Toyota U2 concept (2014) – Urban Utility made sexy

Published: 12 September 2014

Well, isn’t this just the sweetest thing? Toyota has built a concept van called the U2, and it’s aimed at the modern urban ‘maker faire’ craft movement. This means maximum functionality but minimum road space, tough build quality and a highly customisable interior.

If this all sounds so confusing you’re starting to get vertigo, think of the U2 as the hipster equivalent of a Transit Connect with chassis elevation that suggests a crossover twist. The U2 name is not, in fact, a reference to a popular beat combo but shorthand for Urban Utility – in other words, U squared.

Toyota U2 concept design: practical but bonkers?

It's a product of Toyota’s Calty design studio in California, but there’s not much that looks terribly ‘Toyota’ about it to us. Those chunky wheelarches are reminiscent of the Nissan Juke, the front end vaguely Jeep-ish.

But putting that aside, the cargo area at the rear is pretty cool, featuring a tailgate that turns into a ramp and a rollback roof for increased practicality. So it’s part pick-up truck as well. Brilliant on a beautiful day.

The two-seater interior features an instrument cluster that suggests Wall-E’s girlfriend has met an unfortunate end, while the trim seems to be modelled after a cheese grater. Infotainment is by tablet, but the target market will presumably be more interested in the folding, removable passenger seat and the utility bar on the dashboard – for which there’s even a desk add-on.

Toyota U2 concept: as tough as it is cute

The side windows open outwards and upwards to make it easier to reach inside from outside (purse snatchers rejoice). But if you are heading where the streets have no name, you’ll be reassured to know the U2 has a ‘highly durable’ underbody and panels that are ‘tough as a handtool’.

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Well, the Toyota U2 is only a concept at this stage, so it probably doesn’t matter. It appears in public for the first time at the World Maker Faire in New York, 20-21 September 2014.

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count