GMT900:

Driving Impressions: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD

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We recently had the opportunity to drive the new 2011 Silverado HD and Sierra HD pickups. They may not look very different, but with an all-new frame and chassis and an improved powertrain these vehicles should be considered all-new.
New and improved is the theme, at least in every aspect except exterior and interior appearance.


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2007 GMC Sierra 1500 4×4 Crew Cab SLT – Every Good Cowboy Needs a Good Horse

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American icons like the Statue of Liberty or John Wayne conjure up images of patriotism and true grit. But the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France, John Wayne’s real name is Marion Morrison and this is an automotive web site. So, that leaves us with things like John Deere and the new GMT900 trucks from General Motors, which have a long history, heritage and iconic status.
AutoPacific and VehicleVoice staffers have been evaluating a 2007 GMC Sierra with a list price of $47,135… WOW! Looking at the LA Times this weekend, I saw some full size half ton pickups offered in the mid-teens. Let’s see if there is enough “product” in the Sierra we are evaluating to justify the price.

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Sheet Metal
With the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado roping in Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year we thought it would be interesting to saddle break the 2007 GMC Sierra; the Silverado’s supposedly more ‘posh’ counterpart. If we start with the exterior of the truck we notice that the overall styling is ‘boxier’ than that of the GMT800. The fender flares are no longer plastic/composite extensions stuck on with double-sided tape and a couple screws; they are integrated into the sheet metal of the fenders. Gaps between body panels, headlamps, grills, bumpers, etc., are much improved over the last generation.


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2007 Toyota Tundra – The Breakthrough Expected?

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Arguably the biggest news at the Chicago Auto Show was the first glimpse of the all new 2007 Toyota Tundra pickup. Well, maybe it was not arguably, but absolutely the biggest news. Can Toyota be stopped? Will the Tundra gut the family jewels of the Big Three chipping away at the last remaining profitable units in the Silverado, Ram and F-Series lineups? Is the Tundra a breakthrough in full size pickup design? Has Toyota finally fielded a fully competitive pickup? Lots of questions were answered at Chicago and many remain to be answered. VehicleVoice correspondents and AutoPacific analysts were on hand to see the reveal of the Tundra first hand.

Toyota Motor Sales, USA President Jim Press Pitching the New Tundra
Clearly the new Tundra is a substantially stronger competitor than the present Tundra. It is larger and will have a 5.7L V8 available as its top powertrain. With a larger displacement than the Nissan Titan, it is expected the Tundra V8 will get about 325HP although power numbers were not provided. The Tundra 4×4 shown on the stand can tow 10,000 pounds which should be class-leading among half-ton pickups. But many people were expecting the new Tundra to be a breakthrough product. They were expecting a new benchmark for full size pickups. They were expecting Tundra to be 105% of a typical half ton pickup.
What they got was maybe 101% or 102%. Nice truck. But not as muy macho as the FT-X Concept Truck of 2004.


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GMT900 SUVs Miss Important Feature

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General Motors is getting ready to launch its new GMT900 SUVs. This lineup includes the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade and Cadillac Escalade ESV. The shorter versions will be launched in the 1st Quarter 2006 as 2007 model year vehicles. The long wheelbase Suburban, et. al. will be launched in March or April.
Early reviews of the GMT900 provided in Burbank, California (GM’s California Design Studio) and Warren, Michigan (GM’s Design HQ) prove that the GMT900s are an excellent piece of work. While they do not look too much different from their predecessors, they have wider front and rear track and larger tires and wheels. This gives the GM SUVs a very purposeful stance avoiding the undertired appearance some past GM vehicles have had. At the same time, the more prominent tires and wheels actually make the vehicles look slightly smaller even though they aren’t.

Lack of Fold Flat 3rd Row a Major Omission

To keep these comments focused on what we want to observe, lets change the order a bit.
The most glaring omission in the GMT900 SUVs is the lack of a 3rd row seat that folds flat into the floor like the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator and now the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer. The key to the Ford system is the use of an independent rear suspension that allows the rear floor to be dropped several inches providing space for the seat to fold flat. GM’s GMT900 management said they “couldn’t break Ford’s code” and it appeared that they were thinking Ford adopted IRS more for ride and handling than for interior package. WRONG. The key all along was the rear seat package.
The resulting seating package is very similar to the GMT800 SUVs. The seats, when folded, rest on top of the floor obstructing the load area of the vehicle.
GM also claimed their research showed that SUV buyers wanted a power folding 2nd row seat more than they wanted a flat folding, power operated 3rd row seat. According to ex-GM researchers who shall remain anonymous, GM’s research actually showed a strong preference for “a seat like in the Expedition in a body like the Suburban”. The real reason, of course, is investment. The expenditures for the combination of IRS and fold flat 3rd row seat has variously been quoted as $165 million or $300 million. Either number would cause a product planner to pause and clearly these very important features were pipped – not easily.


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