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Ford has been working hard behind the scenes to develop the world's first mass-produced, mainstream electric pickup truck. That development is now to the point where Ford is ready to start showing off a bit. This week, Ford's chief engineer for the F-150, Linda Zhang, hooked up the test mule to ten double-decker rail cars. She then tugged that train 1,000 feet. To add a bit of drama, she then loaded up 42 F-150s into those rail cars and did it again. Clearly, electric trucks will be tow monsters.
Ford is one of the best-positioned automakers to advance its fleet with electric drive. Ford is now a partner with not only Rivian, who is developing a luxury EV pickup, but also with VW. No other automaker has as much to lose by falling behind in the EV transition, and no other automaker seems better positioned to profit from EVs when they are finally ready for the masses.
Related Story: Is GM Working On EV Pickups?
Thom Cannel: Article & Photos
Zane Merva: Photos
June 24th, 2019
This could be the shortest Chevrolet truck review in history.
If that's what you came for, you can stop reading right now. But if you're curious...
Why is the 3.0L Duramax so awesome? Because unless you’re building a custom lifestyle truck or simply using it for basic tasks you’ll be no doubt upgrade to more powerful engine when you buy your next Silverado or Sierra. That means either the famous 6.2-liter V-8 gas engine or this all-new 3.0L Duramax Turbo-diesel 3.0-liter diesel with its 277 HP, 460 torques and 9,300 pound towing capacity.
If your truck is a lifestyle statement—and we have zero problems with that—this may not apply to you. That is, unless you’re from Texas where a better engine is as necessary as church on Thursday, guns, and football. Our vote, as the upgrade cost is the same $2,495 as for the 6.2L gas engine, is the new 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel. It has the same torque, better fuel economy (we expect) and even has a sweet engine exhaust sound.
Chevrolet invited GM-Trucks to Bend, Oregon to test the 2020 Silverado and it’s new diesel engine. Don’t worry if you just bought a 2019 Silverado—there are no huge differences for 2020; the truck was only released a few months ago. So, for 2020 Chevy adds adaptive cruise control and the amazing 15-view camera technology that includes “invisible trailer” from the Heavy Duty segment. We covered that.
For 2020 Chevrolet offers a diversity of engines. There are, in addition to the new diesel, the 310 horsepower / 348 lb-ft 2.7-liter DI turbocharged I-4 with an 8-speed transmission, and two legendary small block gas engines, the 5.3L and 6.2L.
In Model Year 2020 the 5.3L makes 355 horsepower (265 kW) and 383 lb-ft of torque (519 Nm) coupled to an 8-speed transmission, the 6.2L is SAE-certified to deliver 420 HP (313 kW) and 460 lb-ft of torque (623 Nm). It is paired with GM’s 10-speed transmission, which couples perfectly with GM’s DFM cylinder deactivation system. Hey, you don’t think you can run on two cylinders with an ordinary transmission, do you?
According to Chevrolet the new diesel motor will be available in LT, RST, LTZ and High Country trim levels. The 5.3L gas engine is standard in LTZ and High Country models and available on LT, RST and Trail Boss. The 6.2L gas gasser is available more trim levels for 2020. Both engines will be built at General Motors’ Tonawanda Engine Plant in Buffalo, New York.” Not mentioned is the carryover 4.3L engine aimed at fleet owners.
We arrived in Oregon to 80°F heat and blue skies, then were fed and watered, and set off on different tasks. We can’t talk about the HD trucks and their massive towing capacity for a couple of days. We were offered an incredibly deep-dive into the new engine, and a mileage competition featuring the new 3.0-liter diesel engine to start, however. Winning a comp is cool, but not realistic when you have a limited time with a vehicle in the first place. That said, other journalists did take the time to compete and Sunday’s winning mileage was in the 34-36 mpg range and then blown away by Monday’s 46 mpg. That, friends, is some serious hypermiling! However we still do not have official EPA certified mileage. That’s “To Come”.
If you haven’t read much about the 3.0, here’s a modestly deep dive into its guts. First, the whole engine is state-of-the-art, aluminum head and block with thin steel cylinder sleeves and seven main bearings for the crankshaft. Combustion processes were among the driving forces underpinning design theory, so the cylinder head is essentially flat and the bowl-shaped pistons have zero relief cuts for the valves. That was important for efficiency.
