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 Apr 2014 13:30:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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%
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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.

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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.

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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%
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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 ]]>
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ]]>
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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.

 

 

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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.

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Down On the Farm: The General’s Troops Wait For Orders In Wisconsin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/down-on-the-farm-the-generals-troops-wait-for-orders-in-wisconsin/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/down-on-the-farm-the-generals-troops-wait-for-orders-in-wisconsin/#comments Sat, 04 May 2013 16:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487152 08 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI was born in Minnesota, my wife is from Wisconsin, and I have a job that ships me to the Upper Midwest several times per year. For all these reasons, I find myself in Door County every summer, eating cheese curds, drinking Spotted Cow, and going to vintage tractor shows. Last year, on my way to becoming a card-carrying Bitters Club member on Washington Island, I spotted these old General Motors survivors sitting in a field.
02 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLooks like a couple of early postwar Chevy pickups and a GMC COE winch truck from the same era.
03 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThey’re not terribly rusty (for Wisconsin), which suggests that someone still cares for them.
09 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAnd why not? A farm truck is still useful, whether it’s five years old or 65.
01 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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New GM Trucks Will Beat EcoBoost At Towing – But Only With A Special Package http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/new-gm-trucks-will-beat-ecoboost-at-towing-but-only-with-a-special-package/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/new-gm-trucks-will-beat-ecoboost-at-towing-but-only-with-a-special-package/#comments Thu, 04 Apr 2013 14:58:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=483544

Remember GM’s boast about how their new trucks could tow a segment best 11,5000 pounds? Turns out there’s a big ol’ asterisk that wasn’t expanded upon.

PickupTrucks.com reports that the 11,500 pound tow rating will only happen when a special package is ordered.

The maximum towing capacity for the Silverado and Sierra is 11,500 pounds, but that will be only with trucks outfitted with the max-trailering package (special note: the gross combined weight rating is said to be 17,500 pounds). The highest tow ratings without the max-tow package for regular cabs is 10,200 pounds; for crew cabs it’s 9,700 pounds. And all max-tow package-equipped trucks will be running 3.73:1 ring and pinion gears; 4.10:1 gears will not be offered for 2014.

Despite the slightly misleading claims from GM, Ford’s own site is a convoluted mess of different wheelbase lengths, engines, axle ratios and different towing packages that doesn’t tell nearly the full story either. For now we can say GM has the win in towing capacity, but nobody has the moral high ground in making things clear.

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GM Will Introduce Two Mid-Size Pickups For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/gm-will-introduce-two-mid-size-pickups-for-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/gm-will-introduce-two-mid-size-pickups-for-2015/#comments Wed, 03 Apr 2013 15:48:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=483445

GM will have two new mid-size pickups out in 2015, just in time to steal the spotlight from the all-new Ford F-150. And according to TTAC Commenter and GM exec Mark Reuss, the two trucks should have fairly different missions.

Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Reuss said that the Chevrolet pickup will be a “lifestyle” oriented truck, while GMC’s truck would be aimed at fleets and small businesses. Reuss also said that the new trucks would have all-new powertrains and be slightly larger than a Toyota Tacoma. We can only hope that this includes some kind of diesel, perhaps the Duramax that’s offered in the Thai version of the Chevrolet Colorado.

Perhaps our Aussie/global readers can fill us in on the subtitles of the Colorado vs. Hilux debate as well.

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The 1991 GMC Jimmy SLE – The Car I NEVER Should Have Bought http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/the-1991-gmc-jimmy-sle-the-car-i-never-should-have-bought/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/the-1991-gmc-jimmy-sle-the-car-i-never-should-have-bought/#comments Wed, 13 Mar 2013 12:11:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480796

1991 GMC Jimmy SLE

The 1991 GMC Jimmy was a throwback to a better time. The design, originally introduced in the 1973 model year, was all truck and its square, upright design spoke volumes about American strength and power. Over the years, the design gradually evolved and towards the end of its product run even gained small touches of luxury. Don’t be misled by the soft velour seats and carpeted floors, though, under the skin the truck was still all business. It was a serious rig for serious men and it required a seriously big wallet to fill its seriously big fuel tank. I didn’t know it then, but I was in serious trouble the minute it hit the driveway.

