North American International Auto Show 2001

Luxury Sport Utility Trucks
The Cadillac Escalade EXT has a similar styling to the Escalade SUV.
The Cadillac Escalade EXT has a similar styling to the Escalade SUV.

This year, combining different vehicle types is a big theme at the auto show. There were at least four sport utility trucks (SUTs) presented. These luxury vehicles combine an SUV with a full-size pickup.

GM cited a study finding that 20 percent of luxury-car drivers also own a full-sized pickup truck. To try to expand that market segment, GM showed the Cadillac Escalade EXT, which is due to join the Cadillac lineup in 2002.

The coolest feature of this truck is its flexible bed configuration. Most four-door trucks have very short pickup beds, and the EXT is no exception, featuring a 5-foot 3-inch bed. But here's the cool part: The whole rear wall of the passenger compartment can be folded out of the way, extending the cargo bed into the cab, all the way up to the front seats. In this configuration, the bed is 8-feet 1-inch long.

The Cadillac Escalade EXT -- with the seats and rear hatch folded down, the bed can hold a 4x8-foot sheet of plywood.
Inside the cab, the folded-over seats extend the bed floor.

Nissan revealed a radical concept truck, also a full-size luxury truck. They plan to launch a full-sized truck within the next several years, and this model is indicative of the types of innovations they are planning.

Nissan’s concept truck

This concept truck has a "suicide doors" configuration: the two rear doors open in the opposite direction of the two front doors, and both sets of doors are big and open really wide, with no pillar separating them so that when the doors are open there is absolutely nothing in your way.

The wide-opening suicide doors of Nissan’s concept truck.

The Nissan truck also has a novel tailgate, which is hinged from underneath the truck so that when it opens, it forms a step near the ground. The entire floor of the bed can also slide back to allow for easier unloading.

The Nissan concept truck's tailgate.

Also at the show was the Lincoln Blackwood, a luxury pickup slated for production in 2002. This truck has a power bed cover, as well as a tailgate that is slit in the middle and opens to the sides.

The Lincoln Blackwood Luxury SUT

And taking the concept to absolute extremes was the Ford Supercruizer. This huge truck has leather upholstery and all the amenities, plus it can tow just about anything. It is so tall that you have to climb two sets of running boards to get into it!

The Ford Supercruizer