The Truth About Cars » GMC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » GMC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com GM Builds Their Last 1500 Series Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-builds-their-last-1500-series-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-builds-their-last-1500-series-van/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 04:01:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866722 6a00d83451b3c669e201a3fd3058b9970b-800wi

 

GM built their last 1500 series van at the Wentzville, Missouri assembly plant this past week. GM claims that the vans will die to make room for the all new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks at the Wentzville plant, but that’s not the full story.

The real story is a combination of slow sales and an increasingly disadvantageous position in GM’s average fuel economy. The 1500 vans weren’t light enough to sneak under the CAFE cutoff point, but their thirst meant that they were bad for GM’s overall CAFE average.

In its place, we will get the smaller, Nissan-based, unibody City Express.  GM may be cribbing a van from Nissan, but they’re far from alone in killing off their body-on-frame vans. The Ford Econoline also bit the dust earlier this year.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-builds-their-last-1500-series-van/feed/ 37
Piston Slap: The Express’ New Mission? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-2/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:12:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866114

(photo courtesy: http://www.truckinweb.com/features/1304tr_2006_chevy_express_3500/)

TTAC commentator Celebrity 208 writes:

Sajeev,

I have been sitting on this draft message for a couple weeks now and I just saw your call for questions so here you go. I just bought a ’05 (Chevrolet) Express 3500 12 Passenger Van with 185kmi. It was owned by a Catholic Mission College where they maintained it as part of their van fleet and the maint. history is pretty clean. It was a good deal even if I have to do something dramatic like replace the transmission.

I’m going to use it for towing a boat (w/ trailer it’s 6500+lbs and the runs are ~15mi round trip), delivering kegs to Pamela Elsinore’s birthday party (“at the bottom of the big hill”), hauling visiting family and friends around when visiting (I live in DC which is a vacation destination for some weird reason), and likely Christmas road trips back to Cleveland because my mother goes hog wild with large Little Tikes stuff.

I have seen some of the B&B suggest that renting would be the best solution for these needs but, rental trucks/vans 1) don’t have the towing capacity, 2) usually explicitly forbid towing, 3) aren’t fitted with hitches & 4) are not always available on a whim/at my convenience.

To be sure I don’t use it a lot and hence that’s why I bought one that is 9yrs old and hi mileage. If I wanted new then renting might have met the bill for everything minus towing. At this point you should be laughing. Don’t. This is a step up for me as it is replacing my rusty ’88 G30 Sport van which had 78kmi, or 178kmi, or278kmi, or… (No 100,000 mile digit in the odometer). The ’88 G30 was a beater. It towed ok but it looked like crap and couldn’t be used as a backup daily driver b/c there’s no place to put two+ car seats whereas the ’05 does. The new one has the LQ4 6.0L v8 and the 4L80e trans. So, to my questions:

  1. When I finally get it home what service do you suggest I perform (oil change, trans fluid change etc., timing chain replacement, shocks, 3+ cans of sea foam, etc.)?
  2. What are your and the B&B’s opinions on towing and loaded and unloaded ride performance improvements such as: rear sway bar [this makes sense to me and it's on my to-do list], Roadmaster Active Suspension [this product seems like a gimmick], air suspension kits [I understand how these would increase my load capacity but unless I remove a leaf spring I can't see an air kit improving my unloaded ride quality and allowing me to raise or lower the rear end i.e. adjust the spring rate]?
  3. What are your an the B&B’s opinions on slippery ramp performance improvements such as replacing the open diff with a locker or limited slip [what type? ARB Air, OX Mech, Limited Slip, eLocker, etc.]?

I’m a GM guy but props to the Panther love and props to the site. You guys kick ass. You’re a multiple times a day refresh for me. You keep it up and I’ll keep clicking on some of the ads.

Thanks,

Celebrity208
(Note: I’m not really a narcissist; a Celebrity 208 cc was my first boat.)

Sajeev answers:

Thanks for the kind words, I always admire and appreciate the diverse backgrounds, attitudes, styles, etc of our Best and Brightest.  It’s been the cornerstone of this site’s longevity for more years than I can remember. No doubt, your new van is light years ahead of the old G30, and having a two-time Chevy vanner such as yourself amongst our ranks…well, it’s an honor.

Definitely someone like you should never rent a van, this is the perfect spare vehicle for your lifestyle.

Question 1: Changing all fluids (and the usual worn rubber belts, hoses, vacuum lines, tires, etc) is a great idea, even if we’ve spilled a ton of digital ink over the utility of high mileage ATF service in any transmission.  If the fluid is fresh and the transmission shifts fine, don’t bother changing.  Even if it has a factory tranny cooler, consider putting the biggest aftermarket cooler instead: certainly not a pleasant task, but it’ll be worth it.

Question 2: That Roadmaster kit always intrigued me, just never enough to buy and try.  Definitely get a rear swaybar if that’s an easy swap using junkyard bits from another GM product.  But honestly, all you need are fresh shocks of the high performance variety to get an amazing bang for the buck.  Oh, and replace whatever else in the suspension is worn out after all those miles.  Your eyeballs and basic tools are your guide.

Question 3: There are superior limited slip differentials from the aftermarket, but they are brutally difficult (or expensive) to install.  Why go through all that when–with a little researching–I betcha there’s a complete GM axle assembly in the junkyard with fewer miles and a posi that you can swap in an afternoon?  That said, I couldn’t find a suitable swap candidate, but what the hell do I know?  I’m a Lincoln-Mercury Fanboi.

Perhaps a suitable axle lies in a nearby junkyard, complete with a rear swaybar?  And perhaps addressing the normal wear items and switching to premium shocks will make this van cool enough for even the most jaded reader ’round these parts.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-2/feed/ 25
Piston Slap: The Last Afghani Trail to Blaze http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-last-afghani-trail-to-blaze/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-last-afghani-trail-to-blaze/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:26:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860353
M.D.K. writes:

UNCLASSIFIED

I am currently at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan where I will often find myself motoring around the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in one of the last generation Chevy Trailblazers. It is the straight six variety and it has undoubtedly led a difficult life. My requirements are few however…pretty much I need something that can do 25 miles an hour or so and not strand me on the other side of the airfield. As a bonus, the Trailblazer has a working AC and radio. What it doesn’t have is the ability to do 25 or so miles an hour regularly and get me back from the other side of the airfield.

Pressing the gas pedal beyond a few millimeters will get me stalling and/or backfiring. In general it sounds like it is running on 4 cylinders. It will surge and run normally for a second and then not. It seems to get worse the hotter it is (which is bad this time of year.) I took the damn thing to the motorpool and they told me I can turn it in and walk back if I don’t like it (the drawdown is a mother). I had to jump out and push it up the little ramp into our compound as it lacked the power to accomplish this feat on its own. As a Ford guy, I get some amusement out of this and taunting the Chevy fans but the fact is we could really use this thing. A bunch of us IT types have stared under the hood for some time and haven’t figured anything out. I am mechanically inclined (I’ve changed motors and stuff before) so I think I am the truck’s last hope.

This thing would be the nicest vehicle in our fleet by virtue of the AC if it would run. No, I can’t pull the damn codes as the PX is short on OBDII readers (and toilet paper) and there isn’t an Autozone within 7000 miles or so. If this may be something simple like a fuel filter or something I’m willing to get some parts sent over and crawl under myself. Just need to know if there are any common issues with these things. I don’t see any major mechanical issues like overheating or oil in the coolant. I appreciate your input.

UNCLASSIFIED

Sajeev answers:

So…no professional diagnostic tools, no basic Autozone diagnostic tools, and you’re the truck’s last hope? And an LS1-FTW swap is totally out of the question?

Checking the forums, it’s possible that a cam position actuator solenoid is the problem…and it will not throw a code.  Or maybe a dirty throttle body, a clogged fuel filter or a dirty air filter.  If the fuel you receive out there isn’t the highest quality, the filter is a major concern.  And maybe your IT folks have electronic contact cleaner to clean the throttle body AND the mass air flow meter. But I’m all over the map: here’s my plan of action, given limited resources:

  1. Replace fuel filter, if other vehicles need regular filter changes out in the field.
  2. Shake out the air filter, bumping it on a large surface. Don’t bang it against a wall hard enough to damage it. I find large plastic garbage cans work well here.
  3. Clean the mass air flow meter and throttle body with electronic contact cleaner.
  4. Pull the spark plugs, clean and gap them.
  5. Replace the Cam Position Actuator Solenoid: even Amazon stocks them, maybe one of their drone prototypes can deliver it.

I will keep my fingers crossed that bad gas and dusty air are your only problems.

But no matter what, thank you for writing to us and thank you for your service.  

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-last-afghani-trail-to-blaze/feed/ 25
Review: 2015 GMC Yukon SLT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2015-gmc-yukon-slt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2015-gmc-yukon-slt/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 22:15:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853377 2015 GMC Yukon SLE front 34 left

Until a decade or so, if you wanted a three-row SUV your choices were pretty much limited to body-on-frame offerings, most of which were related to a pickup truck. But now, even GM’s own GMT960s (Enclave, Acadia), provide similar amount of interior space to this Yukon. Furthermore, they are less expensive, more efficient, and easier to drive. It’s possible to argue that the biggest, if not the only, advantage of these body-on-frame V8-powered SUVs is their towing ability.

So why do GM, Ford, Nissan, and Toyota still bother with these dinosaurs?

2015 GMC Yukon SLE rear 34

The simple answer is because people are buying them. Spend time on this nation’s roads this summer and you’ll see full-size SUVs loaded up with summer essentials, often towing boats, campers, or project cars. The merits of three-row unibody “trucks” aside, a full-size V8-powered SUV still holds appeal for many consumers.

2015 GMC Yukon SLE interior dash

Climb into the driver’s seat of this Yukon SLT 4×4 and prepare to be overwhelmed. Surrounding you, the driver, are:

  • 37 dash buttons,
  • 8 dash knobs,
  • 13 steering wheel buttons,
  • 13 door buttons,
  • 6 gauges,
  • 2 screens,
  • 1 shifter with a button,
  • 1 multi-functional stalk,
  • 3 toggle switches
  • 8 roof buttons,
  • 2 12v receptacles,
  • 4 USB ports and

It’s not as bad as it sounds, since many of those buttons are for secondary controls. That said, many of those secondary buttons could be combined with others or simply eliminated. Even grouping them to one area that’s hidden from view (Lexus does that) would visually clean up the interior. In daily driving, however, where most drivers just switch between presets, drink coffee, occasionally input a destination, take a phone call, or vary the temperature setting by a few degrees, the interior layout will suit most people just fine. Perhaps the center screen could be positioned more toward the driver as opposed to being in the middle of the very wide dash.

