GM’s new large pickups might be locked up at NAIAS, but they were wide open at the launch event I attended last month. The event included three presentations: one of both trucks together, then one each from the two marketing teams explaining how their truck was different…by saying pretty much the same thing. Both Chevrolet and GMC truck buyers have perfectly organized garages where you can eat off the floor. People with messy, disorganized garages must buy someone else’s truck.
Both Chevrolet and GMC put a lot of emphasis on the luxury truck buyer (GM can’t quite bring itself to give GMC exclusive rights to this group). My impression was that, despite the stitching embedded in the instrument panel of both trucks, even the GMC interior didn’t look or feel as upscale as that in the top Ford and Ram (a future Denali might help). The surrounds for the center stack and side air vents appear clunky to my eye, and the large rubber-ringed knobs might be work glove-friendly but they neither look nor feel premium.
The thick surround is real aluminum in the GMC but silver plastic in the Chevrolet. Few people will be able to tell the difference. Beyond this, the GMC has red ambient lighting, while the Chevrolet has blue ambient lighting. Apparently these differences are enough to make the new Silverado and Sierra the most differentiated pickups in GM history.
GMC will also offer a sport trim, complete with leather seat bolsters textured to appear woven and red stitching on the seats and instrument panel.
Under the leather GM has sprung for a premium high density foam. To note the difference this makes, just climb into the rear seats. They must use cheaper, lower density foam, as they’re not nearly as firm.
To demonstrate that the traditional pickup buyer hadn’t been entirely forsaken, one pickup with a cloth interior was on hand. I asked what percentage of large pickup buyers frequently use their trucks as trucks. No one on either the Chevrolet or GMC side knew, beyond the surprising (to me at least) fact that only about ten percent of sales are of the two-door regular cab pickup. It’s hard to find out the answer to this question, as no one wants to admit that they don’t use their truck as a truck. And it doesn’t really matter. Even buyers who won’t often (or even ever) come close to using the full capability of these trucks nevertheless insist that this capability be there.
Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.