Tag: truck

New 2014 GMC Sierra / Chevy Silverado – Find Out More!

Trucks Evolved: How GM’s 2014 Trucks Follow Familiar Formula
Those anticipating revolution need to look back at history
December 17, 2012
By: Nick Saporito

Late last week General Motors took the wraps off of their 2014 full-size trucks. While not every detail was divulged during the reveal, the overall picture of the competitiveness of the company’s profit centers is coming into focus. For those diehards expecting something revolutionary from GM’s new trucks, you may want to level your expectations, because evolution was clearly the recipe here.

The fact that these trucks are largely evolutionary isn’t much of a surprise. Evolution has been the formula utilized by General Motors and others for decades when it comes to the all-important truck segment. From the GMT-400’s to the GMT-800’s and from the GMT-800’s to today’s GMT-900’s, every generation of GM truck has been a stepping stone forward – not a leap. One could argue that GM’s mentality for truck changes seems to be along the lines of, “slow and steady wins the race.”

GM’s argument for this incremental approach is one that deserves consideration. The company alleges that truck buyers aren’t looking for dramatic changes, but rather meaningful improvements across the board. Instead of whiz-bang features like push-button start, the truck buyer wants better fuel economy and bigger buttons on the dash.

So that’s exactly what GM did with these trucks.

On the outside both Silverado and Sierra have entirely need sheet metal resting atop a revised frame. Throughout development speculation circulated that the two trucks would be highly differentiated from a style perspective, but that has turned out to not be the case. Instead, Silverado and Sierra remain just as close style wise as they are today, but that’s an argument for another day.

In person both trucks look far more significant than today’s versions. The new hood is higher, almost as high as today’s heavy-duty trucks, and the quarter panels serve as a canvas for far more pronounced creases and flares. The awkwardness that plagues certain angles of the 900’s, such as the front clip and plain cab design are gone.

The front graphic of both trucks is an improvement from today’s, however the Silverado design looks as if it’s evolution started with the GMT-800 Silverado and entirely forgot today’s truck – which isn’t particularly a bad thing. From a ¾ view of the front clip, the Silverado has a striking similarity to the timeless appeal of the GMT-400 Silverado from the late 1990’s with its squared angles and stacked lamps.

While not a design decision, the 2014 trucks have also switched to in-laid doors like the rest of the truck segment. The structural change pays mostly functional dividends, but also gives the cab a tougher look than the slab-sided doors on today’s versions.

The interior of GM trucks has always been a sensitive issue, and reaction to the 2014 interior has seen no less drama. GM says that during owner clinics it became obvious to them that truck buyers don’t want a luxury car like interior, which is counter-intuitive to what the competition from Ford and Ram appear to be learning. In an era where F-150 Platinum and Ram Laramie sell in relatively high volumes (exact figures not available), it would seem having a luxury interior is a requirement in the segment.

In GM’s defense, the new interior is a huge step forward from both flavors of the current trucks’ interior. Both Silverado and Sierra have seen sizable upgrades in material quality, with the Sierra in particular utilizing a wrapped dash with semi-soft material that will likely end up as best in the segment. Seams and switchgear have also been stepped up on the quality front, with seat fabric being in the realm of a huge leap from today’s chintzy stuff.

With trucks, what really matters is capability. GM is pushing very hard to make the 2014 trucks the most capable half tons on the market. Specifically the company is expecting to have best in class V-6 torque, best in class V-6 towing and the most capable V-8 in the segment with the 6.2-liter V-8.

All three of those goals are likely feasible, at least until the competition one-up’s them. GM is rolling out an entire new line of engines in the trucks: a 4.3-liter V-6, 5.3-liter V-8 and a 6.2-liter V-8. While the displacements are the same as today, these new engines share only a handful of part numbers with today’s engine lineup. For all intents and purposes, these are all-new powertrains.

GMI recently drove engineering test trucks with the 4.3-liter V-6 and 5.3-liter V-8. While we cannot discuss our driving impressions because the trucks were engineering testers, we can confirm that the 4.3-liter V-6 feels nothing like todays. In fact, we’d slot it up there with today’s 4.8-liter V-8 in terms of how it “feels.”

As for the new 5.3-liter, well, we’ll just say that it feels more powerful than today’s version. Both engines also go into V-4 mode more than today’s Vortec engines.

All three engines will be mated to GM’s six-speed automatic transmissions. Many were expecting eight-speed units to rival what Ram is already doing, but the bottom line is fairly straightforward…GM’s eight-speeds simply are not ready. GMI fully expects eights to arrive in the trucks in the near future, however.

So, GM gave their latest trucks a new design, all-new engines, a revised chassis and a fairly decent list of new features. In the words of Jeff Luke, executive engineer for GM trucks, “there are improvements across the board, with several significant improvements.”

GM applied the formula we’ve seen a dozen times in the truck segment: evolution. We saw this level of change between the 2008 and 2009 F-150, and between the last two iterations of the Ram 1500. We’re now seeing it between the 2013 and 2014 GM trucks.

