Toyota took a concept called the IMV 0 to the 2023 Japan Mobility Show, a small, chassis-cab pickup designed to lure buyers in emerging markets by being rugged, versatile, and inexpensive. A production version entered the Thai market a month after the show with the name Hilux Champ, at a price equal to about $13,000 U.S., that price achieved by selling buyers a truck that’s 70% finished, the remainder being in the use-specific upfit the customer needs (and pays for). Despite at least one reviewer calling the truck “perfect,” and several commenters writing some variation of, “I’d buy it right now,” the Hilux Champ has almost zero chance of making it to the states. According to Japanese outlet Best Car (translated), however, the Hilux Champ’s ladder frame might visit our shores underneath the body of the reborn FJ Cruiser. 

As a refresher, gossip about an FJ Cruiser left off with a shadowy image during Toyota’s presentation last August for the new Land Cruiser. When automaker exec Simon Humphries discussed making the Land Cruiser more affordable and more accessible to people around the world, a slide showed three silhouetted vehicles, the vehicle on the upper left looking like an evolved version of Toyota’s Compact Cruiser EV Concept from 2021 — that concept a flirtation with the revival of the FJ Cruiser. The teased image sat higher off the ground and on much larger tires than the concept, and wore a spare wheel on the tailgate. The dimensions also looked grander than the Compact Cruiser. 

Back to the Hilux Champ, front fascia and front fender looks, as well as dimensions, are where it overlaps with the FJ Cruiser in the Venn Diagram. The Champ comes in at either 185.2 inches long in 108-inch short-wheelbase form, 70.3 inches wide and 68.3 inches high. The 2014 FJ Cruiser was 181 inches long on a 106-inch wheelbase, 75 inches wide and 72 inches high. So far, this part seems eminently doable, although Best Car‘s anticipated specs for the reboot presage an even smaller off-roader, at 177.2 inches long on a 108-inch wheelbase, 72 inches wide and 72.9 inches high. 

However. The Hilux Champ’s IMV-truck-series platform is a Toyota Thailand specialty, and manufactured there. A Japanese YouTuber said in a video he sat in on a webcast Best Car hosted where reporters explained the “mini Land Cruiser” is confirmed for debut this year and will enter production in Thailand, maybe as soon as November for the Japanese market, or as late as next spring as Toyota works through some corporate fraud issues. Magazine reporters also repeated a bit from the article saying the vehicle would be called either Land Cruiser FJ or Land Cruiser Fun for Japan.

The question is whether this potential Land Cruiser FJ on this particular architecture will make it to the U.S. market, or if Toyota has a different vision for a North American model. Our FJ has been predicted to be an upscale model at the opposite end of the rugged spectrum than the Hilux Champ, one that might be better served by the TNGA-F platform that the new Lexus GX and U.S.-spec Land Cruiser sit on. Whenever the new FJ debuts, no matter the market, Toyota is certain to be swamped with enough questions about a U.S. arrival that it will offer something better than rumor.  

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