Heavy-Duty Trucks Reign at 2019 Chicago Auto Show

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Although you wouldn't know it from the media coverage, the 2019 Chicago Auto Show will go down in history as the auto show where all four heavy-duty pickup truck makers (we're not counting the Nissan Titan XD here) revealed their latest pickups to the public. Chevrolet, Ford, GMC and Ram are showcasing all-new heavy-duty models although in the case of Ram, the HDs were of the chassis-cab variety. Still, journalists came to the media preview expecting see new cars and SUVs, and an HD truck show broke out.

Related: More 2019 Chicago Auto Show Coverage


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Chevrolet used the Chicago show to unveil its all-new 2020 2500 and 3500 pickups, showing off the LTZ and High Country trims from the trucks' five-trim lineup. The Silverado HDs are bigger and distinctly different looking from the 2019 Silverado 1500. The interior of the HDs, however, hew close to the lighter-duty Silverado. Bed changes also follow the 1500. Our favorite upgrades are the new 10-speed Allison transmission and all-new 6.6-liter V-8 with 401 horsepower and 464 pounds-feet of torque.


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Ford had quite a few 2020 Super Duty trucks on the floor and nobody could tell the difference from the previous-generation 2019 models — at least that's what we heard over and over. We'll admit the grille and headlight changes aren't easy to spot, but we're pretty sure Ford has never done a Super Duty F-450 with black fender flares in front and white fender flares in back.


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Although we saw the 2020 GMC Sierra 2500s/3500s in San Diego a few weeks ago, this was our first chance to see the new HD pickups alongside other brands and GMC products. GMC had an off-roading Denali 3500 AT4 crew-cab dually with a Duramax engine on the show floor to communicate how much breadth the brand offers in its lineup. How come Chevy doesn't offer a Trail Boss HD?


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Ram's booth was dominated by work-oriented, commercial-grade chassis cabs in various stages of customization: dump beds, flat bed, wreckers, ambulances, etc. The new 2019 chassis cabs serve niche markets, so they didn't get a lot of traffic on media days. But the new Ram 5500 Limited MegaCab should appeal to the tow-loving equestrian market — and it might be the first HD truck to break the $100,000 ceiling. Ram also unveiled its Multifunction Tailgate for the 2019 Ram 1500, which made it impossible for anyone to walk past it without trying out the 60/40-split swingout doors and heavy-duty bracing.


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The 2019 Chicago Auto opens to the public Saturday and runs through Feb. 18 at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday through Feb. 17 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 18. Admission is $13 for adults, $7 for senior citizens 62 or older and children ages 7-12, and free for kids 6 or younger with a parent or guardian. For more information, go to the show's website.

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@Texas1836; yep agree & exciting times for Ford's power plants -I'm always amazed what Hennessey can do with Ford's 5.L V8 reaching 1000 HP, one can only wonder the 7.3's potential...yikes!

one can only wonder the 7.3's potential...yikes!
Posted by: Lionel | Feb 10, 2019


I'm happy to see what Ford's doing too with the 7.3---it's something I've been pushing for a while. Regarding Hennessey, I'm not so sure though. Ford's designers were interviewed regarding the new V8 and they spoke about the cam and the engine's max RPM.

This is a dedicated truck engine---the whole concept of the 7.3 kind of clashes with the idea of a racing engine.

The 5.0 Ford OHC engine is a lot different with the potential for a lot of high revving fun. The big truck engine is just that---a motor designed to operate at its best between 1500 and 4000 rpm. At those engine speeds it will be pure smooth hell, and brute strong! Can't wait to try one.

While GHG emission and fuel economy are related, changes in one are not necessarily directionally the same for the other. One may make improvements to a vehicle’s fuel economy that reduces power and CO2 emission at the same, but power is a marketing feature on pickups. Another way to reduce CO2 is via additional engine related emission equipment and engine controller strategy, which can require more fuel burn which reduces fuel economy for the same level of power output. As elaborate as the emission control systems on HD pickups are, there is still quite a bit more that Class 7 and 8 manufacturers apply to engine CO2 emission controls to meet their standards. 10 speed transmissions may help fuel economy, but a primary reason to implement is to keep the RPM's in a specific range while hauling/towing to improve thermal performance with higher weights. All the HD pickup manufacturers were already torque limiting in lower transmission gears on their 6 speeds, and this will exist on 10 speeds as well. EPA test schedules for vehicles subject to CAFÉ and those that fall under GHG are different. Vehicles under GHG rules are subject to dyno certification or chassis certification depending on if they are a complete or incomplete body build. If CAFE and GHG were the same the EPA would not have both.

