We knew the Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle would be one of the most delightfully odd vehicles of the year the minute we heard about it months ago, and now that Toyota has released all the details, we find it better than expected. Not only is it the gnarliest minivan you’ve likely ever seen, but it’s packed inside and out with innovative solutions and high-tech equipment that allows it to navigate the world’s nastiest terrain and serve as a mobile workstation.
The Ultimate Utility Vehicle has parked at SEMA this week, on a break from the 16,500-mile (26,550-km) North American tour it was designed for. Toyota’s Ever-Better Expedition is the American part of the Five Continents Driving Project, sending engineers on grueling road trips to push Toyota vehicles to the limits and engage with customers along the way. Toyota has completed the hot-weather part of the North American voyage and will soon embark on a cold-weather trip through Canada and Alaska.
As the mobile command hub of the expedition, the Ultimate Utility Vehicle is built to handle the toughest stretches with aplomb. It all starts with the redesigned body-on-frame construction. Toyota hollowed out the Sienna’s unibody, reinforced it and secured it to a reinforced Tacoma 4×4 truck frame, giving the minivan the needed grit.
The chassis is enhanced with an Engaged four-link long-travel suspension, lifting the vehicle’s ride height by 4 inches (10 cm). That suspension system gives the 22×12-in Monster Energy 539B off-road wheels up to 15.75 inches (40 cm) of cushion, while the 33×22 Nitto Mud Grappler tires claw into all types of ground below. A TRD supercharger boosts engine power, and a Wilwood brake package enhances stopping power.
A stock Sienna body might look a little odd sitting atop that monstrous underbody, so Toyota dressed it for the occasion. Attire includes an N-FAB custom front bumper, front winch, custom rear bumper, flared fenders and a PPG matte black finish. The roof houses a custom rack and LED lights bar.