Where the interior does fall a bit short is in the quality of materials used. Self-appointed plastics experts will rightfully complain about flimsy feeling panels and a lack of soft-touch materials. The leather, with its contrasting stitching, a mark of luxury de jour, also does not seem soft or of high quality. A GMC is supposed to feel better than a Chevy but not as good as a Caddy. In the case of this particular GMC, the interior still seems average at best.

2015 GMC Yukon SLE interior details

GM’s biggest challenge seemed to be designing the two rows of rear seats. To be safe and comfortable, the seats have to be big. Buyers also want the functionality of a flat cargo floor. Furthermore, no one wants to pull heavy seats out of vehicles anymore, therefore the seats have to fold flat. In addition to all that, the middle row had to provide easy access to the third row, making the final design both complicated and compromised.

The solution to this was to raise the floor in the rear section of the vehicle, creating a compartment in the back, and making it even with the level of the folded third row. The middle row, (captain’s chairs in this tester, but a bench is available), is even with the third row when folded. This makes for a flat loading floor but takes away from overall cargo volume. The third row folds and raises with a push of a button. The middle row folds down with a push of a button, or via a lever, but needs to be raised manually. The middle seats also fold and tumble forward for passenger access to the third row. Nissan has a much nicer solution in its Pathfinder that even allows a rear-facing baby seat to remain in place when the seat is folded forward.

The power hatch has two settings: fully open or three-quarters open, to avoid potential impact with a garage roof. The rear window also opens independently of the hatch which is handy for dropping small things into the cargo area. The problem with that window is that it is only fourteen inches high, a relatively small opening for such a big vehicle. With the third row seats folded, the cargo area is generous. 12v outlets, cubbies, covered storage bin, and cargo tie down hooks further increase the functionality, but there is no cargo cover.

2015 GMC Yukon SLE tailgate trunk cargo

Notice the raised floor from the bottom of the the tailgate opening. Ignore the crib.

This Yukon is one of the quietest SUVs I have ever driven; wind noise and engine noise are basically absent, surprising given its large surface area and upright design. Gone, too, is the V8 burble. The ride is very smooth and it takes a sizable pothole to jolt the passengers. One of Yukon’s drawbacks is visibility; both A- and D- pillars are very thick, windows are relatively short, side mirrors are small, and when the optional rear entertainment screen is opened it completely blocks the inside rear view mirror. There are blind spot sensors, parking sensors, and a backup camera, but no surround view display, which would be very beneficial.

The Yukon, when equipped with the Max Trailering Package (ref. code NHT), is rated to tow 8200lbs (8500lbs for 2WD models). The package includes a 3.42 axle ratio, trailer brake controller, a self-leveling suspension, and a 2” receiver with a 7-pin connector. The receiver is hidden behind a cover which is held by two wing nuts. Roof rails are standard on the SLT.

Despite the rugged looks and a 22” step-in-height, the ground clearance is only eight inches, but the front air dam looks even closer to the ground. The twenty inch polished wheels are wrapped around in 275/55-20 Continental all-season tires that say “EcoPlus Technology” on them. While they seemed great on the highway I would not venture too far off pavement.

2015 GMC Yukon SLE interior rear details

EcoTec3 is the new series of GM’s V6 and V8 engines. The Yukon is powered by a 5.3-liter V8 version which produces 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. The OHV engine is sporting new(-ish) technologies such as direct fuel injection, cylinder deactivation, and variable valve timing, and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Loaded up with my family and a day’s worth of kids’ stuff, the engine pushed the 5700lb vehicle effortlessly in all situations but struggled to achieve 15mpg in heavy-footed mixed city/highway driving, short of EPA’s rating of 16 city, 22 highway mpg. Those wishing for more power can step up to the Denali and its 6.2-liter 420hp/460tq engine.

For 2015, the Yukon SLE 2WD starts at $47,330. The starting price for this SLT 4WD is $57,735. The Sun and Entertainment Package which consists of a sunroof, nav system, and rear seat DVD player (component input but no HDMI) adds $3255, less a $500 credit. 20″ wheels add $1400, second row bucket seats  are $590. The Max Trailering Package is a bargain of the bunch at $650, and an alarm is $395. Total MSRP with destination charge for the reviewed Yukon is $64,520.

For comparison, an equally loaded up Nissan Armada Platinum is $56,395 and its fancier Infiniti QX80 cousin is $80,245. A Toyota Sequoia is $65,410 and a Ford Expedition Limited is $61,113, all more or less equally loaded.

Yikes! That’s a lot of money, particularly when compared to the Pilots and Highlanders of the world. How much do you really want one of these? Enough to pay 5 Series money? Not to worry; if you’re not interested, someone else will be, and they’ll be tailgating you on the freeway shortly.

2015 GMC Yukon SLE side

Kamil Kaluski is the east coast editor for Hooniverse.com. Read his ramblings on eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous car stuff there. 

General Motors provided the vehicle for this review.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2015-gmc-yukon-slt/feed/ 101
GM Fleet Order Guide Reveals More On 2015 Colorado, Canyon Twins http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-fleet-order-guide-reveals-more-on-2015-colorado-canyon-twins/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-fleet-order-guide-reveals-more-on-2015-colorado-canyon-twins/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 12:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845833 2015-Chevy-Colorado-3

Small pickup fans considering the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado or GMC Canyon may like what they see once they comb through General Motors’ Fleet Order Guide, including more power and other niceties.

Autoblog reports the two midsize models will receive a 2.5-liter, direct-injected I4 good for 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque in extended cab models with either a six-speed manual or automatic, and a 3.6-liter V6 delivering 305 horses and 269 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic for those who prefer crew cabs. Towing capacity for the extended cab twins is expected to be 3,500 pounds, 7,000 pounds for the crew cab variants.

Inside and beyond, occupants can avail themselves of the trucks’ infotainment system — in either 4-inch or 8-inch form, depending on trim chosen — rearview camera, as well as options like locking rear differential, hill descent control et al.

Future owners can have a look for themselves into what’s available for either the Canyon or Colorado. Meanwhile, diesel fans pining for information on the 2.8-liter Duramax will have to wait until 2016 to learn more about the powerplant.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-fleet-order-guide-reveals-more-on-2015-colorado-canyon-twins/feed/ 54
CAFE Strikes Again As GM Kills Off 1500 Series Vans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/cafe-strikes-again-as-gm-kills-off-1500-series-vans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/cafe-strikes-again-as-gm-kills-off-1500-series-vans/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:52:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845065 550x298xIMG_4235-550x298.jpg.pagespeed.ic.nt2up5Y5mt

GM is killing off their 1500-series Savanna and Express vans, due to slow sales and regulatory concerns.

Pickuptrucks.com is reporting the move comes at a time when the 1500 GM vans were the last full-size vans to sneak in under the 8,500 lb gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR), a key cutoff point for regulatory matters, specifically CAFE. Anything above that threshold is not counted, and the elimination of the 1500 vans will almost certainly help GM improve its CAFE rating.

With just 23 percent of Express buyers and 7 percent of Savanna buyers opting for the 1500, GM apparently expects the 2500 vans and the new City Express to pick up the slack.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/cafe-strikes-again-as-gm-kills-off-1500-series-vans/feed/ 79
Barclays: GM Recall Parade To Last Into Mid-Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/barclays-gm-recall-parade-to-last-into-mid-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/barclays-gm-recall-parade-to-last-into-mid-summer/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 10:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829313 Blurry Renaissance Center

Automotive News reports General Motors’ recall parade could, according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson, last well into the middle of the summer season. The data mining conducted by the automaker’s team of 60 safety investigators on 10 sources reporting potential problems — including consumer complaints and reports from its dealership network — will likely bring more recall requests before GM’s senior executives. Johnson adds that the investigators are working on likely defects on a per-issue basis instead of per-vehicle, which may mean a number of vehicles will be called back multiple times as the recall parade marches on; he also notes that its hard to discern if recalls of past vehicles have already peaked.

Detroit Free Press says GM product chief Mark Reuss will be leading a new team of five execs in choosing who all will be on the parade route, determining when and if a recall should be issued on any given vehicle with a potential problem. The team’s creation aims to accelerate the automaker’s response to said safety concerns, as well as better enable communication with its consumer base and the federal government. In addition, the 60 investigators, led by global safety boss Jeff Boyer, will comb social media to gather evidence of problems that haven’t been found from within.

Over in Canada, Reuters reports government officials are investigating GM Canada over the possibility that, much like the mothership across the border, it, too, delayed product recalls. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt instructed her group of officials to ask GM Canada “when did they find out” about the out-of-spec ignition switch, proclaiming that if they knew before the recall was issued, the Canadian subsidiary “could be in violation of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.” If found guilty, GM Canada could be fined anywhere between $100,000 and $1 million CAN depending on the conviction issued, far less than the $35 million levied against GM by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this month.

The Detroit News reports those affected by the recalls of newer vehicles, including the 2014 Cadillac CTS and 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, are receiving free loaner vehicles much like those affected by the February 2014 ignition switch recall. In the case of Cadillac, however, the free loaners are standard practice for recalls related to the brand’s products, as they fall under warranty. Meanwhile, the Chevrolet and GMC loaner programs, according to spokeswoman Ryndee Carney, was at the automaker’s discretion; as the recall involves tie-rod defects — including a park-it-now notice — GM made the decision “to offer owners of those trucks courtesy transportation.”

Finally, Automotive News says those who purchase a 2015 Chevrolet Impala with the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder will include stop-start technology as standard equipment, which aims to boost the engine’s fuel efficiency by 5 percent. According to spokesman Chad Lyons, the stop-start tech “will become more prevalent in GM vehicles” as time goes on; the 2.5-liter Impala is the second to have the tech standard, after the 2014 Malibu. Those who prefer their Impala to come with more power via the 3.6-liter V6, stop-start won’t be available standard due the engine’s heavier weight negating potential fuel savings.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/barclays-gm-recall-parade-to-last-into-mid-summer/feed/ 6
Endless GM Recall Parade Sign Of Industry-Wide Action To Come http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=828562 GM RenCen Storm Clouds

Detroit Free Press posits the endless recall parade General Motors has been leading since late February 2014 may be doing more harm than good for public perception or its bottom line. Though spokesman Greg Martin claimed the recalls were an effort to make his employer “a first-class safety organization” by focusing hard upon the consumer, a survey by AutoTrader found 51 percent of auto consumers were less confident in the industry’s overall safety record as a result of the actions by GM, up from 44 percent who thought the same five days’ earlier. In addition, the automaker will take a $400 million charge in Q2 2014 for the recalls since April 1 as of this writing, while its current stock price of $33.07 per share is a few cents above its IPO price from November 2010.

