The Best Concept Cars of the 2000s: Some Made It, Some Didn’t
The turn of the century brought new, clairvoyant visions of future motoring.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2000 Hyundai Neos Concept
Ever wonder what would happen if Hyundai built something like the Plymouth Prowler? Well, here you go. The Neos (New Evolution Open Sports car) concept car was Hyundai's take on the open-wheel hot rod, and even now, 20-plus years after it was first shown, it looks pretty darn cool. Consider that back in Y2K, Hyundai was still known for cars that were plasticky, cheap, and if not outright ugly, then certainly not very attractive. The Neos concept car was a revelation back then, and it's still hot today.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2002 Dodge M80
The M80 concept car was a Dakota-based compact pickup that used styling cues from Dodge trucks of the 1930s and '40s, most notably the infamous Power Wagon. The M80 fit in nicely with Chrysler's PT Cruiser, introduced the year before, and many thought it was a preview of a future Dakota. That didn't happen, and Chrysler trucks subsequently moved to the RAM brand, but check out Jeep's slick new Gladiator pickup and tell us you don't see just a little of the M80's influence.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2003 Cadillac Sixteen
The Cadillac V-16 of 1930 cemented Cadillac's position as the Standard of the World. Cadillac revived the magic with the 2003 Sixteen concept, which was powered by an honest-to-goodness 13.6-liter V-16 capable of delivering 1,000 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque. This monster engine never made it into production, but Cadillac incorporated many of the Sixteen concept car's styling cues into future offerings, and we see the family resemblance in Cadillacs of today.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2004 Ford Bronco Concept
The auto world is abuzz with the arrival of the 2021 Ford Bronco, as well it should be—this is one of the coolest new SUVs on the market. The pursuit to revive the Bronco goes back a lot further than many people remember, though. Ford revealed this concept-car version of the Bronco at the 2004 Detroit auto show, powered by a 2.0-liter turbodiesel with nitrous-oxide injection. Compare the 2004 Bronco concept car with today's Bronco, and there are distinct similarities. It took more than 15 years for the Bronco to make it to production, and it was worth the wait.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2007 Dodge Demon
So, let's talk about the time Dodge built a functional Miata-beater. The Demon concept car was powered by a 172-hp, 2.4-liter engine that drove the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission, and it was huge fun—something we can say with authority, since we got to thrash the Demon concept on a track back in 2007. Sadly, it never came to fruition. Instead, the Demon name was used on a bonkers drag-racing Dodge Challenger, and FCA marketed a Fiat-badged and Fiat-powered version of the Miata. We can totally live with that outcome.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2007 Ford Interceptor
Ford put together several good-looking concept cars in the early-to-mid oughts, and we were hard-pressed to pick between the 7.0-liter Ford 427, the Flex-preview Fairlane, and the Interceptor. All three had the bad-ass look down pat, but it was the Interceptor's powertrain that caught our attention: a 400-hp, 5.4-liter V-8 backed by a six-speed manual transmission. After all, with parts available from the Mustang, this would have been totally doable. In fact, we could almost see the Interceptor as a four-door Mustang. Alas, a production version never materialized—but there's a Mustang-themed four-door coming up that is pretty darn intriguing.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2008 Alfa Romeo BAT 11
We love Alfa-Romeo's Berlinetta Aerodinamica Technica concept cars, the first three of which (BAT 5, 7, and 9) were built between 1953-55. The BATs were meant to be aerodynamic studies, and they demonstrated how efficiency and beauty could go hand-in-hand. Needless to say, we were happy as could be when Alfa Romeo and Bertone created the new BAT 11 concept car in 2008, basing it on the bones of the 8C Competizione sports car. The new BAT looks every bat—sorry, every bit—as good as the originals.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2008 Saab 9-X Biohybrid
The 9-X Biohybrid concept car showed us what Saab's next small car would look like—or at least what it might have looked liked had Saab lived. The name denotes the hybrid powertrain, based off of GM's 1.4-liter turbo-four and producing a total of 200 hp. Its lithium-ion battery was a compact alternative to the nickel-metal-hydride batteries most hybrids of the time relied upon. Saab later showed a convertible version called the 9-X Air BioHybrid. We think the styling would have appealed to buyers; after all, Kia employed a similar look on its successful Soul. Sadly, GM shuttered the Saab brand in 2012, so we'll never know.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2009 Audi E-Tron
It's hard to believe more than 10 years have passed since Audi introduced the first E-Tron concept car, but, well, there you are. The original e-Tron concept car was a two-door sports car that looked like a shrunken R8 sportster with TT overtones. Audi promoted the e-Tron's 313 hp, 3,319 (!!) lb-ft of torque, and 4.8-second 0-60 time—remember, this was a time when many people thought EVs were nothing but glorified golf carts. We now have two E-Trons on the market—an SUV and a sportier SUV—and we still hope Audi makes an electric car like the original E-Tron concept.
Concept Cars of the 2000s: 2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics
Perhaps we should put this one on the list of "best concept cars with the worst names." Nevertheless, the Vision EfficientDynamics showed us the possibilities for green plus mean—a sports car that used an electrified drivetrain with fuel-efficient onboard recharging. This concept car was also cool because it showed us that sports cars need not die in an electrified world. And, as we all know, this handsome BMW concept made it to production with the vastly superior name of i8.