Simulation, and single-cylinder engine studies showed that having very vertical valves would not only allow a simpler bowl shape in the pistons, but that very shape would allow inlet-generated swirl to be maximized at every point. Swirl is produced and governed by dual intake runners feeding each cylinder. Oh, the ceramic glow plugs gave GM the highest compression ratio consistent with power and emissions, as well as allowing ignition to -22°F without a block heater. FYI, most of the engine development and engineering, as well as primary calibration took place in Turin, Italy. That’s GM’s center of diesel excellence.
To ensure a quiet engine, emissions that more than meet standards, and deliver fuel economy, GM finalized an injection pressure of 2,500 bar (36,500 psi) through solenoid injectors capable of up to ten injections per combustion cycle. Early injections are primarily used to build in-cylinder pressure smoothly to abate diesel clatter. Later injections can be used for power and to keep the catalyst working within specified temperatures (those injections, sometimes caused by a catalyst cooled by highway driving, do negatively affect fuel economy but maintain emissions specifications).
There’s a single close-coupled VGT turbo, for now, which indicates a possibility for later development of greater power and torque. Packaging to the “chemical factory” is as tight as could be manufactured.
What we really haven’t talked about is the decision for an I-6 engine, versus a V-type. Obviously, six cylinders are longer than three, or even four. This slightly under-square engine delivers two things that a V design does not: smoothness and less side force. A V-type engine necessarily produces some side thrust, which is one of the reasons that Ford’s new 3.0L is made of CGI or Compacted Graphite Iron. In contrast, by using a robust, deep skirt design, Chevrolet and other divisions have an all-aluminum block, saving weight. Some of the extra length is minimized by packaging chain driven shafts at the rear.
If you’ve never driven, or better yet heard an inline six, they’re smooth, likely the smoothest engine you’ve driven and with a unique sound. Both delivered by six evenly spaced exhaust pulses. The last I-6 engine GM produced was the gasoline Atlas LL8/Vortec 4200 used in Chevy Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Olds Bravada, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 9-7X. ) Note that Detroit Diesel has produced an inline-6 since 1980 that displaces 11-14L.)
Before highway driving, we did a walk-around. The GM-exclusive Durabed is impressive, and hard-coated for scuff resistance. Chevrolet says it’s made up of several sections instead of 1-2 deep drawn pressings. This provides owners with more cargo volume. As Chevrolet (and GMC) will tell you, it’s made of several varieties of High Strength Steels, so they claim it’s more dent and penetration-resistant than Ford’s aluminum bed. Inside the bed are 12 fixed tie-down points and nine moveable points, which has been a big hit with owners. Plus there’s that available power up/down tailgate, a power outlet and task lighting. A somewhat unnoticed feature is relocating the bed lights to flank the CHMSL on the roof edge. A couple of other things that are important are the corner steps and bed steps. They’re made for size 13 steel-toed boots and hold up to 500 pounds.
We then drove the truck on the highway and on two-lane roads. Our first impression was of the powerful engine sound, followed by impressive torque. Electric motor type torque. Smooth power available at the lowest of engine speeds.
Engine noise isn’t intrusive but like the torque, off the line it lets you know it’s there. However, with an open hood you hardly know it’s a diesel, it is that quiet. Even a random enthusiast who had been researching the new 3.0L Duramax and stopped us at a boat launch had to ask if it was a Diesel. This is simply unlike the larger Duramax and any other light duty diesel on the market.
Something we’ll get into in our Heavy Duty story is the reason there’s a 10-speed transmission. If you think about the power band of a diesel engine, here delivering all of its 460 lb-ft of torque at just 1,500 rpm and holding strong to about 4,000 rpm, that’s significantly different than the power band of a gas engine. Thus, the 10-speed maximizes power and fuel economy—and every automaker has to deliver fuel economy, low CO2 and clean emissions.
We have much more to come. For instance, we need to see if tow ratings are realistic, if its EPA fuel economy beats Ford’s 30Highway/22City/25Combined and how well it lives up to the Find New Roads slogan in real world driving under every condition we can discover.
