Toyota Motor Corp. is courting millennials seeking a weekend escape with the debut of its Future Toyota Adventure Concept. The automaker introduced the off-road concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Thursday.
Its size echoes the company’s top-selling RAV-4, and its design continues styling first seen on the smaller FT-4X concept, unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April to target young, urban-dwelling professionals.
Both the concepts are positioned as aspirational vehicles for outdoor enthusiasts, but the FT-4X features components — such as a removable head unit that converts to a boom box — that are more “out there.”
“The purpose of the concept is to test the waters for future design direction, in this case, for something in the small SUV category,” according to a company spokesperson. “We will monitor consumer and dealer reactions before making any longer-term product planning decisions.”
The FT-AC also could carry a hybrid powertrain, according to Toyota.
The small SUV has a prominent grille design with black and silver detailing as well as slivered LED headlights. The fog lights can be removed, and there are twin hooks for vehicle recovery. Skid plates protect the front and rear overhangs from kicked -up debris.
The vehicle has a beefy and capable stance thanks to a wide track. Aggressive fenders house 20-inch wheels and all-terrain tires. The FT-AC is equipped with extra LED lights mounted on the roof, which is outfitted with a versatile cargo rack system. The rear also has a retractable bike rack.
For millennials who want to physically escape the city without leaving social media behind, the FT-AC serves as a WiFi hotspot. The LED lights mounted to the roof can be controlled via mobile app to set the stage for photos. They also act as a flash for cameras embedded in the side mirrors. After all the fun is documented, the footage uploads to a cloud-based platform that supports editing and posting. Livestreaming is also an option.
Toyota sees the FT-AC as a vehicle with enhanced off-roading ability. Features like all-wheel drive, torque vectoring, locking axles and multiple terrain settings lend it adventurous credentials.
Toyota is tapping into a popular demographic. Over the last year, many automakers have revealed pickups and SUVs designed for adventure and escape. For example, Chevrolet unveiled a concept version of its Colorado midsized pickup — the ZR2 AEV — that is designed to travel off-grid in the wilderness for days at a time.
Toyota took a similar route earlier this year with the introduction of the RAV-4 Adventure, a production variant of its hot-selling crossover. Sales of the RAV-4 have skyrocketed this year alongside consumer demand for bigger, more capable vehicles. Through the first 10 months of the year, Toyota has sold more than 346,000 units, an increase of about 21 percent compared with the same period last year, according to industry research firm Autodata Corp.
Toyota already has the rugged cult favorite 4Runner in its lineup. It is one of the last remaining body-on-frame SUVs. This year, sales of 4Runner have increased nearly 16 percent through October, topping sales of 106,000 units.