Autoblog continues on this thread, proclaiming what GM is doing is the beginning of an industry-wide shift toward issuing full recalls for any flaw in a given product, all under heightened scrutiny from the public and government regulators. For the first months of this year alone, all automakers have recalled a total of 22.4 million vehicles, the bulk of which belong to GM. Kelly Blue Book analyst Akshay Anand says the parade is a double-edge sword, particularly for the General; while such recalls are a sign automakers are being proactive in ensuring their products are as safe as they can be, consumers may perceive the effort as a sign automakers are failing to do their job well in the first place.

Automotive News follows with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, who stated in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institute this week what else might occur when the GM-led parade becomes a permanent fixture in the industry:

If effectively this frequency of recalls becomes a norm, if everybody starts doing this, then I think you will see this cost being shifted to the consumer. It will transfer itself over onto the selling price of the vehicle.

Marchionne adds automakers, in turn, will act more sensibly in handling potential defects in product, noting punitive actions — such as paying $35 million in fines to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — will have little in the way of such handling when reputation is the bigger issue for the industry as a whole.

Speaking of the main parade itself, Autoblog reports 218,000 2004 through 2008 Chevrolet Aveos have been recalled due to the daytime running light module in the instrument panel possibly overheating, melting and setting the vehicle ablaze. According to spokesman Alan Adler, the automaker is “aware of some fires” so far, and is working on a fix for the module. Adler adds that while he doesn’t know when the fix will come, GM will send a second notice to owners when the time comes to schedule repair work.

Detroit Free Press concludes by explaining why GM continues to issue recalls as it combs through its records to avoid another decade-long delay in taking such action:

  • The government has ordered the automaker to meet with the NHTSA monthly on investigations and recalls as part of the former’s $35 million settlement with the latter
  • GM CEO Mary Barra’s appointment of Jeff Boyer to global quality chief — with the mandate to report directly to her if necessary — means anything deemed dangerous or otherwise unknown, including previously unreported defects — are up for attention
  • The automaker’s investors prefer to get the bad news out of the way and accept whatever potential pain awaits in as few quarters as possible, even if no one is happy about swallowing such medicine in the first place

The Freep also provided a list of every recall from January through this week, minus the latest recall issued Wednesday; total recall to date is 18,666,842.

GM

On the sales front, Automotive News reports dealers won’t be able to sell any of the 2009 through 2014 Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia crossovers thanks to a stop-sale order issued in a recall involving the front seat belt cable in the vehicles. The order comes during one of the biggest sales weekends of the year, putting a damper on potential Memorial Day promotions. Though dealers could still close on sales without actually allowing the vehicle to leave the lot, no test drives can be carried out in affected demonstrators, making such sales more difficult. GM is offering an end-of-month incentive to maintain May sales momentum, but that may not be enough to offset the extra floorplanning costs if few vehicles can be sold until the affected units are repaired.

Back in the Beltway, Barra met with U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and other members of Congress to discuss recent findings in the February 2014 ignition switch recall. Though spokesman Greg Martin confirmed the meetings did take place, he did not give details on all that was said between Congress and the CEO.

Meanwhile, members of the Obama administration who helped assemble the rescue packages for both Chrysler and GM said they knew nothing about the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the recall maelstrom when said packages were crafted between them and the automaker’s senior execs. One member, Harry Wilson, stated that even if the task force asked GM point-blank about the switch, he doubted they would ever get a straight answer. Lead adviser Steven Rattner added that as far as he knew, the execs before him then didn’t know about the problem; therefore, neither could his task force.

Over in Texas, Bloomberg both GM and supplier Delphi have asked the Texas Supreme Court to combine four suits linked to the switch into one state case. The claim is fighting each one separately would cost the duo time and money, while combining the four and rolling subsequent cases going forward into a single case would “eliminate duplicative discovery, void conflicting pretrial rulings, conserve judicial resources, be more convenient for the parties and witnesses and otherwise promote a more just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” The cases mention involve wrongful injury and death.

With GM’s cadre of lawyers coming under the gun now, Detroit Free Press reports the automaker’s general counsel Michael Millikin has named attorney Lucy Clark Doughtery to advise Boyer and product development chief Mark Reuss. Millikin is also working with independent lawyer Anton Valukas on the internal investigation into why GM handled the recall the way it had. The general counsel’s own future with the company has been called into question, though GM claims Millikin has no “current plans to retire” at this time.

In financial news, Automotive News says GM Financial is preparing to go under its own test of scrutiny of loans originated by its dealership network in an effort to avoid punitive action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau based on allegations of discrimination in lending rates among minority consumers. The lender’s chief compliance officer, Dan Bickmore, says his role is to help reorganize the company into compliance with the CFPB, going as far as to establish a new compliance department and boosting the lender’s complaint management process and fair lending areas. He also aims to help educate dealerships on appropriate lending policies to prevent discrimination of protected classes when drafting a loan or lease contract.

On the design front, global design chief Ed Welburn says that with GM’s line of vehicles sharing the same technology and functionality with each other, styling will be needed to help differentiate each unit. He goes on to say the automaker has committed a few design sins in the past, favoring functionality over style and charm, as well as decontenting interiors when a product was overbudget. Welburn concludes that the new guard leading GM “really cares about interiors now, and it shows,” such as the interiors in the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac ELR.

Finally, The Detroit News says the 2015 GMC Sierra All Terrain HD will go on sale this summer. The pickup will be available in 2500 and 3500 weight classes with double and crew cab options, with trim lines to include SLE, SLT and Z71. Power is expected to come from a standard 6-liter gasoline engine, with a twin-turbo Duramax diesel on the options list.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/feed/ 27
Volkswagen’s Cervone Returns To GM As Global Communications VP http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826618 GM Next

Autoblog reports Volkswagen Group of America executive vice president of group communications Tony Cervone is returning to the GM fold as the automaker’s senior vice president of global communications. According to CEO Mary Barra, Cervone “brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that compliments a deep background in GM and today’s global auto industry.” Prior to his return, he also served as the vice president of communications for United Airlines and Chrysler Group, where he spent 14 years before his decade-long previous service to GM. Cervone succeeds Selim Bingol — who resigned from the company in April “to pursue other interests,” and will report directly to Barra.

Speaking of “outside perspectives,” Automotive News chronicles the story of how a trio of Southern gentlemen helped to bring the spotlight upon the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the February 2014 GM recall. Leading the charge, attorney Lance Cooper had sought answers into the death of Brooke Melton at the wheel of her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. Cooper retained a number of experts in his case, including auto shop owner Charlie Miller and materials engineer Mark Hood, both of whom discovered the switches in Melton’s Cobalt and related vehicles performed differently than those found in 2007 and later models. The evidence gathered would help cement the settlement for his client’s family, as well as pave the way for the recall.

Moving toward the present, victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg may end up sorting through a mountain of data as he works out the details for a compensation package between GM and the 35 families affected by the switch. Between the time the first vehicles left for showrooms in late 2002 through 2012, 1,752 individuals died in accidents involving the vehicles under the February 2014 recall. Though the link may be tenuous in most of the cases, each one may open an opportunity for affected groups to lay some of the blame at the door of GM’s comptroller.

Looking toward the future, GM and AT&T will offer a number of 4G LTE connected-car packages beginning next month to consumers, ranging from $5 for a few hours of streaming music to $50 for several showings of “Frozen” for the little ones in the back. However, demand for the service may not be what the automaker expects, as consumers who don’t have company on the road often may wonder why they need a connected car with 4G. The concern isn’t helped by the delay of an app suite — featuring offerings from NPR and The Weather Channel — which would allow owners access without using their smartphones; the delay is over quality concerns, according to GM.

In brand news, GMC is doing very well for itself as of late, being the healthiest among GM’s four brands left standing after the 2009 bankruptcy. The “professional-grade” line of trucks, SUVs and crossovers are leaving their bow-tied brethren behind for the premium market, bumping into Cadillac more often than may be comfortable for some within GM’s hallowed halls. That said, GMC’s demographic prefers to remain low-key in opposition to the flash that brings the celebs to Escalade’s yard, even if the Yukon XL Denali is within spitting distance of the Caddy’s $72,690 base price.

Leading the charge is Buick-GMC boss Duncan Aldred, who is looking forward to where GMC will go while shaking off the shadow of Buick’s “senior citizen” image within the United States. The former Vauxhall managing director sees similarities between Buick and Vauxhall/Opel, and aims to rehabilitate its image through a marketing strategy that may use “shocking and polarizing” messaging to prove his point. As for GMC, Aldred says he sees its future “as really exciting in an Audi-esque kind of way,” with plans to push the Denali line further up the mountain toward the summit.

Finally, CarNewsChina has the first official photos of the facelifted Chinese-market Chevrolet Aveo, which takes its looks from the upcoming Cruze. The Aveo will be priced between 81,800 yuan and 114,800 yuan ($13,113 to $22,732 USD), with power from 1.4- and 1.6-liter engines under the bonnet. Made by the GM Shanghai joint-venture between GM and SAIC Motor, the newly styled compact will arrive in showrooms in June for the sedan, July for the hatchback.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/feed/ 3
Cain’s Segments: April 2014 Full-Size Truck Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/cains-segments-april-2014-full-size-truck-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/cains-segments-april-2014-full-size-truck-sales/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 15:48:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815666 450x186x2014-RAM-1500-Eco-Diesel-Exterior-005-450x186.jpg.pagespeed.ic.lOe8Dz48bO

Strong year-over-year growth in America’s full-size pickup sector was powered by all five major players in April 2014.

General Motors added 6398 sales to the April 2013 Silverado/Sierra total. Chrysler sold 5265 more Ram trucks than at this time one year ago. F-Series sales improved by 4357 units. Toyota added 1941 Tundra sales for the most significant percentage increase, a 23.5% jump.

Collectively, these trucks – with a slight decline from the low-volume Nissan Titan – produced 12% gains last month. Sales are up 6% through the first one-third of 2014, equal to 36,259 units.

