‘Sunshine state’ designers pen fun outdoors wagon
  • So much innovation, so little wasted space
  • Adding pleasure and convenience to any trip
TOYOTA OFF-ROAD CONCEPT: Image: Toyota
TOYOTA GETS BACK TO TONKA: The California-designed FT-4X off-road concept works on the X-Factor for styling, starting with the front bumper. The Corner thinks it merely looks broken…   Image: Toyota

LOS ANGELES, California – Toyota recently reincarnated the spirit of its FJ Land Cruisers and other iconic “adventure vehicles” with the world premiere of its FT-4X concept at the New York auto show.

The revolutionary Toyota FT-4X (Future Toyota 4WD Crossover) is an all-wheel drive toolbox designed by Toyota’s Calty Design Research studio in California and features compact, sturdy dimensions and “rugged charm” that “emphasises simplicity, capability and durability while reinforcing the Toyota lineage”.

Calty president Kevin Hunter said the FT-4X demonstrated that designers  invested deep thought into human “emotional connection” with their  vehicles.

TOYOTA OFF-ROAD CONCEPT: Image: Toyota
OVERSIZED WHEEL-ARCHES: Well, they have to be to accommodate the special Goodyear all-season tyres.  Image: Toyota

“The FT-4X is not simply a concept where style meets function,” he said. “It’s a  thoughtful, charming and engaging experience that adds real pleasure and  convenience to the journey.

“We focused on how a crossover can add fun and value to casual adventures in and out of the city after thinking about how people would use it and what they would love to do with it.”

‘INNOVATION ABOUNDS’

The truck, Toyota says, was inspired by “a simple, sturdy “X-theme”. Each side, it explains, has a vertical X shaped to provide the widest point at the door releases… “a natural protection zone for passengers”. A similar treatment is used for the tail.

“Innovation,” Toyota says, “abounds throughout the vehicle.” Such as…

The ‘Multi-Hatch’ tail door that works in either of two ways: in “urban mode” it can be split horizontally to load stuff: in “outdoor mode” it can lift to provide shelter from the elements – handy for tailgate parties, an American fun pastime.

Each red hook (front and rear) offers secure anchor points for vehicle recovery or, perhaps, tying down loads. Off-road, “generous approach and departure angles add to the vehicle’s prowess”.

TOYOTA OFF-ROAD CONCEPT: Image: Toyota
ALL-DIGITAL:  No mistaking the brand image on the FT-4X concept. Image: Toyota

Wide black “over-fenders”, Toyota says, add a rugged look to accommodate a tough, custom, 225/55R18 Goodyear all-season tyres and a vertical window over the driver’s-side rear wing can be removed and swopped for a variety of opaque colour or tinted glass options.

READ MORE Toyota features on Carman’s Corner

Off-road adventures can be captured by a GoPro Hero5 Session camera in the driver’s external mirror while at the centre of the nose is an extra-large embossed Toyota logo flanked by diode headlights.

Twin boxes in the cargo area – one warm, one cold – are designated for functions such as storing snacks, warming gloves or cooling ice packs. The cargo floor has tracks to tie down stuff; below it is a deep compartment accessed through the slideable floor.

WET ZONE FOR WATER DAYS

Ahead of the cargo volume is a wet zone – think swimming gear, muddy boots.

Each rear armrest has a USB socket and rotating switches; front and rear door handles serve as water bottles; removable inside rear lighting doubles as a torch; the dome light can become an exterior locator or beacon. A removable multimedia system is part boom-box, in-dash stereo, and has an  extra-large handle.

TOYOTA OFF-ROAD CONCEPT: Image: Toyota
FACIA ASSEMBLY LIKE NO OTHER:  … and the bump between the front seats is a sleeping-bag.  The Toyota concept has storage volumes in places no other automaker has dreamed of.   Image: Toyota

There is no normal satnav screen, instead a cellphone mount directly above the cylindrical digital instrument cluster – Toyota recognises that people are used to  relying on their own devices for directions.

Although a concept, the FT-4X could have a small-displacement four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive with low range.

Calty chief designer Ian Cartabiano told The Corner in a media release: “We had a blast designing the FT-4X so it looks fun to use and fun to drive, We want everybody to interact with the car, to feel delighted and excited.”

TOYOTA OFF-ROAD CONCEPT: Image: Toyota
STORAGE, STORAGE AND, ER, MORE STORAGE: Large, small – dry or wet – warm or cold. The Toyota FT4X concept can handle pretty much and camping or leisure trip requirement in its variable load space.  Image: Toyota
TOYOTA OFF-ROAD CONCEPT: Image: Toyota
STATELY SIDE VIEW: No doubting the Toyota FJ heritage of the FT-4X concept , but there’s also no end of innovation – the door releases, for instance, rotate to make them more easily used while wearing gloves.     Image: Toyota
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