Auto blogTue, 15 Oct 2013 18:31:00 EST
Aside from the new General Motors offerings, there's not a whole lot of action going on in the fullsize SUV segment. That doesn't seem to be stopping GM from pushing the envelope in the market as Automotive News is reporting that the automaker is looking to introduce some new powertrain options into the Chevy Tahoe (and Suburban), GMC Yukon (and Yukon XL) and the Cadillac Escalade - all have been redesigned for the 2015 model year.
Now, we already know that GM and Ford are collaborating on nine- and ten-speed transmissions for a broad range of applications (including the big SUVs), but this new report says that GM is also considering other options as a way to one-up the competition and, of course, to optimize fuel economy. AN quotes Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer for GM trucks, as saying that "interesting powertrain technologies" are coming including a return of a hybrid SUV and possibly even a diesel engine. Although it sounds like the latter could come down to how customers respond to the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.
General Motors must be pretty pleased with sales of its two newest pickups, the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado, as it's announced price hikes for both models, as part of a planned price tweak.
Prices will be bumped by as much as $1,500, although weirdly, they'll be offset by as much as $1,500 in cash-back offers through the end of October. Fox Business reports that GM spokesman Jim Cain said of the price hike, "With the sell down of the '13 models nearly complete, this price adjustment was planned and is a normal part of business."
The move, as Fox is quick to point out, is an interesting one, as sales of the twin pickups struggled last month relative to the Ford F-Series, while both of GM's crosstown competitors have been aggressively undercutting Silverado and Sierra prices. The F-150 starts at $24,070 and the Ram 1500 comes in at $23,600, not counting any cash on the hood. A base Silverado, meanwhile, retails at $25,575.
General Motors will recall 21,721 of its new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups over front seats that could move if the vehicle is hit from behind. Affected vehicles all feature manual adjustments for the two front seats, according to a report from Automotive News.
Of the nearly 22,000 vehicles covered under the action, the overwhelming majority - 18,972 -- were sold in the United States. A further 2,575 were sold in Canada, while 103 were shipped south of the border to Mexico. Finally, another 71 were sold outside North America altogether. As of right now, there are no reports of injuries due to the defect.
Naturally, Chevy and GMC dealers will make the repairs free of charge, although it's not clear as of this writing if GM will be notifying owners or just addressing the issue at the truck's first service.
American servicemen and women interested in a new vehicle from Chevrolet, Buick or GMC now have a bit more incentive to head down to their local dealer, as General Motors has announced plans to improve its military discount program.
The new GM Military Discount Program offers eligible consumers a new Chevy, Buick or GMC at invoice pricing, which in some cases can take very large chunks out of a car's retail price. When factored in with other incentives, most of which are available with the Military Discount, the bargains are thick on the ground for members of the US armed forces.
GM's Retail Sales and Marketing Support general manager, Chuck Thomson, said, "GM has long supported the military and military families, and we hope this simplified and enhanced discount will show our appreciation for their service and help make it easier for them to own one of our great new vehicles." The program is open to all active duty and reserve members in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard and Coast Guard, as well as veterans that have been out of the service for less than a year. Military retirees and their spouses are also eligible for the discount.
General Motors is already laying claim to best-in-class power for its new 6.2-liter V8 that will be offered in the 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra this fall, and now it has released fuel economy numbers for the big engine. Available as an option on the Silverado LTZ and High Country (shown above) models as well as the the Sierra SLT and Denali trims, the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 will return 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway on rear-wheel-drive trucks; these numbers drop by one mpg each on four-wheel-drive models.
These estimates are in addition to the engine's 420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque and max trailering capacity of 12,000 pounds, and considering all that power it's not terribly far away from the fuel economy of GM's equally new 4.3-liter V6 and its rating of 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. This announcement comes just days after a report indicated that GM is unable to keep up with the demand of the 5.3-liter V8 in the fullsize Chevy and GMC trucks due to supplier issues. GM's official press release for the 6.2-liter V8's fuel economy is posted below.
With the market for pickup trucks at its best since before the recession, General Motors can't afford any hiccups with the launch of its new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra twins, but it sounds like the popularity of V8-powered trucks is causing some supply-chain issues. Bloomberg reports that GM is experiencing a shortage of 5.3-liter V8 engines because an unnamed parts supplier has been unable to keep up with demand. This is leading GM to restrict the number of V8 Silverado and Sierra trucks that Chevrolet and GMC dealers are allowed to order.
