You would think an SUV would be capable off-the-road right off the bat, but today, no thanks to the popularity of these types of vehicles among mainstream consumers who mainly buy them to drive on paved roads, automakers engineer and equip them to look like SUVs, but behave as close as possible to passenger cars. Makes sense.
Understandably, there’s room for improvements to satisfy a smaller but nonetheless, considerable segment of the market looking for more off-road capable versions. This is what GM did with its Z71 off-road package for the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, adding taller and stronger shocks, stabilizer bar, skid plates, different wheels, body cladding and even an off-road high capacity air cleaner and front recovery hooks.
A similar recipe is now under consideration for GM’s new generation of full-size Chevrolet and GMC SUVs, which were unveiled a couple of weeks ago and are scheduled to go on sale nationwide early next year.
“We are looking at, for this generation, a more off-road variant,” Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer for GM trucks, told Autonews. “Owners just love off-roading with these vehicles. They look at this vehicle as more off-road capable than crossovers”, he said, without getting into more details.
Luke told the publication that in general, GM will gradually enhance the range of its body-on-frame SUVs.
“In the life cycle of this product we’re going to continually upgrade and add technologies, including in the powertrain area,” Luke said. When asked about the likelihood of an eight-speed transmission finding its way on the Chevrolet and GMC models, he replied, “Stay tuned”, which we’ll take as a yes…