Taking small and midsize trucks into account, along with the Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT, pickup truck sales are up 4% in 2014, a gain of nearly 26,000 units in an overall market that has risen by 154,000 sales. (Sales of SUVs and crossovers are up by 160,000 units. Car sales have dropped by 57,000 units.)

There’s been much debate over the merits of GM’s efforts to focus on profit over market share with their new pickup trucks. Indeed, through the first four months of 2014, the pair’s share of the full-size sector is down by more than two percentage points. Only one out of every three full-size trucks sold in America this year has been a Silverado or Sierra of one sort or another.

April was better, marking the Silverado’s highest sales month since August of last year. Sierra sales topped 16,000 units for the eighth time in the last 16 months. In the previous 36 months, that had only happened on three occasions. Combined, the Silverado and Sierra owned 35% of the full-size truck market, up from 32% in March, when all four of their rivals held greater sway.

Approaching its replacement phase, sales of the Ford F-Series continue to rise, but its share of the market is falling, albeit slowly, and not unpredictably.

Toyota is now on pace to sell more than 133,000 Tundras in the United States in 2014, a figure which approaches 2008’s sales levels but doesn’t come close to 2007 levels. The Tundra is currently America’s 40th-best-selling vehicle overall, up from the 48th spot a year ago. The F-Series and Silverado have held on to their two top spots.

America’s third-best-selling vehicle, however, is the Ram Pickup range, sales of which jumped 17% in April and are up 23% this year. The Ram ranked fifth among all vehicles one year ago.

Ram sales totalled 380,250 units over the last twelve months. Chrysler hasn’t sold more than 380,000 Rams in a calendar year since 2005. In April 2014, Ram’s share of the pickup truck market grew by a little less than a percentage point compared with April 2013. Year-to-date, market share has grown to 21.5% from 18.6% during the first four months of 2013.

At the current rate, the U.S. auto industry appears capable of surpassing 16 million new vehicle sales for the first time since 2007. During the first four months of that year, these six full-size truck lineups accounted for 77% of all pickup sales and 13% of all new vehicle sales. The former figure has risen to 89% in 2014; the latter has fallen slightly to 12%.

Truck
April
2014
April
2013
%
Change
4 mos.
2014
4 mos.
2013
%
Change
Ford F-Series
63,387 59,030 +7.4% 236,745 227,873 +3.9%
Chevrolet Silverado
42,755 39,395 +8.5% 150,512 156,044 -3.5%
Ram P/U
36,674 31,409 +16.8% 133,580 109,003 +22.5%
GMC Sierra
17,246 14,208 +21.4% 59,459 55,004 +8.1%
Toyota Tundra
10,217 8,276 +23.5% 37,619 31,856 +18.1%
Nissan Titan
956 1,038 -7.9% 4,274 6,150 -30.5%
Total
171,235
153,356 +11.7% 622,189 585,930 +6.2%

 

Truck
April
2014
Share
April
2013
Share
4 mos.
2014
Share
4 mos.
2013
Share
Ford F-Series
37.0% 38.5% 38.1% 38.9%
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
35.0% 35.0% 33.7% 36.0%
Ram P/U
21.4% 20.5% 21.5% 18.6%
Toyota Tundra
6.0% 5.4% 6.0% 5.4%
Nissan Titan
0.6% 0.7% 0.7% 1.0%
Full-Size Share Of
Total Pickup Truck Market
89.1% 87.3% 88.9% 86.9%
Full-Size Pickup Share
Of Total Industry
12.3% 11.9% 12.1% 11.8%
]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/cains-segments-april-2014-full-size-truck-sales/feed/ 34
Detroit Three Forging V6 Future Atop Truck Mountain http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/detroit-three-forging-v6-future-atop-truck-mountain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/detroit-three-forging-v6-future-atop-truck-mountain/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 10:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815434 ford f-150_r

For five decades, the powerplant of choice for Truck Mountain has been the venerable V8. With powerful V6 engines from Ford, General Motors and Ram being favored for more and more consumers of full-size pickups, however, the V8 could soon find itself occupying a smaller niche along the mountain.

The New York Times reports Ford is leading the way toward a V6 future, with 57 percent of all 2014 F-150s possessing an EcoBoost V6 under the bonnet, 47 percent of which have the 3.5-liter twin-turbo delivering the goods with 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque; the remainder opt for the naturally aspirated 3.7-liter, capable of 302 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. The shift toward the V6 — which began upon increased EcoBoost production last autumn — is in stark contrast to 2013, when over 50 percent of F-150s sold had V8 power.

Further, Ford expects the 2015 all-aluminium F-150 to have a V6 in over 70 percent of trucks sold. To prepare for this sea change, the Blue Oval is dropping the 6.2-liter V8 while adding a 2.7-liter EcoBoost in its stead, leaving only the 5-liter V8 for those who tow heavy loads frequently.

Meanwhile, General Motors and Ram are unleashing their own V6 offerings to customers clamouring for the right balance of fuel economy and power. In particular, Ram’s EcoDiesel 3-liter holds a class-leading 28 mpg on the highway, while the 1500 HFE’s 3.6-liter — once outfitted with stop-start and an eight-speed automatic — holds the top spot for fuel economy in its class with 25 mpg on the highway. As for sales, GM’s new 4.3-liter V6 accounts for 20 percent in 2014, while Ram’s lineup may approach 30 percent by year-end.

In regards to the future, the Detroit Three are forging a path toward the 30-mpg full-size truck through nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions and four-cylinder engines — such as the 2.5-liter I4 found powering the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon mid-size twins — in addition to the V6 strategy.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/detroit-three-forging-v6-future-atop-truck-mountain/feed/ 85
Barclays: GM Suffering From Worst Large Pickup Launch In 15 Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:29:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757225 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior

Though the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado took home North American Truck/Utility of the Year at last month’s Detroit Auto Show, the large pickup and its brother, the GMC Sierra, have suffered from “the least successful large pickup launch over the last 15 years” according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson.

Automotive News reports the truck twins “faced a full-court press” from the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, though winter weather also played a role in lower sales across the board. General Motors executives have come to the defense of their products, proclaiming average transaction prices of $4,000 to $5,000 more than the previous generation pickups and a combined market share hovering around 33 percent over the past few months, though the latter point held between 35 and 40 percent of the market in years past.

With dealers begging for stronger promotion and better incentives for the pickups, Chevrolet will host its Chevy Truck Month promotion. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing (dealer invoice plus destination charges and a $150 fee) on light- and heavy-duty Silverados, and will be heavily pushed during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with television advertising beginning March 18.

In addition, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC will all hold Open House events throughout the month of March. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing on nearly every 2014 vehicle sold under each brand, with the exception of the SS and Corvette Stingray for Chevrolet.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/feed/ 168
Japanese Brands Dominate Consumer Reports Rankings, Detroit Three Struggling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:30:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754369 2014 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid Exterior-004

Though quality and performance have improved as of late for products made by the Detroit Three, they still have a ways to go to beat the Japanese brands dominating Consumer Reports‘ current rankings.

Automotive News reports seven of the top 10 brands rated for overall reliability and road-test performance as conducted by the magazine are Japanese, while the two top Detroit brands — Buick and GMC — tied for 12th; Ford and Jeep tied for last place.

The top-rated brand for the second consecutive year was Lexus, scoring 79 out of 100 for their lineup deemed “quiet, plush, and very reliable” by Consumer Reports. Following the luxury brand were Acura, Audi, Subaru and Toyota (tied for fourth place), Mazda, Honda, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW and Volvo (tied for 10th).

As for where the remaining Detroit Three brands landed, Chrysler took up the 14th position while Chevrolet, Cadillac, Dodge and the aforementioned Ford and Jeep rounding out the bottom of the rankings behind Nissan, the lowest ranked Japanese brand in a tie with Volkswagen for 19th.

Ford and Jeep’s dead-last ranking is the result of technology woes for the former’s MyFord Touch infotainment system, and a “crude and outdated” lineup — including a Grand Cherokee suffering from weakened reliability, and a Cherokee that the magazine says “isn’t that competitive” — for the latter. Ford, in particular, is a “sad story” according to CR director of auto testing Jake Fisher:

The Ford Fusion, not only does it look, but it drives like a good European sports car. It really does. The problem is the reliability, and that’s what’s dragging down that brand.

Meanwhile, Fisher notes that if General Motors had “a whole lineup of Impalas,” considered the best large sedan based on road tests conducted by the magazine, the automaker would be at the top of the rankings. Overall, Fisher believes the Detroit Three as a whole are “going the right way” in terms of reliability and performance.

Regarding individual models, the Ram 1500 was rated the Best Pickup over the Silverado/Sierra twins in part due to the lack of reliability information for the latter two, while Hyundai captured the trophy Best Mid-Size SUV for their Santa Fe, Subaru holding off the Honda CR-V with their Forester for Best Small SUV, and Tesla, whose Model S holds the highest overall score ever given by the magazine: 99 out of 100, takes home the Overall trophy.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/feed/ 199
GM To Produce Aluminum Body Pickups, Secures Alcoa and Novelis As Suppliers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/gm-to-produce-aluminum-body-pickups-secures-alcoa-and-novelis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/gm-to-produce-aluminum-body-pickups-secures-alcoa-and-novelis/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 21:58:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=746553 450x299x2014-Silverado-02-450x299.jpg.pagespeed.ic.NG9-c_eHse
The Wall Street Journal today announced that GM is planning on producing aluminum-bodied pickups for the next generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, due for 2018. This comes on the heels of Ford moving the 2015 F150 to an all-aluminum body, with around 97% of the body structure being aluminum (Including the load floor of the bed), which Ford claims has saved 700 pounds off the curbweight of the F150. GM plans to weld panels together as opposed to Ford’s riveted and bonded aluminum panels, to seek further weight savings.

General Motors has secured supply contracts with Alcoa Inc. and Novelis Inc. for their next-generation pickups. Alcoa will also supply aluminum for Ford’s upcoming ’15 F150.

GM’s global product development chief, Mark Reuss,  hinted at considering aluminum-bodied pickups last month:

 

“We need to see how much aluminum is in it, not what they say is in it but what is actually in it,” Mr. Reuss said the night before Ford introduced its truck. “We are going to look at what they advertise as the weight savings from it and then we are going to go back and do some math… We can play this game real easily.”

