Like the Chevrolet Avalanche, the 1999 Nissan SUT (Sport Utility Truck) Concept had a folding mid-gate.
The 1999 Nissan SUT concept debuted at the 1999 North American International Auto Show. It demonstrated to the world what a multipurpose truck could be. Based on the first generation Nissan Frontier platform, this truck had a large hatch behind the rear passengers that opened upward. Once you folded the one-piece rear seat down, it was supposed to hold a 4X8 sheet of plywood.
Mind you, unlike the Subaru Baja, the lower floor and seat did not fold completely flat. There is a middle cross-section that created an approximately six-inch bump across the base of the back seats. It lined up with the height of the back seats when they were folded. This prevented the opening from being as big as, say, a Pathfinder or Xterra of the same vintage. Still, it could hold much larger objects than the aforementioned Baja.
Details are thin, but it appears that the lower section was structural and needed for rigidity. Nissan stated that it was a section that was meant to keep dirty items out of the clean interior. Also, the liftgate swung up at an angle that would prevent motorcycles from entering the cab.
Power? We’re not so sure…
We could not find verifiable numbers on this concept. It’s a fair guess that this concept had Nissan’s 170 horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 that made 200 lbs-feet of torque. Interior images and transmission information was nonexistent, but it was either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual. The Frontier at that time had a 5,000-lbs towing capacity and could haul approximately 1,300 – 1,600 lbs (depending on the model).
With the extra weight of the mid-gate and structural reinforcements, this vehicle’s capability may have been less. The bed length is very small, perhaps four-feet at best. When the tailgate is dropped, and the mid-gate is open, there are more than eight feet in length available.
It wasn’t a terrible idea, and it looked really cool. There may have been a market for the SUT, just like there was a market for the Chevrolet Avalanche, Hummer SUT, and Subaru Baja – among others. At the same time, it may have taken away sales from the Xterra and Pathfinder, which were extremely important to Nissan back then.
What do you think? Would you buy one over a conventional pickup truck?
Speaking of unconventional pickup trucks…