It is very hard to increase GHG work factor on Class 7 and 8 trucks when there is a federal excise tax threshold for heavy use road vehicles, 12% of MSRP on trucks/tractors with GCWR over 33,000lb when it's GVWR is over 19,500lb, and also the federal interstate load limit is 80,000lb for a combination. Additionally these class 7 and 8 trucks have air brakes, which requires the vehicles to meet specific federal FMVSS safety requirements for braking performance and brake failure mode while towing their air brake trailers. HD pickups have hydraulic brake systems and fall under FMVSS braking requirements that do not include a trailer or combination load. J2807 for trailering is an SAE standard controlled and manipulated by car manufacturers, it is not a federal FMVSS or other requirement. So the pickup makers increase their GHG federal limits with a pen stroke to keep their high profit margins, while Class 7 and 8 truck manufacturers have to work more intently on their emission controls and passing other more rigorous safety standards.

Also not very well understood, ST type trailer tires of the trailer type pickups pull have a speed rating of 65mph (it's not on the tire) while the tow vehicle's speed capability with P or LT road tires is 90+mph. Overspeed is a primary reason for trailer tire failure next to improper inflation. Explains why you see a number of trailer tire failures on the highway when pulled by cars and pickups. On Class 7 and 8 trucks with numeric (non LT) truck type tires on both the tow vehicle and trailer, the tire speed rating is 75-78 mph (varies on few different factors), but is the same for both, and becomes the tow vehicle's fuel cutoff.

When you come up to a traffic jam on the highway and you look in the rear view mirror and see me in one of my big class 8 trucks pulling a trailer in one lane, and in the other lane a one ton HD pickup pulling a 25,000Lb 5th wheel electric brake camper, who would you want to be in front of.

" Actually Robert I was looking at the dreadful figures for Australian consumer spending"
Very much related to the Chinese disinvestment House prices go down so does spending. Industry investment is going very well
On the other hand GM and Ford might not exist before the next US downturn. Ford will drawn into the VW orbit.GM could go bust again like it has before. US economy like the Australian one is very much less reliant on the US old industries . I see more plant closures and moving of production to Mexico

@Make trucks great again

Quite a lot of thoughts and facts. Here's a question. Do you believe that "the world is running out" of oil?

That scenario was the father of CAFE. Initially CAFE was about extending the oil we have and make it last as long as possible. This was long before concerns about climate, and greenhouse gas.

Today's EPA, NASA and NOAA are obsessed about greenhouse gas and there are billions of dollars in grants and other funding available to discover more about the topic.

All of that kind of dries up if the concern about warming/cooling (or the human ability to offset either) loses its charm for these researchers. What's your thoughts on the topic.

no offense Robert but I've not been particularly intrigued by your comments on the subject.

Australia's economy is driven by consumer spending and those transactions are down. When was the last year that Australian households got a break?

@make trucks great again

By the way, thank you for the civil discourse, this is the kind of stuff that I love about this site (when it actually happens).

I don't claim to know much of anything about big rig trucks, so I am sure that you know your business much, MUCH better than I do. Your point about big rigs having much better braking than HD truck/trailer combinations is well taken. I try my best to keep my towing weight to no more than 75% of rated towing capacity, largely for the reasons you state. One point you mentioned though, appears to have changed for the 2020 model year, the new GM Allison 10-speed is not supposed to be torque limited in any gear, according to a high level engineer who worked on the project.

@Make trucks great again --Either papajim doesn't understand your point or he is looking for an argument. The EPA and DOT are not going away regardless of how much oil we have. There is a limit to how much the manufacturers can increase the payload without it being a safety factor. I would rather have the Big class 8 truck behind me with the air brakes but ideally I would rather have neither behind me if I had to brake all the the sudden because of the longer braking distance of a heavier truck.

So evidently Jeff S wants goods to be levitated and sent to market via drones or something.

