Trucks & SUVs

That Time the Toyota Sienna Minivan and the Tacoma Truck Had a Baby

Does anyone remember the time when Toyota put a modified Sienna frame on top of a Tacoma chassis? It facilitated the birth of something truly extraordinary. An ultra-capable minivan overlander.

an all black overland minivan build that looks ready to take on anything
UUV overland build, a Toyota Sienna crossed with the Toyota Tacoma | Toyota Newsroom

In case you don’t already know. I love minivans. My first car was a minivan and I never looked back. Minivans are made for making memories, so I obviously love the idea of a minivan off-roader.

Of course, I’ve found myself in dozens of other cars between then and now. So far, none of them can quite live up to the subtle, loving support of a top trim minivan driver’s seat. But minivans aren’t exactly off-road prowlers. That is until the Toyota Sienna and the Toyota Tacoma had a beastly baby.

2020 Toyota Sienna parked outside of a house on the driveway
2020 Toyota Sienna | Toyota

A minivan UUV with the footing of a Tacoma

According to MotorTrend, the folks at Toyota called it a UUV, which stands for Ultimate Utility Vehicle. Yeah––I’ll pass on the SUV for the UUV instead, thanks. This crazed looking truck van, van truck thing has matte black body paint. From bumper to bumper, it’s designed by the Toyota team to go anywhere.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Nightshade
2021 Toyota Tacoma Nightshade | Toyota

Revealed to an awed public in 2015 and riding the back of the van life uprising, this off-roader was a trendsetter. Toyota created this van for the 110-day Ever-Better journey. It––and other vehicles like the Toyota Landcruiser 200––drove through places with famously hardcore driving conditions such as Death Valley in California, Pikes Peak in Colorado, and the Alaskan frontier.

Since the Toyota Sienna UUV came out we’ve seen so many cool van builds and conversions. Grassroots overland van build businesses have turned into international entities. And we now have not one but two mainstream market minivans with available AWD.

Toyota Sienna/Tacoma overland build, black on black and ready for anything
Toyota Sienna/Tacoma overland build called the UUV | Toyota Newsroom

Not to say that the Chrysler Pacifica or the Toyota Sienna are designed for off-roading like the Toyota Tacoma-footed UUV. But we have certainly seen a rise in the perception of the minivan not as a frumpy mom car, but a classy and capable highway yacht for families. Modern minivans are more agile than ever. They even come with hybrid options.

The off-roading Toyota Sienna that changed everything

And I don’t think it’s presumptuous to assume that this Toyota Sienna meets Tacoma overland build had something to do with the mindset change. In fact, it was briefly after I became a mother myself that this UUV rocked my world and changed my whole idea of what a minivan could be forever. Blend something as perfect as a minivan with something as capable as a Toyota pickup truck and something really special is born.

the AWD insignia on the back of a black Pacifica minivan
The new 2021 Chrysler Pacifica now offers available all-wheel drive (AWD) | Chrysler, FCA

RELATED: Watch Out Pacifica the 2021 Toyota Sienna Is Out for Blood

The possibilities are endless when you start thinking of all of the different minivan-truck UUV blends out there just waiting to be created by automakers everywhere. Black on black options are not enough. Give us more off-pavement capability in our minivans. If a Chrysler Town and Country can handle a deep muddy cornfield while towing a Smart Car (yeah…that’s another story I’ll have to tell some other time), just think of what a TRD off-road package could do for the Sienna.

The black on black Toyota UUV overland vehicle with massive tires in a desert scene
Sienna and Tacoma meet to form the foundation for this overlander | Toyota Newsroom

RELATED: The 2021 Honda Odyssey Can’t Beat the Toyota Sienna and the Chrysler Pacifica

Ok, Jeep…your turn

It’s obviously time for an overland minivan marvel on a Gladiator or Wrangler platform. FCA could easily breed something amazing between the Chrysler Pacifica and the Ram Rebel, too. It all boils down to the fact that minivans are awesome. And I’m pretty sure there is a niche and untapped off-roading minivan market just waiting out there.