January 23rd, 2019
There were good, and less-good things about the 2019 North American International Auto Show. It was smaller than the last few years as, generally, European and premium luxury manufacturers made other marketing decisions. This, of course, left open space which Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC, as well as Ford and FCA used to their advantage. Chevrolet, in particular, had an enormous family-friendly display of trucks. Oh, and some cars. Cadillac had its first bi-level display, with the upstairs reserved for dealer meetings and journalist interviews. GMC’s floor space swept from one aisle to the next, a linear flow of trucks and SUV/CUVS.
We had an opportunity to talk with representatives of each brand about plans for 2019, starting with Silverado’s chief engineer.
Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer for full-size trucks at GM
As background, GM and Chevrolet have recently introduced the 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4 for trucks, the 2.8-liter diesel in Colorado, a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder, and a no-details gas engine for the Heavy Duty trucks we’ll tell you about early in February.
Our first question to Tim was about the 3.0L diesel, which appears late in the spring. “It’s aimed at both fuel economy and great towing capability. The diesel will be heavier than the 2.7L; it has the whole chemical factory added on and, as I’m driving it now, overall your impression will be it’s super responsive. I love it. You will see it soon; let's say second quarter. Get the government open; I can't post my numbers until then, I'm ready to go!” Tim exclaimed.
Tim segued to the 2.7L. “Did you drive the new 2.7 gas engine (yes, we did)? I smile every time I drive it; it's lighter than the other engines, the twin-volute turbo is super-responsive, it spools up fast and it’s fun off the line, nimble.” So some of the nimble is the suspension calibration, we asked? “It’s the overall architecture, when you take 450 pounds out, you can put it back into the fun-to-drive. It's the best driving truck we've ever produced.”
With RAM posting record sales numbers we asked if the truck aspect of Chevrolet is fully fleshed out, if there was room for a mini-truck or truck/CUV?
“It doesn't feel like it. We have a four-truck strategy with Colorado, Silverado, Silverado HD and medium-duty. We're happy, proud of our strategy and we sold over a million last year.”
It's interesting that the previous Silverado, now over five years old, was said to be too conservative, and now "they've gone too far", for instance the hot-button over rounded wheel wells versus squared. Truck customers are conservative and don't welcome change, even though they demand it.
“When you examine the whole franchise of the company, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe it's an Ironman! You're just seeing the tip of the iceberg, for instance the Heavy Duty program, and more to come.” What you may not know is that Chevrolet just got to a 50/50 production split between the old truck, K2, and the new truck this month, January 2019. Dealers are just reaching their own 50-percent of new trucks delivered.
Tim is extremely proud of the truck and its architecture; this is the largest program General Motors has ever done as it underpins Silverado, Sierra, and both large SUVs. “We'll make more news in 2019 than any other truck company,” Tim said.
We turned to customer perceptions and needs. For instance, a 2019 Silverado LT 6.2L we had for photography was, on the exterior, exemplary. On the inside it seemed oriented towards hard- core truck buyers with large, and plain buttons; no glitter. It was entirely about "I've got gloves on and my truck and I work for a living." We asked how these interiors would play versus the competition?
In answer, Chevrolet says the vast majority of sales are to Chevy truck loyalists, people who have been Chevy truck owners their entire lives, and are incredibly important to reach and satisfy. Much of the growth in the truck segment is from segment-switchers making their first truck purchase. They have similar needs and wants as lifelong truck buyers, according to the exec.
“Customers are at the core of everything we do,” Tim informed us. “We had over 7,000 respondents to our new Silverado truck clinics. When the numbers were summed, we delivered on what the numbers said for exterior and interior. Customer feedback was great.
When we took the new truck to clinics and talked to our customers, and yeah, they do wear gloves and they do work hard. They do have expectations; the biggest is that the interior holds up for the life of the truck. Whether that's a three-year lease or six-year note, it's got to look as good on the last day as the day they bought it. The quality and durability of our materials—we have real aluminum—a great layout for functionality that is soft where it needs to be soft. We gave a great lineup in our infotainment systems (8" screen in the center) and the largest HUD (Heads Up Display) in the industry—it's three-inches by seven and you can parse your information. You can put your directions up here, your stereo over there and your speed over here. You get the information you want in three spots. We find that's a great solution for us.
When we took the materials to the clinic and talked to customers—they're a working bunch that buys things for value—they loved it. We have seen the competition, and some of the luxury they've brought in. We're not sure it will stand the test of time.”
