Full-size pickup trucks are an important segment to General Motors. That’s why its 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models that were revealed ahead of their world premiere at the Detroit Motor Show in January may look similar to the outgoing versions, but they are quite different, and much more technologically advanced, under the skin.
GM’s new full-size trucks underwent more than 6 million miles of durability testing at the Milford Proving Ground, over the deserts and mountains of Nevada and across the frozen flats of Ontario. That’s equivalent to 240 trips around the earth. In addition, the trucks will accumulate more than 7 million real-world miles during final testing, bringing total test miles to more than 13 million.
That’s because, as executive chief engineer for full- and mid-size trucks Jeff Luke said, “Don’t let the work boots fool you. Truck customers are among the most discerning and demanding in the business”.
Almost two-thirds of the cabin structure, the main rails and key cross members of the frame are made of high-strength steel in order to improve rigidity and keeping weight down, while new shear-style body mounts help absorb body movements for a more relaxed drive.
GM bucked the trend for downsizing and forced induction in its new EcoTec3 engines, which come in 4.3-liter V6 and 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8 flavors. That’s not to say that they’re low-tech; far from it.
Although official output and fuel economy numbers will be announced in early 2013, all three of them feature blocks and heads made of aluminum, direct injection and continuously variable valve timing. Moreover, they sport a cylinder deactivation system that, under light and medium loads, turns off four-cylinders, and they are coupled to six-speed automatic transmissions.
A StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with trailer sway control and a hill start assist system are standard, while other features like parking assistance, lane departure warning and collision alert are also available.
The interiors are designed to be more premium yet retain their usability and character. “Truck owners want a well-crafted cabin, but also one that still feels like a truck”, said Helen Emsley, Sierra interior design director. “They want a purposeful interior, not one that’s flowing like you’d find in a car or crossover.”
Thus, the new Sierra and Silverado feature upright instrument panels and large buttons and knobs that are coated in rubber and easy to operate even with gloves on. At the same time, the redesigned dashboard features soft-touch plastics and an (optional) 4.2-inch infotainment system with up to five USB ports and an SD card slot.
The B-pillar has been moved forward and the rear doors on extended-cab models are front-, instead of rear-hinged, and open independently of the front doors, while on the crew cabs, they are larger than before, making access easier for rear passengers.
The pickup box on regular cab models is available in three lengths: 5 feet, 8 inches, 6 feet, 6 inches and 8 feet. Crew cab models can optionally be ordered with the 6-foot-6-inch and extended cab versions can be fitted with either the 5-foot-8-inch or 6-foot-6-inch box.
By Andrew Tsaousis