The Top 10 Concept Trucks of the Decade

The Top 10 Concept Trucks of the Decade

With the end of 2009 just a few days away and the North American International Auto Show set to kick off the next ten years of automotive progress in mid-January, now is the perfect time to take a look back at the Top 10 Concept Trucks of the Decade.

These are the futuristic and fun pickups that we dreamed we'd be parking in our driveway in 2010, though it didn't quite turn out that way for most of these rigs.

No. 10: 2000 Dodge MAXXcab

Dodge MAXXcab

Chrysler called the Dodge MAXXcab a "Passenger Priority Truck." It blended the ride quality and interior attributes of a sedan with the cargo hauling utility of a pickup truck.

The MAXXcab had car-like ride and handling and an altogether different appearance than any other truck on the road. The idea sounds familiar today but it was quite revolutionary at the turn of the century.

Best Concept Feature:
The "Cone of Sound," which used integrated ultrasonic transducers (didn't Darth Vader torture Han Solo with those in "The Empire Strikes Back"?) based on an idea developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. Each passenger could listen to their own audio stream without the use of headphones.

238-hp 4.7 liter Magnum V-8 mated to four-speed (with an alternate 'kick-down' second gear capability totaling a five-speed range) automatic transmission.

What Made It To Production:
We're not saying it totally inspired Honda, but the Ridgeline has an independent rear suspension and looks that are a bit similar to the MAXXcab. Hmm.


No. 9: 2001 Nissan Alpha Truck

Nissan Alpha Truck

They weren't mental. Nissan was telegraphing loudly that it intended to enter the full-size pickup truck segment when it dropped the Alpha Truck concept on stunned journalists in Detroit. Its radical shape was penned by the same designer who had created the wild looking Isuzu VehiCross SUV. Are you surprised? We didn't think so.

Best Concept Feature:
The flexible tailgate, with an integrated toolbox, doubled as a powered cargo loader while the floor of the bed slid out for easy access to your stuff.

300-hp 4.5-liter V-8 paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission.

What Made It To Production:
The Alpha's swept-back A-pillar and windshield were virtually the only ideas that were carried over to the 2004 Nissan Titan.


No. 8: 2008 GMC Denali XT

GMC Denali XT

General Motors’ segment-blurring GMC Denali XT combined the best attributes of a car and truck into one vehicle? Sounds a lot like the Dodge MAXXcab, yes? Well, it was, except that the XT was much cooler because it was designed in Australia with gangster swagger, it was based on a four-door Holden Ute and it borrowed a highly buffed version of the 2010 Chevy Camaro's interior.

Best Concept Feature:
326-hp flex-fuel, direct injection 4.9-liter small block V-8 paired with a two-mode hybrid transmission that was estimated to improve fuel economy by 50 percent over comparable midsize trucks on sale today.

See above.

What Made It To Production:
Nada. Zilch. Zero. GM killed its midsize unibody pickup truck program earlier this year.


No. 7: 2002 Ford Mighty F-350 Tonka Truck

Ford Mighty F-350 Tonka

When we were in kindergarten, this was the truck we dreamed we'd own when we grew up. Ford truck design chief Pat Schiavone -- who's leaving Ford shortly for Whirlpool -- reached into our heads, pulled out that fantasy, melted it at 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, mixed it with titanium and testosterone and forged it into the Mighty F-350 Tonka Truck. It was a pickup that even Toby Keith would have to juice up on steroids to credibly drive.

Best Concept Feature:
Hydraulic Launch Assist, which used stored hydraulic pressure captured during braking to accelerate the truck from a stop for the first 10 to 15 seconds while the engine idled, to save fuel.

300-hp 6.0-liter Power Stroke V-8 diesel and five-speed automatic transmission.

What Made It To Production:
Though nowhere near as chiseled, the 2008 Ford F-Series Super Duty and 2009 F-150 both inherited some of the Tonka's tough truck DNA in their exterior styling.

The 6.0-liter Power Stroke V-8 made it to production, too, though many owners probably wish it hadn't.


No. 6: 2006 Dodge Rampage

Dodge Rampage

When truck enthusiasts think of a unibody replacement for the Dodge Dakota, the Dodge Rampage concept is likely the first thought that springs to mind. It combined the width of a full-size Dodge Ram 1500 with the overall length of a midsize Dodge Dakota. A host of people and cargo-carrying innovations were made possible by a combination of unitized body construction, front-wheel drive and a unique independent rear wheel suspension.

