Back: 1993 Chevrolet Highlander Concept
Seeing the Suzuki Equator RMZ-4 at the Chicago Auto Show brought back memories of another lightly disguised concept truck from fifteen years ago.
The 1993 Chevrolet Highlander (and you probably thought Toyota was the first to use that name) also debuted at the Chicago Auto Show. It was a sneak preview of the second-generation 1994 Chevrolet S-10 compact pickup.
Like the RMZ-4, the Highlander came with a "hey-look-at-me" two-tone paint job, integrated light bar and off-road stance. The Highlander's aerodynamic profile, which carried over directly to the 1994 S-10, was a radical departure from the square and angular shape of first generation S-10 pickups.
Aside from the nuclear green directional wheels and crazy paint job, I think the overall shape and design details have worn well with age. The Highlander still looks modern.
The Highlander arrived six years before the introduction of four-door crew cabs in the compact/mid-size segment. Only regular cab and extended cab models were available then, and its coolest feature was a sliding door that provided easy access to the back of the cab. Three years later the 1996 S-10 arrived with an optional third door that opened backwards, with conventional hinges, when the driver-side front door was open.
If the Highlander were shown for the first time today, I don't doubt it would have ditched the sliding rear door in favor of a crew cab configuration, like the RMZ-4. I bought a 1994 S-10 extended cab 4x4 and was disappointed the slider never made it to production.
Other Highlander features included a built-in tool compartment on the left side of the bed, front and rear winches, and a prominent front bumper guard.
In looking forward to the 2009 Suzuki Equator through the RMZ-4 concept, it's interesting to look back at the Chevy Highlander concept that played a similar role years ago.