Next month's New York International Auto Show is finally starting to heat up. Toyota has just announced a surprise debut, dubbed FT-4X Concept, which should help amp up what was starting to feel like a sleepy show.
While an official teaser image doesn't show any actual bodywork, the rugged Y-spoke wheels and meaty 225/55 18-inch Goodyears suggest a proper rough-and-tumble off-roader is afoot.
That notion is further reinforced by the mystery vehicle's FT-4X alphanumeric designation, a name whose trademark came to light last October. "4X" suggests four-wheel drive and "FT" is company-speak for "Future Toyota."
While Toyota already has a brace of off-road-capable pickups and SUVs in its stable, the departure of the hardcore, retro-styled in 2013 left a hole in its lineup. With Ford and continuing to sell like gangbusters (and it's got a new generation on the way), perhaps the Japanese automaker is keen to test the segment's waters again.
Sold between 2006 and 2013 in North America, the FJ Cruiser only enjoyed a couple years of strong sales before a precipitous decline. However, the distinctively styled body-on-frame SUV remains sought after on the used-vehicle market, and residual values are very strong. And it's not just resale prices -- the FJ Cruiser has managed to retain that sort of elusive, cult-like following that automakers prize and love to cultivate.
If Toyota is exploring whether there's renewed interest in a midsize or compact off-road SUV, a new show truck would seem to be a grand way to do it. We'll know more on April 12.
New York auto show 2018
reading•Toyota FT-4X Concept teased -- is a rival to Wrangler and Bronco on the table?
Apr 3•RAV4 EV sounds unlikely as Toyota doubles down on Hybrid
Apr 2•SiriusXM reinvents satellite radio with its new 360L system
Apr 1•How the 2019 Toyota RAV4 stacks up to the new Forester, CR-V and Rogue
Apr 1•All the new SUVs from the 2018 New York Auto Show