By a long way, the best vehicle of the show for me was the GMC All Terrain concept, designed by Carl Zipfel. The truck itself, as you've likely seen at trucktrend.com, is a Sierra HD with a Duramax engine. The suspension is lifted and widened to accommodate some aggressive BFG 35-inch tires along with a set of Fox remote-reservoir high-performance shocks. In addition, both the front and rear suspension have a unique secondary jounce bumpstop to help the system deal with brutal high-speed bangs and knocks. The underbody looks like military spec and the bed has all sorts of cool box tech with hidden storage and power station slots.
The truck was specifically designed to give GM some kind of answer to the Ram HD Power Wagon and Ford's F-150 SVT Raptor, straddling the design and capability fence between the two extremes. At first glance, it's an amazing shot at both; however, when you consider this designer's last job was putting together both the Hummer H3T pickup and almost-to-market H2T pickup (when things went bad for Hummer, they went bad fast), the All Terrain has a familiar look. It's good to see GMC was smart enough to grab Zipfel, and even if this particular truck doesn't make it to market (would the Raptor have worked as a Lincoln?), this bodes well for more exciting ideas from GM trucks.
There weren't many interesting crossover or SUV debuts this year, and the single standout was the concept Ford Vertrek. Concepts typically get quite a bit of watering down in the design process before they make it to market (that is, if they ever get to market), but it's my hope this one stays exactly as it stands. It's refreshing to see something as stylish and aggressive as this in a sea of compact and subcompact vanilla. The only place where that segment has the slightest bit of excitement is in the luxury arena, where the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 sit ahead of the crowd. It could be a race winner with an EcoBoost four-cylinder, a smart all-wheel-drive system, and sporty, versatile suspension. Of course, pricing is everything in this class, but there seems to be plenty of space for a solid player sitting between the likes of the Subaru Forester and VW Tiguan.
Speaking of EcoBoost engines, it's worth noting Ford will be tearing down a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine at the NAIAS. This is the same engine the company has been punishing for the last six months on torturous hill climbs, at the Baja 1000 race course, on a shock-testing engine dyno, against the competition, and even in the mountains of Oregon in a truck that hauled timber. Ford engineers want to see how the little V-6 has held up over the abusive work-duty cycle and they're going to do it in front of any and all showgoers who make it to the NAIAS in Cobo Hall this Saturday. Let's hope this stunt doesn't blow up in their faces.