The Jimmy, resplendent in its two-tone grey paint and rolling on raised white letter tires and aluminum rims that look suspiciously close to a set of Centerline Racing wheels, is the “car” I never should have bought. Despite the fact that I was making almost weekly trips to visit my girlfriend on the other side of the state, 5 hours and a high mountain pass away, it was more vehicle than I needed. Still, my off-road adventure in my tiny Geo Metro had left me aware of the perils involved in the trip, especially in mid winter, and earnestly believed that a four-wheel drive was necessary to ensure that my love life remained uninterrupted.

I had begun the process of replacing the Metro by looking at the big GMC’s little brother, the S-15 Jimmy and it’s Chevrolet sibling the S-10 Blazer. What I found was disheartening and I have since become convinced that these vehicles are the 90’s version on the 70’s Camaro, usually bought cheap by young people and thrashed from the minute they leave the lot. Every one of them I looked at was in poor condition, frequently dented by off-road adventures and usually with some crappy aftermarket radio shoehorned into a hole hacked into the dash. The bigger, K series trucks seemed to be in better condition and despite the fact they were bigger than I wanted, I soon found myself gravitating towards them. The more I looked, the more comfortable I became with their price and size and so, when I found a 1991 Jimmy in great condition I jumped at the chance to buy it.

I’m ashamed to say that P.T. Barnum was right, there is a sucker born every minute. That day, it was me. Thanks to a poorly negotiated deal, something I was about to repeat, I was seriously upside down in the Metro. Add to that payoff a generous mark-up on the Jimmy at a convenient “no haggle” price and you can imagine the total that was presented to me. Today, almost 20 years later, I would beat it out of the show room in a hurry, but back then I was so clueless that I sat there while the sales manager worked to get me into the right loan that would let me take the prize home. Unfortunately, they were successful and ,in the end, I ended up paying about $330 a month for 6 years on a 5 year old used truck with around 90K miles!

The truck itself was a beautiful machine. Papers I found in the glove box indicated that the truck was a top of the line machine that had actually been given away as the grand prize, along with a matching bass boat, at the Outdoorsman’s Expo in 1991 and it still looked the part. ‘91 was also the last year of the big, square style Jimmy and although it was old school on the outside, under the hood it featured the latest fuel injected 5.7 liter engine. Inside was nice, with comfortable buckets seats, a huge plastic console and all the available options.

Reverse angle of my Jimmy

It did great in the snow and I regularly used it to storm over the Snoqualmie pass and across Washington state. Equipped with a hitch and a transmission cooler, the truck was also a great towing rig and I used it that summer when I decided give up the long weekly commute and moved to Pullman. I really loved the truck, but gradually the high cost of fuel and the poor loan terms I had received, combined with a poor employment situation, began to take a toll.

By 1999 I was at a low point in my life. A whole series of poor decisions had finally joined together in a perfect storm and I was really behind the 8 ball. I had finished college but the better life I had thought would surely follow failed to materialize and I ended back with my mother in my childhood bedroom. I felt like a heel. To make matters worse, I still owed so much money on the truck that there was no way I could finance a more fuel efficient vehicle and, broke, I couldn’t even sell it at a loss. Finally, with a job in Japan on the horizon, my mom stepped up and paid the loan down enough for me to sell it.

The guy who bought it was as thrilled with his purchase as I had originally been and he gleefully took it off my hands. I wish I could say that I was as excited to be out from under the truck as he was to buy it, but the truth is I was emotionally drained by the whole experience. Unemployed and beat down by life, I met with a recruiter for an English school in Japan and, after taking another loan from my mother and headed for Japan where I willingly stepped into an obviously dead-end job and began to rebuild my life. To this day, I can’t think of the Jimmy without a flood of world-weary, unhappy emotions welling up. It’s too bad really, that truck was one for the ages.

So now, for our entertainment, let me ask you to reach into that darkest part of your soul and tell us – What is the vehicle you should never have purchased?

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.

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Auction Day: Seconds! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/auction-day-seconds/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/auction-day-seconds/#comments Mon, 11 Mar 2013 19:36:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480779

There comes a time when the prices for used cars at the auto auctions go the way of an exuberant bubble.

A small army of consumers get their tax refunds. The car lots wake up from their winter slumber, and values for vehicles go the netheregions of the human imagination.

