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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.
Before even officially going on sale to customers, the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup twins are already proving to be a success with dealer orders exceeding original projections. Now, there is even more good news for these siblings, with the fuel economy for their four-cylinder engines netting class-leading numbers and the 3.6-liter V6 getting segment-best payload ratings.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder in the two trucks makes 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque, and in rear-wheel drive and six-speed manual trim it has an EPA rating of 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. Opting for a two-wheel drive configuration with the six-speed automatic bumps those figures slightly to 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. Finally, a four-wheel drive model with the automatic 'box carries a 19/25/21 rating. Those numbers are a tick better here and there compared to what's offered by the optional V6.
The twins' major four-cylinder, midsize pickup rivals are the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, but they're both getting somewhat long in the tooth. To compare fuel economy and power, a two-wheel drive Tacoma with its 2.7-liter four-cylinder is rated at 159 hp and 180 lb-ft, and achieves 21/25/22 mpg. The Frontier with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder is good for 152 hp and 171 lb-ft, and carries 19/23/21 mpg figures.
In the market for a fullsize van but don't need a heavy-duty model? You're in the minority, and you're also out of luck. That's because there are barely any more fullsize vans on the market with gross vehicle weight rating of less than 8,500 pounds, the threshold that separates light- and heavy-duty vans.
According to PickupTrucks.com, neither the Ford E-Series, Ram ProMaster, nor Mercedes-Benz Sprinter are available in light-duty versions. Few of the Ford Transit configurations are, either, and now General Motors is discontinuing production of the 1500-series Chevy Express and GMC Savana.
Apparently light-duty versions accounted for just 23 percent of Express sales and only 7 percent of Savanas. Add to that the fact that these 1500 versions were the only ones using the old generation of engines and suspension, and that the Wentzville plant near St. Louis, Missouri, is trying to make room for the next Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups, and the fate of the light-duty GM van was sealed.