In the meantime Jeff we'll have trucks carrying most of the consumer-oriented freight from the distributors to the markets and shops.

The EPA seems to operate under the mistaken idea that air pollution affects us all equally, when in fact dirty air is a local problem that has to be addressed locally in order to make the best use of resources.

The solutions that work best for places like Los Angeles are very different from those that work best in Alberta or Vermont.

@Robert Ryan

"On the other hand GM and Ford might not exist before the next US downturn."

I assume this statement was just because you were slugging it out with papajim? If not, I think GM as well as Ford are not nearly in the dire straights that you think they are. GM for example has approximately $26 billion cash on hand, and made about $2 billion net last quarter. It looks kind of doubtful that they will be going under BEFORE the next recession. The GM layoffs have to do with the US car market underperforming, and to invest the savings from ICE cars into electric car development. GM trucks have been quite profitable in the US. I have not read any negative profit forecasts for GM.

@make trucks great again

While GHG emission and fuel economy are related, changes in one are not necessarily directionally the same for the other."

Just a friendly question, as far as I know, the CO2 emissions are directly proportional to the amount of fuel burned, though different fuels emit differing amounts of CO2. How can emission controls change this without some sort of carbon capture equipment? I understand your point about reducing power etc. can reduce CO2, but that still doesn't change the CO2 emissions to fuel burned ratio?

"Australia's economy is driven by consumer spending and those transactions are down. "
No it is not. A lot of infrastructure spending. By the way this is not happening in the US, so a predicted downturn( this interest rates are not rising) would be severape

I know this sounds enough, but will it ride them out of the next recession? When you already have almost zero interest rates in the " good times" what will a major downturn be like?

I should just keep my thoughts to myself and let Robert self destruct with his incoherent comments.

"should just keep my thoughts to myself and and Inwill self destruct with myincoherent comments."
Corrected for you

@Robert Ryan

Earlier you mentioned that GM/Ford would go bankrupt BEFORE the next recession, it sounds like you don't actually believe that. If your thinking GM/Ford may go bankrupt as a result of the next US recession, I would still think not. GM for example has good cash on hand (about 26 billion), labor rates are down significantly since the last recession, overall they are much more right-sized, they have already largely funded electric car development (getting ready to introduce 20 plus new electric models), they don't have to pay everyone 95% if their salary for 5 years if they lay someone off (this is something they were stuck with last recession). I would say all bets are off if the next US recession is significantly worse than the last one, but I for one, don't think that will happen. I think the Fed interest rates are at 2.5%, so still a little bit of room to get down to zero, but not as much room as we would usually have. However the fundamentals of the US economy are in better shape than they were prior to the last recession, the financial crisis had been warned about for several years before it actually happened...our lovely Government officials played politics and would not fix the problems before the bust.

I hope your right, but the nominal to Zero interest rates and non existent wage growth are a major concern. That is not normal economic behaviour for the " good times"


As I recall, US wage growth last year was about 3.2%, not zero. In about 3-4 months, we will be tied for the longest economic expansion in US history. I realize that this is much shorter than Australia's longest expansion, but our economies are somewhat different. What is not proper behavior in my view, is building larger deficits in good economic times, especially since Federal Government revenues are projected to be at an all-time high this year (even though we had big tax cuts a year ago or so).

I am kind of fascinated as to why you would care that much about the US economy, or US trucks, given you live in Australia. Do you have close relatives here, or do you spend time here? I have some distant relatives in Australia that I have conversed with, love the Aussie accents!

In regards to CO2 reduction. One can pass more fuel through the exhaust system (richer exhaust higher hydrocarbon content) prior to the DOC (converter) to oxidize more CO and create a greater percentage of H2O compared to CO2. Downside is there will be more soot (solid carbon matter) produced which the particulate filter needs to capture. Eventually the particulate filter needs to be cleaned in regen and because of higher soot content the particulate filter needs to be either larger with a longer regen period, or needs to regen more often. Exhaust filter regen requires the engine to burn fuel. It is a vicious cycle, it can take more fuel to make cleaner exhaust, sort of like a heavier truck is needed to tow a heavier trailer. Another CO2 improvement comes from controlling intake air temperature, especially in hot weather. If intake air temp starts getting too far above a desired range the engine controls have to start knocking power back. Intake air temp is one of the reasons you are seeing these functional hood scoops coming out pickups, and they do not improve frontal area or drag. Even class 7 and 8 trucks are going with more elaborate air intakes to control temperature and it can cause compliance issues with federal requirements for noise passby.

