Show an image of the Toyota Compact Cruiser EV to a fan of classic Toyota off-roaders, and they’ll say “Ohh yeah!” The Compact Cruiser seems to channel all the design elements of the original 1970s FJ Cruisers that have a major off-road cult following along with the modern lines of the popular modern FJ Cruiser. Though Toyota has not said it will build a Compact Crusier EV SUV, if it did it could be the modern FJ that many want.
The Compact Cruiser is winning design awards
There are some hints that the Toyota Compact Cruiser EV may be coming soon as the LiteCrusier. We can almost expect a Compact Cruiser to say, “And someday, I’m gonna’ be a real SUV!” Toyota has made a full-sized model of the Compact Cruiser. The Compact Cruiser EV seems to be more than just a concept, though. It won the prestigious 2022 Car Design Award, a juried prize that recognizes the best new cars and concept cars, and brand language. The award puts the Compact Cruiser in the company of Ferrari, Polestar, and Land Rover.
The off-road EV market could be the next hot segment
One look at the modern SUV landscape and it’s clear that buyers are wanting more off-road options. The Ford Bronco, the Toyota 4Runner and Sequoia in TRD trims, and of course, Jeep Wranglers and Land Rovers are all selling based on their off-road ability. So far, Jeep has made inroads to the EV off-road world with its 4Xe versions of the Wrangler. The GMC Hummer EV as well as the Rivian R1T are all showing that EVs can be competent off-roaders.
Will the Toyota Compact Crusier EV (or LiteCruiser) be built?
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Some, like Gear Patrol, seem to be sure that Toyota will make the CC as a 2024 model. But, Toyota has stayed mum. In December, the Compact Cruiser was made a part of Toyota’s media briefing on EV strategy that included some notable models like the bZ4X SUV and several other EV cars and SUVs. In the release for the bZ4X, Toyota said it plans to offer 70 electrified models by 2025, and at least a few of those 70 need to be SUVs.
We’re looking forward to Toyota launching a new electric version of its Toyota Tacoma, which could be the perfect platform for a CC. It’s unlikely that the Tacoma would underpin it and compete with the 4Runner. Instead, it could be built on the bZ4X platform and compete with other soft-roaders like the Ford Bronco Sport or the Nissan Pathfinder.
The bZ4X is the closest today in the Toyota lineup
If Toyota does try to bring a CC to market, it could be on the new bZ4X platform. The bZ4X is the company’s new battery electric SUV that has a 252-mile range. Critically, Toyota offers teh bZ4X in all-wheel drive, which bodes well for an off-road SUV. The bZ4X already offers Toyota’s multi-terrain select with X-MODE, which lets it plow through snow, dirt, and mud. The bZ4X focuses on sportiness, while its flexible e-TNGA platform allows different bodies on the platform.