From the October 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Three innovative pickup trucks that make a striking statement are the Chevrolet SSR, the Lincoln Mark LT and the Nissan Titan Crew Cab. These workhorses are among the elite of pickups, two of them with price tags to match.

The most practical and least expensive of the trio is the four-door, six-seater Titan Crew Cab. The 5.6-liter, 300-horsepower V-8 engine tows 9,400 pounds and is coupled with a standard five-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul modes. Bed length is 5 feet, 7 inches; ground clearance is 11.5 inches; and payload capacity is 1,850 pounds. Four-wheel drive versions have a "shift on the fly" transfer case. Choose a front bench or captain's chairs that allow the passenger seat to fold down as a work space. The center console can house file folders; the lighted tailgate has a power point for use as a workstation. Storage units are overhead, inside the doors and in the rear outside panels. Base price: $25,100.

Lincoln's four-door Mark LT is basically a Ford F-150 SuperCab in fancy finery, with a 5-foot, 5-inch-long bed. The exterior has chrome accents everywhere, including the bed rails, capped by an illuminated 8-inch Lincoln star on the grille. The 5.4-liter, 300-horsepower Triton V-8 engine can tow 8,900 pounds and has a payload capacity of 1,620 pounds. The "shift on the fly" feature is also Ford's, as are the 2WD and 4WD systems. It'll be on sale in the spring for less than $50,000 as a 2006 model.

Chevrolet's SSR is the oddest-looking midsize pickup on the road. Its retractable hardtop turns the vehicle into a convertible when the work is done. It has a Vortec 5.3-liter, 300-horsepower V-8 engine and four-speed automatic transmission, and tows 2,500 pounds. The SSR is built on the chassis of Chevrolet's Trailblazer SUV, seats two, and has a cargo volume of 23.7 cubic feet and a bed cover. Four-wheel disc brakes are specifically designed for trailering and cargo-carrying capabilities. Price: $41,620.


Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 25 years.