Sources familiar with GM’s plans tell the WSJ that rather than using riveting and bonding like Ford, GM has developed a process that uses multi-ringed electrodes to weld the aluminum panels, eliminating a considerable amount of rivets from the production process, reducing weight and assembly time. It takes much less time for a machine to weld panels (be it spot or bead welds) than riveting panels together. This process is already used in smaller aluminum panels, like the aluminum hood of the Cadillac CTS-V, the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the last-generation hybrid Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs.

The alleged move to aluminum for GM represents a major shift in the pickup segment: for the first time in memory, fuel economy is the prime focus, rather than payload, towing or power.  For GM, the move to aluminum can be construed as a tacit admission that their evolutionary approach to their new full-sizers is not adequate. Sales of the new trucks have been disappointing, with inventories approaching 151 days.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/gm-to-produce-aluminum-body-pickups-secures-alcoa-and-novelis/feed/ 124
GM’s Truck Market Share Slides In January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/gms-truck-market-share-slides-in-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/gms-truck-market-share-slides-in-january/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 14:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=739609 450x299x2014-Silverado-02-450x299.jpg.pagespeed.ic.NG9-c_eHse

U.S. sales of full-size trucks slid 4.5% in January 2014 as the two leading manufacturers of pickups reported falling sales of all their big trucks.

Typically the slowest month of the year for new vehicle sales, this past January should be no different, as the U.S. auto industry generated 32,000 fewer sales than it did one year ago. Although minivans, commercial vans, and the vast SUV/crossover segment all expanded, passenger car sales plunged, year-over-year, and truck volume declined, as well.

Despite the Ford F-Series’ slight 1% (305 fewer units) drop in January sales, the market share of America’s best-selling vehicle in its own vehicle category expanded by more than a percentage point compared with January 2013.

FCA’s Ram pickup range improved its January market share by more than four points to the level where one out of every five full-size trucks sold were Rams. Year-over-year, Ram sales jumped 22%.

The only other big truck to report higher totals this year than last was the Toyota Tundra. Toyota has recorded four consecutive months of Tundra increases; only once in 2013 did the Tundra decline. But Tundra volume is well off the pace Toyota set in pre-recession 2007 when nearly 200,000 were sold – Tundra sales jumped 11% to 112,732 in 2013. January market share didn’t rise as much as Ford’s even as Toyota sold 886 extra Tundras.

GM’s losses were the bigger story during a disappointing January for trucks. Silverado sales plunged 18%; Sierra sales fell 13%. In total, GM sold more than 10,000 fewer full-size pickup trucks this January than in January 2013, a 20% drop.

Jointly, the Silverado/Sierra decline to 40,044 January sales resulted in a market share tally of 33.2%, down from 38.3% in January of last year. The GM twins outsold the Ford F-Series by 1450 units in January 2013, the second of three consecutive months in which the pair had outsold the F-Series. They have not done so since.

If we are to assume the two trucks themselves are to blame, rather than some combination of inside and outside forces, we can surely place some responsibility on the conservative nature of the redesign. Perhaps the exterior changes from one generation to the next needed to be as different as the changes made under the skin. It’s true, the serious truck buyer is well aware of the newness of the Silverado and Sierra. But the family truck buyer – a big reason for the mass expansion of the truck market – may not wish to pay more money in order to park a pickup in their driveway that doesn’t look much different from the pickup their neighbors bought two years prior.

Thus, with plenty of trucks on dealer lots and concern about losing market share to Ford even before the F-150 is replaced by the more boldly-designed 2015 model, GM will ramp up incentives with a long-running Presidents Day promotion, according to Automotive News. Clearly, for General Motors to avoid going head-to-head against Ford without F-150-like incentives would have required a more significant leap forward with the 2014 models. There’s a belief that truck buyers will pay more for the better truck, but how much better does that truck need to be?

Truck
January
2014
January
2013
%
Change
January
2014
Market
Share
January
2013
Market
Share
Cadillac Escalade EXT
25 172 - 85.5% 0.02% 0.1%
Chevrolet Avalanche
31 1939 - 98.4% 0.03% 1.5%
Chevrolet Silverado
28,926 35,445 - 18.4% 24.0% 28.1%
Ford F-Series
46,536 46,841 - 0.7% 38.6% 37.1%
GMC Sierra
11,118 12,846 - 13.5% 9.2% 10.2%
Nissan Titan
887 1394 - 36.4% 0.7% 1.1%
Ram P/U
25,071 20,474 + 22.5% 20.8% 16.2%
Toyota Tundra
7890 7004 + 12.6% 6.5% 5.6%
Total
120,484
126,115 - 4.5%
Total (Excluding EXT/Avalanche)
120,428
124,004 - 2.9%
]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/gms-truck-market-share-slides-in-january/feed/ 81
Up And Out Of A Hopeless Situation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/up-and-out-of-a-hopeless-situation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/up-and-out-of-a-hopeless-situation/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2014 14:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=729754 1991 GMC Jimmy SLE

1991 GMC Jimmy SLE

Sometime in the middle of the night, while I was hard at work moving pallets, opening boxes and arranging Christmas merchandise on the sales floor of the giant wholesale buyers’ club, the clouds moved in and it began to rain. The earth was cold and as soon as the first drop hit the ground it turned to ice. More drops followed, untold millions upon millions of them, and, in the matter of minutes, everything they struck was encapsulated in a growing coat of ice. The rain continued through the night and by the time the sun rose the storm had moved off towards the Cascades, where the increasing elevation forced the clouds higher into the sky and turned the rain to snow. But in the valley the damage had been done and people awoke to a crystalline world in which everyday objects had been transformed into works of art and where every branch and wire were hung with rows of dagger-like icicles.

I paid little attention to nature’s wonderful trick as I emerged from the store and shielded my eyes from the light of the morning sun. I was a night dweller, one of the nameless rabble who worked through the dark hours in order to fill the shelves with merchandise that the good, normal people of the world would happily purchase amidst warmth and light while I struggled to sleep. I hated my job, I hated my life and I hated anyone who had the those things that I, too, had worked so hard to attain but had found denied in what should have been my hour of triumph.

College hadn’t been in the cards for me when I had left high school more than a decade earlier, but a chance encounter with Japanese cartoons in the darkened exhibition hall of a Sci-Fi convention had shown me that there were more things in the world than the Snohomish district had managed to impart in 12 long years of basic education. I was amazed by the images I saw and I promptly sat down and remained in the room until the convention ended two full days later. Those cartoons led me to a lifelong study of the Japanese language, the Merchant Marines and eventually back to college at the ripe old age of 28 years old. For five years I chipped away my education, just over two years of which I spent in Junior College while I worked full time in the warehouse of a local hospital, and then another two during which I got my first taste of grinding poverty as I tried to live on student loans as I finished up my Bachelor’s degree at a four year school on the far side of the state. When it was done I was 33 years old, a new college graduate with a degree that included the words “Cum Laude” above my name, and ready to step into that better, brighter future that I had worked so hard to attain.

But the world doesn’t want 33 year old entry level white-collar workers. And it doesn’t want 33 year old college educated truck drivers, either. I was unemployed and no matter how many I sent, my resumes generated little interest. Without even the meager subsistence afforded by student loans to sustain me, I was forced to returned to my mother’s home where I resumed the residence in my childhood bedroom and where I soon found a pistol in my hand. Every day I pulled the .45 Caliber Springfield automatic from its cushioned bag, removed the trigger lock and turned it over in my hands while I decided whether or not to use it on myself. Every day, after examining its lines and feeling its weight, I told myself I wasn’t a quitter and returned it to its place. Eventually, as the early Summer turned to Autumn and Autumn gave way to Winter I was able to score a job as a seasonal temp worker for a Seattle area warehouse chain.

To this day I have mixed feelings when I walk into a warehouse store. I walk along the rows of pallets and note their perfectly aligned edges. I see how some worker has worked to pull product up from the backs of the pallets and form the boxes into rows along the aisle to give the impression that the store is stuffed to the gills with merchandise. I keep my cart in the middle of the lane to avoid accidental contact with the carefully positioned goods and anything I chance to pick up but not buy is returned to its prior position perfectly faced with the other packages, right-side-up and label out. I know the effort that has gone into the presentation, that some worker has laid hands upon and carefully positioned everything that strikes my eye. And I know that if any part of it was less than perfect, some 21 year-old dickhead shift-manager would have berated the poor worker who had chanced to leave it that way while still exhorting him to work faster.

The truth was I couldn’t give a shit if the world was encased in ice or fire at that point. My shift was over and I was exhausted. My bedroom, such as it was, lay back up in the hills some 20 miles away and I had an appointment with the pistol I kept under the bed there before going to sleep. My big GMC Jimmy had crossed the mountain passes in the dead of winter more times than I could count so, no matter what the weather was, a trip across the valley and then up a few hills was an easy morning’s work. I locked in the hubs, flipped the floor mounted lever to 4 Wheel High and rolled smoothly out of the parking lot while other the other workers were still fishtailing their pitiful econoboxes around in circles next to their parking places.

The interstate was jammed and I eased my truck into line with everyone else unfortunate to be going somewhere that morning. We headed North at a snail’s pace to the scene of a massive pile-up. I looked in awe at the twisted wreckage, one of the cars on its side, still smoldering despite the steady stream of water the firetruck on-scene poured upon the hulk. Later, I learned the accident was fatal. Likely some other poor work-a-day shlub like myself trying to get to or from the place that barely paid for his daily bread. God rest his soul.

Where Interstate 5 North met Highway 2 I slipped off the three lane freeway and onto the two lane bridge known as “the trestle” that first spans the Snohomish river and then crosses the width of the flood-prone valley elevated upon row after row of concrete columns. This road, too, was crammed with cars moving no faster than a slow walk and the normally quick trip took an interminable amount of time. But as the end of the bridge gradually approached, I noticed one place where the cars dared not go.

Photo courtesy of WA State DOT

At the end of the trestle, Highway 2 takes a sharp right turn and heads South along the edge of the Snohomish valley before eventually resuming its Easterly route up over Stevens Pass. At the same point, an exit branches off towards the North and the town of Lake Stevens via another local highway. There is, however, a third option: a branch exit onto a road that leads dead east, right up and over the rim of the valley.