We asked if there is a known stake in the ground where massive changes occur? "I don't know,” Tim continued, “I don't see that (elimination of IC engines) happens. A truck has to do everything. It has to be quiet and comfortable, it has to get good fuel economy on the highway at 80 mph, and it has to tow and haul; it’s the broadest use-range of any vehicle, while meeting government standards. The one that wins is the one that best integrates ride-and-handling, quietness, comfort, technology, usefulness, tow and haul and great fuel economy, while looking great.
Chevrolet’s display broke into segments related to vehicles and technology, for instance Silverado, Colorado, the SUVs and a virtual-reality race. Each had it’s own display space and theme. What we found amazing, and not in a good way, was the color choice for the trucks on the main Silverado display space. While earth tones are all the rage in urban environments, on the stage, well, look for yourself (we’ve included Silverado exterior color chips for comparison). The Silverado simply disappears despite thousands of Watts of illumination. Contrast that with Colorado’s display.
GMC trucks and full-sized SUVs
We next spoke to Stewart (Stu) Pierce, senior marketing manager GMC truck and full-sized SUV. Having participated in the AT4 launch prior to the 2018 Auto Show New York, we were somewhat up to speed with GMC’s recent actions.
Our question to Stu was obviously about their plans for 2019. “The big thing is the all-new next-generation Sierra,’ Stu said “though it was introduced several months ago. So far the reaction is enthusiastic, particularly for Denali and the new AT4. The AT4 has been the biggest surprise, as we expected it to be 10-percent of total sales. In fact, orders are coming in around 20-30-percent. Our only problem is fulfilling orders, which is a good problem.
The cool thing about the AT4, and why I think its taken off so well is, there were no direct competitors. Every brand has off road trucks; a significant portion of truck buyers want off-road capability. Nobody has done a premium off-road truck. (Ford's Raptor and King Ranch, RAMs Laramie Longhorn would seem to fall into similar categories, however. ED) Sort of, if you take a rugged off road truck and blend it with Denali, you get AT4.
AT4 has extremely high levels of refinement and technology, and performance from the 6.2L engine. It's got a 2-inch lift, all the off road parts including Rancho shocks, skid plates, recovery tow hooks, Hill Decent control, dual exhaust, LED headlights, locking differential and more. It's been the biggest surprise to us.
Beyond that, the technology we have like the rear camera (with 360° and tow-hook views) and HUD, all have been super-well received. As these trucks become stronger appearing with a big, tall hood and big, tall grille and bold truck appearance, at the same time, you've now got the ability to see all around you so you can park where you need to. It looks great, gives you the kind of presence and image you're looking for, and at the same time its easy to use, easy to drive.
I think the biggest GMC truck feature is the MultiPro tailgate, a world's first. Nobody has anything like it. I've been at the show for two or three hours and there’s a constant stream of people coming from other brands, and journalists wanting to look at the MultiPro tailgate. It's got six functions (tailgate, load stop, foldable inner gate for access, full-width step, Inner gate second-tier load stop, inner gate work surface, Ed.) and it's the feature that dealers say customers who would never set foot into a GMC store stop in to see. And it's standard on more than 80-percent of 2019 trucks—all Denali, AT4 and SLT levels.”
Having covered the Sierra, we wondered what else might be interesting in 2019.
“We've released some new packages for Yukon, a new Graphite Edition in two versions, Regular based on SLT with chrome trim removed and a unique grille and wheels, the other version is Graphite Performance. It has the 6.2-liter. So, you can get a blacked-out SLT with great driving and great power. You also pick up things like magnetic ride control, previously unavailable, and a Head Up Display.
We've also got the Yukon SLT Standard Edition, sort of value proposition; it enables someone to get a leather interior, not necessarily the other bells and whistles, at a more affordable price. We're running the plant at full overtime.
Terrain is doing well, and to go back to Sierra, we have a new Elevation model which started production in October 2018. Dealers started receiving them 30-45 days ago. It's our new double-cab on the next generation truck platform. Like the Crew Cab, it’s larger and roomier than the truck it replaces. There’s greater knee room, a 6.6-inch bed and the 2.7-liter turbocharged engine is standard. It's monochrome, with 20-inch painted wheels. And it's a bit more affordable without stepping up to the fully loaded trucks.”
At GMC the "stay tuned" message was about the 3-liter diesel and carbon fiber box, which will arrive soon and debut on Denali and AT4.
GMC’s display feature a new Heavy Duty track concept with no production intent. It’s for you to buy, and compared to SNO-CATs, is far less expensive. GMC added it to celebrate their partnership with Vail, Colorado. Overall, the GMC display was bright, cheery, and sophisticated in its simplicity. Yeah, we’d call it Professional Grade.
