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Toyota preps another small crossover concept

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DALLAS — Toyota will unwrap a small crossover concept vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show geared toward outdoor enthusiasts and urban dwellers. It will be the third crossover concept introduced this year based on the company’s new modular platform.

The Toyota FT-AC, for “future Toyota adventure concept,” was teased with a darkened photo that suggests a truckish front end and small round lights below the headlights and on each side of the roof.

Toyota has been rolling out small crossover concepts this year to gauge public opinion. The automaker launched its first subcompact crossover, the C-HR, in April in one of the auto industry’s hottest segments. Monthly U.S. sales of the C-HR have averaged 2,640, though deliveries hit 3,638 in October. U.S. sales of subcompact crossovers have surged 17 percent this year.

Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz told Automotive News this month that the C-HR is gaining familiarity and will take some time to catch on. It is also offered only in limited trims for now.

In April, Toyota unwrapped the chunky Toyota FT-4X concept at the New York auto show based on the C-HR but aimed more at a male, outdoorsy demographic group without being a hardcore off-road vehicle.

Toyota General Manager Jack Hollis said the concept “is not so over the top or out of whack that you can’t build it,” and designer Ian Cartabiano of Toyota’s Calty Design Research hopes positive consumer feedback will help make a case to build it.

Last month at the Tokyo Motor Show, the wraps came off the TJ Cruiser, a vanlike take on the crossover segment with a boxy design and sliding rear doors geared more to a surf-and-sun lifestyle than woodsy adventures.

The vehicles are designed around Toyota New Global Architecture, a platform that has been adopted for the C-HR and the latest Prius and Camry.

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