Best Concept Feature:
The Rampage's front passenger seat and rear seats could be folded into the floor for extra interior storage, and it delivered exceptional cargo carrying capacity by giving its cargo box a dual-deck bed. A midgate provided pass-through space into the cabin when more room was needed.

345-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and five-speed automatic transmission.

What Made It To Production:
Multi-displacement V-8 that runs in four-cylinder mode during stead-state driving to help save fuel. The rest of the Rampage's innovations have yet to arrive.


No. 5: 2008 Toyota ABAT

Toyota ABAT

So what if it originally started out as a Scion pickup truck? Toyota's Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck returned the Japanese automaker to its small truck roots and gave hope to many that the age of the bloated and neglected midsize truck might be over. The four-passenger ABAT had a tiny footprint and a hybrid powertrain that prioritized fuel economy over towing and hauling capability.

Best Concept Feature:
The ABAT's four-foot bed could be extended to eight- feet when the midgate and tailgate were folded down.

Four-cylinder gas engine with Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive.

What Made It To Production:
The 2010 Toyota Prius uses solar panels like the ABAT's to circulate ambient air on hot days to help keep the interior cool when its parked. The rest is indefinitely shelved.


No. 4: 2003 Chevrolet Cheyenne

Chevrolet Cheyenne

GM designers diligently studied the heritage of Chevy trucks and took the best styling elements of the 1955 Cameo, the 1967-73 C/K Cheyenne, and the 1988 C/K Silverado to create the Chevrolet Cheyenne concept. It featured cab-forward design with the wheels positioned at the corners and an independent rear suspension instead of leaf springs. It was as big as it was beautiful, and it was really freakin' big.

Best Concept Feature:
The bed was accessible from the outside through two side-access doors located just behind the cab, and a dual-folding tailgate opened two ways -- horizontally split in half or traditionally folded down. Inside the cargo box were multiple storage bins that rolled out from the sides and were integrated into the floor.

500-hp supercharged 6.0-liter V-8 and four-speed automatic transmission.

What Made It To Production:
Not much except for some watered-down styling cues in the current Silverado. The grille, however, made it to almost every other Chevy vehicle.


No. 3: 2005 Jeep Gladiator

Jeep Gladiator

There wasn't anything not to like about the diesel-powered Jeep Gladiator concept. The extended cab, no-compromise, off-road pickup featured an open-air canvas roof, removable doors, a fold-down windshield and an expandable bed with built-in storage compartments.

Best Concept Feature:
It was a Jeep pickup truck.

163-hp 2.8-liter four-cylinder common-rail turbodiesel engine with a six-speed manual transmission.

What Made It To Production:
Nothing. And we're still in anger management therapy because of it.


No. 2: 2000 GMC Terradyne

GMC Terradyne

When have GMC trucks not wanted to distinguish themselves from their corporate twins that are sold with gold bowties? The wedge-shaped GMC Terradyne was supposed to be a major step towards giving GM's 'Professional Grade' trucks their own readily identifiable looks and character. It was penned by GM designer Carl Zipfel, who later designed the Hummer H3 SUV and H3T pickup.

Best Concept Feature:
Four "gliding doors" that slid like the portals on a minivan and an innovative cargo box that could be extended from 6 feet to 8 feet when extra space was needed.

300-hp 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V-8 paired with a five-speed Allison 1000 automatic transmission.

What Made It To Production:
The better question is, what didn't make it to production?

Quadrasteer four-wheel steering made it to the 2002-05 GMC Sierra. The Duramax diesel famously made its way into GM's 2001 Heavy Duty pickup trucks and is still used today. You can find the tailgate-mounted rearview backup camera, GPS and LCD display in almost every full-size truck.

The rest of the Terradyne's mobile office features arrived bundled in the 2009 Ford F-Series trucks, like the in-dash computer, cell phone integration to connect to the Internet and a portable printer. F-Series trucks also have power extendable rear view mirrors.

Side saddle storage (with powered access doors) that made use of previously unavailable space in the cargo box by creating two enclosed, lockable bins in the outer rear side panels is uncannily similar to the RamBox storage option for the Ram 1500.


