By on September 24, 2012

Following in the footsteps of the Ford F-Series multiple luxury times and Ram Laramie, Chevrolet will offer a new luxury trim level for the Silverado – complicating things for GMC, which is positioned as an upscale truck brand.

Automotive News reports that the new Silverado trim, dubbed “High Country”, comes in response to dealer requests for a model that could compete with competitive luxury trucks that costs north of $50,000. Ford has five premium truck trims, with the $44,635 Platinum accounting for 6 percent of F-150 sales. The Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and SVT Raptor models account for a quarter of all F-150 sales, and Chevrolet is understandably eager to capture a slice of the market.

But there’s just one problem; GMC. The brand is supposed to be a more upscale truck lineup, with the Sierra, and the Sierra Denali in particular, as a fancier alternative to the Silverado. The most expensive Silverado currently available, the LTZ, starts at around $43,000, while the Sierra Denali’s base price is $45,460. The possible overlap in product lines hearkens back to pre-bankruptcy General Motors and the often messy demarcations between the different brands. On the other hand, the next generation of pickups gives the Sierra Denali a chance to move further upmarket, with the Silverado filling the void they previously occupied.

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38 Comments on “Chevrolet Pickups Getting Luxury Trim Level...”


  • avatar
    V8Roving

    It would be a good idea to separate them a bit, maybe they position the chevy against the Ford King Ranch “rugged luxury” theme and the GMC stays the “professional grade” luxury with the Denali where it’s always been

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Wow ;

    I’m a pickup truck owner/lover , I think Light Duty Trucks are good , handy tools , not cars so my rig is a 1969 Chevrolet C/10 base model stepside with the venerable 250 CID L6 engine and a Turbo Hydromatic slushbox tranny .

    It came with power steering and I added factory power booster to it’s drum brakes , it goes on down the road just fine , logging 800 miles every week , no need for heated leather seats , power windows or other wasteful foo-fraws that break and cost $ to maintain .

    I always laugh whever I see those foolish fully loaded Escalade Caddy pickup loking things rolling by .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      larrbo

      Funny, I have a 69 c10 also (stock 350) and share the same sentiment. Drum brakes all round and no a/c (it’s hot in alabama) but love it more than my civic si that I held onto from my ricer days… It’s older than me and probably outlast me too after I restore it someday.

      Problem is that the truck is no longer a tool, but an appliance in today’s world.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        A friend of mine a few years ago was using a ’71 C/10 as a daily driver. He had the foresight however to upgrade the powertrain to a ’99 Chev 350 Vortec and 700R4. Got about 25mpg with it (if I remember right it had a 3.23(?) rear end gear).

        The shell of the truck was nearly flawless with little cancer, the interior was complete. He had a total of $800 into it, and drove it for almost two years (despite at the time $3/gal gas!)

        These neo-“trucks” make me laugh. They are what cars should be.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Even in 1969 Chevy had upmarket trim levels. I think it was called “Custom Sport Truck”. Compared to a 1969 Impala, it could probably be optioned fairly close, minus the power seat and 8-track.

      Silverado meant only the top trim level in the 1990’s. I had a Cheyenne, which was the cheapo in ’93. Cheyenne was the luxury trim level in the 1970’s.

      The GMC identity problem has also been going on for decades. By 1973 there was zero difference except for emblems and grille inserts. Since Pontiac and Oldsmobile were killed off, Im surprised GMC is still around. The remaining Buick dealers need trucks to sell?

  • avatar

    GM would do much better to improve the Mechicas of there Products rather than these silly items, I used to drive a GMC Rally Stx V8, took me to Chicago six times when I used to Show Dogs in Confirmation, but I had it in the Garage many times over the years too, where as in my present vehicle I only use a garage for Oil Changes and Winter Tires, having owned it for four years with no problems, unlike my old GM Product!

  • avatar
    love2drive

    I always thought that the LTZ and Denali were the same, just different makes of the same everything else. And how much more upscale is there? What more could be added to the LTZ, anyway?

  • avatar
    86er

    I wonder how much effort GM is going to put into differentiating the 2014s.

    As you may know Derek, in Canada the GMC outsells the Chevy, which is very much not the case in the States. As such, the pressure for Chevrolet division to compete model by model, special edition by special edition with Ford is immense.