Although it's unclear how long it will take to resolve the parts shortage, GM doesn't have much time to sort it out, as a new Ford F-150 looms on the horizon. At launch, GM's fullsize trucks were offered only with a base 4.3-liter V6 and the 5.3-liter V8, but a burlier 6.2-liter V8 will be available soon. Interestingly, at least at the moment, GM truck buyers don't seem as willing to downsize to V6 power as buyers of the F-150, which gets some 42-percent of its sales from trucks equipped with its EcoBoost V6 engine (not including the normally aspirated base V6).
Working out the kinks in the Silverado and Sierra's supply chain couldn't be more important to the health of the company. Full-size pickups are a huge profit driver - in 2012, the trucks were said to make up about two-third of GM's total profits.
A stolen-vehicle case opened back in March was recently solved with the help of a property owner using Google Earth, a virtual globe and mapping service similar to Google Maps, ABC News reports. The man, who remains anonymous, found the stolen GMC Yukon while he was surveying his property in George County, Mississippi, using the map service and, judging by the top-down satellite image, thought he found a "shooting house" on his hunting grounds.
When he drove out to the suspicious structure, he realized it actually was a sport utility vehicle wedged in thick brush about 70 yards from the nearest road, so he called the police.
Law enforcement officers had arrested a female suspect in the case earlier based on eyewitness accounts, but didn't prosecute her because the stolen SUV hadn't been found. Ben Brown, a lieutenant detective with the George County Sheriff's Department, says that he ran the plates and confirmed the SUV was the stolen vehicle the department had been looking for.
Proving just how important trucks are in the Lone Star State, General Motors has chosen the State Fair of Texas to reveal its new heavy-duty trucks from Chevrolet and GMC. Looking to take some of the wind out of the sails of the 2014 Ram HD and 2015 Ford F-Series Super Duty, the 2015 Chevy Silverado HD and 2015 GMC Sierra HD will have plenty to brag about when they go on sale in the first quarter of next year.
The bragging starts right up front with two available engines. The standard engine is a Vortec 6.0-liter V8 that produces 360 horsepower in the 2500HD and 322 hp in the 3500HD to go along with 380 pound-feet of torque in all applications. The true benefit of this powerplant is that buyers can opt for it to run on straight gasoline, E85 FlexFuel or even compressed natural gas (CNG). For maximum towing and even more flexibility, the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel B20-capable V8 is the way to go, with its carryover 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque. Though the max towing abilities of 23,200 pounds (with a fifth-wheel trailer) are less than the 30,000-pound rating of the new Ram, the GM HD trucks offer better conventional trailer towing (19,600 pounds) and payload (7,374 pounds) than rival heavy-duty trucks...for now. The Duramax is paired with a six-speed Allison automatic transmission, while the gas engine gets GM's six-speed Hydra-Matic - no manual transmissions are offered.
Including the engines, GM continues to offer a broad range of configurations (more than 150, to be exact) including three cabs, two cargo bed lengths, numerous trim levels and, of course, the choice of single- or dual-rear wheels on the 3500. The HD trucks have faces that are similar to their half-ton counterparts, with the exception of a larger grille and bigger for improved air flow, and like the current HD offerings, the new Silverado HD and Sierra HD DRW models feature a one-piece bed design incorporating the fender extensions.
According to General Motors, owners "just love off-roading with [its fullsize body-on-frame sport utility vehicles]," namely the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon. If that's the case, it's a bit odd that sales of the previous generation of these models with the Z71 off-road package didn't sell particularly well.
Perhaps, considering this disconnect between owner's thoughts and desires with actual sales, it's not surprising that General Motors is reportedly "considering" an off-road specific model. That means the package would include styling changes and badges along with suspension modifications and larger wheels with appropriately sized fender flares.
There's no indication if the off-road model would be called Z71 or when it may potentially go on sale, assuming it ever goes on sale at all.
Even as fuel prices creep back up, trucks are still a hot item among new-vehicle shoppers. To see how popular pickup trucks still are, you don't have to look any further than how much effort automakers put into the continual one-upmanship of their trucks. Backing this fact up, USA Today is reporting that the segment could top two million sales this year - a total not matched since 2007, though still far from the pre-recession, three-million-unit levels.
Through August, the Ford F-Series continues to be the segment leader with almost 500,000 units sold, but the Chevy Silverado (328,269), Ram 1500 (234,642), GMC Sierra (122,232) and Toyota Tacoma (110,293) are all seeing at least 20-percent sales increases, helping to account for around 1.44 million truck sales so far this year - not including possible outliers like the Suzuki Equator and Chevy Avalanche.
This year alone, General Motors has completely redesigned its fullsize trucks, Ram and Toyota have significantly updated their offerings, the next-gen Ford F-150 will be out next year and Nissan is promising an all-new Titan around the same time with an eventual Cummins diesel under the hood. It would seem, then, that truck sales are poised to continue their upward trend.