Toyota was tasked with making a Japanese version of the Willys Military Jeep. They had a few chances to improve the off-roader design over the decades until they finally released the now-iconic FJ-40 that eventually transformed into the luxurious modern Land Cruiser.
The FJ Cruiser is something else. It was based on a concept Toyota showed at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show. We think it looks perfect to this day, its original door layout giving ample access to the interior. However, digital artist TheSketchMonkey wanted to put a modern twist on the design, pretending that it's a car that enters production today.
The rendering puts a fantastic LED twist on the front end, boiling the round headlights down to just halos and introducing a crisper grille. We feel that the re-design may have been partially inspired by the recent Hummer rendering this artist did.
The 2000s were a time of risk-taking for many automakers that wanted new niches. You had lots of cars that didn't share all their parts with regular models, such as the cute "New Beetle" or the revolutionary 5th-gen Mustang. We'd also bring up the Honda Element, even though it's nowhere near as revolutionary.
Has this story whetted your appetite for the FJ? Toyota did make another concept, but we're concerned that the FT-4X will turn out more like a Scion xB with bigger wheels. So better grab a classic Cruiser while you still can.