    At any rate, these expensive trim levels are just pure gravy, which GM needs lots of to keep underwriting losses on the Volt.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Yet another GM snafu. Earth to RenCen: you’re about ten years and $2/gal too late. As for GMC, I still wonder why they still exist. P.S. Unless the General ‘pulls a ‘Ram’ and makes GMC its truck brand and sticks to cars/x-overs with Chev.

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    See? This is why I don’t understand why they kept GMC around. It’s the same truck with some added features and a different grill. Isn’t brand confusion what got them into trouble in the first place (Amongst other things)? They should have kept Pontiac around instead:

    Chevrolet – Family / Commuter brand, good for all customers
    Pontiac – Logical Step up from Chevy. Performance inspired, spirited vehicles. Highest Chevy trim should be on par with the mid-level Pontiac Trims.
    Buick – Lower Tier Luxury brand on par with Pontiac’s performance, but makes up for Pontiac’s lack of refinement (sound proofing, ride comfort) and caters to the older crowd as everyone associates Buick with the elderly in the first place.
    Cadillac – High Tier Luxury brand boasting comfort, refinement, features and performance. The highest trim Buick should intersect with the lowest trim Cadillac.

    Now, I’m just a stupid college kid, but that makes a little bit more sense than GMC and Chevrolet Trucks competing against each other. Should have nixed the GMC brand, just like how they threw away America’s REAL first car company (not Ford, sorry Ford fanboys) Oldsmobile, and created a top trim of Chevrolet SUVs (Silverado, Tahoe) and Trucks boasting all the features a Denali would.

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      I’ve debated that a lot in my head too. I always thought axing Pontiac was a huge loss of opportunity. The way I saw it structured though was the following pairings:

      1. Chevrolet/Buick (FWD-based): Chevrolet the bread and butter family sedan, crossover, minivan, entry-level coupes, and pick-up trucks. Buick, based off the same FWD platforms but styled much differently, would have been geared to compete against near-luxury brands like Acura and Volvo.

      2. Cadillac/Pontiac (RWD-based): Sharing platforms between these two brands could help dissipate the costs of dedicated RWD platforms. We have already seen Pontiac’s potential with the G8. Imagine a smaller, ATS-based G6 or Porsche-beating sports car wearing the arrowhead logo.

      The only real value I saw to GMC was the Denali sub-brand, which could easily be applied to Chevrolet.

      • 0 avatar
        Silent Ricochet

        Exactly. I couldn’t agree more, and that structure up there is much nicer than the way I had it planned out in my head. My structure still coincided with GM’s current techniques, making the transition as painless as possible. But your structuring makes much more sense.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I’ll add to the debate the Saturn brand should have been kept as the safe-house for the European Opel versions to be safely imported with minimal changes.

        I’ve never seen a need to have two, sorry three with Caddy, different truck brands when they are nearly indistinquishable from each other. By the above arguments, GMC is likened to be Chevy’s ‘Mercury’ brand between Ford and Lincoln. Seems like a good way to have sales overlap.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think you sir and Bob Lutz had similar thinking, however the Obama administration thought otherwise. Just one more reason to vote against and oppose them at every turn.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        I believe GM’s initial plan in the days immediately before and after the CH11 filing was for Pontiac to be down-sized to just a few RWD performance models and sold through selected Chevrolet and Buick-GMC dealers with minimal marketing support.

        The plan was dropped when the government commissioned its own report, which indicated that even after losing Saturn, Hummer, and Saab, GM would still have one brand too many. Buick was untouchable because of China, and they wouldn’t give up GMC for some reason, so Pontiac got the axe (even though Pontiac sold 267,000 cars in 2008, versus Buick’s 137,000 – although GMC handily outsold both).

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      BTW, never refer to yourself as “just a stupid college kid”. We all have to start off somewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        Silent Ricochet

        I wasn’t putting myself down but rather I found it kinda funny that it’s clearer to a college student how GM could better their lineup than all the CEOs and Bigwigs at the top. But, thank you.

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      @Silent, Easton:

      Both of your product lines make complete sense, but you are both assuming that GM’s current management are car guys. I would contend (other than Bob Lutz) that they are not.

      IMO, the ol’ General is ran by nothing more than trust funded, ivy-league “educated” brats who couldn’t care less about cars. I’d even go so far as to speculate that they don’t even (privately and quietly) own “domestics”.

      Common sense and GM are not synonymous. If they were, they wouldn’t have needed a taxpayer bailout. Must be something in the water in Detroit…..

