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January 6, 2013

General Motors Debuts All-New 2014 Pickups

It may be the most important introduction in GM history. The full-size pickup is so important to GM fortunes that the launch of the 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 and the GMC Sierra 1500 is critical to the future of the company.

The 2014s, recently unveiled at a press gathering, show a range that is big and bold, although hardly revolutionary. It may be, however, that when they go on sale late in the second quarter, they’ll fulfill the dual tasks of work and play just a bit better than the competition and help assure GM’s future.

The trucks at the Detroit launch didn't look particularly distinctive. They have big grills sporting lots of chrome and huge wheel openings, displaying the usual 20- or 22-inch wheels. The conventional four-door extended and crew cabs are the stuff of modern, full-size trucks. But the execution may be enough to pull it off.
 
Those doors, for instance, now fit flush into the openings with triple seals. Along with an all-new frame and cab structure featuring hydroforming for the former and high-strength steel for the latter, they should produce the super-quiet interior promised at the launch.

All-new engines, albeit with the familiar displacements, promise to offer more performance and economy. Plus the latest in connectivity with as many as five USB ports certainly presents a new product to eager GM truck buyers who have been tempted with equally fully featured competitors as GM gets these new models into the pipeline.
 
Still, it won't be smooth sailing for GM. The company has overstocked dealers with its waning models in an effort to keep the standard flying as it readies the new models for the market. Those trucks have to be shoved through the system before buyers get the new Silverado and Sierra. The danger is that prospective customers will take the inevitable deals on the old stock, meaning slack sales for the new products when they come on stream. GM says the 2500 and 3500 heavier-duty models will continue, as they were refreshed for the 2011 model year.

The New Trucks
If customers stand on the sidelines when the new trucks are available, they’ll be missing a lot that's new and improved. The trucks have the all-new, stiffer frame and body architecture that guarantees more stiffness and hence quieter driving and surer handling. There's no significant increase in dimensions. The cabs feature the aforementioned changes to the doors and openings but the rear doors on the extended cab are now hinged on the B pillars instead of opening suicide-style as on the older extended cabs. The full crew cabs have a longer rear door to make access better.

Cab mounts are new. The shear-style mounts isolate both up-and-down and side-to-side movements, and extended- and crew-cab models have additional hydraulic mounts to provide further isolation.
 
The 2014 Silverado 1500 also features a roll-formed steel pickup box, which is lighter, stronger and more durable than traditional stamped steel boxes. The use of high-strength steels and other lighter materials such as aluminum hoods, engine blocks and suspension helped offset the mass of new features, including stronger cabs, wider wheels, a larger battery and larger rear axles for V-8 Silverados. The 2014 Silverado is lighter than competitive models, according to GM.
 
The distinctive styling feature is the square fender shape carried over from the Equinox. Silverado and Sierra models are differentiated here, with the Sierra gaining a fender lip for protection from stones etc, requiring different panels front and rear from the Silverado. The trucks are also differentiated by the design of the grill and headlamp. The Silverado has a wide, two-opening grill and stacked lamp arrangement, while the Sierra features a more familiar grill opening with projector LED headlamps. Both have styled steel bumpers in chrome, with a painted finish for some GMC models.
 
Elsewhere, the trucks are similar, although they are differentiated by the level of trim and available options. GM has characterized the Chevy as the blue-collar range, and GMC as the "professional grade" for those who want the best available. As such, GMC trucks get the higher level of trim and appointment, though both brands will have extensive options.
 
In terms of power for the personal use pickups displayed at the launch -- the 1500 of the past -- there is a 4.3 liter V6 and 5.3 and 6.2 liter V8s. The 4.8 goes away with the new models.
 
These engines may share old-model displacements, but GM says they share only a few parts numbers. Designated the EcoTec3, all engines feature direct injection, variable-valve timing (previously only on V8s) and cylinder cutout, where engines drop to four-cylinder mode under light load. This includes the V6. The combination of technologies enables fuel savings for the new powertrains, though GMC is not saying how much.
 
Powertrains feature a six-speed transmission, now with hill descent assist and beefed up axles for the V8s. Suspensions are conventional but upgraded and all models get all-wheel disc brakes.  A new feature is electric power assist for the steering.
 
