Back in 2017, Toyota released the TJ Cruiser concept. It was a mid-size SUV with a body style similar to that of a boxy cargo van, where every passenger seat folded flat for maximum cargo versatility. It was a novel, fun, and exceedingly practical vehicle. (Fittingly, the T stood for “Toolbox,” and the “J” stood for “Joy.”)
Now, it may finally be going into production. Best Car in Japan says Toyota will announce the new TJ Cruiser in May 2020. (That said, reports from last August had Toyota unveiling the vehicle in October 2019, so take this with a grain of salt — especially now that the coronavirus outbreak has put all sorts of automotive timelines in doubt.)
The production vehicle will reportedly look similar to the concept, run on the company’s TNGA architecture, and employ the same all-wheel-drive setup as the RAV4. It will allegedly have three engine variants: a 2.0-liter gas engine, and both 1.8-liter and 2.5-liter hybrids.
Unlike the two-row concept, the production model will reportedly accommodate a third row of seats and up to seven passengers. It’s expected to sell for around $23,000 to $36,000 in Japan.
While the TJ Cruiser feels like a fresh take on the practical family vehicle that could enthuse younger buyers, it may not come to the United States. Toyota sold 448,071 RAV4s in the U.S. last year, making it the best-selling passenger car by far. There’s not much of a rationale for a bold, probably-low-volume SUV to rival that crossover and the new Highlander. But who knows?
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