There must be something in the water supply around Toyota HQ. Maybe pure grain alcohol. As if a Lexus hoverboard wasn’t enough weirdness for one week, Toyota also revealed the Ultimate Utility Vehicle, a Sienna/Tacoma hybrid that will be trekking across North America. The Swagger Wagon has more swagger than ever, along with the newfound mettle to back it up.
The Ultimate Utility Vehicle is the kind of design that leaps from the page and makes you blurt out, “What the hell is that thing!” Its ruggedized edges have all the makings of an off-road 4×4 with lots of aftermarket love, but the short, curved hood, cabin shape and B-pillar-adjacent rear door handles betray the fact that it’s anything but. What it is is a heavily modified Sienna minivan planted atop the ladder frame of the Tacoma pickup.
The UUV reveal was buried in a press release about Toyota’s work on a new North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, and there’s really no additional information about it, save for the fact that it will travel on Toyota’s 110-day, 16,500-mile (26,550-km) transcontinental Ever-Better Expedition. The trip kicked off in Plano earlier this week and will travel through some of America’s most iconic and rugged regions, including Death Valley, Alaska, Route 66 and New York City.
The nine-Toyota convoy has been organized to get engineers and other employees out from behind the office and factory walls and into the world, experiencing the drives that Toyota vehicles are making on a daily basis. After the trip, the team will bring what it learned back to the office and apply it to future vehicle and equipment work. At least that’s what Toyota planned – maybe a few will enjoy the working road trip so much that they’ll ditch their 9-to-5 lives for the freedoms of a VW camper van.
The North American-based Ever-Better Expedition is the second leg of the Toyota’s Five Continents Driving Project, following the kickoff in Australia. A Land Cruiser 200 is the only vehicle that will participate in all five legs.
The UUV looks plenty ready for the gnarliest, most remote parts of the expedition. While we don’t know all the exact specs or component brand names, we do know that Toyota has completely overhauled the Sienna into a convincing off-road machine. The UUV has a downright vicious front bumper with embedded winch, a set of beadlock-style wheels neatly wrapped in Nitto M/T tires, flared arches, rock sliders and a full set of off-road lights. We can also see that the Tacoma’s suspension has been upgraded by the folks at Engage Offroad. Matte black paint completes the sinister look.
Beyond that, we’ll have to wait for Toyota to reveal additional details as it drives the 4×4 minivan across the country. It will debut the vehicle at the SEMA Show in November, and as last year’s SEMA-debuted Sleeper Camry shows, getting full details on what lurks below the body can be well worth the wait.
You can find out more information about the Ever-Better Expedition in the preview video below and on Toyota’s dedicated expedition website.