Boxing Clever
The pickup box is mildly smarter. A CornerStep bumper and built-in hand grip pockets in the bed rail protectors make it a snap to step up into the bed when the torsion-bar assisted tailgate is in the lowered position. The tailgate also has a damper to keep it from slamming down when opened. A locking feature, two-tier loading and a box lamp are standard. Available features include upper tie-down hooks that make it easier to secure cargo. Available on the Chevy and standard on the GMC are LED lamps under the bed rails, making it easier to see the contents at night, or when using a bed cover.
 
The pickup box is available in three lengths – 5’8”, 6’6” and 8’. Crew cab models add the 6’6” box as a new option in addition to the 5’8” box. Extended cab models come with 6’6” boxes and regular cab models are available with 6’6” or 8’ boxes. There are four- and seven-pin trailer connectors in the rear bumper.
 
Upgraded Interiors
According to GM, crew cabs now account for more than two-thirds of light-duty sales industry-wide, so pickups are increasingly becoming multi-purpose tools, used to run a business or earn a living during the day and transporting friends and family during the time off. The result: an all new interior that sets a new standard for full-size trucks, says the company.
 
The upright instrument panel has a six-gauge instrument cluster and most models also include a 4.2-inch color Driver Information Center displaying vehicle and infotainment data.
 
Controls are located with the use of reach curves, and important controls were place closest to the driver and grouped functionally. Knobs, buttons and interfaces are large, easy-to-read and easy to operate, even with gloves on.
 
The pickups retain the column shifter, with tap-up/tap-down and tow-haul functions integrated into the lever, because it clears space in the console. The available integrated trailer brake control is mounted high and to the left of the steering wheel.
 
Silverado has the available MyLink infotainment system, Sierra’s equivalent is the IntelliLink, designed to be easy to use and customizable, and capable of linking up to 10 devices. It features natural language voice recognition that allows customers to place calls, enter destinations, browse media, play music and control other functions simply by telling the vehicle what to do. There are no key phrases to remember and no need to look at a screen.
 
MyLink also can be operated via large, clearly labeled knobs, through integrated steering wheel controls, or through the touch screen on models with the eight-inch display screen in the center stack.
 
All models also have extensive interior storage, including a cavernous “clamshell-opening” glovebox. The armrest storage can hold regular hanging files and most laptops. Multiple USB ports, along with 12V and 110V power outlets connect multiple devices.
 
New Engines
For 2014, the three engines for the Silverado and Sierra use lightweight aluminum blocks with cast-in iron cylinder liners. The blocks provide a light, rigid foundation with their deep-skirt block design. Cross-bolted main bearing caps are secured to the block with four main bolts and two cross bolts each. A structural aluminum oil pan further stiffens the bottom of the block.
 
The lube system incorporates a new variable-displacement oil pump for more efficient oil delivery, based on the engine’s operating conditions. Its dual-pressure control enables operation at a very efficient oil pressure at lower rpm, and then delivers higher pressure at higher engine speeds. Oil capacity has been increased to 6 quarts for the 4.3L V-6 and 8 quarts for the V-8s. All engines use GM’s Dexos oil for increased fuel efficiency and longer oil life, with the V-8s engineered to use 0W/20 grade oil.
 
At higher engine speeds, small jets spray oil on the underside of each piston to reduce piston temperature and also reduce engine noise.
 
Domed rocker covers house a patent-pending integrated positive crankcase ventilation system that enhances oil life, reduces oil consumption and reduces exhaust emissions. The domed sections of the covers contain baffles that separate oil and air from the crankcase gases, with about three times the oil/air separation capability of previous engines.
 
The exhaust manifolds were developed to improve durability and sealing and reduce operating noise. The cast iron manifolds feature saw cuts along their cylinder head mounting flange, allowing each section to move under extreme temperature fluctuations to virtually eliminate movement of the exhaust manifold gaskets, says GM. They also feature triple-layer stainless steel heat shields, which limit heat transfer to the engine bay and help further reduce noise.
Additional features and technologies of new Silverado and Sierra engines include:
 
  • A revised cooling system with an offset water pump and thermostat for more efficient performance
  • An air induction humidity sensor ensures optimal combustion efficiency, regardless of the surrounding air’s humidity
  • All engines feature an engine-driven mechanical vacuum pump to enhance braking performance
  • 58X ignition system with individual ignition coil modules and iridium-tip spark plugs
  • All-new “E92” engine controller.
 
 

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