You have to give GM credit. With the introduction of its new 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra half-ton trucks, GM is doing a great job of promoting their structural engineering and weight-saving technologies. For example, the highly important frame of the new pickup truck is now made with all-new high-strength steels.
The two main rails of the ladder frame are fully boxed and hydroformed to both reduce mass and improve strength, becoming a stronger, lighter backbone.
It's important to note that each of the three cabs have been designed with liberal uses of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels in key areas such as the A-pillar, B-pillar, roof rails and rocker panels. It should come as no surprise that the new "conventional-door" extended cab configuration is quite a bit stronger and quieter than the previous-gen "non-B-pillar" strategy.
Additionally, the bed itself has quite a few design changes to accommodate the new box that GM hopes will be stronger and more durable than its competition. Of course, the secret key to these upgrades for GM is how much attention it has given the idea of adding strength in conjunction with cutting as much weight as possible, and in most cases GM has done that with significant use of aluminum.
As noted earlier, there is plenty of aluminum: all three new EcoTec3 engines use aluminum blocks and heads, all Silverado and Sierra hoods are made of it, and the upper and lower control arms (in both 4x4 and 4x2) crew cab models use aluminum as well.
Thankfully, it looks like GM understands that simply saving weight in order to get a better fuel economy number and save consumers a little bit of money isn't the only reason to make these changes, as evidenced by the intro to the automaker's latest press release.
"Full-size pickups are unique. Their owners routinely use them in ways that would horrify most car owners. They pull heavy trailers thought the mountains, haul tools and supplies down washboard gravel roads, and slog through mud and muck on farms and construction sites. And trucks are expected to perform these tasks for years on end, with a minimum of repairs."
We're encouraged that GM seems to understand (or at least its marketing department seems to understand) what motivates most pickup owners, buyers and enthusiasts. Of course, we say that without spending a single moment behind the wheel or doing any kind of meaningful testing with these trucks. Still, it looks like GM has chosen a solid course. We can't wait to drive.
For the full press release, click here.
For the fullsize image of the crew cab, click here.