• 2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser

    This is the Toyota TJ Cruiser…
  • Its name stands for “Toolbox Joy.”
  • In reality, looks like a cross between the Chevy Astro, VW Thing, and a Honda Element
  • The interior is all about functionality and forward-thinking
  • The seats all lay flat for maximum cargo room when needed
  • It’s also sturdy, rugged and ready for a long day of work
  • Under the hood you’ll find a 2.0-liter engine and a hybrid-drive system
  • There’s no word on power output, but it could be FWD or AWD
  • It’s just a concept for now…
  • But, if moved into production it could start around $24,000…
  • Would you be willing to pay for one?

When interior functionality ruins exterior design

Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.

Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.

Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.

Continue reading for more information.


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser
- image 737324
This concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing.

Wow, what can we say? It looks like Toyota spent all its time designing the Tj Cruiser’s interior and forgot about the exterior until 20 minutes before the project’s deadline. Like we said above, this concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing. Heck, the Tj Cruiser even shares the VW Thing’s round headlights!

The Tj Cruiser’s squared-off front has that sloping minivan-style hood with a lifeless, flat grille, bumper, and headlights. Aside from those headlights and the wheels, the only round shapes seen here are the fenders and the door handles. The angular lines continue out back, with a nearly-square liftgate flanked round taillights perched in blacked-out, negative space left by the open fenders. Come to think of it, the Tj Cruiser looks almost the same coming and going.

It’s not all bad news, though. The Tj Cruiser has respectable ground clearance with short overhangs. Toyota uses some sort of “special coating” on the hood, roof, and fenders to protect from scratches, though the rest of the body apparently offers free reign to door dings, gouges, and nicks. The van/crossover hybrid rolls on 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser Interior
- image 736622
The interior is all about functionality and forward-thinking
The interesting interior is filled with functionality and forward-thinking design.

Open the front doors and slide the rear doors open like a minivan, and you’re greeted with an interesting interior filled with functionality and a forward-thinking design. While the seat count seems a little low for a family-friendly vehicle, four people have plenty of room in their individual bucket seats. The tall roofline makes for plenty of headroom and the flat floor should offer tons of legroom. Entry in and out seems incredibly easy thanks to the large door openings and taller hip-height.

When it comes time to haul stuff, all but the driver’s seat folds flat, creating a massive load floor. Holes in the cargo area floor and pipes along the seatback edges provide plenty of places to strap down cargo, not to mention those adjustable cleats on the aluminum rails in the ceiling and on the walls. There are even canvas straps on the seatbacks for holding stuff. Toyota says objects 10 feet long will easily fit in the Tj Cruiser, citing surfboards as the cool cargo of choice.

Being built for the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tj Cruiser uses a right-hand-drive setup, though with its squared-off, mirror-style dashboard design, it wouldn’t take much to produce a left-hand-drive version, too. The dash features even more storage space. The passenger side has a cubby hole with an elastic band keeping items in place. The gauges are located in an upper tier above the main dash, much like the Toyota Prius.

Overall, the interior seems well conceived and highly functional. It will certainly be interesting to see if Toyota actually puts something like this into production.


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser Exterior
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Under the hood you’ll find a 2.0-liter engine and a hybrid-drive system
It uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

Toyota was pretty quiet with details about the drivetrain, though the Tj Cruiser is more of a design study at this point. Nevertheless, we know it uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an electric motor, and a battery pack. FWD would be standard and AWD could be added. Beyond that, Toyota could give more information at the Tokyo Motor Show coming October 25 and running through November 5, 2017. If anything develops, we’ll update you here.


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser Interior
- image 736626
It’s also sturdy, rugged and ready for a long day of work

Being a concept vehicle, Toyota didn’t talk money. However, with the Tj Cruiser’s aim towards active families and its utilitarian nature, Toyota would surely keep pricing reasonable. If a production version were to hit U.S. shores for 2019, we might see prices start around $24,000. Of course, that’s a pure educated guess.


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser Exterior
- image 736620

Well, it’s hard to dis the Tj Cruiser’s rather useful and well-conceived interior, but boy is it oh-so-easy to knock on its half-baked exterior design. It’s tough to imagine Toyota selling this beside the curvy new Camry or the slick 86 Coupe – both of which look meticulously sculpted. Even Toyota’s FT-4X Concept is far more appealing than the Tj Cruiser. Then again, perhaps this van/crossover thing isn’t intended for America. Perhaps the outside is just a placeholder for something better while allowing Toyota to preview its swanky new interior. Who knows?

All told, the Tj Cruiser is different. Yeah, it’s odd, but I do have to give Toyota credit for thinking outside the box. And since some of our favorite vehicles are unconventional, hey, maybe we will grow to like it.

What do you think about this concept? Let us know in the comments below.

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    • Boy, it its an ugly duckling
    • Only four seats
    • Will it enter production?
Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
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Press release

Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) intends to showcase its new crossover genre concept vehicle, the Tj CRUISER, for the first time at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2017* to be held at Tokyo Big Sight from October 25 through November 5. The Tj CRUISER represents the harmonious balance between the roominess of a cargo van and the powerful design of an SUV.

The Tj CRUISER was designed for drivers with lifestyles where work and play dovetail seamlessly. The "T" in Tj CRUISER stands for "Toolbox" in reference to how the car can be used like a toolbox, while the "j" stands for "joy" in reference to the joy of visiting various places by car. The name "CRUISER," which is traditionally used for Toyota’s SUV lineup, is assigned to the Tj CRUISER to express the power of the vehicle. Inside, the passenger seat can be reclined completely flat, and not only can the Tj CRUISER easily hold outdoor equipment, it can also store large items such as 3-meter long surfboards and bikes.

The square-shaped cabin, similar to that of a van, exudes high utility. Meanwhile, the sturdy suspension realized by large SUV-sized tires is fused with a bold front. The Tj CRUISER symbolizes a new genre incorporating the strengths of a van with those of an SUV.
The hood, roof, and fenders use materials (with special coating) that resist scratches and dirt, even when objects accidentally come into contact with them.

Interior Space

The front and rear passenger seats can be reclined completely flat for storing long items up to 3 meters in length such as surfboards.
The backs of the seats and deck boards include numerous tie-down points to enable easy anchoring of items from small packages to longer objects. Moreover, the large opening of the back door makes for easy loading and unloading of large items such as bikes.
The seat cushion on the passenger seat directly behind the driver can be flipped up towards the front to create dedicated space for storing groceries or shopping items.
The large openings of the sliding doors enable loading and unloading of large items from the sides and easy entry and exit for family members, as well.

Other Features

Use of the next-generation TNGA platform expected
The unit to run on a 2.0-liter class engine + hybrid system
Front-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive system to be used

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