Toyota has been quietly gearing up to produce the TJ Cruiser concept that was first shown in 2017. Back then we thought that the concept looked very production-ready. You know, some concepts look more like they have been created from some type of tooling. Door jambs and panel joints look a little too production-y. Well, that’s how the TJ Cruiser concept looked. So now we get confirmation that the TJ will be announced next month according to Japan’s Best Car. At least that was the original plan. With the coronavirus fouling up many releases and plans this May announcement could change.
Word has it that the production FJ Cruiser will look just like the concept
The “TJ” does not stand for Tijuana, Mexico. No. It stands for “Toolbox” and “Joy.” All of the passenger seats fold flat to make the TJ quite versatile. The word is that the TJ will look a lot like the concept. If Toyota can follow the same process that it did with the FJ Cruiser concept back in 2003 the TJ production version should look almost identical to the concept.
It will utilize the TNGA platform that underpins everything from a Yaris and Prius to an Avalon and Lexus LS. Supposedly the three engine choices will be the 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 1.8- and 2.5-liter hybrids. Though the concept was a two-row SUV the production version will be both a two- and three-row SUV-like van.
There is some internal concern that the TJ will cut into RAV4 sales
We really like the TJ because it has more car-like proportions rather than looking like a minivan. We hear there is some concern within Toyota that by producing the TJ it could cut into RAV4 territory. The RAV4 is Toyota’s best-selling model. Last year it sold almost 450,000 in the US. Toyota doesn’t want to cut into sales of its most popular vehicle. This crossover segment has already got a lot of competition.
But we think that the TJ would be priced 20-30% higher than a RAV4 to avoid cannibalization. You could say that if you want a more unique and funky crossover from a RAV4 then you’ll have to pay for that choice. The other thing is that sedans are not selling like SUVs and crossovers. Companies are seeing the need to expand their SUV models as their sedan sales contract.
All companies will need more SUV variations and the TJ Cruiser is definitely one of them
So, while it seems like Toyota is splitting hairs with its other SUVs it’s just trying to come up with more variations of an SUV. The TJ is definitely one of those variations. It can also give the Mitsubishi Delica minivan in Japan a run for its money.
There is also another minivan-like SUV hitting our shores in another year or two. The VW ID. Buzz van patterned after the original Microbus will be in a field of its own. This FJ Cruiser looks as though it could directly compete with the ID. Buzz. With as slow in developing it as VW has been it might be possible to come out with the FJ ahead of the ID. Buzz.
We’ll have to wait until May to hear about Toyota’s plans and how it is going to market the TJ and also where.