Why It Was Built: To showcase sustainable technologies, and to appeal to what Chrysler calls the "stylish green" buyer-consumers who like to play in the dirt and not feel guilty about belching out tons of hydrocarbons in the process.
What's Inside It: Plenty of interesting stuff, actually. A lithium-ion battery pack and a pair of 200kW electric motors power each axle end for up to a 40-mile range, after which a 115hp 1.5L Bluetec diesel three-cylinder "mileage-enhancer" kicks in. Claimed equivalent fuel mileage is over 100 mpg on a per-tank basis. While the battery's beneath the floorboard, there's still room for a transfer case down there, and locking diffs are found in both axles. Thirty-two-inch BFGs reside in the 'wells, and approach and departure angles are an outstanding 44 and 52, respectively. Soy-based foam seats and doors provide eco-friendly ergonomics (and a meal if you're stranded in the boonies, we'd guess), and you can still hose down the interior, thanks to a drain in the floor.
What's in Store: Hard to say. Recent Jeep concepts have been more eye candy than real-world design studies, so we wouldn't hold our breath waiting for a Wrangler hybrid in tofu trim anytime soon. A diesel JK, on the other hand-well, that's probably coming in the next couple of years.
When Can You Get One: As envisioned here, shortly after the inauguration of President Jenna Bush in 2033.
Our Take: Our initial impression was "Myers Manx Rubicon," but the more we look at it, the more the concept grows on us. While suspension is now independent in front, it's still got lockers, low-range, and plenty of tire, so we'd have to say the folks at Jeep are still keeping their eye on the dedicated 'wheelers who've been their most loyal customers since ... well, forever.
Why It Was Built: Representing "the next evolution of the compact pickup," according to Toyota, the Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck (A-BAT) was conceived by Toyota's Calty design studio for "maneuvering the suburbs as well as dirt roads." Actually, we suspect it was built as a Scion concept, then given a Toyota badge to showcase its gas-electric hybrid system at Detroit.
What's Inside It: Sporting Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, the A-BAT is essentially a reworked unibody four-cylinder Camry hybrid with an integrated bed a'la the Honda Ridgeline, although the A-BAT adds a midgate. Claimed mileage is 50 mpg in city driving.
What's in Store: If it ever sees production, another platform-a hybrid SUT based on Camry architecture, while easy to reverse-engineer and bring to market, would likely cost way too much for the vehicle's intended (Scion) buyers, and it's hard to see where this vehicle would fit in Toyota's already crowded midsize SUV line.
When Can You Get One: From Toyota, probably never. From Scion, perhaps as an all-wheel-drive xB SUT in two to three years.
Our Take: Cute, yes, and certainly very versatile, but coming five years after the debut of the Prius, and three years after the Ridgeline, this ain't exactly a cutting-edge concept to us.
Why It Was Built: In the words of the original Suzuki press release from the Tokyo Motor Show (where it debuted last fall), the X-Head is "the 'cross-utility vehicle' of the new genre which brings the various values which until recently are not." Actually, Suzuki cranks out concept vehicles the way most of us change our socks, and while there's virtually no chance this thing will ever be built, we want one anyway. Baaad.
What's Inside It: What's not to love? Based off a Jimny chassis and sharing sheetmetal with the Carry (Japan-only) minivan, this body-on-frame, solid-axle cabover runs on a 75hp 1.3L diesel four-banger backed by a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Full-time four-wheel drive uses a center diff-lock for torque splits. Approach and departure angles are unknown, but there are scarcely any overhangs, and knobby Dunlops on bead-locked rims always get our attention. (OK, they're fake, but still.) The X-Head shown here is the "Rescue" version, with plenty of storage cubbies hidden away in the fold-down bedsides, as well as a lockable toolbox in the bed.
What's in Store: One in our garage (we can wish, can't we?).
When Can You Get One: Unless you buy a Jimny overseas, ship it Stateside and build it yourself, probably never.
Our Take: Industry buzz has it that Suzuki will sell a pickup truck in the U.S. next year-a rebadged Nissan Frontier. That's not a bad thing at all, but we'd love to see something like this on the market-it was the coolest thing we saw in Detroit.