I like words. I like writing them, playing with them, defining them and defiling them. And automotive terminology is something I adore twice, because I also love cars. But is it keeping up with the trends? I’m all for inventing new terms if current ones are imprecise. Take this Toyota bB Open Deck, which I photographed recently. It’s not really a pickup. It’s not quite a ute, either. Well, what is it then?
There used to be a thing called a coupé utility, which is where our Australian friends got their “ute” from. I assume that the coupé part of the term means that the car is a two-door – as indeed utes tend to be. The bB Open Deck is a four-door, which kind of puts it into a different category.
So would we call this a sedan utility? Certainly not a double-cab pickup, right? I mean, it’s not in the pickup category by any stretch – or is it? I don’t know. It’s not something I can assign a word to with 100% certainty.
But then you’d also have the “wagon utility.” Those have cropped up here and there, some in unlikely places. I’m sure South America has produced a few. One that I’ve always had a soft spot for is the Dacia 1309. It’s essentially a Renault 12 wagon with the rear chopped off. But you could also get a Dacia pickup (two doors, separate bed), and double-cab pickup (four doors, separate bed). The Roumanians sure had a knack for chopping the R12 to suit their fancy.
On the JDM, a number of kei vans have adopted this body style – this is a recent Daihatsu Hijet, for instance. So those would be… “van utilities”? I’m lost. We need some fresh terminology here. Pickup trucks are pickup trucks. These saloon/wagon/van-based vehicles are something else, and they may not be that common, but they’re not exactly extinct, either. The “utility” tag feels both cumbersome and outdated, so… what should we call these?