Toyota FT-4X Concept: Millennial weekend escape machine
What do millenials want in their vehicles? Operating on research indicating they are (a) urban professionals, (b) like the outdoors, (c) given to spontaneous excursions, here’s Toyota’s vehicular getaway prescription.
Created at Toyota’s Calty design facility in Newport Beach, California, the FT-4X is based on the same TNGA architecture that supports the subcompact CH-R crossover SUV, sharing its 103.9-inch wheelbase. It’s also similar in other dimensions—a little shorter at 167.3 inches overall, a little wider (71.7 inches), and a little taller (63.9 inches).
It may (or may not) share the CH-R’s 144-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder—Toyota’s pre-show release says “one could assume the FT-4X could potentially employ a small displacement four-cylinder engine”—and continuously variable transmission.
Unique Multi Hatch
Guided by a philosophy they characterize as “casualcore,” the Calty design team started with the rear of the concept, which features a two-way “Multi Hatch” that offers two modes—Outdoor, with a traditional vertical opening, or Urban, where the hatch splits into two vertical half-doors.
Below the bumpers there are tow hooks doubling as tie-downs, front and rear, a hardened flat roof for securing camping gear; approach and departure angles suited to off-road use (albeit unspecified, ditto ground clearance), and a 4-wheel drive system with a low-range transfer case.
Moving forward, an intriguing design element is a vertical glass “picture window” set into the C pillar, spanning from the wheel well into the roofline. It’s removable, allowing the owner to substitute a tinted glass panel suiting his or her mood. And to augment memories of those impromptu getaways, the driver’s side mirror is equipped with an integrated GoPro camera.
The interior is an imaginative festival of small object storage bins, helpfully color-coded—blue, for closed storage, orange for open, in case the user has trouble distinguishing between them.
A sleeping bag stows between the front seats, doubling as an armrest, and rides atop a large center storage compartment. The rear door handles can double as water bottles, a flashlight stows in the rear ceiling, the armrests incorporate USB ports, and a pair of rear bins provides heating and refrigeration, one of each.
The radio is removable, for use as a boom box at tailgate parties. There are numerous power outlets scattered around the interior, which is divided into three zones: Clear, up front; Wet, in the middle; and Cargo. The distinctions are arbitrary, since there’s no carpeting, allowing interior clean up with a hose.
The rear seats fold fully flat, to expand stowage, and the seatbacks are clad in the same hard material as the rear cargo hold, making it easy to slide gear in or out, and also easy to clean. Instrumentation, as you’d expect, is digital, and while a traditional nav system is conspicuous by its absence, there’s a smart phone docking port for navigation purposes.
Calty design chief Ian Cartabiano sums it up as “rugged charm.” Toyota publicity materials refer to “a charming ubiquitous tactility of grips, handles, and controls.” Elements of the FT-4X may someday find their way into production. But unlike many of today’s so-called concepts, which are thinly disguised production models, this one is a pure forum for ideas.