A Look to the Future
The Tokyo Motor Show always hosts some of the most interesting concept vehicles of the worldwide auto show circuit, and this year Toyota certainly added its fair share. Most of these are simply exercises in design and engineering with no clear expectations for production; however, concepts almost always provide a glimpse into what a car company is planning for the future, and the vehicles debuting in Tokyo are no exception. Here’s a look at some of the vehicles Toyota brought to its homeland auto show.
Toyota TJ Cruiser
American drivers are familiar with Toyota’s off-road-ready FJ Cruiser; however, the TJ Cruiser is a different take on an SUV. Described as a combination of SUV and cargo van, the TJ Cruiser has a bold yet boxy presence. A special paint coating on the hood, roof and fenders resists scratches and dirt.
Part SUV, Part Cargo Van
According to Toyota, the T of FT stands for toolbox, indicating that this vehicle offers plenty of utility, while the J stands for joy, which Toyota says is “in reference to the joy of visiting various places by car.” Toyota typically uses the Cruiser moniker on SUVs, but it fits this concept thanks to big tires and raised ground clearance. The TJ Cruiser features a front-wheel/four-wheel drive system powered by a 2.0-liter hybrid powertrain.
The square cabin of the TJ provides a roomy, useful interior. With seating for four, the TJ has plenty of capacity for cargo of all shapes and sizes. If needed, all seats (except the driver’s seat) can be folded, providing a continuous flat cargo floor that can handle items almost 10 feet long. The seatbacks and cargo floor are hard plastic and have plenty of spots to secure gear. A large rear cargo opening and dual sliding doors make loading a breeze.
Toyota FINE-Comfort Ride
Toyota’s next concept might be the automaker’s peek at the future of the minivan. The FINE-Comfort Ride is more than merely a unique design exercise — it draws power from an advanced fuel-cell system. Not only does this offer excellent efficiency with no harmful emissions, it also creates a larger, more flexible interior.
Thanks to in-wheel motors, the FINE-Comfort Ride doesn’t need space for a central motor or drivetrain of any kind. This configuration allows the wheels to be located at the corners, providing better ride and handling as well as creating a more flexible interior space.
The FINE-Comfort Ride has seating for up to six occupants. Touch displays project around the driver and passenger seats for the ultimate interactivity.
Toyota GR-HV Sports Concept
One look and it’s obvious that this concept is based on the sporty Toyota FR-S; however, the GR-HV also is clearly a bit different than the production model. Most noticeable are the unique headlights and targa top — the latter would be a great addition to the production FR-S. (Just saying, in case someone from Toyota is listening . . .)
The GR-HV features a high-performance hybrid powertrain based on the Toyota Hybrid System-Racing in the automaker’s TS050 hybrid race car. Toyota hasn’t released any details about the powertrain in this concept vehicle, so we must assume it would be a proper blend of efficiency and performance.
Automatic and Manual?
Most unusual in the GR-HV is the combination of a manual gear shift lever as well as pushbuttons on the dashboard to activate the automatic transmission. Drivers can select D from the buttons, or go with a manual mode that allows clutchless shifting in a typical H pattern with the gear shift; however, the transmission is an automatic, regardless of which method is employed for shifting.
Toyota Concept-i Series
Toyota’s futuristic Concept-i was conceived to incorporate in-vehicle artificial intelligence that forms a relationship with the driver. Although this sounds a little odd, Concept-i would learn to understand a driver’s expressions, actions and tone of voice and be able to predict the person’s level of alertness and attentiveness.
The first Concept-i is a large vehicle that premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. Joining it at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show are the Concept-i RIDE and Concept-i WALK.
The RIDE is a small vehicle designed for city use. It features gullwing doors, an electric sliding seat and is operated by a joystick. The design makes for easy operation by wheelchair users.
The WALK is Toyota’s vision of personal transport. Although it looks a bit like a Segway, the WALK does not steer by shifting body weight; a front wheel enables steering without leaning. That coupled with a low platform makes the WALK more amenable to elder users.