By Paul Hoopengarner
General Motors Confirms Plans for Electric Pickup Truck to Rival Ford, Rivian, Tesla https://www.rivianautomotiveclub.com/home/ev-news/general-motors-confirms-plans-for-electric-pickup-truck-to-rival-ford-rivian-tesla
February 26th, 2019
General Motors had no news in Chicago, but delivered crowd-pleasing displays from Chevrolet and GMC, as well as Cadillac and their crossovers and SUVs. Of interest to truck enthusiasts were Heavy Duty Chassis Cabs from Ram, facelifts and equipment improvements from Toyota, face-lifts for some Nissan CUVs, a new Range Rover Evoke and more.
The Chicago show is immensely different from Detroit, and that is a pun. With 2.3 million square feet of display space, the result is wide-spread (and often poorly lit) displays, indoor off-roading tracks, and worn boot-leather. These are the highlights.
Alphabetically, Chevrolet brought its cars, well; they must have been there somewhere, and its new Heavy Duty Silverados, which were abundant in every powertrain and trim. And they brought the Lego Silverado, which is amazing in detail and execution. GMC “stood tall” with its Heavy Duty Sierra walk-under display and great lineup. Cadillac replaced their militaristic all-new XT6 with a gray one; it was better. They do have emotional colors available?
Chevrolet spanned much of the North Hall, filling it primarily with trucks, crossovers like the fiercely red Blazer to lead your eyeballs into the display and nearby SUVs, but the focus was on Super Duty.
Silverado had pride of position, though the new Traverse was mentioned, as well.
From fifty-feet, you’re not convinced this Lego truck isn’t a real Silverado Z71. Even closer, it still fools the eye.
Among the Silverados on display was this High Country.
The Z71 Heavy Duty proved popular to the dealer, potential buyer, and social media crowd. Green is nice, Red is better, and note the difference in wheels and running boards per model.
This is a great juxtaposition, the new Silverado Heavy Duty and its upgraded diesel engine. A perfect pair.
We again saw the snow plow in Chicago, this time close enough to crawl beneath for a photo of the no-cutting-required blade attachment system.
A pair of close-ups, first the dedicated, and covered, block heater that’s available and a better representation of the two bed steps designed for easy steel-toe boot access.
At first glance, in Detroit, the new Blazer didn’t move our emotional needle the way we hoped. Much better in Chicago, with better lighting and blazing red color. It surely fills a needed niche in Chevrolet crossovers; it’s based on a global platform that carries Cadillac’s XT5.
GMC brought no new product to Chicago, only a clean, bright and entertaining display. Of note, their walk-under Sierra and the tracked Aspen special we mentioned as debuting in Detroit.
Trucks, regardless their size, battle on GVWR, tow ratings, tire size, infotainment screen size (and bigger is always better), and now tailgates. Ram has a split gate that opens larger-left, then right, or folds. Ram offers a pullout entry step for easy entry, signature Ram box, and collapsible internal storage barrier.
Ram’s big news—excuse the pun—was its 2019 Ram Chassis Cab; they brought several upfitter modified models as demonstrations, including a luxury fifth-wheel version. With so many ultra-lux 1500s, 2500s and 3500s, why there haven’t been more full-on interiors aimed at horse owners and racecar haulers, is retrospectively a mystery. Ram now offers its most modern interior to Class 3/4/5 upfitters. The chassis is 97-percent High Strength Steel, the diesel engine is an up-rated Cummins 6.7-liter knocking out 800 lb.-ft. of torque and mated to an 8-speed transmission.
Not to be left out, Jeep brought a Rubicon version of the new Gladiator. Looks pretty rad to us. You?
Land Rover’s latest small SUV/crossover Evoque is externally similar, though the platform is all-new and a bit longer with improved cargo space. Off road technology, which the brand is known for, is improved and the 246-hp Ingenium engine is now mated to a 48-Volt mild hybrid power assist to make 296 eco-friendly horsepower.
Toyota debuted TRD Pro upgrades to its Tacoma, RAV4 and Sequoia. RAV4 has barely arrived in dealer showrooms, yet received welcome off road chops thanks to a dedicated suspension, all-terrain tires, all wheel drive, and standard torque vectoring for this RAV4 TRD Off-Road model. Tacoma, the perennial best-selling mid-sized pickup in North America, adds power-adjustable seats in most grades and has improved infotainment systems with 8-inch touchscreens that are smart phone savvy. Performance and glitter items like new grille and wheel designs, sequential LED headlights for the Tacoma TRD Pro model are balanced by new exterior cameras that deliver surrounding terrain views for improved off road safety. Sequoia TRD Pro now offers TRD-tuned Fox Racing off road dampers, plus other greasy-side items and an upgraded leather seat interior. The Land Cruiser Heritage Edition, a USA-specific version, goes the opposite way, shedding its chrome, third-row seats and running boards in favor of bronzed BBS wheels and a clean, subtly badged exterior.