No. 1: 2002 Dodge M80

Dodge M80

The Dodge M80 is (and likely forever will be) the one that got away. The body-on-frame trucklet still wows us after nearly a decade. It was basic transportation and your best friend if you needed to move a couch, table or small bed into your studio apartment. Weighing in at only 2,500 pounds, it would have been fuel efficient too.

Best Concept Feature:
Two doors, four-wheel drive, a five-foot cargo box and a six-cylinder with a handshaker.

210-hp 3.7-liter V-6 paired with a five-speed manual transmission.

What Made It To Production:
Nothing. Hey, Sergio - stick a four-cylinder gas or diesel Fiat engine in it and bring this baby Ram to market, stat!


Honorable Mention: Suzuki X-Head

Suzuki X-Head
Arigato gozaimasu to Suzuki's design team for totally rethinking the small 'pikku appu'. The brilliant X-Head micro truck had a tall stance for off-road capability and an upright cab for interior efficiency. It also featured a full-time four-wheel drive system with a limited slip center differential.

Best Concept Feature:
The sides of the X-Heads cargo box folded down to reveal shelved storage compartments. Three different excursion tops were designed to go on the back, one for camping, one for urban errands, and a third for search and rescue.

1.3-liter four-pot paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

What Made It To Production:
Nothing yet but our fingers are crossed we could still see something similar in the not too distant future.


There's alot of nice rigs there, some that should've made production, the Gladiator for one. Then there's a few that the designers must've thought up while doing their business on the crapper... Fugly!!! Should be an interesting decade to come.

the ford super chief should've been on there.

I love the Jeep Gladiator and Dodge M80. Those are two trucks that really should have been made. What was Chrysler thinking???

There's one other truck that I was really surprised to not find on this list, as I think it would fill a HUGE niche and would be a great seller: the Suzuki X-Head:

I would probably own TWO of these little pickup trucks if Suzuki offered them here in America! What's not to love? Solid axles front and rear, fuel efficiency, tidy proportions, and FANTASTIC styling. This is one pickup that would appeal equally to rural, suburban, and urban buyers. I WANT TWO!

Love the Jeep & the Tonka lots of good lookin trucks.

Super Chief was robbed.

Chrysler should have made the M80 instead of the fugly Dakota .

Great catch on overlooking the Suzuki X-Head. That has been fixed.

The Super Chief didn't make the cut because it was too similar to the Tonka Truck.

The Dodge M80 concept did make it to production, albeit in SUV form. It was the inspiration for the Dodge Nitro. The wheel design the concept truck wears also made into production for the Nitro, they were available in chrome finish on the Nitro R/T versions.

But I would have rather seen the pickup version than SUV.

Ok I saw a pickup today that looks just like the jeep gladiator. Anybody know what pickup that would be? i've never seen it before.

Like the jeep, GMC okay, The ford... well ford sucks anyway so I am not that disappointed or surprised but that dodge minivan with a bed will never be seen with me driving it. If the 1500-3500s ever go that direction I will be keeping my future 2500 until I die.

Is it me or did all the concept trucks look like cars except the Jeep and the Ford... Well if you make the best pickups I guess you have no need to fix what ain't broken. The Dodges look like they were designed for women or something cause not to many men would be caught dead in anything that ugly. I am a firm believer that we need to get away from the box look that GM and Ford have adopted but if future trucks look like those Dodges above I will just keep fixing up what I got... Now the Ram is one pretty truck but to bad it don't hold up as good as a GM or a Ford.

What, No Bronco?

dodge,rampage,they, need to use the front grill.this is a winer

@shawn, Hey buddy i drive a 2500 duramax and the chassis wont hold up as good as a dodge heavy duty this i know from experience. GM good highway hauler but go on backroads and the dodge is stronger and more clearance. 10-4

American Expedition Vehicles makes the BRUTE. Which looks like the Gladiator.

The Terradyne is awesome! Wished they would've been produced, I would have loved to get my hands on one of those!!! The Tonka Concept though is the all around best to me.

There is an empty, aching, black hole in my chest where the my brand new Jeep Gladiator should be.

I really can't describe the deep-seeded anger that one inspires. They kept on making Dakotas over this??!!!

That was that idiot failure's answer..."We have Dakota."

