Concept Cars

Toyota Tj Cruiser concept is a minivan for the SUV set

Nobody wants minivans, despite their serious utility, so this is a good middle ground.

Toyota
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Minivans are great cars for families and those with active lifestyles, but they also carry a stigma that's hard to beat. Toyota found a way around this by merging a minivan's best qualities with an SUV body.

The Toyota Tj Cruiser concept, set to debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in October, blends vans and SUVs in an interesting way. The design is on the SUV side, with chunky fenders and a whole bunch of hard angles. It still carries a bit of minivan aesthetics by way of the flat roof and seemingly seamless window line.

Nothing will stop me from calling this the Toyota TJ Hooker.

Toyota

For scale, the Tj is smaller than Toyota's Sienna but larger and taller than the boxy, second-generation Scion xB, mostly due to its taller ride height.

The interior is like the inside of a box -- spacious with minimal intrusions. Every seat (except the driver's, obviously) can be laid flat on the floor, so it can accommodate items up to about 10 feet in length. There are tie-downs all over the place, and the front passenger seat can flip its cushion up for a smaller storage cubby. Toyota demonstrated how those tie-downs and cubbies allow the Tj to swallow an upright bicycle without removing the wheels -- an impressive feat for a compact vehicle.

The rear hatch opens wide while minivan-style sliding doors hang out on both sides, giving the driver a whole bunch of open space for easy cargo access, no matter where it is. The hatch, hood and side mirrors are made of a rugged plastic material, sort of like a truck's bed liner, that makes them resistant to scratches, scuffs and corrosion. You could just toss a box or backpack onto the hood when loading up the Tj without a second thought.

Toyota points out that, were this to be produced, the Tj Cruiser would likely ride on the same Toyota New Global Architecture platform that underpins new Toyota models like the C-HR, Camry and Prius. It could be had with either front- or four-wheel drive, and forward motion would come from a hybrid system with a 2.0-liter gas engine.

Tokyo's show starts the last week in October, so keep your browser pointed at Roadshow, because we'll be on the ground in Tokyo bringing you all sorts of weird stuff like this.

Editors' note: We've updated the article with a few new details and plenty of new Tj Cruiser photos from the floor of the Tokyo Motor Show. Enjoy!