Even though it’s not the most exciting segment in the automotive market, we’ve seen several new small utility vans introduced over the past couple years. Chief among them is the Nissan NV200, which is “New York’s Official Taxi” since it won a contest claiming the title around the time of the van’s launch.
However, today’s story isn’t about the Nissan NV200; it’s about the all-new Toyota Urban Utility Concept that the automaker will officially reveal at the World Maker Faire in NYC this weekend.
This is the Toyota Urban Utility Concept, cleverly code-named the U2 Concept. From the front, it almost looks ordinary, but a closer inspection proves otherwise. It clearly has a more futuristic and distinguished design than what you’d expect from a utility van. The checkered rear window in particular paired with the blacked-out A-pillar make the aesthetic flow cleanly. Meanwhile, that RAV4-like front-end reassures us that we are, in fact, looking at a Toyota.
The van gets even more interesting once you see it from behind:
The tailgate is no ordinary door – it’s a foldable ramp. The rear half of the roof can be folded forward for even more convenient access. And even though you can’t see it in the pictures, the checkered side windows actually fold up for curb-side access to the rear cargo space.
Now you’re probably starting to believe us when we say this is no ordinary cargo van. In fact, calling it a van at all may not be the most accurate label; the design says that it’s part truck, part crossover and part van. Whatever you call it, though, it’s definitely compact. A big part of the U2 Concept’s mission is to deliver great fuel economy in a practical, customizable package.
Speaking of customization, the interior is where this concept really breaks away from the rest:
Those black and gray rivets along the floor and side of the van are actually a rail system that can be fitted with anything from passenger seats to bicycle racks to grocery bag hooks. Or you can leave them empty for a massive slab of rear space, effectively making the van into a cargo hauler.
And that weird looking front seat? You can get a better look at that below:
As you can see, Toyota’s designers put together a highly futuristic front dash with tablet integration and a redesigned, “intuitive” new shifter.
Unfortunately, Toyota hasn’t yet said anything about whether or not they’d ever actually produce a vehicle like the Urban Utility Concept. From what we can tell, Toyota needed a car to show at the World Maker Faire and their Calty Design Research firm just happened to have the U2 on the drawing board at the time. Regardless of whether its inception was coincidental or deliberate, there’s no denying that the U2 Concept is a very innovative vehicle that doesn’t fit into the boundaries of today’s utility van. If you’d like to see more, watch the virtual tour of the Toyota U2 Concept below: