Updated June 14, 2022: The adorable Toyota Compact Cruiser Concept, which looks a bit like a mashup of FJ Cruiser and Land Rover Defender turned into a Funko Pop! figurine, has snagged the 2022 Car Design Award for concept vehicles, awarded by Auto&Design magazine in Milan. While that’s fantastic and well-deserved, given the little EV’s successful blend of rugged good looks, heritage cues, and a pixelated look that seems to be the latest trend in EVs, it’s also an excuse for Toyota to drop a whole bunch of non- rendered images of the little guy.
While many of the Compact Cruiser shots here are “real world” images, the Compact Cruiser is—for now—just a full-size clay model. Seeing said model in the open air, from several angles, just increases our appreciation of the design team that created it, in Toyota’s European design studio known as Toyota ED2 (ED Square) in Nice, France. Toyota also threw in some CGI images of the Compact Cruiser in its simulated element, and some images of the clay model being produced.
There’s no word yet of whether Toyota will turn the Compact Cruiser into a fully realized production vehicle, but we hope that some of its now award-winning design DNA filters down into whatever EV SUVs Toyota has in the pipeline.
The original story from December 2021 continues below:
Toyota is in the midst of an all-out, no-holds-barred game of catch-up in the electric vehicle space. The automaker has promised a slew of all-electric new products by 2030, with many arriving sooner, and today it started previewing what some of those vehicles might look like. In between the expected—an EV sedan, lots of EV crossovers, yawn—was a new Pickup EV concept truck(!) and this, the Compact Cruiser Concept. It might take only one look at the little SUV to see why it stands out.
If your first thought upon glancing at the Compact Cruiser is “love child of the Ford Bronco and FJ Cruiser,” then you’re not alone. The Toyota concept is a boxy, small 4×4 (or, at least, we assume it’s four-wheel drive) with butch detailing, funky flourishes, and chunky all-terrain tires poking from each corner. It seems roughly the Bronco Sport-sized, so if its capability even vaguely matches its off-road looks, it would make a natural competitor to the Ford, which is among the only truly off-road-able small SUVs you can buy.
Of course, were Toyota to build this Compact Cruiser as previewed here, the SUV would be electric. So maybe that precludes direct competition with the gas-only Bronco Sport, but, hey, the Toyota would stand out either way—name another affordable, small, off-road-oriented EV SUV. We’ll wait.
Toyota has not outlined anything about the Compact Cruiser or its future as of yet. We don’t know what its powertrain is, though it’d be a safe bet to assume Toyota’s new EV platform—the same one that sits beneath the new bZ4X EV crossover—would be a candidate. That means dual motors for all-wheel drive and some 250 miles of range per charge are possible.
Will Toyota build it? The automaker broke our hearts once before with an eerily similar small SUV concept, the FT-4X. That mini-4×4 wasn’t electric, or promised to be, but was clearly intended to be more capable than your average small SUV. It was loaded with clever features and even wore a vertical body stripe just behind its rear doors like this Compact Cruiser does. The two vehicles’ roof profiles, general styling, and stances also have tons of overlap. Let’s hope Toyota actually pulls through with this Compact Cruiser—because that would make it first into the off-road, all-electric space at a conventional price point.