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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.