Sergio, can you listen to the people?? Look what happened when they finally produced the 4door Wrangler after we begged for years....through the roof sales

hummer H3!!!!!!!

@darryl: It was a tough choice - Hummer H3T or Jeep Gladiator.

@ Shawn

"The Ram don't hold up as good as a GM or a Ford."

Stupidity runs unchecked, on this site, sometimes. Don't spread it.


PT - You've forgotten the Hummer H3T Concept, a very cool truck, that will probably go to serial production by the new owner...

yea just revisted the h3t concept it was badass and i would love to own one!

What about the 2001 Ford Lightning Rod and 2005 Ford Lightning concepts? I wish they would have made it to production!

What about the Mahindra Gio?

@sTep and snowman. Guys before you haul me down to the principle to get a spanking I'm just calling it like I see it. I have had a few friends who had Dodges (all half tons no heavy dutys) and they just didn't hold up. One had the tranny go out before 30k, one had the rear go out before 10k, and my best bud well his kept breaking wheel studs of all things and took it back time and time again and the dealers could not fix it. And this is not all the problems I have heard about from people I know. Those are just the most I hear about. The Ram chassis might be tougher then a Chevy but with the reputation that has preceded it in my area most of the guys I know will over look a Dodge any day for a Ford, Chevy, or dare I say even a Toyota. Now me personally I love the look of a Ram. It looks like a truck should look in my opinion. I would love to have one but with all the problems my friends had no way. Maybe one day if Dodge gets its act together... And I'm talking about the financial trouble more than anything. There is good and bad with anything you buy. Who remembers the famous spark plug popping 5.4L Ford from the 97-03 Ford trucks. I know of at least 4 guys who are working on their 2nd or 3rd Allison tranny in their Chevys that didn't make it to 50k. Look at all the trouble Toyota is having with the their trucks. I never said the Ram wasn't a tough truck I just said compared to other trucks where I live it just don't hold up... It may be a different story where you live at.

The Rampage should be a replacement for the Dakota, and the M80 should of been in production.

I dont think any of these concepts will hit the production.

The regular CUVs modified as cargo vehicle without the rear 2 doors, seats and upholstries will serve a better purpose.

High volumetric capacity combined with better mileage will help many business carry more goods and save on gas.

No wonder, the CUV's has captured #1 spot in the truck segment with #4 a decade ago. Pickups are now #2 with SUV's and Minivans taking #3 & #4 place.

wow, chrysler took 4/10 of the best concept trucks. 3/10 gm, 1/10 ford, 1/10 toyota, 1/10 nissan.

chrysler really does make some amazing concept trucks, and wish the rampage, m80, gladiator or wrangler truck make it to production someday

Totally agree about the Jeep Gladiator and anger management: Would buy one of those in a heartbeat if it could pull my 18-foot car-hauler with a GVW of 8000#.

Also, Suzuki X-Head = want

I've tried a lot to find about the Toyota abat price but i couldnt please let me know how and where (dubai) i can buy one toyota abat truck.
Thanks for your great attention
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farshid.dehghani Head manager

i seen a few nice trucks the FORD and the dodges the rest were butt ass ugly

The dodge rampage concept would have been the best truck to hit the market. Everybody would end up buying one of these because of its design and options. I mean the thing has everything a family or a teenager wants. With this design they would have been on top of every car industry.

- Check it out its not as wide as a tundra which makes it ease to park in tight spaces.
- You can still fit 4 people comfortably and seats fold in to even put my motor bikes or Harley or quad easily with the build in ramp(OMG)!!!!
- Has so much space to put heavy load of what ever cargo, construction cargo, wood cargo, you can transport even a couple of huge kitchen supply. And every thing makes it so easy to load thanks to that build in ramp.

This vehicle is just a overall pickup truck where u do not only look good driving that car to any event but also it can be used to do some heavy work. This car would suit any person for every day use.

Even today when this car comes out it would a success because of its versatility. Incredible how such a good concept car never will make it to the production line. I can imagine the designers feeling impotent and depressed.

I really would like to see the dodge rampage make it into production one day.

Thank you for your time.

nice site!!!!

They should make the Rampage in an engine that could tow 5k, run 280hp and yeild 25mpg avg

Maybe incorportate some kind of headache bar rack into the cab roof.

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