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Toyota Urban Utility concept unveiled (pictures)

Toyota's Urban Utility concept (U Squared, for short) debuted today at a private panel discussion hosted by Make: magazine in San Francisco, Calif.

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Antuan Goodwin

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1 of 29 Toyota Calty Design Research

Toyota Urban Utility concept

Toyota's Urban Utility concept (U Squared, for short) debuted today at a private panel discussion hosted by Make: magazine in San Francisco, Calif.

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2 of 29 Toyota Calty Design Research

Toyota Urban Utility concept

The compact concept is designed to offer big capacity for crowded city dwellers.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

Developed by Toyota’s Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, Calif., the Toyota U Squared's boxy back end is the key to its open architecture.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

The rear glass retracts into the tailgate, which, in turn, swings down to reveal the large, reconfigurable storage area.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

The tailgate can touch the ground to act as a ramp while the glass roof also retracts to allow unfettered access to the rear and to allow the U Squared to carry tall cargo.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

The driver's seat and cockpit are the only "fixed" bits in the U Squared's cabin. The entire rest of the interior is reconfigurable.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

Additional seats can be added for up to three passengers, or accessories can be added to accommodate special equipment like bikes. Or the entire cabin can be left free for bulky items.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

This graphic illustrates the different "zones" that the U Squared offers.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

The cockpit is where you'll find the driver's seat, steering wheel, and a rather unconventional center console/armrest.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

Rather than a traditional infotainment stack, the U Squared's dashboard uses an iPad with a customized interface that monitors the vehicle's performance and various systems.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

Ahead of the front passenger position is a sliding bar that allows this bit of the dashboard to be customized with accessories.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

For example, this desk locks into place on the dashboard, giving the driver or passenger a temporary workspace for writing or using a laptop when the vehicle is parked.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

According to Toyota, "research showed the fast-growing small SUV segment points to a desire for greater utility but a smaller footprint."

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

The goal of the U Squared is to provide the utility of a cargo van with a vehicle the size of a small hatchback.

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Toyota Urban Utility concept

As a design exercise, there was no mention of a possible powertrain or plans to move toward production with the U Squared, but it wouldn't be hard to imagine elements of the concept's utility making it into the next Scion xB.

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16 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The Urban Utility concept debuted at a roundtable event held by Make: magazine in San Francisco.

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17 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The concept's cabin is a massive storage area that runs from the rear tailgate to the windshield.

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18 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The rail them is also repeated in the door panels.

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19 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The four-piece bumper is designed to be resistant to dents and scratches, but also easily replaceable in the event of a fender bender.

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20 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

There's no engine under the hood, but I'd imagine that the urban concept would be well suited for a hybrid powertrain.

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21 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The U Squared shares its dimensions with the Scion xB.

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22 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

LED headlamps sit just above the modular plastic bumper.

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23 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The chunky wing mirror doesn't look very aerodynamic, but it's large and features an integrated turn signal.

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24 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The center console and armrest have been designed to resemble a bicycle.

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25 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The shifter is...well...interesting.

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26 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The speedometer rotates around within its housing like a bubble compass, revealing the current speed in the illuminated window ahead of the driver.

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27 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The dashboard is designed to be both simple and modular.

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28 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The rear lights feature integrated grab handles.

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29 of 29 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Urban Utility concept (live)

The wheel spokes feature inset rubber pucks that protect the rims from curb rash.

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