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Auto blogTue, 15 Jul 2014 17:33:00 EST
Fans of truck-based, light-duty vans can officially pour one out for the Chevrolet Express 1500 and GMC Savana 1500, as General Motors has officially put its long-serving big/little rigs out to pasture. Things aren't quite as sad as they sound, though. The heavier-duty 2500 and 3500 vans will soldier on, in order to duke it out with the largest members of Ram ProMaster, Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter families.
The move does seem to make a lot of sense. According to GM, customers only purchase the 1500-spec Chevrolet 23 percent of the time, while the GMC captures a mere 7 percent of the Savana family's sales. With numbers like that, it's no shock that GM thinks it can shift some of its buyers into its van family's more capable variants. "We knew we could move a lot of our 1500 customers into 2500-series territory," said GM's Joe Langhauser, the product manager for the company's full-size vans.
It's not just simple sales figures dictating the move, though. The 1500 line is taking up some valuable factory space that will be better spent on an eagerly anticipated new product.
After a door-fire investigation that dates back to February, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has officially announced a recall today that affects around 250,000 General Motors SUVs for a faulty driver's door module. The recall applies to the Buick Rainier, Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 9-7X from the 2006 and 2007 model years, as well as the 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL for vehicles sold and/or registered in the Snow Belt.
Road salt use in these midwestern and northern states can lead to corrosion of the driver's door module on these GMT360 and GMT370 vehicles, which allows water to come in contact with the circuit board. If shorted out, the vehicle's power door locks and power windows will not work, and could possibly lead to overheating and, in some circumstances, a fire. No official word on how many total vehicles caught on fire, but back in June, 28 fires had been reported to the government agency. A fix for the problem is still being worked out, but all affected vehicle owners will be notified by GM.
Scroll down for the official NHTSA statement.
When viewed alongside the next Ford F-150 and the Ram 1500, there is one thing that seems to be missing from the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Where the F-150 will rely on turbocharging and aluminum architecture and the Ram sports an eight-speed automatic and an air suspension, the General Motors twins lack a big, calling-card feature. They're very good, very refined trucks, but one could argue that they're not terribly innovative.
And while it might not be as flashy a feature as air suspension or a lightweight skin, the Silverado and Sierra will get their own eight-speed automatic for 2015, a transmission that will be paired with the company's Ecotec3 6.2-liter V8. The new cogswapper will also find its way into the GMC Yukon Denali, but for now, there's no indication why the Cadillac Escalade, Suburban, Tahoe and standard Yukon are being left out.
According to GM, the new gearbox is about the same size and weight as the current Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed. By the time the new powertrain combination enters production late this year, the EPA will almost certainly have gotten around to certifying the vehicles' fuel efficiency. Until then, feel free to speculate. The current Silverado with the 6.2 and six-speed auto returns 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway. How much do you think the eight-speed will improve those figures? Scroll down for the official press blast from General Motors, and then head into Comments.