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What is the best pickup of 2014?
The half-ton truck industry is booming, reporting sales numbers akin to those seen before the gloom of the 2008 recession set in. That also means that many businesses and handy men who purchased a new truck pre-2008 are about ready to trade in for a new workhorse, and automakers are happy to oblige.
In partnership with the Canadian Truck King Challenge, AutoGuide.com put everyone’s new metal to the test. And this was no beauty contest. We had time to experience how every truck handled a 6,000 lb. trailer, hauled 1,000 lbs. worth of payload and dealt with a fairly mud-laden off-road course.
It wasn’t just about driving either. Using one of these tools every day can bring some small annoyances to the surface that a simple test drive may not address, so the hitching process, tie-down points and even the backseat’s ease of use were taken into account.
Fuel economy was also an important part of the challenge and every truck was fitted with a data logger to capture the real-world fuel economy numbers. The information presented here is not from the manufacturers computer read outs; this is info collected straight from the truck.
Several months back we posted an epic Top 10 list highlighting some of the priciest, most opulent and downright ludicrous pickups available on the market. Vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade EXT and Harley-Davidson F-150 are but a couple of the high-brow haulers we featured. Those vehicles – and we hesitate to call them trucks – are so over the top they spill into luxury-car territory.
Scheduled to hit dealer lots next year as a 2014 model year is GM’s newly redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, but it appears that those two trucks will just be the tip of the iceberg. Now it’s a possibility that GM may be considering extensively redesigning all of their upcoming pickups.
It’s believed that the new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra will not only offer better fuel economy, but a new chassis is also expected with the exterior and interior of the pickups entirely changed. In addition, improved aerodynamics will go along with engine improvements, a lightened load and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Such an overhaul is no surprise as GM has been investing heavily into new technology to improve fuel economy. And with the success of the Ford F-150 EcoBoost, GM knows what they can get away with in the pickup market.
Next year we should be seeing the redesigned 1500 pickups but it’s expected that revamped 2500 and 3500 variants will make an appearance a year later. Expect a ton of engineering improvements to occur across all of GM’s pickups in the next few years.
[Source: Automotive News]
Ford was seen as taking a big gamble when it reintroduced V6 engines into its full-size pickup trucks. But the gamble has paid off and now the Blue Oval’s domestic rivals will look to do the same.
With plans for the Ram 1500 to get Chrysler’s new Pentastar V6 engine, look for GM’s Silverado and Sierra twins to offer a V6 option as well.
While also looking to develop the 5.3-liter V8 used in the current rucks, GM is also said to be planning a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine that could be offered in everything from Cadillac models to trucks, as part of the automaker’s plan to cut the number of engines and platforms in half.
Currently, the GM 5.3-liter V8 comes close to the fuel economy of the Ford EcoBoost engine, although power is down somewhat with the 5.3L making 315 hp and 335 pounds-feet of torque, compared to 365-hp and 420 lb-ft in the Ford. The smaller-displacement GM V6 turbo might have trouble laying own the same numbers as the Ford engine, but should handily beat it in fuel economy.
[Source: AutoNews via Cnet]
Although originally postponed due to the automaker’s bankruptcy and subsequent re-structuring, GM‘s next generation full-size truck program is now reportedly back on track. Sources within the corporation say that the new trucks, internally coded K-2 will begin rolling off assembly lines in 2013 as ’14 model year vehicles.
As to what we can expect, it’s likely that 1/2 ton crew cab models will be introduced first, during the spring, since they’ve become the volume sellers. Extended and regular cab rigs will follow, with SUV derivatives such as the Tahoe, Escalade and Yukon arriving in the fall.
In terms of engineering and styling, it’s rumored the new trucks will be powered by updated pushrod V-8s, including a new 5.3 that will sport both active fuel management and direct injection, along with a development of the 6.2.
GM Powertrain is also reportedly working on an eight-speed automatic transmission designed for these trucks and other rear-wheel drive applications.
In terms of design, the new trucks are also slated to make a radical departure from the current slab sided look, which has been a trademark of GM pickups since the T400 rigs were introduced way back in the 1988 model year. Mike Simcoe, Chevrolet’s design director says we should expect to see more of the look embodied by such vehicles as the Chevy Cruze, Sonic and even the Camaro (some clues can be found in the 2008 Denali XT Concept, shown above).
No word on interiors, but it’s likely the 2014 GM trucks will boast significant improvements over the current models, which lag considerably behind their competitors, especially Ford and Ram.
[Source: GM Inside News]
In a bid to meet strict 2016 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, the pickup truck segment might face the biggest challenge of all. While more efficient engines are part of the solution, automakers are increasingly looking at cutting weight as a way to improve overall fuel economy.
The first of a new generation of pickup trucks will be the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, and according to Rick Spina, head of full-size truck development for General Motors, it could be as much as 500 lbs lighter than the current model. Spina didn’t stop there, however, stating that by the 2020s GM hopes to cut as much as 1,000 lbs from its trucks.
To do so GM will have to move away from steel and begin using more steel alloys, aluminum and even magnesium in it trucks – all of which are certain to increase manufacturing and, therefore, retail costs.
2016 CAFE regulations will require a 35.5 mpg average, and with roughly half of all vehicle sales consisting of light trucks, then the auto industry is looking at having to build trucks that get 30 CAFE mpg. (It’s important to note here that CAFE is roughly 25 percent higher than the EPA sticker MPG that consumers are used to seeing on cars).
Still, Chevy has a long way to go to meet that goal and all other automakers will be forced to follow suit, effectively turning around an historical piling-on of weight while fuel economy increases have been minimal. Since 2000, the average weight of light duty trucks has gone up 22 percent, while fuel economy has improved just 2 percent.