I sell cars during this time, not buy them. In the last three months of every year I will usually buy a lot to avoid the tax time market prices. Sometimes as many as 12 vehicles in a day. But when tax season comes, I buy a chosen few and sell them by the dozen.

Then, after the buying frenzy begins to ever slowly ebb, there will be a welcome break in those hedonistic valuations. Where instead of winding up $1000 to $1500 behind the selling price, I wind up second to another bidder. Almost always to a guy who has been buying cars for a long time. Today was that day.

My first second was this 1991 Acura Integra. Now a lot of you folks will quickly realize that this vehicle is old enough to buy itself a drink, and you would be right. But age in a rust free climate that offers smooth roads is not that big of a deal.

The exterior? $260 paint job. The interior was presentable. A/C was fine. However the clutch was not shifting right, the big fartcan back muffler was a bit of a negative ding, and the hatch area had barely no semblance of the ultra-thin Acura fabric. The odometer showed 164k miles… which was probably inaccurate. I only bid up to $700 and watched a wholesaler outbid me at $750.

These sell quite well once they’re cleaned up. But I’m sure this one would have needed to be shucked to a paint shop, a mechanic shop, and an upholstery shop between the auction and the retail lot. Such time issues have a big hidden cost in our business and if you find another nasty surprise in that process, you can wind up ‘polishing a turd’. So this one simply went down the pipe.

Then we have the most heavily depreciate midsized car of the modern day. A Mitsubishi Galant. This 2009 model had 123,791 miles, and although the trunklid mentioned an ES trim level, apparently an ES in the rental happy Galant world only means alloy wheels as an option.

These lower trim vehicles usually sit at my lot for a bit. Cloth interiors. More than 120k… but an 09 model. I stopped bidding at $4900 for the sole reason that I usually can’t get the same margins with a higher cost vehicle with lower feature content. The final bid was $5000, and given that I already have several Tauruses and 3.5 Liter Intrepids that fit this bill at a far lower acquisiton cost, I can’t say I regret this decision.

Now this one was a gritting of the teeth moment. A 2007 GMC Canyon Work Truck with 111k and nothing too special about it. Except for the automatic. Late model, compact, automatic pickups are insanely easy to finance and this one had the added benefit of some paint transfer on the fenders that a less experienced buyer would falsely see as a permanent issue.

I bid up to $4500, and a friend of mine who buys up trucks was standing near me and bid $4600. I had to invoke King’s Rule and give him the favor of bowing out. In exchange for him looking out for me during the next go around. Hopefully that happens and I don’t wind up in a dogfight.

Finally we had the transportation equivalent of dog food go through the block. A 1999 Saturn SL. Based out. 5-speed. Perfect 35+ highway miles per gallon transportation for those folks who subscribe to the common practices of penny pinching and personal parsimony. I always have several of these on the road. Although the 5-speed is often a more challenging sale here in the Atlanta ex-urbs.

I showed a fist and held the bid at $1000. Waited for a few seconds. Then. Damn! Someone jumped in and I bid it up two more times before letting it go to some other nearby shadow for $1500. Typically I try to keep my costs under $2000 for a stickshift equipped basic vehicle, and this one would have likely cut it close once you added the buyers fee and the need for new rubber all the way around.

There was a ton of other stuff today. Fewer buyers came to the sale. But those who did show up bid all the money in the world. So if you’re in the market for a 1999 Lexus LS400 in clean condition and only 117k miles, you are looking at nearly $8000. Wholesale. If that sounds insane to you, just think about the financing terms that will be applied towards that vehicle. I’m seeing $1500 down. $80 a week for at least 36 months. Maybe even 48 months.

 

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GM, CAW Angling For Renewed Crossover Production In Canada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/gm-caw-angling-for-renewed-crossover-production-in-canada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/gm-caw-angling-for-renewed-crossover-production-in-canada/#comments Mon, 21 Jan 2013 18:03:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=474558

The cost of doing business in Canada may be high for auto makers, but that isn’t stopping GM from looking to re-negotiate their contract with the CAW nearly a year in advance as a means of keeping production of the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain at the CAMI plant in Ontario.

