We've waited for and speculated about this truck longer than we normally like, and now it's here. Although never officially announced as being delayed, the re-engineered replacements for the long-in-the-tooth Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra half-tons were, by some reports, pushed back several times, largely because of an untimely corporate financial restructuring process and a punishing economy.
But now it's here, ready to compete with a much-improved Ford F-150 and newly redesigned Ram 1500. (The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan have not been significantly upgraded for several years.)
So what has changed? In a few words, quite a bit. Maybe not as much as some would have liked, but we would expect that. This is clearly an upgrade and continued evolution of improvement to the Chevy and GMC pickup trucks, but that's not to say there aren't any brand-new features here. In fact, there are quite a few.
The tagline Chevy is using to debut the new truck is, "Stronger, smarter, and more capable." Clearly this is not the announcement you'd use if you were redefining a segment and revealing new technology that resets customer expectations. But before we head straight to the attack settings on your weaponry, let's take a good look at what the GM engineers did do to the new Chevy Silverado. Here are the highlights, but you can expect more detailed stories to follow.
The new truck has three brand-new EcoTec3 engines. Each of the all-aluminum engines has direct fuel injection, cylinder deactivation (what GM calls Active Fuel Management) and continously variable valve timing, making these the most most sophisticated (read: fuel efficient) and powerful (read: bigger horsepower and torque gains) truck motivators the Silverado has ever had under the hood.
The three engines will be a 4.3-liter V-6, a 5.3-liter V-8 and a 6.2-liter V-8, all of which will remain pushrod engines and offer the ability to switch to four-cylinder mode. We're told the big V-8 should be the towing and hauling champion (when the actual numbers are released later next year). For a deeper look into the different types of engine tech, click here for our powertrain story.
The exterior has had every square inch checked and rechecked for wind drag, shaving rough edges and panel fit to rounded and tight-seal perfection. A lot of attention was focused on the front end to make sure no gaps between body parts or plastic fascia were too large as to create turbulence.
Other improvements include a completely redesigned interior dash and doors, gauge cluster, and center stack arrangement. And like Ford and Ram, GM has gone to a larger infotainment touch-screen on the console, with a 4.2-inch color display for the driver. We're also told there will be a new High Country option package, but nobody has seen it yet.
We like that the truck has upgraded to new electric power steering for more precision. A set of stronger rear axles go along with the new engines, and the frame (though not technically new) is made with more ultra-high-strength and high-strength steel. The pickup bed area is made from rolled steel (instead of stamped) for increased strength and reduced mass. Finally, the coil-over front and leaf rear suspension was fine-tuned for better control and, we're told, a more comfortable ride when empty or loaded.
Some other key features worth mentioning include the fact the pickup bed is more accessible with a bumper cutout (like the early Chevy Avalanches) for a foot-hold; the bed lip acts like a grab handle; the tailgate now offers an internal torsion bar to reduce the effort needed to drop or lift; the Z71 package now has hill descent control and monotube shocks all around; and the crew-cab Silverado will be available with the 6.5-foot bed. (This means a new wheelbase.) And, of course, we don't want to forget that the optional trailer-brake controller is now up high on the left side of the dash, where it is easily within the driver's line of sight.
As you might imagine, there have been several considerations to weight savings in the form of the use of aluminum. All Silverados will have cast-aluminum upper and lower control arms, as well as an aluminum-lined hood. We've already mentioned the use of higher tensile strength steel and hydroforming to save weight, as was the decision to use three all-aluminum engines. And we assume all these fractional weight savings will add up to better fuel economy at some point, but we'll have to continue to wait for that.
And it's not that we don't care about improved safety; it's just that it's not a very sexy topic. But we should note all Silverados come standard with StabiliTrak, trailer-sway control, hill start assist, rollover protection and full complement of head, side and front airbags. Various option packages will include lane departure warning, safety alert seats and a camera-based forward-collision warning setup as well.
Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date, which we're hearing will be by the summer of 2013.
For a deeper look into the all-new powertrain choices, click here for our story.
For a look at the full press release, click here.