Without fanfare, Toyota put what may be future crossover product, the TJ Cruiser, on display to gauge reaction. Feel free to let them know what you think.
Ford introduced its Super Duty trucks the week before GM’s similar launch. Their new Super Duty features three engines, the venerable 6.2-liter gas engine, now joined by an all-new 7.3-liter V-8 and third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. The newer motors are paired with a Ford-designed and built 10-speed automatic with optional PTO. Features include a new high-flow grille, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, LED headlamps, and improved trailer tow and payload capacity.
Nissan’s 2020 Rogue Sport, not available for several months, offers new grille, refreshed exterior styling, and adds high-level safety features: Nissan ProPILOT and Nissan Safety Shield. Together, that provides owners with automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, rear AEB, lane departure and rear cross traffic alert, radar-based smart cruise control and high beam assist. ProPILOT tech ““is a single-lane “hands-on” driving assistance technology that eases driver workload by reducing the amount of driver acceleration, steering and braking input under certain driving conditions, such as single-lane highway driving,” or semi-autonomy”, the company says.
The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition adds 18-inch wheels and some interesting, and functional cosmetics like black over-fenders, black-mesh grille and black roof rails, door handles and exterior mirrors. Inside they’ve added two-tone seating with contrast stitching; functionality includes a Best-In-Class 6,000-pound tow rating.
February 5th, 2019
2019 - Last North American International Auto Show - as we've known it.
Filled with sprawling displays of gleaming sheet metal and enough spotlights to illuminate the International Space Station, this was the final chilly, Detroit Auto Show in January. 2019 lacked the European media-hustle excitement, which left extra space for other exhibitors.
Next year the Grand Experiment begins, moving show dates to June and using the Cobo Center rooftop and multiple venues spread throughout downtown Detroit to showcase the best in cars, trucks, crossovers, SUVs, SAVs, mobility pods and platforms. 2020 will be interesting, to say the least.
We've done the General Motors story, this is the rest of the best.
Ford kicked off the show, bringing their all-new 2020 Explorer to an early debut at Ford Field. Hmm, plenty of space under the dome! At Cobo Center, there were the new Explorer, new Mustang GT500, infused with a supercharged V-8 making over 700 horsepower with a 0-60 time a tick over three seconds, and the latest Ford F-150 Raptor, all brightly colored for maximum exposure. Interestingly, even on limited-attendance media days the Ford layout felt cramped.
The 2020 Explorer will use EcoBoost turbo power, either a 2.3L base engine or more powerful 3.0L depending on your needs and your credit union's scorecard. It's a rear-wheel drive platform, with AWD available. To me there's not a substantial change anywhere except the front-end, which is more like Fusion or Focus, which is not a bad thing.
FCA's RAM division challenged its cross-town rivals with an all-new RAM Heavy Duty 2500 and RAM Heavy Duty 3500 which the brand says, "Out-powers, out-tows and out-hauls every other pickup available." Why? It's thanks to an update Cummins 6.7-liter high output turbo-diesel that breaks the 1,000 lb.-ft. torque barrier for standard pickups. If you want all of those torques, you'll have to order a two-wheel drive model equipped with proper equipment. Then your Ram will be rated to tow 35,100 pounds and deliver a 7,680-pound payload. Ram's media briefing was all about axles, transfer cases, suspension, brakes and transmissions, AKA gear-head heaven and real news.
GAC, will likely the first Chinese automaker to deliver cars to the USA, and have multiple dealerships (we discount supercars and tiny e-cars.) They brought a non-concept concept called ENTRANZE. It seats 3+2+2 in a pod-like configuration. Of course the vehicle is electric, and a version of this shape/size/configuration will be released by GAC later in 2019 for the Chinese market. GAC will soon open a North American headquarters in California. They also displayed a full lineup of sedans and small-and-larger crossovers; these guys are for real, even if we don’t find most of their current lineup visually appealing.