While GM has proposed moving production to facilities in Mexico and Tennessee, the auto maker is leaning in favor of sticking with CAMI (though a current arrangement has overflow being sent to Tennessee).

The Globe and Mail reports that GM would like to start negotiations with the CAW soon, rather than in September, to get a better picture of the long-term labor costs associated with production at CAMI. Workers will ostensibly get the same deal that GM’s Oshawa workers recieved, though CAMI’s workforce isn’t able to take advantage of provisions in the deal that mandate cheaper wages for new hires, a key cost cutting measure for GM. With three shifts and overtime in place, there will be little hiring of new workers, meaning that legacy workers and their higher labor costs will continue to make up the bulk of the workforce.

Strong sales of the crossovers has meant that CAMI is operating at 150 percent of capacity, making it one of GM’s most successful plants. Aside from the plant’s success, the continued production of the Equinox and Terrain in Canada will help satisfy GM’s requirements to build at least 16 percent of its vehicles in Canada, under the terms of a bailout package handed out to GM by two levels of Canadian government. Early reports suggested that the departure of the Impala and Equinox/Terrian would bring GM below that threshold.

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2014 GM Pickup Interiors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/2014-gm-pickup-interiors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/2014-gm-pickup-interiors/#comments Tue, 15 Jan 2013 12:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=473839

GM’s new large pickups might be locked up at NAIAS, but they were wide open at the launch event I attended last month. The event included three presentations: one of both trucks together, then one each from the two marketing teams explaining how their truck was different…by saying pretty much the same thing. Both Chevrolet and GMC truck buyers have perfectly organized garages where you can eat off the floor. People with messy, disorganized garages must buy someone else’s truck.

Both Chevrolet and GMC put a lot of emphasis on the luxury truck buyer (GM can’t quite bring itself to give GMC exclusive rights to this group). My impression was that, despite the stitching embedded in the instrument panel of both trucks, even the GMC interior didn’t look or feel as upscale as that in the top Ford and Ram (a future Denali might help). The surrounds for the center stack and side air vents appear clunky to my eye, and the large rubber-ringed knobs might be work glove-friendly but they neither look nor feel premium.

The thick surround is real aluminum in the GMC but silver plastic in the Chevrolet. Few people will be able to tell the difference. Beyond this, the GMC has red ambient lighting, while the Chevrolet has blue ambient lighting. Apparently these differences are enough to make the new Silverado and Sierra the most differentiated pickups in GM history.

GMC will also offer a sport trim, complete with leather seat bolsters textured to appear woven and red stitching on the seats and instrument panel.

Under the leather GM has sprung for a premium high density foam. To note the difference this makes, just climb into the rear seats. They must use cheaper, lower density foam, as they’re not nearly as firm.

To demonstrate that the traditional pickup buyer hadn’t been entirely forsaken, one pickup with a cloth interior was on hand. I asked what percentage of large pickup buyers frequently use their trucks as trucks. No one on either the Chevrolet or GMC side knew, beyond the surprising (to me at least) fact that only about ten percent of sales are of the two-door regular cab pickup. It’s hard to find out the answer to this question, as no one wants to admit that they don’t use their truck as a truck. And it doesn’t really matter. Even buyers who won’t often (or even ever) come close to using the full capability of these trucks nevertheless insist that this capability be there.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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QOTD: What Are You Looking Forward To At NAIAS? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/qotd-what-are-you-looking-forward-to-at-naias/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/qotd-what-are-you-looking-forward-to-at-naias/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 18:12:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=472850

As I gear up for NAIAS (read: do laundry, look for my passport), I am scanning the schedule for what press conferences are worth going to and what’s worth skipping? If you have any special requests, speak now in the comments or forever hold you peace. Personally, I’m most looking forward to seeing the new GM full-size trucks. I liked the old GMT900 pickups, but the bar has been moved forward consecutively by both Ford and Ram. The old formula of a simple, honest no-frills truck may not be enough – and that could be a disastrous miscalculation by GM, leading to a Civic/Malibu-esque need for a mid-cycle refresh.

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What Happened To GM’s Hybrid Pickups? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/what-happened-to-gms-hybrid-pickups/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/what-happened-to-gms-hybrid-pickups/#comments Wed, 19 Dec 2012 16:24:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=470707

One of the most conspicuous absences from GM’s full-size truck reveal was the lack of any hybrid variants. The highly-touted but slow selling hybrid full-size trucks and SUVs were never intended to be the darlings of America’s truck space, but they played an important behind the scenes role for the company.

