Meet the Toyota Sienna UUV, or Ultimate Utility Vehicle. This might just be the ultimate Swagger Wagon and it came directly from Toyota. Yep, ‘Yota engineers merged a Sienna minivan body with the ladder frame underpinnings of a Tacoma pickup truck to make this beastly family hauler.

Sadly Toyota is keeping the UUV’s specs mostly under wraps until its official debut at the 2015 SEMA show in November, though that doesn’t stop us from speculating. Visually, the UUV is wearing a steel bumper fitted with off-road lighting and a winch, while the smoked headlights match the flat-black wrap that covers the Sienna’s body. Off-road LED light bars front and rear light the way and flat fender extensions keep the body safe from flying debris.

Those fender extensions and the lack of a visible track system mean engineers have reworked the rear door’s opening style. Perhaps it opens suicide-style like the modified front doors.

The UUV rides atop a Tacoma frame and utilizes a lifted suspension with remote reservoir shock absorbers and a long-arm rear suspension kit. Massive 305/55-series Nitto Trail Grappler M/T tires are mounted on blacked-out 20-inch wheels to complete the look. It’s highly likely the UUV is powered by the same 4.0-liter, longitudinally mounted V-6 that comes in the Tacoma. Then again, it could be the new 3.5-liter V-6 destined for the 2016 Taco.

Until the SEMA show, the UUV will be touring the country as part of Toyota’s “Ever-Better Expedition.” Toyota says the expedition’s purpose is to “get out to feel and learn from the road.”

While that mission statement leaves more questions than answers, the automaker further explains saying the trip will include some of its most popular vehicles on a 110-day transcontinental journey that puts engineers on the road to experience their products first-hand for an extended time and to connect with customers. The engineers will also be gathering insights and inspiration for future vehicles. Stops include New York City, Daytona Beach, Route 66, ice roads in Alaska, and Pike’s Peak.

Continue reading to read more about the Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle (UUV).

Why it matters

It’s nice to see Toyota step out of the box on this one – and the UUV is certainly very much outside any conventional boxes. The high-riding family van should do a great job of garnering attention from crowds along the 16,500-mile road trip. And despite the guaranteed positive reaction from the crowd, don’t expect Toyota to mass produce anything like the UUV, though this would be the best way to make manly men finally accept the minivan as a cool mode of transpiration.

2015 Toyota Sienna

2015 Toyota Sienna High Resolution Exterior
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Press Release

Toyota Motor North America today unveiled architectural renderings of its future North American headquarters, providing new details of the site layout and exterior design of its environmentally sensitive corporate campus. In support of the Company’s “One Toyota” vision, the renderings reveal buildings and outdoor spaces designed to create a collaborative environment that encourages discovery, transparency and creativity.

To mark the occasion, Toyota also launched the Ever-Better Expedition – the North American leg of a real-world, global driving project designed to support and unite Toyota’s 330,000 worldwide team members in their mission to create ever-better vehicles. A convoy of Toyota vehicles left Plano today on a 110-day transcontinental journey that will allow Toyota engineers and other team members to feel the road, experience vehicle performance, connect with customers and gather new insights to inspire the design and development of future vehicles.

“Bringing our team members together at this striking and inspiring new campus in Plano will help Toyota become a more cohesive, collaborative and innovative company so we can serve our customers better,” said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota’s North America Region. “Our efforts to become One Toyota in North America go hand-in-hand with the goals of the Ever-Better Expedition, which embodies our passion for continuous improvement and sharing ideas so that we can deliver products that exceed our customers’ expectations.”

New Headquarters Inspired by ‘One Toyota’ Philosophy, Environmental Sustainability

Designed by Corgan Associates, the architectural renderings unveiled today and available at http://pressroom.toyota.com provide a number of different perspectives and details of the proposed Toyota campus in Plano, which includes:

Seven buildings, up to five stories tall, arranged around a large central plaza that serves as the literal and symbolic heart of all social and business functions – including dining, fitness, and conferencing facilities;
Building facades that are predominantly glass, with generous roof overhangs along the southern exposures to cast shade;
Local and regional materials and low-water plantings that reflect the native landscapes of North Central Texas;
Water features for catchment and storage of water for irrigation; and
Parking structures and office buildings that can support solar panels for renewable energy production.

“Our work with some of the best designers, builders, architects – along with important input from our own team members – has inspired our thinking around how our new facilities can support and enhance the One Toyota Experience,” said Lentz. “We also want to ensure our new headquarters supports Toyota’s commitment to the environment through sustainable, environmentally sensitive and state-of-the-art design, materials, features and efficiencies.”

Toyota intends to pursue LEED Platinum certification for the campus, the highest level of certification possible by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Ever-Better Expedition: Getting Out to Feel and Learn from the Road

Groups of Toyota engineers and other team members participating in the Ever-Better Expedition will drive a convoy of Toyota’s best-known models across North America, tackling some of the continent’s most challenging and inspiring driving environments, from California’s Death Valley in summer to the icy roads of Alaska in winter, from Pike’s Peak in Colorado to the streets of New York City. Along the way, they will also visit Daytona Beach, Route 66, Toyota manufacturing and research facilities, and the highways, avenues and back streets that customers across North America use every day.

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. 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 North America Expedition is the second leg of Toyota’s Five Continents Driving Project. It that was inspired by Toyota President Akio Toyoda, whose passion for cars and the driving experience is revolutionizing the way that Toyota approaches product development and customer engagement. The first leg was organized and executed by Toyota Australia, where vehicles drove cross-country through Australia’s diverse and rugged terrain, resulting in new product insights and valuable learning experiences for team members.

For the North American Expedition, Toyota is also introducing the Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle (UUV) – a custom-made Sienna body retrofitted on top of a Tacoma truck built for display at this year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) conference. A Land Cruiser 200 will also travel the entire length of the North American Expedition and is the only vehicle that will travel to all of the continents included in the global tour.

In support of the North American Expedition, Toyota launched www.ToyotaEverBetter.com, where visitors can follow the Expedition’s progress through the end of the year.

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