The battle for full-size Pickup supremacy in the U.S. market is an ongoing one. Dodge Ram, Ford F-150 and GM’s offerings, Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, routinely go at it in cage matches for the right to be number one.
In the second tier, you’ll find the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan, both capable trucks, but neither has much of a chance in a segment that has always been red, white and blue.
For the 2014 model year, the “General” hopes the new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra will have the moxie to pass perennial sales leader F-150.
At a press event at the Michigan Motion Picture Studios, General Motors previewed the new models in advance of their official launch at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, 2013.
While essentially twins, the GMC variant is definitely a step up in terms of content and overall fit and finish. “Professional Grade” is GMC’s moniker, and it reality, it works well towards the image of the brand.
Three new high efficiency engines headline the model year changes in the pair. A 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and 6.2-liter V8 will be offered, all from a shared EcoTec3 engine family. Each engine features standard direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management – all seamlessly switch to run on four cylinders during light engine loads to save fuel.
Inside the Sierra, premium materials, attention to detail and purposeful technology define the cabin. New soft-touch materials and available aluminum trim line an interior that’s focused on usable and productive space.
Sierra has an upright instrument panel designed for visibility and accessibility. Knobs and buttons are large, legible and within reach. All knobs are coated using a rubber-over-mold technology, so they’re easy to grip even through gloves.
A new instrument cluster on all models features six gauges with an available centrally located, 4.2-inch color Driver Information Center with vehicle status information, a trip computer, and other information, like radio and navigation.
A second, high-mounted glove box with a flat floor joins the traditional box below. Both are fairly small though with limited storage space. But have no fear, as each of Sierra’s doors has storage crafted to hold most beverage containers and other personal items. Along the center stack and center console are additional cupholders, discreet compartments large enough for most laptop computers, and connectivity options. Sierra is available with a 110-volt outlet, up to five USB ports, four 12-volt outlets and an SD card slot.
My favorite Sierra interior feature is the integrated file holder. Imagine the usefulness of this feature for the small businessperson on the go. Silverado does not offer this feature. Instead, it offers upper and lower console storage.
On the connectivity front, available IntelliLink uses a high-definition, fully reconfigurable eight-inch color touchscreen with an intuitive layout and easy-to-read icons that control audio features, a Pandora app, Bluetooth phone features, and available navigation with all-new map displays. Many of the system’s features can be controlled by voice command, allowing the driver to keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. The same system is available on Silverado and is oddly called MyLink.
Sierra’s seats use dual-density foam designed to stay comfortable over long hours and continue to look great after years of use. Leather and cloth will be offered, and Sierra’s new high-wear cloth is designed to last longer and resist staining. A spilled drink will bead on the fabric, not soak in. Heated seats are available with cloth seats and standard with leather.
For the first time on Extended Cab models, the 2014 Sierra has new front-hinged rear doors with outside pull handles at the rear, providing improved access in tight parking spaces. Unlike trucks with rear-hinged doors, Sierra’s layout allows rear passengers to enter and exit the vehicle with the front doors remaining closed.
Crew Cab customers, who represent more than 60 percent of retail Sierra customers, can choose between two bed lengths; in addition to the current 5-foot, 8-inch box, a new 6-foot, 6-inch box is available. Regular cabs continue to be available with the 6-foot, 6-inch or 8-foot box lengths, while the extended cab will come exclusively with a 6-foot, 6-inch box.
Sierra and Silverado’s rear bumper features standard corner steps that make climbing into the bed easy, regardless of whether the tailgate is up or down. The steps are paired with grips formed into the top of each bed side. Four movable upper tie downs are also standard. They can be placed in nine different locations and can bear a 500-pound load. Available LED cargo lights integrated beneath the bed rails will illuminate the bed when a tonneau cover is in place. The available EZ Lift and Lower tailgate uses an integrated torsion bar and damper to ease lifting and lowering.
Stay tuned to Automotive Rhythms as we will road test the new trucks in the near future.