Toyota's U² concept car is truly something else. Describing it as a car that's "the size of a compact car with the functionality of a compact truck and the spaciousness of a cargo van" we wondered if this was going to be a truly horrifying chimera no one with sense would be caught driving.
Fortunately, from the pictures, it looks like a perfectly serviceable car that seems to be the product of a designer's whim to shrink an SUV.
Now, how do you shrink an SUV?
The U² is built on an open architecture, which gives room for the car to be tinkered with quite a fair bit. You can for instance, fold down the tailgate to create a ramp, or you could just roll back the roof. Other cool stuff - the rear glass can slide into the tailgate, while the tailgate also comes with protective, replaceable ridges.
This could potentially end the long contentious back-and-forth about "Should we get a truck" or "Maybe we need a car more suited for people, not things." Now you can have a truck and compact in one.
Apart from being both a people and large item carrier, the U² can also be customised on the inside with Toyota's own rail system. It can hold everything from baskets to bike stands and if that isn't enough space, you can fold up not only the rear seating but the front passenger seat.
Driving is also made easier with a shifter design that has an intuitive switch for parking, drive and reverse mode.
The U² will make its public debut at the World Maker Faire in New York City this Sept 20 and 21.