Ford and VW held a teleconference announcing a partnership to collaborate on a products and technologies. Likely, VW wants to take advantage of Ford's truck expertise while Ford could rapidly benefit from Volkswagen's advanced electric platforms and autonomous vehicle research. How this shakes out is yet unknown and details are conspicuously-but not unexpectedly-absent.
The handsome Lincoln Continental 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition, designed to remind us of Lincoln's heritage with center-opening doors and a luxury interior featuring Alcantara, was one of the best-looking vehicles on the floor. And the Continental delivers more than a sophisticated exterior, as under the hood you can option a hybrid version of the twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.0-liter V-6. By combining the EcoBoost with hybrid technology, it produces a respectable 450 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque. Get into line with a bank draft, only 80 will be produced.
Arguably the most-anticipated introduction was Toyota's new Supra. The 2020 GR Supra is the first global model developed by Toyota GAZOO Racing, the international umbrella for Toyota's global motorsport program. Built on a chassis shared with BMW's Z4, Supra comes in two models, Base and Premium, with a third Launch Edition based on the Premium limited to 1,500 cars. Those get signatures from Akio Toyoda on carbon fiber for display in your office. However, the base model looks like the better bet. It has the same 300-hp. engine, grippy Alcantara seats (versus leather) and a low-low entry price of $50,920. Car-loving journalists agreed, it has better looks and more impact than Margot Robbie or Gal Gadot.
Lexus brought it's RC F Track Edition, which has been upgraded and with a refreshed body. Meant for performance enthusiasts, add a set of tires and extra brake pads and you, too, Can't Drive 55, or have a good weekend of racing. Also, the company displayed a "concept" LC Convertible, a very sexy and meant-for-sunshine-weekend-weather touring. It awaits a decision on soft top or folding hardtop; well, that's what we think.
For family buyers, Volkswagen introduced a new Passat, which could look a bit more like the Arteon concept, in our opinion. However, Passats are meant for driving, not display, so look for aggressive pricing and "German Engineering" adverts to follow. Also look for significantly upgraded features added to the brands already-good ride and handling. As their Atlas CUV has great lane keeping and VW's excellent telematics system, we expect Passat to be well received by couples and families.
Nothing says Auto Show like CONCEPT CARS. Real concepts, even if they somewhat foreshadow the styling of future product. No production-intent cut lines, no perfect rubber gaskets with part numbers. Real. For several years Nissan and Infiniti have provided winners, 2019 was no exception.
The Infiniti QX Inspiration is, of course an electrified vehicle that hints at Infiniti's upcoming EV architecture. There is, according to the company, intent to build, though likely with conventional doors to meet safety regulations. Like other EVs, there's a "skateboard" modular base with e-motors on each axle, which generates all-wheel drive. The QX Inspiration took three of EyesOn Design's awards— Best Concept Vehicle, Best Designed Interior and Best Use of Color, Graphics or Materials
Nissan brought the IM purely electric sedan with its odd 2+1+2 seating arrangement. Nissan says IM stands for "Intelligent Mobility". With power estimated at 483 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque, the battery pack extends range to 380 miles, eliminating any range anxiety. It’s low, has a fantastic paint job, and a video-only instrument/infotainment panel sweeping across the dashboard.
Subaru, home of family cars and the wonderful Subaru WRX and WRX STI boy-racers, brought to the USA, for the first time, the STI S209, a full-on racecar wrapped into an STI body. Subaru Technica International is Subaru's race shop and skunk works. Everything is hand-built or hand-assembled, including the 200 S209's that will be sent to the USA. While 341 horsepower from the boxer engine might sound small, competitors around the world have been looking at the taillights in multiple racing venues.
Kia brought its new Telluride three-row crossover to Detroit, putting it on display and on an interior hill-climb track, the first at NAIAS. Appearance is sportier than the soon-to-come Hyundai Palisade, and Kia's theme echoed that with an active lifestyle display complete with ski racks and kayaks.
Hyundai showed an enhancement to their N Line of performance vehicles. Available to you and me Really Soon, the Elantra GT N Line combines sportier trim elements with refinements to the chassis and powertrain. Think "BMW M that I can afford." Their first N Line racecar, the Veloster N TCR, will compete in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race, beginning with the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
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