Cadillac's all-new XT6 three-row CUV
Cadillac held an offsite introduction for new product the day prior to NAIAS. We were not invited. The biggest news, other than the 2020 XT6, was a visual-only display of Cadillac’s first full-electric vehicle. Cadillac, as GM’s luxury brand, will receive GM’s first future EV platform model. The platform will, as it must, be flexible and configurable (batteries and e-motors) in front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive. Battery systems will be based on “vehicle and customer needs”.
“Cadillac’s EV will hit the heart of the crossover market and meet the needs of customers around the world,” said Steve Carlisle, president of Cadillac. “It will represent the height of luxury and innovation while positioning Cadillac as the pinnacle of mobility.”
Nothing more was shared, though continuation of Escalade and an upcoming performance sedan were hinted. In a bad pun, we think Cadillac must electrify their game. BMW’s announced i4 and iX3, Mercedes EQ brand and announced EQC, Jaguar’s available-now I-PACE, VOLVO’s 2019 SC40 CUV and other BEVs (battery electric vehicles) make speed-to-market a necessity.
After I received the business card from marketing project manager Cadillac XT6, James Hunter, we began our chat about Cadillac's latest SUV, the 2020 XT6. While not mentioned, the XT6 is based on the crossovers built by Lansing, Michigan's Delta Township and Springhill, Tennessee facilities, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and my research says it's closest in size to the GMC Acadia. Springhill also builds the XT5.
"XT6 is all-new, and Cadillac's mid-sized luxury crossover," Mr. Hunter said." It fills a void in Cadillac's portfolio, which is flanked on one side by the (two-row, 4-5 passenger, Ed.) XT5 and the other by Escalade. It's for customers who have need for additional cargo/passenger flexibility. You might carry 6-7 passengers, or fold everything flat for 78.7 cubic feet of cargo (43.1 cubes behind the second row, 12.6 if configured for three passenger rows, Ed.) It will tow 4,000 pounds with the tow package that delivers Guide View for the hitch."
We asked if this was an alternative to Escalade? "Sliding XT6 between Escalade and XT5 offers passenger capacity, providing an alternative to customers who don't need a body-on-frame truck. It's a more modern-feeling vehicle, with Cadillac's most modern technology. For example, Infotainment-3.5 and its rotary controller with a jog feature to scroll and navigate more easily. We do maintain steering wheel controls, and at the same time hard buttons and touch-screen options to provide choices. Another example is our family of instrument clusters; they are larger, with higher resolution. We offer a Heads Up Display in our Visibility Display Package that comes with a 360° camera, advanced park assist, pedestrian detection; complementary technologies."
Packaging features and options for manufacturing simplicity may not offer the best customer-oriented solution. "We spend a lot of time optimizing packages, leveraging our portfolio and all of our brand’s experience and history. I think we hit the bull’s-eye!"
Beyond XT6, what does Cadillac have to provide excitement this year, to an increasingly young customer? "There's the Escalade Sport Package for 2019, and some other things I'm not at liberty to discuss. The 2020 XT6 starts production soon, and vehicles will arrive late in 2Q, early 3Q. The 500+ horsepower CT6 V-8 will arrive in a similar time-frame."
We asked about the changeover from sedan-heavy to SUV/CUV-rich. "I think we have a very good start with the current lineup and the addition of XT6 and XT4, plus the higher-capacity Escalade ESV provide a broad range of customer appeal as customers move through various life stages. We are, of course, monitoring the competition." We asked about an XT2, even XT1 small crossover, as these are very hot for Buick, BMW and others. "Going forward, we'll be exploring the needs of customers," which was about the answer we expected. "We recognize that we needed to improve our average age in the marketplace. We didn't have a range of products that appealed to a younger, active lifestyle. With the XT4 and XT6, we expect a reduction in average age as we meet the needs of 40-50-year old buyers." That's good for everyone, as the saying goes, "You can sell an old man a young man's car...'"
“Not only are we delivering product to appeal to a younger customer,” Hunter continued, “We are providing trim levels for their tastes. An example, the XT6 offers a Premium Luxury model calibrated for more isolation, or Sport models with active suspension and faster steering for a more responsive ride."
Cadillac’s display was, as expected, a bit brighter, a bit more upscale with a raised platform for its all-new 2020 Cadillac XT6. That XT6 was colored in what I think General James Mattis might receive as a gold watch substitute. It’s OD Green, rather than a compelling color like copper, or red, or blue, or white, or black or almost any other color. Cadillac, featuring a drab, dingy, lackluster color for your new flagship product in your hometown display? Shame on you!