A hybrid truck may have been as appealing to the average truck buyer as a camouflage tutu, but under the arcane CAFE rules, there were plenty of credits to be had by producing a hybrid truck or large SUV. For the nitty gritty details, a longer summary is available here. For those with an aversion to long, complex explanations of government regulations, let’s just say that the “credits” applied to every hybrid truck or large SUV produced would help a given auto maker reach its CAFE target, because the credits can not only be applied to the trucks themselves, but to other “underperforming vehicles” – or retained for use in later years.

But with GM cutting its R&D budgets, the “two-mode hybrid” system is set to die. In its place is a new Gen V small-block V8 with direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder-deactivation. Final fuel economy numbers aren’t available yet, but we do know that GM is going at it alone with their “two truck” strategy, offering the large trucks alongside a smaller pickup with superior fuel economy. Unlike Ford and Chrysler, the V6 Silverado/Sierra won’t play such an important role for the General.

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Meet The New GM Trucks, Same As The Old Trucks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/meet-the-new-gm-trucks-same-as-the-old-trucks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/meet-the-new-gm-trucks-same-as-the-old-trucks/#comments Thu, 13 Dec 2012 15:48:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469998

GM revealed its new full-size pickups today, with a combination of “evolutionary” styling and while offering a more traditional pickup, devoid of the fancy turbocharged V6 engines and air suspensions offered in its rivals.

Three powertrains will be offered with the new trucks; a 4.3L V6, a 5.3L V8 and a 6.2L V8, and all three feature direct injection and cylinder deactivation. A six-speed automatic will back up all three engines, with GM estimating a combined 17 mpg for all three trucks. Horsepower and torque specs weren’t released.

New features include a step mounted at the corner of the pickup bed (which features no moving parts and is permanently set into the rear bumper – a rather clever idea), LED lights mounted under the bed and a seat that vibrates to warn the driver of a possible collision (similar to the Cadillac XTS). Inside, an infotainment system similar to Cadillac’s CUE dominates the interior, while rear legroom is said to be improved. GM claims that the switchgear is easier to operate with work gloves on, but presumably those must be removed for the touchscreen system to work.

Next up in GM’s truck salvo; revised versions of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Unlike Ford and Ram, GM is adopting a two-pronged approach, with the new mid-size trucks being positioned as the choice for mpg-concious buyers. The demise of the Ford Ranger has left GM as the sole domestic player in the small truck market, though the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier will provide the twins with a bit of a challenge.

1. Photo courtesy Automotive News. 2. Photo courtesy Automotive News. 3. Photo courtesy Automotive News. 4. Photo courtesy Automotive News. 5. Photo courtesy Automotive News. 6. Photo courtesy Automotive News. 7. Photo courtesy Automotive News. 8. Photo courtesy Automotive News. PH-121309999. Photo courtesy Automotive News. PH-1213099999. Photo courtesy Automotive News. Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Review: 2013 GMC Terrain Denali V6 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-gmc-terrain-denali-v6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-gmc-terrain-denali-v6/#comments Fri, 30 Nov 2012 15:48:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=468516

For years General Motors fought a rearguard action, asserting that its relatively big cam-in-block engines were at least as good as the “high tech” DOHC mills offered by “the Japanese.” Led by the buff books, freethinking pistonheads knew better. More power from a smaller displacement engine clearly indicated higher intelligence. Honda, smartest of all, extracted 270 horsepower from a 3.0-liter V6. The 1990 Corvette made do with 245 horsepower from a 5.7-liter V8. Two decades later, GM finally developed a 3.0-liter V6 with an NSX-like output, and without the Acura’s pricey titanium innards or need for premium fuel. The new engine took the place of a previous-generation 3.6. My response after sampling the then-new V6 in the similarly new GMC Terrain: “Perhaps the 3.6 will at least find its way into a future Denali variant?” Three years later, the future has arrived.