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      In the old days, GMC existed so that Pontiac dealers would have trucks to sell. GM axed all of its middle brands except for Buick (thanks, China!), which meant they still had two mainstream sales channels to fill. Hence, GMC survived so Buick dealers would have trucks to sell.

      • 0 avatar
        Silent Ricochet

        Yeah bumpy, when I read that was the reason for keeping GMC around I facepalmed for I think like 4 days straight. They should have just kept Pontiac around and had 3 dealerships: Chevrolet, Pontiac and Buick, and Cadillac. So easy… If a customer came into a Pontiac dealership and was really looking for a truck (inwhich I’m not sure why they’d try a Pontiac dealer but, whatever), the salesman could easily recommend a Chevrolet Truck. Unless of course, that dealership were owned by a competitor.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Oh, dealers absolutely hate doing that. They’d sell you lawnmowers and ice cream makers if they could. The sensible thing to do would have been to convert everyone’s Chevy/Pontiac/Saab/whatever franchise (except maybe Cadillac) into omnibus GM dealerships and convert the marques into trim levels. The quick-rinse bankruptcy didn’t leave enough cover to do that.

  • avatar
    jaje

    The age old argument is that GMC buyers won’t be a repeat buyer – i.e. buy the exact same truck but simply with some superficial changes and bowtie on the grill (just like Olds, Pontiac, Saturn, Saab, Hummer [though Hummer made the Tahoe and Colorado actually look completely different and get much worse mileage]). Statistics of the most recent closed brands have showed that GM kept those customers within GM in similar % as if they never closed the brand. The only exception was with Saturn and Saab which had slightly lower customer retention but nowhere near as bad as what the naysayers to closing down the brands were clamoring. The brands have already been damaged beyond repair mainly and closing them didn’t affect much.

    Now I doubt the premium GMC charges ever has paid for the millions spent on marketing / promoting a badge engineered brand. They should have closed down GMC in bankruptcy to be able to do it quickly and efficiently.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “the new Silverado trim, dubbed “High Country”, comes in response to dealer requests”

    This illustrates why the Buick-GMC channel should have been eliminated in the bankruptcy, with GMC converted into a trim level at Chevrolet dealerships.

    A lot of the Old GM’s branding problems were created by catering to the dealerships. The company needs well defined brands, while the dealers clamor for product that can cover every price point. The interests of the dealerships and the producer are not aligned, but it’s the producer who is stuck with the costs of carrying and financing the excess inventories.

  • avatar
    bd2

    It would be fine as long as GM moves the Denali line upmarket from the Chevy “High Country” trim.

  • avatar

    GMC exists due to the dealer network. It happens to also be quite profitable for GM.

    That said…Chevrolet’s been paying a price versus Ford in the perception department since the 70’s.

    While Ford Division maneuvered as needed over the years – even if it hurt (and eventually killed) Mercury, Chevy’s role was more defined and boxed-in.

    Consequently there are people today who would drive a Ford or GMC but never, ever a “cheap” Chevy. GM must have some hard research numbers but the bottom line is – Chevy IS GM. About 70% of its business in fact. They need to go toe-to-toe with Ford and match them on luxury and options. GMC is finally styled differently enough that they can establish a distinct identity without Chevy having to sacrifice models and features to make it happen.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I think this is the fundamental issue. GM has two sales channels, Chevy, and Buick-GMC-Cadillac. They SHOULD have combined them when they had the chance, there should JUST be Chevy and Cadillac in my opinion. But since they didn’t, and they make major money selling luxotrucks, it only makes sense to sell them in both channels. Compared to the STUPID profit inherent in a $50-60K pickup truck, the cost to make and market two slightly different versions has to be utterly minimal. Of course in an ideal world they would sell only ONE super-delux $60K truck, but we live in the real world.

      Actually, if I was in control at the Tubes, I would just have Chevy dealers sell GMC trucks, and kill the Chevy trucks. Seems likely to me that Chevy buyers would be perfectly happy “stepping up” to buying GMCs moreso than GMC buyers “stepping down” to Chevy. Just sell GMC trucks in both sets of dealerships and call it a day. Have the dealers slap a bowtie on the ones at the Chevy dealer if the customer insists.

