Toyota’s American Catly design studio has mixed together the best parts of ute and van to create the Toyota U-squared Urban Utility concept, which we’ll call U2 for short.
Although, at first glance, the U2 seems to be nothing more than a funkily-styled small van that escaped from Japan’s bubble economy era, the Urban Utility concept is more much innovative than that.
At the back, the concept car replaces barn doors, that usually grace the rear of vans, with a fold-down tailgate. In addition to opening out flat, as in a regular ute or pickup truck, the U2’s tailgate can be angled towards the ground to form a ramp.
The rear windshield winds down into the tailgate and the cargo area features roof panels that can be folded back. This way, the U2 concept can accommodate both long and tall loads, while also providing weather protection in most other situations. The rear side windows slide flip up to allow easy roadside access to goods and tools stored in the back.
The U2 can seat up to four people in individual bucket seats. All of these seats, except the driver’s, can either be folded up or removed. Toyota claims that the rail system in the cargo bay can be configured to hold all manner of items, including baskets and bike stands.
On the passenger’s side of the dashboard there’s a retractable utility bar, which can be used to mount a working table or shopping bag hooks. The rest of the dash is a pretty but minimalist affair, with a tablet mount replacing the traditional entertainment and navigation system.
Instead of a column- or floor-mounted gear shifter, the U2 concept features a Mac Pro-style cylindrical pod that protrudes out of the floor at around 45 degrees.
Toyota has not provided details about the U2’s drivetrain, except to say that it will provide “good fuel economy”. The Toyota U2 concept will make its public debut at the World Maker Faire in New York City, which starts on September 20 (US time).