I have a set of 2019 Chevy Colorado rims that are 18x8.5 and 6x120 and they come with tpms already installed. These will fit any 15-19 Colorado and the tpms just need to be programmed to the vehicle. MSRP on these rims and sensors are $2310.08 before tax and core charge (which is $50 per rim). I'm looking for $1600 obo they do not come with tires or center caps. Message me if you have any questions. I have more pictures of the back of the rims showing they are genuine GM rims but they are to large of a file to upload.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
These images were recently posted to the Colorado ZR2 club on Facebook by member Matt Feldermann. Matt is an employee at American Expedition Vehicles , GM's partner on the Bison trim of the Colorado ZR2. As you know if you follow the truck, the Bison comes with a bad-ass front bumper. One of the key features of which is to enable a front winch to be mounted. Matt's post helped explain one thing we have always wondered about off-road trucks. Why so few come with a winch option or even a winch mounting point. "Cooling was the #1 concern shared by GM when installing a winch," says Matt. "The positioning of a winch in the AEV Bison bumper is OE validated to have NO effect on cooling whatsoever."
Matt also shared that, "You can see a bracket welded to the tube that holds the winch. It’s a bit unorthodox, but that’s what had to happen to fit a winch on while maximizing approach angles."
Our thanks to Matt for sharing his images.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
November 23rd, 2018
What makes a Silverado a Silverado?
The thing is, regardless of our love of V-8 power and torque; V-6 engines are the heart of the truck market. Well, Chevrolet says they are.
Read Thom's 2.7L Deep Dive
A few days ago, in Scottsdale, Arizona, we put this proposition to the test, logging miles in a 2019 Silverado powered by the all-new 2.7-liter designed-for-trucks engine. And, as Doug Marcaida might exclaim, "This engine will run!"
Arriving on site, we were greeted by competing vehicles from Ford and Ram. The Ford was powered by its 3.3-liter V-6, the Ram by its 3.6-liter V-6. Before setting foot in a Silverado we took those competitors for a spin to see what Chevrolet—and GMC—are up against.
As you know, Chevrolet has six engines available for Silverado, the older 4.3-liter motor, two versions of the venerable 5.3-liter, one with simple cylinder deactivation, the other with full Dynamic Fuel Management, the 6.2-liter gas engine and a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel. The diesel and 6.2L are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission with stop-start, and others use 8-speed automatics.
As Chevy’s business strategy encompasses High Value (Work, Custom, Custom Trail Boss), High Volume (LT, RST, LT Trail Boss) and High Feature (LTZ, High Country) segments, you can see where value customers—mostly fleets—will use the V-6. LE and RST customers will have a wide choice of engines, as will the luxury crowd. Some of that choice revolves around chrome-plated emotions.
Back in January, at the launch of the new Silverado, Rich Scheer director, Exterior Design, Chevrolet Trucks said, "Chrome has become more polarizing, and more personal, than any other aspect of truck design. Some customers want no chrome at all and only body-color or blacked-out trim. Others feel a truck isn’t a truck without chrome bumper, but feel extra chrome can be too 'flashy.' Others want as much chrome as they can get."
Our Red Hot RST with Jet Black seating fell into the no-chrome zone, the only bright work being on the bowtie, nameplate and bright alloy wheels. We didn’t feel the lack of chrome detracted from its handsome appearance.
The all-new 2.7-liter truck engine was specifically designed for Silverado and Sierra (and we're sure several other trucks, soon), and meant to deliver value, which is defined as durability, reliability, performance and fuel economy. The 2.7L is the standard engine for High Volume LT and RST where it delivers 310 horsepower, 348 SAE-certified torques, which is 22-percent more than the 4.3L V-6. There’s no skimping on comparable power.
We think one of the selling points to customers (and management) is the new engine’s EPA rated fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city, 23 on-highway and 20 mpg combined. Notice the high rating for city, where many lifestyle trucks reside. The other thing that’s easily overlooked is the essentially flat torque curve from off-idle 1,500 to 4,000. Equally neglected is that torque doesn’t drop off at 4,000, instead knocking out about 300 lb.-ft. at 5,000 rpm. In other words, it is a solid powerhouse right to the redline.
Some facts we didn’t stuff into our engine story are the Direct Injection and the 10:1 compression ratio that enables. We did touch on the integrated exhaust manifold and how it has a separate in-head cooling system, and that using predictive algorithms the electric water pump can push cool water into the head as soon as you mash the throttle. We also skipped over the charge-air cooler, intercooler to some, with a very low restriction rate and ability to lower intake air temperature by 130°F.