Is it enough? We’ll have to wait until we spend more time driving them (and can report back), but its probably fair to say that the 2014 Silverado and Sierra will be the leaders of the pack for the first few months. The key for GM will be to keep improving the trucks because the competition is not sitting still and the bar is constantly rising.

Automakers vying for top honors at Detroit auto show

By Paul A. Eisenstein, msnbc.com contributor

It’s automotive award season, so expect to see a lot of commercials touting cars, trucks and crossovers that are “best” in one category or another.

But few trophies carry the heft and credibility of the one that will be handed out following the opening ceremony of next week’s 2012 Detroit auto show.

Unlike most automotive awards, the winners of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (“NACTOY”) are decided by a panel of 50 U.S. and Canadian journalists. The methodology is designed to make sure that no single media outlet’s editorial — or advertising — policies influence the verdict.

The widely regarded, and oft-quoted, NACTOY is something most manufacturers actively and aggressively seek, so even landing among the finalists is considered a major victory — or a serious setback if you’re left off the list.

And, for the first time in quite a while, there are no Japanese autos among the finalists for North American Car of the Year — a potentially significant development when the major Asian carmakers seem more vulnerable than they have been in decades.

The car-of-the-year finalists — the Ford Focus, the Hyundai Elantra and the Volkswagen Passat — are nonetheless an international bunch. But surprisingly absent are two particular models that would, in years past, have been absolute shoe-ins, at least for inclusion among the finalists: the 2012 remakes of the Honda Civic and the Toyota Camry.

The choice of an American, Korean and a German car “reflects the fact that every manufacturer is getting better these days,” suggested Joe Phillippi, chief analyst with AutoTrends Consulting. At the same time the Civic and Camry “certainly don’t break new ground,” he said.

They’ve both taken a fair share of criticism in recent months. Honda’s CEO Takanobu Ito has promised to rush a major update of the new Civic to market as soon as possible. This will likely happen sometime in 2013, years before a replacement or even a mid-cycle freshening would normally be expected. The latest Civic came to market only last spring.

It’s difficult to say exactly how important winning a NACTOY trophy is beyond the bragging rights, though Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields described it as “a huge marketing opportunity for us and [one] we [would] definitely use to our advantage.”

It would also serve as “significant validation,” he added, for the carmaker’s One Ford strategy, which has seen a shift away from developing separate products for individual regions of the world in favor of a single product, like the Focus, that can be tweaked slightly to meet the needs of specific markets.

Since about 80 percent of the components on a Focus are shared in all regions, that means much greater economies of scale. In turn, explained Fields, the strategy allows Ford to come up with a compact model that is not just more attractive, but also more lavishly equipped than past small car offerings.

That has proved particularly critical considering the growth of the compact segment. It’s one of the largest niches worldwide and among the fastest-growing in the U.S. as American buyers downsize to reduce their fuel bills.

In decades past, the compact segment was filled with boring and sparsely equipped “econoboxes.” Hyundai pitched its offerings by focusing on rock-bottom pricing. No longer. The Hyundai Elantra that is the second of the three NACTOY Car-of-the-Year finalists is a strikingly attractive and well-equipped offering that is helping the Korean carmaker transform its once-stodgy image.

No wonder, according to Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific: “The Koreans have clearly gained the respect of the Japanese as worthy competitors.”

If the Elantra were to win, it would be just the second NACTOY victory for the Koreans. The original Hyundai Genesis, the carmaker’s first foray into the luxury market, won four years ago.

The third contender for North American Car of the Year is perhaps the most “plain vanilla” when it comes to design, suggests long-time automotive author and analyst Mike Davis.

But it is no less significant. The 2012 Volkswagen Passat is the centerpiece of the German automaker’s plan to more than double its U.S. sales by 2018 — and to become the world’s largest automaker by that date.

Significantly, the American Passat is bigger than the European version of the sedan — so large is its interior tha it actually slips into the full-size category, with enough room for a squad of NBA players front and back. While it may not boast the edgy styling of the Focus or Elantra, the new midsize Passat is equally well-equipped and, perhaps most significant for buyers, it comes at a price tag thousands less than the model it replaced.

It’s also the first new product to roll out of VW’s new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

A quick survey of the 50 NACTOY jurors suggests it will be a close race, with the Passat given an ever-so-slight edge.

As for the truck side of the NACTOY balloting, there’s another big surprise, with not a single American offering in the mix. But that is more a reflection of the unusually small number of light truck models introduced over the last 12 months.

Ironically, then, Honda has landed a spot among the three finalists with its newly-updated CR-V crossover, with the other spots filled by the redesigned BMW X3 and Land Rover’s first-ever car-based crossover, the Range Rover Evoq.

The winners of the North American Car and Truck of the Year will be announced following the ribbon cutting at Detroit’s Cobo Center next Monday.

Read More Here: http://bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/03/9922924-automakers-vying-for-top-honors-at-detroit-auto-show