The road is one of those pieces of pavement that would never be built today. More than 300 feet tall, Cavalero Hill rises up like a sheer escarpment above the floor of the Snohomish Valley. From its top, a trip down the hill is like a ride over a waterfall. As you approach the edge of the precipice, the landscape on either side falls away and the horizon fills your vision. Ahead, the City of Everett sits atop what seems to be a small knoll and beyond it lies Possession Sound, Whidbey Island and finally the snow covered mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. For a moment it seems as though you will fly off into space, but then the road tilts and your perspective skews into a headlong dive towards the valley below. In the old days, that road went all the way to the floor of the valley and then up and onto a rickety two lane trestle where cars sped towards one another inches apart with no margin for error, but in the early ‘70s some thoughtful civil engineer designed an on-ramp that reaches up fully a third of the hill’s towering height and slingshots you down onto a Westbound bridge that whisks you safely across the valley.

Headed East, the way I was going that icy morning, an improved off ramp similarly reaches up onto the slope. But once you begin the ascent of the hill itself, engines strain to make the climb and drivers find themselves pushed back against their seat cushions while their vehicle struggles upward like an airplane fighting against a stall. Even in the heat of summer it is an arduous climb and now, that road stood as empty and icy as the Matterhorn

Photo by Thomas Kreutzer

From my position on the floor of the valley, the situation seemed hopeless. Everywhere I looked was a line of cars blocking my progress. To the South an endless, slow moving procession headed towards my home and to the North a similar line headed more-or-less away from my house. But ahead the hill was open and, deep inside of me, something simply snapped. I pointed the Jimmy’s hood ornament at the slope and mashed the gas.

I saw them looking. Mortal men and women trapped in their tiny cars as my massive GMC thundered by and accelerated towards the slope. People gaped, mouths fully open in shock and one man had the audacity to lay in his horn in a hopeless attempt to dissuade me from my chosen course of action. But no fucks were given that day my friends and I hit the hill at fully 50 miles per hour.

The earth tilted upwards and the sky filled my vision. The weight of my body shifted onto my back, like an astronaut preparing to launch into space, and the GMC began to claw its way up the hillside. The tires skittered on the icy pavement and the truck slipped to the side but I corrected the steering and stayed hard on the gas. One tire found traction and then the next and with increasing confidence and speed I rose up and out of the valley on a plume of snow and ice, ascending to the edge of the precipice and onto the flat ground beyond without incident while those below could only watch in amazement. I could not – would not – be stopped.

Maybe it’s crazy but something inside of me changed right then and that morning and before I went to sleep I made a conscious decision to leave the .45 where it belonged under the bed. The next day I did the same and, although my life didn’t get better right away, I never again picked that pistol up with the thought of turning it against myself. The world sucked, I knew, and the roads that I thought should have been opened to me after years of hard work and sacrifice had been jammed by the narrow minded bastards who had achieved their stations in life before I had thought to go there, but there was still a way ahead. I could stay trapped behind them forever or I could climb the hill and go farther than they ever dreamed. There was only one real way to go.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/up-and-out-of-a-hopeless-situation/feed/ 35
2015 GMC Canyon Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2015-gmc-canyon-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2015-gmc-canyon-revealed/#comments Sun, 12 Jan 2014 17:10:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=696777 cyn16

 

So, it’s mechanically identical to the Colorado. But it comes in brown.

cyn1 cyn2 cyn3 (1) cyn3 cyn4 cyn6 cyn7 cyn8 cyn9 cyn10 cyn11 cyn12 cyn13 cyn14 cyn15 cyn16 cyn17 cyn18 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2015-gmc-canyon-revealed/feed/ 120
Cain’s Segments: Trucks In 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/cains-segments-trucks-in-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/cains-segments-trucks-in-2013/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=694169 2014-Silverado-02-450x299

The 234,066 extra new truck registrations in 2013 came about despite the loss of 70,077 sales from trucks that had either died off, been discontinued, or were on hiatus in 2013.

Excluding the Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Suzuki Equator, Ford Ranger, and Dodge Dakota from the equation results in a 16.4% year-over-year increase in truck sales.

America’s top-selling vehicle line, the Ford F-Series, owned 35% of the truck market in 2013, up from 33% in 2012. F-Series volume was higher than it’s been since 2006, when nearly 800,000 were sold. (Ford sold more than 900,000 F-Series pickups in 2004 and again in 2005.) In each of the last eight months, Ford sold more than 60,000 copies of the F-Series, a feat Ford had accomplished only three times in the previous 40 months. In fact, Ford sold more than 70,000 F-Series’ at three different junctures in 2013: May, August, and December, the highest-volume month of all.

GM truck sales tanked in December, as the Silverado and Sierra combined for a 13% decline. But the transition period from GMT900 to GMTK2XX didn’t harm GM’s volume in 2013. Joint Silverado/Sierra market share in the whole truck category increased by one percentage point to 31%. 2013 marked a six-year high for the Silverado, although sales haven’t returned to the 2005 glory days when 706,000 were sold. Meanwhile, GMC’s Sierra last topped 2013’s 184,389-unit achievement in 2007, when 204,243 were sold. GMC sold more than 200,000 Sierras annually from 2004 to 2007.

Chrysler’s Ram truck lineup accounted for 20%, or one in five, Chrysler Group sales in 2013, up from 18% in 2012. December’s 11% increase marked the 44th consecutive month in which Ram sales have improved, year-over-year. This many Rams haven’t been sold since 2007. In 2003, 2004, and 2005, Chrysler sold more than 400,000 Ram trucks annually.

America’s leading non-full-size truck, sales of the “midsize” Toyota Tacoma shot up to a six-year high in 2013. (The Tacoma was America’s 14th-best-selling vehicle in 2006; 24th in 2013.) Not often was a small truck sold in 2013 that wasn’t a Tacoma – it owned 65% of the small/midsize truck market, the part that didn’t already belong to the F-Series, Silverado, Ram, Sierra, Tundra, Avalanche, Titan, and Escalade EXT. That’s up from 51% in 2012, when the Colorado and Ranger put up small but meaningful numbers.

Sales of the Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline increased in 2013, at 13% and 26%, respectively. Yet two Tacomas were sold for every one Frontier or Ridgeline. In 2006, the year that the Tacoma became America’s 14th-best-selling vehicle, the Chevrolet Colorado ranked 51st, ahead of the Ford Ranger but 81,475 sales back of the Toyota.

The Frontier-based Suzuki Equator died in 2013. Sales of the dying Chevrolet Avalanche – 15,618 through the first three quarters; just 908 in the fourth quarter – were an afterthought. The Avalanche and its Cadillac sibling, along with the Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra and the four big “domestics”, controlled 89% of America’s truck market in 2013, up from 86% in 2012, up from 84% in 2011.

Naturally, this leads to questions regarding the chance for Colorado success in 2014 and 2015. Basing expectations on what we’ve witnessed over the last twelve months, while not pointless, may prove to be lacking a solid foundation.

The truck market, strong as it is, with 14% of the auto industry’s sales, has been in a perpetual state of upheaval. Nameplates are being killed off left, right, and center. The dominant midsize truck isn’t exactly fresh as a daisy. The best-selling truck, Ford’s F-Series, will feature an awful lot of aluminum later this year. There’s now a light-duty diesel option.

There appears to be more than enough evidence to point to a continuation of this trend, the trend that shows potential truck market growth fuelled by full-size trucks. But there are chips up in the air, and with countless variables, we don’t really know where they’ll fall.

Rank
Truck
2013
2012
%
Change
#1
Ford F-Series 763,402 645,316 + 18.3%
#2
Chevrolet Silverado 480,414 418,312 + 14.8%
#3
Ram Pickup 355,673 293,363 + 21.2%
#4
GMC Sierra 184,389 157,185 + 17.3%
#5
Toyota Tacoma 159,485 141,365 + 12.8%
#6
Toyota Tundra 112,732 101,621 + 10.9%
#7
Nissan Frontier 62,837 55,435 + 13.4%
#8
Honda Ridgeline 17,723 14,068 + 26.0%
#9
Chevrolet Avalanche 16,526 23,995 - 31.1%
#10
Nissan Titan 15,691 21,576 - 27.3%
#11
Chevrolet Colorado 3412 36,840 - 90.7%
#12
Cadillac Escalade EXT 1972 1934 + 2.0%
#13
GMC Canyon 929 8735 -89.4%
#14
Suzuki Equator 448 1966 - 77.2%
Ford Ranger 19,366 - 100%
Dodge Dakota 490 - 100%
Total
2,175,633 1,941,567 + 12.1%
]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/cains-segments-trucks-in-2013/feed/ 27
Review: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/review-2014-chevrolet-silverado-1500-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/review-2014-chevrolet-silverado-1500-with-video/#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 15:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=649338 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I’ve never cared for the phrase “as American as apple pie” as apple pie is far from an American invention. Instead, we should say as “American as the pickup truck.” In 1925 Ford crafted the “Ford Model T Runabout with Pickup Body” and America’s love affair began. The Chevrolet Silverado, and its mechanical twin the GMC Sierra, may not be the best-selling vehicle in America (that award goes to the aging Ford F-150) but the Chevy alone has outsold the Toyota Camry by 55,000 units this year. Toss in the Sierra and there are more GM trucks sold on our shores in a year than all the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche products put together. The high sales number and high profit margins explain the intense Ford vs Chevy vs RAM rivalry. With a new RAM in 2013 and a light refresh only a year later, GM is firing back with an all-new Silverado and Sierra. Does Chevy’s new half-ton have what it takes to be king of the hill?

 

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Outside, the 2014 Silverado retains Chevy’s classic styling cues with stacked headlamps and plenty of straight lines. Although I didn’t think it possible, the wheel wells have become even more square for 2014.  GM’s trucks have long been the sedate option in the half ton market, but Chevy has decided to inject a more passion for 2014. Up front we get a bolder grille, and following in Ford and Chrysler’s footsteps, there’s the vaguest hint of “big rig” styling in the hood stamping. New projector headlamps and an enormous chrome bumper round out the transformation.

