Scion is dying, but a bunch of college students have resurrected the brand’s early hipness with this teal Toyota concept car.
The Toyota uBox concept is the spiritual successor of the once-revolutionary Scion xB. Over two years, 18 graduate engineering students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, plus two more students at ArtCenter College of Design, put together a future Toyotaâwithout any of the tacked-on tuner cliches. Conversely, the uBox is about detachable parts, including all the dash trim pieces and air vents, which are 3-D printed. The result reminds us of a modern-day, scaled-down Previa minivan with a dash of MRAP.
What looks like a front-mounted decklid spoiler serves as an anchor for two exposed carbon fiber and aluminum rails, which add structural rigidity to the curved glass roof and windshield. From behind the wheel, they give the impression of driving over a suspension bridge. Clemson says this design can be manufactured in high volume at low cost.
Since the uBox is electric, students scattered household outlets throughout the interior and exterior, including one behind the thin LED headlight. The Sienna-based seats in both rows slide on rails, and flip-up bottom cushions (hello, Honda Fit) allow them to squish together, effectively extending the cargo floor’s flat surface. The chassis itself is custom, with steering and front and rear suspension elements lifted from the RAV4, Camry, and Sienna.
This is Clemson’s sixth concept car. In prior years, students built a lounge-style commuter car out of a Chevy Spark, a BMW X3 with an exposed cargo bay, and a plug-in hybrid Mazda sedan inspired by the RX-8. Had the Clemson students helped Toyota years earlier, they might have come up with some genuinely creative ideas that could have kept Scion alive.