Pickups That Could Rev From Concept to RealityFebruary 23rd, 2016 by David Beran
Concept vehicles occupy the speculative, what if? nooks and crannies of the automotive industry. Auto shows tantalize enthusiasts with concepts, fueling fiery debates among consumers and prodding manufacturers to gauge a model’s potential. Every year during Easter Jeep Safari at Moab, Fiat-Chrysler unveils concept Jeeps and the one that currently has the community atwitter is the Jeep Gladiator that marries the Wrangler’s capacities with a pickup’s functionality. Reflecting the robust sales of pickup trucks, concept pickups have made a strong showing in the past few years.
The latest word on the Gladiator is it will be available sometime before 2019. In 2005, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles floated the Jeep Gladiator concept and the new iteration is being tabbed as the first “flexible utility truck.” It will purportedly sport a re-wrangled steel body along with aluminum door panels and hoods to curb weight. Other features are an expandable bed and removable doors, but expect tweaks along the way to market. In response to the excitement, Jeep’s Director of Design, John Sgalia, stated that the Gladiator concept was “testing the waters on whether or not it’s okay to bring a pickup truck back to the brand.”
Nissan Titan XD Warrior
At the recent 2016 North American International Auto Show, Nissan did the equivalent of a microphone drop when they dropped the new Titan XD with a Titan Warrior Concept. Meshing memorable stylishness with genuine off-road capability, the XD Warrior’s concept name was informed by warriors in ancient Greek mythology. Let’s just say Achilles could have rolled up to the acropolis and suitably impressed his date or taken on Grevena’s mountainous terrain in an XD Warrior. A Cummins engine and contemporized long travel suspension complement the 37-inch Pro Comp Xtreme mud-terrain tires and 18-inch aluminum wheels the concept boasts. Its roof-integrated LED lighting has off-roaders impressed, although touches like these tend to get diluted as concepts come to market.
Ram Rebel X
The Ram Rebel X concept unveiled at SEMA 2015 was a brazen, burly pickup that looked like it couldn’t wait to get off-road. 35-inch tires and a two-piece skid plate confirm its all-terrain intentions. A 5.7-liter HEMI engine separates the Rebel from the crowd and an air ride suspension ensures smooth rides. Ram could be testing the waters for consumer interest and a pickup to compete with the Raptor is eagerly anticipated.
Hyundai Santa Cruz
A unibody design and diesel engine ensure that Hyundai throwing their hat into the ring of pickup truck concepts will be duly noted. The Santa Cruz made a splash at last year’s Detroit Auto Show based on intently listening to their customers who longed for a CUV-type vehicle. The truck is stylish enough for city driving and has the hallmarks of an off-roading vehicle, but it wouldn’t function too well as a work truck. Notably more compact than the midsize Colorado, the Santa Cruz’s bed is short, but extendable. The bed features a tonneau cover that’s built in and slides out with ample tie-down hooks. As for off-road capability, there’s all-wheel drive to match the diesel four cylinder engine. Will Hyundai commit to production? The hope is that the Santa Cruz will someday be manufactured at Hyundai’s Alabama factory.
About the Author: David Beran
As a professional inkspiller living in Los Angeles, I’ve written in industries ranging from entertainment to employment to automotive. Terrain I cover includes off-road events and races, budget builds, custom mods, EVs and the latest innovations in aftermarket 4x4 parts. I’m always eager to learn about new trends in 4x4s and my motto is “go off-road or go home.” Google+ is the destination for my dispatches: https://plus.google.com/+DavidBeran/posts.