Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle
SEMA show car combines minivan versatility with truck off-roadability
The last time we looked at our calendar, SEMA was still scheduled for November, but that didn’t stop Toyota from unveiling the Ultimate Utility Vehicle that it will take to this year’s tuner extravaganza. With its matte black paint, black wheels and monochrome door logos, the UUV channels the look of the Ford Taurus police cars from the 1987 docudrama “RoboCop.” But instead of the Detroit Police livery on the doors, the UUV promotes the company’s upcoming Ever-Better Expedition, a 110-day transcontinental journey that Toyota engineers will undertake this summer.
“The goal of the Expedition is to allow Toyota team members to get out from behind their desks and experience in the real world the vehicles they design, engineer, manufacture and sell — taking what they learn from the road to inform the development of future generations of vehicles and deliver an ever-better driving experience to customers,” Toyota USA announced in a statement. “The Expedition will also allow them to interact directly with North American customers to better understand their needs and how they use Toyota products.”
The UUV is, of course, based on the Sienna, but the body sits on top of a Tacoma truck platform. This post-apocalyptic soccermobile features redesigned front and rear wheelarches, a completely new bumper with an integrated winch and fog lights, front suicide doors and an LED spotlight bar on the roof. Toyota is not revealing the interior of this unfriendly looking minivan just yet, which seems to clash a bit with the stated purpose of the Ever-Better Expedition, which is uniting Toyota’s 330,000 employees in their mission to create ever-better vehicles.
But we have to admit that a Sienna riding on a Tacoma platform that looks like its ready to take on a zombie army could be qualitatively better than a stock Sienna in a similar situation, so in that scenario, it would indeed be ever-better. And a friendly looking promotional vehicle, like a Pikachu-themed Volkswagen Beetle, just isn’t going to cut it these days when it comes to attracting attention on the road. Toyota gets bonus points here for being the first to unveil one of their SEMA cars and not procrastinating till a week before the actual show.