      It still astounds me that people will pay these prices for what is fundamentally a $20K vehicle with a bunch of tinsel rubbed around it and a $20K of extra profit to the maker.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      Mercury wasn’t killed by the success of the Ford brand so much as it was gradually starved to death by lack product development money. Even at the very end, it still accounted for the majority of Lincoln-Mercury sales and was considered vital to the survival of that division and its stand-alone dealers.

      Check out how many franchisees have resorted to combining their Lincoln and Ford showrooms since the death of Mercury, and ask yourself if a Lincoln shopper is getting anywhere near the same sales experience as a prospective Lexus customer? Mercury at least provided the rationale for keeping a separate, slightly more upscale, dealer group. Without Mercury, Ford just has Ford dealers – some of whom also sell a few Lincolns on the side.

      The final death knell for Mercury was Alan Mulally’s personal belief in a single brand strategy. Boeing sells all its airplanes under the Boeing brand name, so Ford should sell all its cars and trucks under the Ford brand name. That’s not speculation, he’s essentially stated as much on more than one occasion. He was only talked out of killing Lincoln at the last hour by a handful of loyalists at Dearborn, but is only grudgingly giving it one last shot at viability.

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        You still have to spend millions on separate marketing strategies to “differentiate” it from its 99% sibling. But GMC has been muddled more and more – it’s purportedly “Professional Grade” but then caters with rebadged Chevy trucklets (the Terrain competes with a Honda CRV) and other family SUVs. Then they were to add in a small car called the Granite (looked cool) but it would have also had a Pontiac twin and compete mainly with Scion. What is so “Professional Grade” about that? Jeep is having identity crisis with it’s non brand centric caliber platform mates. Yes it adds sales in the short run but muddies the brands image in the long run.

        As for Mercury, it of course sold more than Lincoln b/c it was a entry level luxury brand (cheaper cars) but was an after thought by Ford for the last 2 decades.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I hope it has King-Ranch esque seats. There is something just awesome about those.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    Another example of GM being led around by the ear by its dealerships, rather than doing what is actually best for the company and its brands long-term.

    GM ALREADY sells luxury pickup trucks, and they’re called GMCs. Chevrolet dealers don’t like not having a luxury pickup to sell? Too bad. They can either apply for a Buick-GMC franchise, or else be happy with their chosen niche.

    Many (certainly not all) of GM’s terrible decisions over the years have been motivated by the demands of its dealers – Oldsmobile stretching downmarket into Pontiac territory and upmarket into Buick territory; Cadillac intruding on Buick; Buick stepping on Cadillac and Oldsmobile; Chevrolet pushing onto Pontiac and Oldsmobile’s turf, etc. It was because every brand’s dealers demanded a full model range catering to all price levels and market segments, regardless of the brand’s chosen mission in the market place.

    You also had other failures, like the Pontiac T1000 and G3 and Saab 9-7X, which were created entirely to satisfy dealer demands, as were the short-lived ventures into new brands for the Canadian market (Acadian, Beaumont, Asuna, Passport).

    One of the whole reasons for the creation of Saturn was because GM recognized how terrible and disagreeable its existing dealers could be and wanted to start fresh with new contracts.

    As it is, GMC is already the most pointless brand sold by either New or Old GM, far more pointless than either Pontiac or Saturn, and the introduction of the High Country line makes it even more superfluous.

    How’s this for an idea? If Buick dealers can’t survive without a another line attached to them, why not combine Buick and Cadillac dealerships, and cancel GMC? Or bring back Pontiac?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I don’t see a reason why both Chevy and GMC can’t have 4 or 5 premium pickups of their own. Let GMC have the ultimate cowboy fetish pickup, if it makes you feel better.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    My POS ’94 Ranger is a right sized light truck.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Bring back the GMC V6!

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Is this a new truck? It looks like the same old GMC that they’ve been selling for the last 6 years. GM better get its act together. Ford will be having another new F150 soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      The current GM trucks are painfully out of date. I was always a lifelong GM guy but when I was recently in the market for a new truck I found the Sierra gutless, roughriding, cheap feeling yet more expensive than its competitors. I ended up buying a Ram 1500 which I just found to be a better product over all. Never tried the F-150 since I can’t get past the awful styling.

  • avatar
    jsal56

    I am buying GM stock the day after the election if Obama loses. Has $10 to the upside.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I think the subject regarding what the automakers should have done with their divisions is one of those conversations that has been rehashed about 100 times over the past year or so on the site.


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