Although the Silverado has grown slightly over the last generation, the difference isn’t huge. One major change for 2014 that does increase the truck’s size is the availability of the standard bed (6′ 6″) and crew cab combination making this combo 10 inches longer than the 2013 crew cab model and just shy of 20-feet. Also increasing in size for 2014 are the enormous square wheel wells. Square wells with round wheels have always looked a little peculiar to my eye. Be sure to sound off in the comment section. Although it’s a GM design cue that’s lived on for years, I think the square wheel wells would look better with a square-themed wheel. The ginormous openings will likely make aftermarket tuners happy since it’s easier to stuff bigger rubber on the Silverado without modification, but it made out tester’s enormous 20-inch wheels look small. Despite the squareness, and my family’s allegiance to the RAM brand, I think the Silverado manages to be the best looking half ton on the market by a hair.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes
Interior

While the outside impressed me with bold, aggressive styling and impressive fit and finish for a pickup truck, I was honestly disappointed by the interior. I found the Silverado a better place to spend my time than the Ford, but the 2014 RAM is not only more pleasing in style, but also more functional and Chrysler offers an extensive upgrade list including real wood trim and leather door panels. Practical features have long been a selling point and that continues for the Silverado. We get two glove boxes, large door storage pockets and a new center console in 5-passenger models. The wide console sports a whopping five USB ports, two of which are linked to the infotainment system while the others are charge only. There are multiple 12V DC outlets and an optional 120V inverter if you click the right option box. The console storage has been improved for 2014 but I found it to be slightly less useful than Ford or RAM’s stashes due to the cup holder module which “kinda-sorta” covers the front of the console. (Check out the picture above.)

Front seat comfort is easily the best in the half-ton market regardless of trim level. RAM’s front seats suffer from the same ergonomic flaw as many of Chrysler’s latest products: seats you sit on, not in. The Chevy’s seats on the other hand seemed perfectly shaped while the foam ranged from plush in our LTZ tester, to moderately firm in the base models. Likewise the rear seats scored top in the class with soft padding and seat bottom cushions that provided more thigh support than the competition.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Infotainment

If you’re a regular reader, you will know that I have praised GM’s low and mid-range touchscreen systems as some of the best in the business. Sadly the Silverado does not use that system. Instead, the Silverado joins the Impala and Buick LaCrosse in using a modified version of Cadillac’s CUE. So as not to step directly on their luxury brand’s toes, there are a few changes made to the system for truck duty. The expensive glass capacitive touchscreen (looks like a modern smartphone) is swapped for a resistive unit that isn’t as crisp or as glare reducing. The Chevy and Buick systems also get physical buttons for some system features, a marked improvement over Cadillac’s touchscreen only interface. Aside from these charges, the majority of CUE remains.

Like Ford’s MyFord Touch system, MyLink is sluggish in general and sometimes totally unresponsive. The software also suffers from unintuitive menu layouts and old-school mapping software that doesn’t jive with the system’s high-resolution screen. Like CUE, some multi-touch gestures are supported, but the different touchscreen is less able to decipher your intent leading to some frustrating moments. On the bright side, CUE’s selling points remain. The system’s voice command system features natural language commands and instead of treating the USB ports as separate inputs, the system aggregates them into one large music library allowing you to voice command songs without specifying the device.

Overall this implementation of MyLink ties with Toyota’s Entune system in the Tundra for third, with MyFord Touch coming in second and Chrysler’s uConnect taking the lead. uConnect is far more intuitive, the graphics are more pleasing to the eye and the system is generally more responsive. Thanks to a 2014 software update the RAM now offers OnStar like emergency services as well as app integration in the head unit.  The last thing you should know about MyLink is that it is hard to avoid. Most models of the Silverado on the lot have either the large screen or small screen version with only the most basic trim levels getting a standard radio/CD player unit.

2014 5.3L V-8 EcoTec3 AFM VVT DI (L83) for Chevrolet Silverado aDrivetrain

Instead of aping and releasing a new model with old engines, GM packs in three brand-new engines for 2014. Dubbed the EcoTec3 engine family, the Silverado comes standard with a 4.3L V6, an optional 5.3L V8 and soon there will be a 6.2L V8. All three engines share design elements, push rods and direct-injection. The 4.3L V6 is exclusive to GM’s trucks, not shared with cars and crossovers like Ford and Chrysler, the reason is obvious when you look at the power numbers. At 285 HP and 305 lb-ft of torque, the large V6 produced less power but considerably more torque than Ford’s 3.7 or or RAM’s 3.6. Thanks to variable valve timing and the direct-injection sauce, the V6 Silverado manages 18/24 MPG (City/Highway) without any special fuel economy trim parts added. While it doesn’t beat the RAM SFE’s 25 MPG highway number, it beats everything else.

Our tester had GM’s volume engine option, the 355 HP and 383 lb-ft 5.3L V8. In addition to the same variable valve timing and direct-injection systems the V6 gets, both V8 engines feature cylinder deactivation to improve highway MPGs. The 5.3L engine cranks out less power and twist than RAM’s 5.7L HEMI, but is competitive against Ford’s 5.0L V8. Those interested in V8 bragging rights will want to jump up to the 6.2L V8 which produces a class leading 420 ponies and 440 lb-ft of torque.

Regardless of the engine you choose, a GM 6-speed automatic will be sending power to the ground. The rumor mill is alive and well that an 8-speed automatic is in the works but GM has no official line on that. That puts GM on par with the 6-speed F-150 and two cogs behind the 2014 RAM 1500. You’ll find the usual part-time four-wheel drive systems and an off-road package in the Silverado but you won’t find the 2014 half-ton game changer under any Silverado’s hood: a small diesel. If your interest is piqued, come back for our review of the 2014 RAM 1500 diesel in a few weeks.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Towing and Payload

Trucks are all about hauling and towing and GM came to this fight to win. While most pickup trucks advertise high payloads yet only deliver those payload numbers in very specific model/trim combinations, the Silverado boasts large numbers across the board. Ranging from 1,875 to 2,100 pounds, the Silverado easily bests the RAM’s 1,340-1,620 pound payload range (now that the RAM 1500 “Heavy Duty” has been axed) and likewise is more impressive than the F-150′s 1,510-2,090 range. (The F-150 is available in a heavy-duty frame model which uses F-250 frame and suspension parts and F-150 sheet metal, I don’t consider that a half-ton truck.) The big thing to know about the Silverado’s payload numbers however is how simple the payload chart is and how little it varies from one model to the next unlike Ford’s payload chart that is pages long.

When it comes to towing, Toyota would like us all to know that they are the only one with a SAE certification when it comes to towing. Does that matter? Probably not. With the 4.3L six-banger the Silverado is good for 5,900-7,200lbs of conventional trailering, 1,100 more than Ford’s base V6 but lower than the RAM V6 thanks to their new ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic. 5.3L models jump to 6,800-11,400, ahead of the RAM and Ford and if serious towing is your bag, the 6.2L V8 can haul a 12,000lb trailer. Of course anything over 10,000lbs is probably academic for half-ton owners, since most states require you to have a commercial license to haul that kind of weight. When it comes to towing capacity, the Silverado V8s are king, but how about towing feel? That’s a different story.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesDrive

With my 7,500lbs trailer attached, the Silverado and the RAM’s towing abilities are defined by their transmission. With two fewer gears to choose from, the Silverado felt less capable despite the stouter numbers on paper. It’s all about the feel, especially when hill climbing. The Silverado’s V6 may put out more torque than Chrysler’s 3.6L car engine, but as Archimedes said “give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” ZF’s 8-speed automatic seemed to always have the right gear for every situation with the V6. Things get even better in RAM-land when you hitch the sheep up to Chrysler’s more powerful 5.7L HEMI. And that’s before we even talk about RAM’s new 3.0L diesel engine with 420 lb-ft of twist mated to the same transmission. This places the Silverd0, yet again, second in the class behind the RAM but ahead of the Ford.

The RAM beats the Silverado when it comes to ride quality as well.  Whether the RAM is loaded or empty, equipped with the standard coil springs or the optional air suspension, the ride is both softer and more composed than the Chevy. The RAM’s ability to load-level with that optional suspension puts even more daylight between the RAM and the GM pickups. I have to temper that with the reality that the RAM can’t tow or haul as much as the Silverado. Shoppers will need to decide if payload and towing limits are more important than ride quality since needs will vary. Likely due to the F-150′s age, the Ford feels more disconnected than the Silverado both on and off the road.
2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Gauges-001

Although a 16.8 MPG average might sound bad to Camcord shoppers, that’s not a bad number for a V8 pickup truck on a daily commute cycle with 120 miles of weekend trailer towing. GMç 6-speed transmission has a fairly tall 6th gear and the Ecotec3 family of V8 engines has an aggressive cylinder deactivation program. Combined they allow the Silverado with the 5.3L V8 to get 23 highway MPGs in 2WD trim and 22 MPG in 4WD trim according to the EPA. On a level highway with the cruise control set to 68 I had no troubles averaging 26-27 MPG when the ending was in 4-cylinder mode. Despite the RAM’s 8-speed transmission, the Silverado delivers superior EPA and real world MPG numbers while sipping on regular gasoline (RAM recommends mid-grade in HEMI models.)

Our Silverado Z71 LTZ 4WD tester rang in at $50,475 thanks to a bevy of options from park assist to a heated steering wheel and 20-inch chrome wheels. However you configure your Silverado, the 2014 model will be asking a $1,500 premium over the 2013 model thanks to a late price hike from the general. Although there are still plenty of cash on the hood offers, many dealers are complaining that the price tags are scaring away potential shoppers. This means the MSRP for our Silverado was between $1,500 and $2,500 higher than competitive Ford or RAM trucks with the difference widening slightly when you adjust for feature content. When you factor in GM’s deeper discounts the difference becomes negligible but the crazy logic remains the same.

At the end of a week, I was sorry to see the Silverado go but I was also sad GM didn’t delay the Silverado for a year. With the 2013 RAM meeting press and sales success, I think there was a missed opportunity to put the Silverado on hold, toss in a new transmission and an optional self leveling coil spring rear suspension. Doing so would have made the Silverado more competitive in this high volume, high profit segment. Still, the Silverado has a great deal going for it. With the highest payload and towing capacities in the market combined with the best real world fuel economy numbers there are some good reasons to put the Silverado at the top of your list. For the rest of us, the RAM’s better road manners, snazzier feature list, top-notch infotainment system and excellent 8-speed automatic will seal the deal.