As 1990s GM argued, horsepower wasn’t the issue with the 3.0. Rather, 264 horsepower were easily sufficient, but arrived at a lofty 6,950 rpm. These days, even sports car buyers prefer more accessible thrust. At people hauler engine speeds, the V6 wasn’t up to the task of motivating a 4,200-pound crossover. While the 3.6 churns out 37 more horsepower at a lower (but still high) 6,500 rpm peak, it pays its biggest benefits through the midrange, providing 50 pound-feet of additional twist (272 @ 4,800 vs. 222 @ 5,100). Put your foot to the floor, and the 2013 Terrain is certainly quicker. But the most meaningful improvement is that acceleration now sounds and feels effortless rather than strained in typical daily driving. The slightest hill no longer requires that the transmission drop down a cog or three.

The key point of wringing more power out of a smaller engine, beyond bragging rights, is superior fuel economy. Substitute a 3.6 for a 3.0 in an all-wheel-drive Terrain and gas mileage…stays exactly the same, with EPA ratings of 16 city and 23 highway. Curb weight also has a major impact. Step up to the larger, 4,850-pound Acadia, and gas mileage…is exactly the same. So if you’re considering the relatively compact Terrain to save gas, don’t, unless you’re willing to live with the 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (EPA 22/32 with FWD, 20/29 with AWD). Performance with the four feels better than the stats suggest it has any right to, partly through the electronic trickery of active noise reduction. But many owners have found the EPA numbers difficult to replicate. In the tested Denali, with the 3.6 and AWD, we observed high teens to low twenties in typical suburban driving, a few mpg below lighter, more compact competitors.

The GMC Terrain has been a strong seller for the past three years despite the engine mismatch. Though many competitors have been redesigned in the interim, the GMC retains some substantial differences, beginning with its distinctive exterior styling. The Terrain isn’t pretty. It’s not supposed to be pretty. Instead, it successfully channels the spirit of Hummer for a far brawnier road presence than that of any other compact crossover. Most competitors (including the closely related Chevrolet Equinox) aspire to resemble the cars with which they share a badge. Well, GMC doesn’t sell cars, and the Terrain looks like a truck. In Denali trim this look is turned up another notch with a big chrome faux billet grille and body-color lower body trim.

Three years ago, the Terrain’s interior was perhaps the nicest in the segment. The Denali adds upgraded black leather with red stitching (on the door panels as well as the seating surfaces), a soft-touch stitched pad atop the instrument panel, wood on the steering wheel, and illuminated door sill trim plates. These bits look and feel good, but the rest hasn’t kept up. The switchgear (much of it beyond reach) and the econo-car thin-and-hard door armrests in particular aren’t worthy of the Denali’s price.

Other Terrain strengths shared with the related Chevrolet Equinox include plentiful leg room and the ride quality of a larger crossover. A 112.5” wheelbase (others are in the 103- to 106-inch range) likely deserves a fair amount of the credit for both. Though compact in width (and thus shoulder room), the Terrain goes down the road with a steadiness and solidity that you won’t find in truly compact crossovers. The Denali’s big 235/55R19 tires (an optional size on the SLT) clomp a bit over minor bumps, but the ride (enhanced with Denali-specific dual-flow dampers) is otherwise very smooth and quiet, even too quiet. Especially with the new V6 it’s shockingly easy to lose track of how fast you’re going.

If you’re seeking agility in a compact crossover, get a Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5. The Terrain is larger than those competitors, and partly thanks to a distant windshield (between massive pillars) feels even larger than it is. The steering has some play on-center (GMC DNA?), but weights up well as the wheel is turned. Typical of this sort of vehicle, understeer arrives early, but the chassis handles intuitively, with a very stable rear end (not a given with tall vehicles). I’ve experienced handling like this before: in GM’s big traditional SUVs. The Terrain is downright tight and nimble compared to a Yukon, but the way they feel through the seat of your pants is oddly similar.

The Terrain’s mid-cycle revisions haven’t affected its packaging. Despite the crossover’s long body, cargo volume is only about average thanks to a high, narrow floor and second row seats that don’t fold nearly flat.

