Toyota A-BAT Concept – A Truly Progressive Compact Pickup
By Mike Mello
Toyota’s got a slick concept truck to show off at the upcoming North American International Auto Show that embraces the stretched, diagonal C-pillar design cue that was perhaps first seen in the 1977 Subaru Brat. As this AP story reports, the concept truck, dubbed A-BAT, short for Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck, features Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system coupled with a 4-cylinder engine, netting you savings at the pump that you can spend at your favorite home improvement store.
Isn’t that what compact, sporty trucks are for? They’re not for trucking loads of Sheetrock to the job site – they’re for throwing your mountain bikes, coolers, and deep-frying turkey cookers in the back of, right? So it wouldn’t be quite right to compare the A-BAT to something like the Chevy Avalanche in terms of mileage or towing capacity. It’s also not in the same class as the Honda Ridgeline, another 4-door pickup with a swept C-pillar, but there are some design characteristics shared by these vehicles worth mentioning.
The Avalanche, at 221.3 inches overall, brought its innovative midgate to market back when the model debuted in 2002. The A-BAT, which is in another class all together at 181.3 inches also has a midgate and can double its bed length from four to eight feet if you open the tailgate. Additionally, the A-BAT has removable translucent roof panels to allow tall objects to be loaded into the bed. Between these two progressive trucks, the Ridgeline measures 206.8 inches long and has its own share of innovative features, such as a lockable storage compartment within the bed floor. See Honda’s site for complete Ridgeline specifications.
It seems like Toyota has chosen an apt time to introduce a compact pickup concept, not only because it offers a gas-electric hybrid drivetrain, but because today’s small pickups, like the Toyota Tacoma or Chevy Colorado look like and actually are true pickups. Some people want a versatile, sporty truck-like machine but don’t want something that rides and looks like a mini Ram. The point is that fullsize trucks should and will continue to grow in size and ability while the compact truck segment could, in a way, become more compact instead of trying to perform like smaller versions of fullsize trucks.
Based on the video at PickupTruck.com, it looks like the A-BAT could deliver the kind of looks that would attract drivers who are presently cruising in vehicles such as the CRV, RAV4 and maybe anyone driving an Isuzu VehiCross. Imagine a new class of compact pickups that could bring their own looks to the showrooms and let the fullsize pickups evolve without the diagonal C-pillar.
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