Nobody will argue that it's easy to bring an all-new or significantly redesigned truck to market and make it a success (certainly not Toyota, Honda or Ram). Whether it's inherent in the process of designing trucks or in the DNA of product engineers, there always seems to be the strong temptation to either over-reach or not go far enough. The recent introduction of the 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500s may fall more into the latter category than the former.
After having a close-up look at both of these new trucks, we thought it would make sense to take a look at what they might be missing as well. For the sake of full disclosure, we have no information that leads us to believe GM isn't working on these exact issues as you read this or that their introductions are not part of a calculated, efficient rollout plan. Of course, we don't have any information that confirms their coming either.
For now, all we can do is point out the holes.
10. No Raptor Fighter
With all the attention the Raptor has earned over the last several years, there wasn't one higher-up who thought it might be a good idea to beef up the Z71 Package at least a little bit? Yes, it is a small volume player, but building your credibility is what this new Chevy and GMC should be all about. We'll assume this one is in the pipeline.
9. No New Transmission
We're lovers of cost-savings as much as anyone, but we have to believe using the carryover transmission was purely about pushing savings to the bottom line. Clearly, with the huge EPA MPG targets looming (2016 and 2018 are the next big hurdles), the easiest way would be to provide either dual-speed axle ratios or more gears in the transmission.
8. No Turbodiesel Announced
We've already noted we like that Chevy and GMC kept a real truck motor as the base engine and weren't seduced for "sexier" technology. However, if the EcoBoost engines have proven anything, it's that buyers like the best-of-both-worlds approach (big torque and better MPGs). There needs to be that option, and we don't care if it's a diesel or gas engine. Keep the truck motor for real dudes, but get that fourth engine option stat.
7. No Hybrid/EcoAssist MPG King
When your competitors have dedicated high-fuel-economy packages that means you have to have something, too. And if you basically pioneered the segment with class-leading hybrid technology that means you own the category. Don't just give it away when you have all sorts of corporate access to incredible technology. For this one there is no excuse to get out there and take a leadership role.
6. No High-Tech Suspension Option
We had a feeling Chevy would want to keep things simple, but it doesn't make sense to create a premium-grade lineup of the same truck and not take advantage of the superior high-tech stance. With the two-truck strategy, there has to be more opportunities to get something more sophisticated underneath the Sierra. Taking into account what Ram has done with its air-bag option, there is plenty of room for a soft-riding yet payload-capable up-level suspension package.
5. No King Ranch/Platinum/Longhorn
We heard a lot of talk about the new Chevy and GMC trucks competing better with the very popular top-level trim packages from their two big competitors. Ford seems to be doing the best job giving its customers classy, unique packages. Both Chevy and GMC still have plenty of room to move upscale. Optimistically, we expect the High Country, Outlaw and several versions of the Denali packaging to be announced well before we hear about pricing.
4. No Bed Box Storage Tech
We've noted the clever, practical changes GM made to the bed box, but these seem to be the bare minimum. We were hoping, given the push and success of the RamBox, that there would be something different GM engineers could come up with for the bed area. However, there is not a single unique or interesting piece of hidden storage or overt convenience in this new bed (with the exception of the high-mounted tiedowns). We do like bed rail caps, but we're still yawning.
3. No Ladder of Trim Package
For all practical purposes, it looks like GM is sticking with its three-tear trim package system, completely ignoring the strategy that seems to be working well for Ford and Ram Truck; each offers 10 or more separate trim packages. We know the new GM trucks will be heading in that direction, but without a simple to-see list, from bottom to top, customers will be confused about what they can get for what price.
2. No More Bench Seat
It seems like the term "bench seat" has changed a bit in the last few years, meaning the idea of continous seat across the width of the vehicle is a thing of the past now. We had a small hope GM might do something clever here, but it didn't happen. Instead, the existing "bench seat" is a 40/20/40 bucket-type seat setup with a mini-seat in the middle (flip-up console) with a small-person shoulder belt and underseat storage. The middle seat here is horribly stiff, narrow and (we're guessing) uncomfortable.
1. No Drama in Design
We suppose it's possible some people may have wanted a vanilla-looking Chevy front end, but we don't see how that helps distinguish the new Silverado from the rest of the competition or for that matter, from previous-generation Silverados. From our assessment, the headlights were a mess before the redesign, but the new setup doesn't exactly make the look any better, though they're more in front of the truck than before. We will admit that the GMC does have a better harmonized design.