Best Trucks, Van Life and SUVs from 2021

Here are three things that have massively influenced the design of trucks, vans and SUVs this year: Electricity, which is being promoted as a greener alternative; size concerns, which lead to a rash in pickup trucks; and the epidemic, which has led to a renewed interest in living/working outside the car.

During the Texas blizzard and power outages of 2021, Ford gained some free publicity when the media reported that owners of F-150 hybrids were able to power their homes with their trucks.

Unsurprisingly, when Ford later announced the all-electric F-150 Lightning, it attracted a lot of interest.

Startup Canoo also revealed its upcoming electric truck, which has a lot of great design features, some of which are questionable.

GMC has unveiled a crazy high-tech SUV version of the Hummer EV.

Don’t like the look of these new electric trucks? You can always build your own. Ford announced that it would begin selling e-crate engines, and introduced a new engine in the 1978 F-100 as a proof of concept.

The other thing that became electric are delivery trucks. We discussed some design elements for the upcoming Access model.

Speaking of delivery trucks, the USPS has finally revealed its next-generation mail truck design (they’re still deciding if it’ll be electric or not). It’s a totally goofy look—and I love it for the mail truck design.

For some unusual, non-electric delivery trucks, Japan’s Hino, a subsidiary of Toyota, is modifying their mega trucks to race in the Dakar Rally!

These aren’t exactly delivery trucks, but we stumbled across an Italian manufacturer of straight food trucks.

Big and electric at the same time is British self-driving car company Aurrigo. One thing is that it is not easy on the eyes. I wrote that they look like they were designed as a CAD tutorial.

After getting off the minivans for a second, Porsche designers randomly answered the question: what would a Porsche minivan look like?

While trucks and SUVs have been increasing in size for some time, there is also a backlash as people are cutting back on them. EV startup Alpha has revealed its upcoming model with a short wheelbase, single cab.

Meanwhile, Opel introduced the opposite of an SUV, its SUM (Sustainable Urban Mobility) minivan. And yes, that is how doors work.

Similarly, Hyundai introduced its Casper, a small SUV for under $12,000 for the Asian market.

Also for the Asian market, specifically China, General Motors developed this $9,000 pickup truck.

For a smaller truck you can get in the States, Ford has announced its Maverick pickup, a $20,000 plug-in hybrid pickup truck that gets 40 mpg. Pre-orders have gone crazy.

Then there’s this weird pickup truck: Honda converted one of the cab Japanese work trucks into a standalone model, removing the cab. The headless truck is on trial at a massive construction site in New Mexico.

Let’s talk about UI/UX for a second. I was impressed with the great UX design in the Ford Bronco removable doors. The designers really thought of every little detail.

Then I wrote an impromptu post about the horrible user experience of a Volkswagen Atlas gas meter – and you won’t Believe the amount of traffic. I hate to mention that in this day and age, people love negativity.

Perhaps not a great user experience, trying to get in and out of the 1967 Dodge Dura concept.

Supercar designer Frederick Steve Christensen tackled the redesigned 2022 Dodge Dura. Getting in and out looks a lot more manageable.

Another weird old pickup we discovered was the rare 1961 Chevy pickup with a side loading ramp.

The pandemic has helped fuel people’s delusions of getting around in vehicles. The Nissan Mobile Office Pod prototype truck has been a hit, promising a platform to work from anywhere.

As van life took off, business was booming for Design/Build Firm Chewy Design Co.’s truck-to-home conversions.

Then there’s van life for 1%: Check out this bad-ass German luxury home.

Some people sleep in their trucks because it’s part of their job. We’ve taken a look at the interiors of long-haul truck drivers’ sleeper cabins, to see what designers have done to make them livable.

Finally, this year we encountered the terrifying tale of a truck that ran over the side of a bridge, only being held in place by the safety chain attached to its trailer. Incredibly, the four passengers – two humans and two dogs – were safely saved.

Safe driving guys!

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