 

General Motors provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.13 Seconds

0-60: 8.17 Seconds

 1/4 Mile: 16.5 Seconds @ 87.5 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 16.8 MPG over 784 Miles

Cabin noise at 50 MPH: 67 dB

 

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-001 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-002 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-003 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-005 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-007 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-009 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-010 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-011 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-012 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior-013 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Gauges 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Gauges-001 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Infotainment-001 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior-001 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior-002 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior-004 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior-005 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior-006 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior-007 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/review-2014-chevrolet-silverado-1500-with-video/feed/ 91
Family Jewels: What Dribbled Down To You? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/family-jewels-what-dribbled-down-to-you/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/family-jewels-what-dribbled-down-to-you/#comments Sat, 02 Nov 2013 15:08:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=640409 Photo Courtesy of Cardomain.com

Photo Courtesy of Cardomain.com

Today, my wacky morning DJ, right after he said democracy was a joke and called me “dude,” hit us with this fun fact: 39% of young people choose the same brand of car their parents drove. I’m not sure if that is impressive as the previous day’s fact, that 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold annually in the United States, but it made me think about my father’s preference in vehicles and whether or not I had followed suit. Despite the fact that my old man had pretty good taste in cars, the answer, oddly enough, is “no.”

Like the late, great Jean Sheppard once wrote about his own father, my father was an Oldsmobile man. Of course today Oldsmobile is as dead as the Huppmobile and unless I want to reach back into history and buy one on the used market, I’m never going to own the same brand of car my dad did. I have owned a few other GM cars over the years, a GMC Jimmy, my current Pontiac Torrent, a Geo Metro and a few well used Novas I found dead in people’s yards but, truth be told, I am not GM guy. I, for whatever reason, am a Mopar guy.

I’m not really sure why I settled on a Dodge Shadow back in early 1988. My buddy Rick had an old Dodge Charger for a while, but other than that I really had no experience with the brand and looking back there were some really great cars on the market for similar money. I could have had a Toyota Corolla Twin-Cam, a Honda CRX like my friend John bought, Nissan had two or three little coupes on the market including the Turbo 200SX and Chevrolet offered both the Baretta and the Z24 Cavalier as direct competitors to the little Dodge Turbos. For whatever reason, I passed them all by and went to my local Dodge shop.

Which would you choose?

Which would you choose?

My experience with the Dodge wasn’t entirely trouble free, but considering the amount of abuse I dished out the little car held up remarkably well. As a result I have always thought of myself as a “Dodge guy” and always shop their products when I am looking to purchase a new vehicle. The 300M I owned and my recent purchase of our new Town & Country have their roots in my positive, early experiences with the brand and I think that more Chrysler products will eventually follow.

But will my kids be Chrysler fans? Given all the recent mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, I‘m not sure it really matters. Eventually, they’ll have a chance to take the controls and decide whatever they like on their own, and my only hope is that they feel the same passion for cars and driving that I do. If they get that, then I’ll consider my job as one well done.

Let me ask though, how much does you parents’ brand loyalty or ownership experience play into your own brand affinity? Are you loyal to a single brand at all? A single country’s product? I’d like to hear about it.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/family-jewels-what-dribbled-down-to-you/feed/ 125
Price Differential With Competing Pickup Trucks Has GMC & Chevy Dealers Upset http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/price-differential-with-competing-pickup-trucks-has-gmc-chevy-dealers-upset/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/price-differential-with-competing-pickup-trucks-has-gmc-chevy-dealers-upset/#comments Tue, 22 Oct 2013 12:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=630946 AR-310219846

Many dealers are complaining that price differentials between the all new GM pickup trucks and heavily discounted competitors from Ford and Ram are leaving them with disappointing sales results. The new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra were launched in June amid heavy incentives from competitive brands. But the trucks, which have been praised by the press, are not moving quickly. Automotive News reports that a Pasadena, Texas dealer says that his supply is up to 170 days, compared to his normal inventory of 110 days supply. A dealer in Austin reports a 120 day supply, up from his norm at 90 days.

GM’s original business plan for the new trucks was to sell premium trucks at higher transaction prices but CEO Dan Akerson’s dual goals of gaining market share and improving profit margins may be conflicting with each other. Dealers now say that to compete with Ram and Ford who are offering up to $9,000 in incentives on some 2013 models, GM will have to start discounting the new trucks.

Dealers feel that once their competitors’ 2013 models are sold off they expect to encounter less price competition but they feel that the lack of incentives on their own 2014 trucks are stalling what is a very important launch.

September U.S. sales of the Silverado and Sierra were down 8 percent, while Ford’s F-series sales rose 10 percent and Ram’s climbed 8 percent.

GM officials have indicated that they’d rather keep transaction prices high than chase after market share. While September sales were down, average transaction prices year to year were up about $3,000. An analyst at RBC Capital Markets said that a $2,000 increase in transaction prices would translate to an additional $1.3 billion in GM’s bottom line for the year.

The company had increased cash incentives on the Silverado to $1,000 at the beginning of October plus another $500 discount on more expensive trim packages but dealers were disappointed when only a week later the company raised the MSRP on the trucks across the lineup by an average of $1,500.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/price-differential-with-competing-pickup-trucks-has-gmc-chevy-dealers-upset/feed/ 62
GM, Unions Reach Tentative Agreement On CAMI Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/gm-unions-reach-tentative-agreement-on-cami-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/gm-unions-reach-tentative-agreement-on-cami-plant/#comments Mon, 16 Sep 2013 13:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=520249 2010_GMC_Terrain_SLT_-_05-06-2011-450x300

GM and Unifor (the union formerly known as the CAW) have reached a tentative agreement for the 2,500 workers at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, which builds the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain.

The Equninox and Terrain are hot sellers for GM, having sold nearly a quarter million units combined through August of this year. Inventories are tight, and a quick and easy ratification of the agreement would mean uninterrupted production for GM. Earlier in the year, there was speculation over GM moving production of the Theta twins (as they are known internally), to a cheaper location like Mexico or Tennessee. But GM ended up investing $250 million in CAMI for upgrades, including a flexible assembly line similar to the one used at GM’s Oshawa, Ontario plant.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/gm-unions-reach-tentative-agreement-on-cami-plant/feed/ 29
2015 GM Full-Size SUVs Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/2015-gm-full-size-suvs-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/2015-gm-full-size-suvs-revealed/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2013 16:12:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=516977 IMG_6432

Any minute now, GM will be taking the wraps off the 2015 GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Suburban. For now, we’ve got some press shots to keep you held over. The big news so far appears to be GMC’s pushing of the Denali model as an upscale alternative to the normal Yukon and Suburban trims. Denalis get a nicer interior as well as a 6.2L V8 making 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The other models get the standard 5.3L version. More info to follow.

IMG_6456

2015 GMC Yukon XL SLT 2015 Chevrolet Suburban in Champagne side view from New York rev 2015 GMC Yukon Denali 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe Center Console ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/2015-gm-full-size-suvs-revealed/feed/ 150
GM To Unveil Next-Gen Full-Size SUVs At Texas State Fair http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/gm-to-unveil-next-gen-full-size-suvs-at-texas-state-fair/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/gm-to-unveil-next-gen-full-size-suvs-at-texas-state-fair/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:34:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498430 Chevrolet_Tahoe_Hybrid_O'Malley_--_01-12-2010

TTAC has learned that General Motors will unveil their next generation full-size SUVs at the Texas State Fair, which starts September 27th in Dallas.

The next-generation Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban as well as the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL will be unveiled there, according to a TTAC source. The next-generation Cadillac Escalade will be revealed at an unspecified later date.

 

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/gm-to-unveil-next-gen-full-size-suvs-at-texas-state-fair/feed/ 30
Piston Slap: A New (Wave Plate) Sensation? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/piston-slap-a-new-wave-plate-sensation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/piston-slap-a-new-wave-plate-sensation/#comments Mon, 03 Jun 2013 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=490494

Keith writes:

Mr. Mehta,

My apologies if this has been covered, but I’m looking for advice on my soon-to-be out of warranty 2008 GMC Acadia. I’m at 64K and 4.8 years, so bumper to bumper is gone but power train is still good for a few months.

Two fellow Acadia owners I know have reported tranny problems at roughly 60k and the forums seem to indicate numerous others with similar issues. Most often its an issue with the wave plate, particularly with the 07-09 models. Within the last few weeks I’m also starting to get an intermittent stabilitrak warning light promoting me to get the brakes serviced.

My question for you is should I 1) hope the tranny drops in the next two months 2) shell out $3k for a 4/48 extended service contract or 3) trade it in on something similar.

I love the car(truck) and was hoping to get 8-10 years out of it, so maybe #2. Or I could take the $3k and couple that with what I think is still pretty good resale value and get a new ride.

I’m generally pretty cynical about extended service contracts/warranties, but I have no experience on those for automotive.

Any thoughts, advice or general musings would be greatly appreciated. TTAC is wonderful resource. Keep up the good work!

Sajeev answers:

Now’s a good time to remind my dear readers that I am not a mechanic by trade, I’ve just been in “your shoes” in the past. Perhaps an oversimplification, but let’s do this thang and dig into your tranny.

This is the first I’ve heard of this problem, ditto the “wave plate.”  I suspect most of you are in my shoes, so a little research: this thread points to the wave plate vs. conventional clutch plate of the 3rd gear drum (i.e. direct drive, 1:1 ratio) of an older GM 4-speed.  Which I then recalled while hunting for a good rebuilt-upgrade for my Ford AOD. I learned about an upgrade to 3rd gear, choosing an aftermarket Blue Plate Special (yes, really) clutch pack for mine. With that in mind, reading one of the comments in the LS1 Tech link said it all:

“The waved steel keeps the splines from taking a hard hit by pre-loading it. In other words, the waved steel takes up the slack before the clutches are completely applied.”

So if the waved steel clutches aren’t the right “wave dimensions”, there could be a problem shifting into that gear. The problem might look like this. Note how the speedometer never slows down as the rpms fluctuate: indicating that the transmission is slipping that frickin’ hard on the upshift:

Click here to view the embedded video.

FINALLY: a transmission almost as horrible as the one in the Smart Car, without the need for Smart Car ownership! (childish giggling)

Unfortunately we don’t know if this video is indicative of your problem. Or if this thread on the Saturn forums also applies. Or if you have a problem yet…is nothing ever easy in this world???

My advice?  If/when the wave plates start ruining your ride, see if your homework (including the stuff I posted) can get you a little credit with GM service: pleasant, level-headed customers can easily get their out-of-warranty work covered under the blanket term of “goodwill.” Because nobody wants to lose a good customer, if possible.  If not, get a reman transmission that specifically addresses this problem. I suspect both GM and big name rebuilders (like Jasper) will have you covered. Even if it’s gonna happen after the warranty expires.

Perhaps you should just give up and get a Crown Vic Best of luck, as always.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/piston-slap-a-new-wave-plate-sensation/feed/ 11