Our notes from driving the competitive vehicles reminded us that the Ford 3.3L in a XLT trim is pleasant, fairly quiet, competent, and under vigorous acceleration feels somewhat leisurely. It gets the job done—with no load. We were surprised by steering pushback from smooth-road imperfections. The Ram Big Horn had a huge display and more modern IP/IC resembling an expensive watch face. Ram has always biased its gear set for impressive launch off the line, so felt more powerful than Ford. We did note tinny controls on steering wheel. Overall, Ram Big Horn was more pleasing, though acceleration produced greater drama than Ford. We didn’t drive the current 4.3L due to time constraints, so can’t offer a head-to-head comparison.
What owners will expect of this powertrain—and please think, "what happens when I step on the long black pedal"—is power, durability, power, reliability, power, and of course, power.
In Phoenix downtown traffic, hitting almost every stoplight, the new 2.7L and its 8-speed moved ahead briskly, easily keeping up with traffic with only mid-throttle application. The engine just works. It's happy and strong, and on two-lane highways where passing is important it spools up quickly and does its job. You do get some engine noise of course, but with far less drama than other base engines.
Outside Phoenix, on the back roads where we could do Wide Open Throttle runs, the 2.7-liter revved somewhat higher than a larger engine might, and with a different kind of engine sound that wasn’t intrusive or thrashing. If we were idling at 1,500 rpm and then accelerating briskly, we got a somewhat noticeable lag that's similar to any engine's transmission kick-down lag-time. However, if we had any pre-existing power, for instance when climbing steep grades or prepping for passing, then there was no lag between throttle and acceleration. Overall, it feels like a pleasant base engine and we are certain we'll see it in other vehicles.
Official EPA for our RST was 21 Overall, 20 City, and 23 Highway with an axle ratio of 3.42. That is a standard towing ratio, not a high fuel mileage ratio attempting to bias the fuel economy figures. We’ve seen that, haven’t we? There’s no cheating, no fudging, so those EPA mileage figures are in the ballpark. Again, it's a real truck, a real truck engine.
If you’re wondering about cost, our RST with 43% Made In USA parts, listed at $50,625 including $1,495 destination. We had $7,630 worth of options like Bose audio, HD rear vision camera, aluminum wheels, 10-way adjustable seats, the Safety Package of backup and forward assist, trailer hitch, etc., all the cool stuff you'll likely add to your truck.
Our final thoughts, the all-new 2.7-liter should not be compared with a 6.2L V-8 that transforms a Silverado into a Corvette with a bed. However, it is an engine that will knock your socks off when thinking of the technology that makes a relatively small turbocharged engine effectively and reliably move a truck.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
Chevrolet announced a new list today for Colorado ZR2 race components. The list consists of 15 off-road racing parts ranging from the ZR2's special Multimatic DSSV shocks ($4,187.50) to jounce shock systems ($1,231.35 front and $1,543.75 rear). The parts are presently all suspension-related. Chevy has not included any engine upgrade parts.
These parts were developed by Chevrolet Performance in conjunction with Multimatic and Hall Racing. Chad Hall drove over 10,000 miles in two race series using beta versions of these components to wring out any bugs and to ensure a perfect final product for Colorado owners. “Off-road racing is a brutal test of a vehicle, and especially its suspension components,” said Mark Dickens, executive director of Chevrolet Performance Variants, Parts and Accessories and Motorsports. “Over two years, Chad mercilessly pushed these ZR2 parts to the limit for the ultimate in development and validation. After seeing the success of the Colorado ZR2, customers have been hounding Chad for help building their own ‘Hall Racing ZR2,’” Dickens continued. “For the first time, you can buy the same Chevy Performance Parts that raced and won in the desert. All you need to add is the required safety equipment to build a pre-runner for scouting the Baja 1000 or a full-blown race truck capable of competing in the race itself.”
Chevy says that these racing versions of the similar parts already on every ZR2 focus on desert running while preserving low-speed off-road performance. For example, the parts can add an additional 1-inch suspension lift and a 1.5-inch Body Lift on top of the ZR2’s factory ride height and up to 15 percent more suspension travel for extreme high-speed off-roading. AThe racing Multimatic DSSV dampers are engineered to go beyond the already formidable bandwidth of ZR2’s stock DSSVs. The available Multimatic Front Long Travel DSSV Shocks provide customers with a 15 percent increase in overall front suspension travel, while the Multimatic long travel rear shocks increase rear suspension travel by as much as 10 percent.
“These parts can be purchased individually to suit each customer’s needs, or as a complete package,” said Dickens. “This gives customers the flexibility to build their truck up over time, purchase only the parts they need for their particular interest, or buy the complete set to build their own ‘Hall Racing’ ZR2.” Jump to the new online list here.
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