The appearance modifications and smooth, quiet ride are worthy of the Denali label. But are these enough? The label got its start as a quick-and-dirty response to the success of the Lincoln Navigator. GM’s initial, soon-reversed decision was that Cadillac would not offer SUVs. Instead, luxury SUVs were GMC turf. To transform a Yukon into a Lincoln-fighter, GMC added cladding and a unique front end to the exterior, upgraded the interior, and made everything standard. In later iterations, the Denali gained more unique content, including an engine and drivetrain not offered in lesser Yukons. This helped justify a much higher price. A 2013 Yukon Denali lists for $3,640 more than a similarly-equipped Yukon SLT.

Two years ago, GMC added a Denali trim level to the Acadia large crossover. A new DOHC V8 died in development, and few other unique features made it through circa-bankruptcy GM, leaving the Acadia Denali short on content compared to other luxury brand vehicles. Accordingly, it lists for only $1,685 more than a similarly-equipped Acadia SLT.

With the new Terrain Denali, a power passenger seat and a blind spot warning system are the only notable Denali-specific features. These do help justify a larger price bump than with the Acadia: the Terrain Denali is $2,640 more than a similarly-equipped SLT, about half of this accounted for by feature differences (per TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool).

A $1,300 bump seems reasonable for the upgraded exterior, interior, and suspension. But the Terrain was already among the pricier compact crossovers. The tested vehicle, with nav and a few minor options, had a $40,425 sticker. At this price, the Denali-only (yet optional on a mid-level Equinox) power passenger seat is not so much special as expected. Other things commonly desired by buyers opting for a special luxury model with a price over $40,000 include:
* xenon headlamps
* steering-linked headlamps
* rain-sensing wipers
* adaptive cruise control
* keyless ignition
* power steering column adjustments
* heated steering wheel
* dual-zone climate control
* rear seat air vents
* auto-up for at least the driver’s window (VW commonly does all four)
* cooled front seats
* heated rear seats
* premium audio
None of these features are offered on the Terrain Denali.

I compiled a similar list for the Acadia Denali two years ago. A couple of safety features on that earlier list are new to a few GM models for 2013. As noted above, a blind spot warning system is reserved for the Denali among Terrains. A single-camera forward collision alert and lane departure warning system is optional on the SLT and standard on the Denali. The former feature should prevent quite a few rear-end collisions by people too tired or too distracted to notice that the car ahead of them has stopped. The latter works less well. It’s too slow to react some times, too quick many others. Most buyers will likely grow annoyed with all of the beeping and deactivate it via the handy button on the steering wheel (no need to dig through menus).

GM’s new-for-2012 Intellilink infotainment system, which includes Bluetooth and streaming Internet radio apps, is standard on the Denali. Pairing could hardly be quicker or easier. The system sends a PIN to the phone. You merely click “OK.” GM’s SD-based nav has a modest feature set and slow reactions to some commands, especially zoom. But it is far less expensive than the 2010-2011 HDD-based system, $795 vs. $2,145.

If you want a more sophisticated infotainment system, or the items in the above list, GM wants you to buy a Cadillac SRX. Unlike the original Denali, the new top-level Terrain isn’t properly outfitted to fight any Lincolns. The new Acura RDX is a closer match. Load up both crossovers and the Terrain Denali is $685 less before adjusting for feature differences, and about $1,115 less afterwards. Against any compact crossover with a sub-premium label (save the VW Tiguan) the Terrain doesn’t fare as well. A similarly-equipped Ford Escape Titanium is about $2,370 less before adjusting for feature differences, and about $3,800 after adjusting for its additional features.

Really, though, I don’t see many people cross-shopping the Escape and the Terrain. The Ford has car-like styling, a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, Germanic dynamics, and a tight second row. In sharp contrast to the Escape, the GMC is thoroughly American in its appearance, driving feel, interior space, and (after a three-year wait) engine displacement. The Denali is short on features for a $40,000 vehicle, but it does have a more attractive exterior and interior, for a modest price bump. If you happen to be seeking the character of a Yukon Denali in a relatively tidy package, GMC (and only GMC) has what you’re looking for.

GMC provided an insured vehicle with a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of car reliability and pricing information.

Terrain Denali cargo, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali engine, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali forward collision warning, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali front quarter side, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali front quarter, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali front, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali interior, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali rear quarter high, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali rear quarter side, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali rear quarter, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali rear seat, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali stitched dash topper, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali view forward, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Terrain Denali instrument panel, picture courtesy Michael Karesh Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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