Toyota Teases Us With the UUV, the Coolest Off-Road Sienna, Well, Ever
Tacoma Bones Bring Legitimate Swagger to Company’s Wagon
Buying a minivan is the automotive equivalent of coming home after work, putting on bunny slippers, and watching television until it’s time to go to bed at 9 p.m. It’s comfortable, practical, and responsible, but hardly sexy or cool. Toyota has tried to slough that image with its Sienna family hauler, a vehicle some call the Swagger Wagon. However, while the Sienna is nicely designed and has some visual attitude, it’s still a minivan. Practical though it may be, it’s not something that will leave you hot under the collar or goosebumped.
That wouldn’t be the case if every Sienna were like the Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle. A custom-built Sienna body rests on the lifted chassis of a Tacoma pickup, endowing the Sienna with some off-road chops and a seriously unique set of talents. What other vehicle do you know that can easily maneuver a crowded parking lot, pack up to eight people in relative comfort, and still be able to attack the Pan-American Highway with aplomb? Suddenly, the slippers have become combat boots: just as comfortable, several times more awesome.
Toyota doesn’t have any details for us about the Ultimate Utility Vehicle, so we’re not sure what level of customization was done. We can see that the front door is rear-hinged, and we’re guessing the sliding doors have been swapped out for more traditional apertures (the wide tires and flat-top fender flares look like they’d get in the way of the door’s sliding mechanism). We’re guessing a Tacoma engine was used under the hood as well, which would require some interior repackaging to fit the pickup’s longitudinally placed engine, transmission, and transfer case.
But all of that is immaterial when looking at the UUV. The purposeful wheel arch extensions, Predator-like front bumper (with integrated winch), and meaty, all-terrain tires will help the Toyota stand out, even at the 2015 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, where it’s bound. Before that, though, the world’s coolest Sienna will be making a trip around the continent as part of Toyota’s Ever Better Expedition. After the 110-day, 16,500-mile trip (which will take a total crew of 140 to Alaska, New York City, Daytona Beach, historic Route 66, and more), the UUV will take its place in at SEMA in Las Vegas among many other custom vehicles (likely none of which will be an off-road–ready minivan).
We only hope we’ll come across Mad Max’s Sienna on American roads soon.