Toyota’s boxy, chunky and funky TJ cruiser has apparently received the green light for production, with its unveiling scheduled for May, according to Japan’s Best Car site. The news comes after a similar report from this source last year that speculated on a late October 2019 debut for the vehicle, which turned out to have been a bit premature. Still, we are intrigued by Toyota’s daring attempt to follow in the footsteps of the long-departed Honda Element.
The original concept TJ Cruiser was shown to the public at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. The name itself is an abbreviation of the words “tool” and “joy” added to Toyota’s proclivity to use the name “Cruiser” every few years. Unlike the old FJ Cruiser SUV that was a hardcore off-roader, the “TJ” is a sort of a van/wagon hybrid in both senses of the word. Besides or perhaps because of its boxy looks, the vehicle is a cargo-devouring and versatile wagon, with wide, sliding rear doors and fold-flat seats, and helped in its mission by a large rear hatch. Toyota had featured several novel items on the concept car that will likely not make it to production, including scratch and dirt-resistant body panels, a very futuristic interior complete with a semi-oval steering wheel and 20-inch wheels with massive tires. It is rumored that 2 and 3-row configurations will be on offer, but there has been no definite word yet.
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Power choices likely will include a pair of hybrid engines in either a 1.8L or 2.5L capacity as well as a 2.0L non-hybrid mill. Reportedly, a choice of FWD or AWD will be available, the latter using the current RAV4’s AWD system. The TJ will likely be positioned below the aforementioned RAV4, with no word on whether Toyota will bring the vehicle to the US.
Although its boxy proportions may not be to everyone’s liking and are more reminiscent of the mid-2010’s than 2020, we think there is definitely a need for something as useful and downright funky as the TJ Cruiser. We will withhold judgement on how badly we want to see it on our shores, however, until we take a gander at the production version.