Automotive

Toyota's Ultimate Utility Vehicle minivan takes its swagger off road

The Engaged suspension system increases the UUV's ride height and improves approach and departure angles
The Engaged suspension system increases the UUV's ride height and improves approach and departure angles
View 18 Images
Toyota engineers get some work done in the UUV
1/18
Toyota engineers get some work done in the UUV
This is what happens when a Toyota Tacoma and Sienna have a lovechild
2/18
This is what happens when a Toyota Tacoma and Sienna have a lovechild
The UUV includes a rugged N-FAB custom front bumper, flared fenders, and LED lights
3/18
The UUV includes a rugged N-FAB custom front bumper, flared fenders, and LED lights
The UUV lights up the trail ahead
4/18
The UUV lights up the trail ahead
The UUV is the mobile command center for the Ever-Better Expedition
5/18
The UUV is the mobile command center for the Ever-Better Expedition
Inspecting the build
6/18
Inspecting the build
A minivan that's ready for any road or track
7/18
A minivan that's ready for any road or track
The Engaged suspension system increases the UUV's ride height and improves approach and departure angles
8/18
The Engaged suspension system increases the UUV's ride height and improves approach and departure angles
The UUV is definitely worth remembering
9/18
The UUV is definitely worth remembering
Toyota reworked both the front and rear doors around the massive tires
10/18
Toyota reworked both the front and rear doors around the massive tires
Not surprisingly, Toyota is very clear that the UUV is a one-off not intended for sale
11/18
Not surprisingly, Toyota is very clear that the UUV is a one-off not intended for sale
Toyota's Ever-Better Expedition
12/18
Toyota's Ever-Better Expedition
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
13/18
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
14/18
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
15/18
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
16/18
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
17/18
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
18/18
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015

We knew the Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle would be one of the most delightfully odd vehicles of the year the minute we heard about it months ago, and now that Toyota has released all the details, we find it better than expected. Not only is it the gnarliest minivan you've likely ever seen, but it's packed inside and out with innovative solutions and high-tech equipment that allows it to navigate the world's nastiest terrain and serve as a mobile workstation.

The Ultimate Utility Vehicle has parked at SEMA this week, on a break from the 16,500-mile (26,550-km) North American tour it was designed for. Toyota's Ever-Better Expedition is the American part of the Five Continents Driving Project, sending engineers on grueling road trips to push Toyota vehicles to the limits and engage with customers along the way. Toyota has completed the hot-weather part of the North American voyage and will soon embark on a cold-weather trip through Canada and Alaska.

Toyota's Ever-Better Expedition
Toyota's Ever-Better Expedition

As the mobile command hub of the expedition, the Ultimate Utility Vehicle is built to handle the toughest stretches with aplomb. It all starts with the redesigned body-on-frame construction. Toyota hollowed out the Sienna's unibody, reinforced it and secured it to a reinforced Tacoma 4x4 truck frame, giving the minivan the needed grit.

The chassis is enhanced with an Engaged four-link long-travel suspension, lifting the vehicle's ride height by 4 inches (10 cm). That suspension system gives the 22x12-in Monster Energy 539B off-road wheels up to 15.75 inches (40 cm) of cushion, while the 33x22 Nitto Mud Grappler tires claw into all types of ground below. A TRD supercharger boosts engine power, and a Wilwood brake package enhances stopping power.

A stock Sienna body might look a little odd sitting atop that monstrous underbody, so Toyota dressed it for the occasion. Attire includes an N-FAB custom front bumper, front winch, custom rear bumper, flared fenders and a PPG matte black finish. The roof houses a custom rack and LED lights bar.

Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015

During the build, Toyota realized that the oversized wheel-tire combination was too big for the Sienna, so it reworked the front and rear doors. The motorized rear doors slide out, instead of straight back, and the front doors are hinged at the rear, coach style, which only adds to the UUV's sinister look.

All that work might have you wondering why Toyota didn't just use a standard 4x4 as its command center instead of making a monster minivan? It's a fair question since Toyota's North American lineup includes two of the most rugged 4x4s on the market in the Land Cruiser and 4Runner. Part of it was certainly putting a fun face on its expedition and getting some added press, but Toyota also explains that it chose the Sienna for its spacious interior, which it's using as a high-tech mobile office.

Toyota engineers get some work done in the UUV
Toyota engineers get some work done in the UUV

The UUV's role is to provide a place for engineers to monitor vehicle data from all nine vehicles on the expedition, record video of vehicle performance during both day and night stretches, and communicate with Toyota HQ via Skype. The captain's chairs in back provide access to a high-tech logistics system that goes way beyond the typical in-vehicle telematics hardware. It includes a 60-in Sony LED TV, TracVision mobile satellite television receiver, mobile Internet, laptop trays, Wi-Fi, 17-in monitor, USB ports, 2,500-watt JBL audio system, and Flir M-324xp night vision camera system with HD recording.

Up front, Toyota has maintained the stock Sienna's look, but it explains that the controls have been reengineered around the 4x4 truck chassis that's now running the show.

All in all, the Ultimate Utility Vehicle is one of the coolest vehicles of the 2015 SEMA Show. We hope to see some footage and photos of it braving the cold in the coming months.

Source: Toyota

6 comments
andyfreeze
"the Ultimate Utility Vehicle is one of the coolest vehicles of the 2015 SEMA Show." Man this is off in so many directions. Could have picked a better looking van in the toyota stable. Looking side on, it seems to have brembo disks up front and punny drums out the back. Aerodynamic front bull bar with no gap to the body is pretty much a cosmetic add on, suppose it holds the winch. More a mish mash as the story unfolds, lol. It looks "out there" in a weird way. I wouldnt call it cool at all.
Calson
Good for free publicity but from functional standpoint the Mercedes Sprinter AWD diesel powered van is a much better solution and with double the MPG and 50% more interior space.
Zachary E. Mohrmann
I have seen it's pictures and I don't see the great attraction, some reverse doors which does nothing for it physically, so why even make the bother there, and it has a sports bra on which like one of my ex girlfriends wore as she jogged around the park everything is still there just masked or flattened so as not to be attractive...!Under the hood something of the same story... So with all the Hubbub this is just another message without the Happy Ending....! Sorry Toyota, but if at first you don't succeed, try, try again....!
bobbejaan
I think some people miss the point with concepts like this. Of course it'll never see production - but some of the tech they develop might end up in their more practical 4x4's - and Toyota still make some of the best, definitely the most practical off road vehicles in the world. For one thing having decent offroad accessories available as a factory option is s good start - instead of forcing owners to go to aftermarket suppliers for winches, aux batteries etc etc.
Anne Ominous
I don't care so much about the looks. But suicide doors on an off-road vehicle? Not just no, but hell no. Even on tame streets they earned their nickname.
unklmurray
I generally read what others have written about any given article,I can only base my thoughts by what I see on this 15 inch screen,and what other people are saying.....I have always liked the ''Suicide Doors''A really stupid name for doors that make getting in / out easier,But Yeah they call them that because ,on coming traffic would take them off if opened at the wrong time,traffic from the back,However would close them,I have always liked them and change my VW van doors accordingly as for the rest of it ,I like what I see,I would drive one!!