Toyota is into its second year of taking up the big center stage location in the center hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, and this year it’s bringing trucks upfitted with its TRD parts.
There is no Swagger Wagon extended-length Sienna, nor a Top Fuel Camry, as had been shown in previous years, but this year might be more representative of things customers can actually buy, given a big enough TRD budget.
FJ BRUISER CONCEPT
Why no one had thought up this name before is baffling. Such a natural extension of “FJ Cruiser,” the last variation of the vaunted FJ line of OG sport utility vehicles. Toyota says the FJ Bruiser is “a King of the Hammers-worthy rock crawler,” and before you dismiss that as marketing hyperbole, check the specs.
The concept started with a 1966 FJ45 Land Cruiser Pickup, then the team at Toyota’s Motorsports Garage fabricated a full tube chassis and roll cage and mated the body to a new, more rigid custom frame. Next, they dropped a TRD-modified 358-cid NASCAR Cup V8 powerplant under the hood, bringing horsepower to 725 powerful ponies. The NASCAR engine has been detuned by TRD to function in off-road, rock crawling environments, Toyota said.
They fired it up the night before SEMA and man-oh-man did it sound good. Everyone at KOH would pull out of your way, shut down their rides, and just watch—and listen—to you roll on by.
The rig rides on a full trailing-arm suspension, Fox shocks, Eibach springs, and 42-inch BF Goodrich Krawler T/A KX tires mounted to 20-inch Method Beadlock wheels. And because that wasn’t “unstoppable” enough, the team replaced the center skid plate with a CAMSO track system that can be used to power out of any high-centered situations. The CAMSO track is controlled from the cockpit, and “tank mode” can be activated with the push of a button. It’s like a heavy-duty snowmobile track under your truck.
Yes, this could compete in KOH, and probably do pretty well.
TACOMA X-RUNNER CONCEPT
From fully off-road-capable to full street domination, we have the Tacoma X-Runner Concept. Toyota says it’s “a celebration of what the TGNA-F platform makes possible; for sport truck devotees, it represents a possible next thrilling step in street truck evolution.”
The transformation began with a 2024 Tacoma TRD Pro. Then Toyota’s in-house Calty Design Studio lengthened and strengthened the frame and dropped in a modified i-FORCE 3.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with the TRD Performance Package producing 421 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque.
If those output numbers sound good, Toyota says this engine option will be available next year beginning with new Tundra models as part of a TRD Performance Package upgrade.
Underneath is a Tundra solid axle with a 4.30:1 final drive ratio and an electronic locking differential to send torque to the rear wheels.
“To achieve a proper street stance and further demonstrate the TGNA-F platform flexibility, the team sourced a Tundra air-suspension to attain the lowest possible ride height while still carrying a load,” Toyota said.
Outside, Calty added custom aero-fairings and functional venting to help cool X-Runner’s 13.9-inch front brakes. The functional hood scoop is purpose-built as well, drawing cool air into the engine bay. X-Runner’s “Speedway Blue” paint scheme is a subtle nod to the livery the original wore when it was introduced at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show.
FJ45 RETRO CRUISER BUILD
The Retro Cruiser first appeared way back in 1999, when engineer and Toyota specialist Rod Millen was the best friend of every Toyota USA executive he could find. This project was just one of many Millen did back then, including building and driving his own Toyota pickup truck to several wins at Pikes Peak.
The Retro Cruiser started life as a 1967 FJ45 Land Cruiser to which Millen added a 4.7-liter 32-valve DOHC V8 engine of unknown output, mated to a four-speed automatic transmission, transfer case, and locking differentials. A custom-designed Borla stainless steel exhaust gives the V8 engine a more aggressive exhaust note.
Though it may look like one, it’s not related to the Toyota Mega Cruiser of mid-‘90s fame. The Retro Cruiser’s FJ45 frame was lengthened from stock, and its body modified to give it a broader, and more muscular look. Inside the wheel wells, suspension modifications resulted in a 30% increase in wheel travel.
“Retro Cruiser is as comfortable as it is rugged with luxurious Connolly leather surfaces and a slate of contemporary 100 Series Land Cruiser components, including a satellite phone, navigation system, and a substantial 15-gallon onboard water supply for extended adventures,” Toyota said.
Blue Beetle Tacoma
Blue Beetle is a DC Comics character, a young college graduate who finds himself the host—yes, the face-sucking biological host—of an extra-terrestrial scarab. But, as gross as that sounds, the scarab gives him superpowers. Hey, it’s not the worst superhero backstory ever thought up. The movie was a fun family friendly affair and by now is about $30 million in earnings past the $104 million DC Studios put into it.
Toyota collaborated with Blue Beetle distributor Warner Bros. Pictures “to accessorize and wrap” this 2024 Tacoma for the promo tour of the Blue Beetle motion picture which premiered in theaters last summer. (Remember, Chadwick Boseman rode around on top of a Lexus LC in the 2018 film Black Panther.)
“The treatment was done in a way that invokes the Blue Beetle suit, taking the look of this next generation Tacoma to new, superhero heights,” Toyota explained.
IsoDynamic Performance Seat
This is an actual active seat that comes standard in the TRD Pro Series Tacoma. It’s a bit confusing because the seat shown in the photos Toyota provided, and the demo on the Toyota stand at SEMA, show it as an integral part of a racing simulator. Toyota says that simulator is “a video game-like experience” called TRD Pro Time Attack. But the seat’s not just for video gaming.
Toyota says, “The innovative IsoDynamic Performance Seats available exclusively in the 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro are engineered to make mountains feel like molehills. Leave it to software engineers from the Toyota Connected North America (TCNA) Immersive Experiences team to create an arcade inspired seat.”
The seats in the Tacoma have four large shocks that control motion across four different axis. It looks really intriguing. If they’re offering demos at SEMA, this would be worth waiting in line for.
Toyota GR Cup Racing
Last year at SEMA, Toyota debuted one of these GR86-based race cars, then announced the founding of an entire spec series to race it in, the all-new single-make Toyota GR Cup racing series. That series debuted this year, with a shakedown run at Virginia International Raceway in February. Toyota builds all the GR86 race cars at its new facility in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Each GR86 is fitted with Bosch engine management, custom Borla exhaust, SADEV six-speed sequential transmission, Alcon brakes, adjustable JRI Shocks, OMP safety equipment, roll cage, carbon fiber rear wing, 22-gallon fuel cell, TGRNA designed MacPherson struts, Stratasys custom bodywork, a TGRNA designed splitter, “and more.”
The series is sanctioned by SRO America and included 14 races at seven race weekends across the country. Those tracks are, in order of appearance on the 2023 racing calendar: Sonoma, COTA, VIR, NOLA, Road America, Sebring, and Indy.
This year at SEMA they showed off another of the race cars, and celebrated the year’s first season. So far Toyota has sold 48 of the racers, with plans to sell another 14. Ask your Toyota dealer and he or she will point you in the right direction.
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