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Toyota FT-AC concept brings the fun back to SUVs

SUVs are still the vehicles of choice for people with so-called “active lifestyles,” but the vehicles themselves have actually gotten a bit boring. Most current SUVs are actually car-based crossovers that look like swollen hatchbacks, and many only have the all-terrain capability to support your active lifestyle if said lifestyle consists solely of trips to the local shopping mall.

Debuting at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Toyota FT-AC concept aims to bring some of the fun back to SUVs. Its name is short for Future Toyota Adventure Concept, which is an ambitious name for a vehicle unveiled in a city known for soul-crushing traffic. Toyota believes the FT-AC could be the perfect vehicle for future Angelenos to escape on weekends to somewhere with more nature and fewer people.

The FT-AC combines the general shape of a crossover with some more aggressive styling elements, including fender flares and a grille that resembles the one on the Toyota 4Runner, a more old-school SUV with genuine off-road capability. A long wheelbase and wide track are meant to give the concept an aggressive, hunkered-down stance despite the vehicle itself being relatively tall.

Toyota FT-AC concept

Toyota also kitted out the FT-AC with off-road accouterments, including a roof rack, lots of LED exterior lighting, and skid plates to protect the underside from jutting rocks and other obstacles. Infrared cameras mounted on the mirror can record drives, and are removable for handheld use. An onboard Wi-Fi hot spot automatically uploads footage to a cloud-based storage system.

Since the FT-AC is just a concept car, Toyota decided it wasn’t necessary to provide any details on the powertrain. A Toyota press release only said that the FT-AC is a “thoroughly capable gasoline-powered vehicle with an advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system,” which doesn’t provide much of a clue. Torque vectoring, which shunts power side to side on a given axle, should at least ensure sharper on-road handling.

Toyota did say that the all-wheel drive system features “variable terrain-response settings” and “4-wheel lock functionality,” indicating that it wouldn’t be completely useless off the pavement. If it decided to put the FT-AC into production, Toyota also noted that a hybrid powertrain wouldn’t be out of the question.

While the FT-AC won’t go into production, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some of its styling elements incorporated into future Toyota crossovers. The current RAV4 and Highlander aren’t exactly the most visually arresting vehicles, so that would be a nice change of pace.

Updated: Added more photos

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