@Teexas 1836
They used to sell US Pickups in Australia until 2006. The last F150 was sold in 1992. So not that we do not know them . Small conversion companies are basically converting HD's to RHD for the Grey Nomad market. Not a simple process as they to remanufacture the Pickup using about 700 new parts.
This is expensive due to the low volume and conversion process, but provides an alternative to people who want to tow their( locally produced) Caravans
As well as the Global Pickups and other tow vehicles US Pickups add to the variety.
Factor in as well we developed and designed your Ranger, engineered the upcoming Bronco and have input into the Off Road Colorado


@Robert --- that would be severape

Silverado 2500 towing a Caravan

"Robert --- that would be severape"

No it is not. A lot of infrastructure spending. By the way this is not happening in the US, so a predicted downturn( this interest rates are not rising) would be severape

Posted by: Robert Ryan | Feb 10, 2019

That IS the question.

It could be answered suddenly. This has a sense of déjà Vue. I remember travelling through the US in 2007 and marvelling at the zero interest rates for cars. How can they do it? That was answered a year later

Excuse me Robert. You're not getting off the hook so easily

Please comment on the pathetic consumer economy in your country. It's the leading component in that economy, so it's not easily dismissed. The increases in personal spending in 2018 were less than one-half of one percent, quarter/quarter.

Rational commenters might conclude that whatever passes for economic growth in your region has ground to a halt.

"Please comment on the pathetic consumer economy in your country"
I did. Chinese investment is leaving as a result house prices are dropping. People feel less wealthy and spend less
Still unemployent is now below 5% 3.5% in one State

Papajim please explain your appalling deficit that has grown to 17% since the trade war with China? This is going to kill the US economy

While your at it the appalling state of US infrastructure. I went over that bridge that collapsed later near the twin cities. Every State in Australia has massive infrastructure spends, but the US has none.

Whoever is behind the Robert Ryan user name is a full-scale idiot. There is no way to read his posts as a rational person and think otherwise.
Posted by: Chris T. | Feb 9, 2019 4:37:57 AM

I agree

That Super Duty shorty dually mismatched fender flare white with commercial wheels is something of a styling train wreck. I guess someone thought a commercial fleet yard jockey/mule truck would be a good one to bring to the show. Bad fender flare "styling" and bad call for a show.

That being said the boys at Chevy HD seeing this isolated example of a mess Ford brought to this show said "Hold my beer. If you thought that was bad, watch this" and produced what is undeniably the ugliest modern HD with or without mismatched fender flares and one upped Ford with a pathetic interior.

In the mean time Fiat laughed at both and in a year where 2 of 3 unveiled all new designs and the 3rd did a decent mid cycle refresh Fiat stole most of the good press and rightly so.

Its a very bad star for this generation of full size chevy. Better rush that mid cycle refresh with a new front clip and interior.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Is this guy serious?? Wow, he needs to have reality check, like yesterday!

"@ Mark : Is the F-450 front axle track wider than the F-350 and F-250. I assume it is and the flares are to control wheel splash.
Posted by: GMSRGREAT "

The F-450 does use a wider front end than the F-350, mostly so that the wheels can turn sharper for a smaller turn radius. Ford offered the wide front end on the F-350 for a few years but had a low take rate even though every comment I have seen from those who had was very positive. Due to the low take rate they quickly dropped the wide front. I think that the biggest issue was that dealers wouldn't order it for trucks to go into inventory and most retail customers are averse to special ordering their trucks.

I always thought a SuperDuty with a wide front and a matching single tire rear end would be cool, especially if they went to about 310mm wide tires.

Clint is babbling again because he keeps trying to remind himself he can’t buy a GM truck no matter how much he wants to. He needs a Ford because Frank told him so...

I am thinking that is the first F450 pickup that I have seen in anything other than a crew cab.

Meanwhile back to truck news;

Ford announced the new 7.3 V8 gasser could fit in a mustang & F150 too; most likely it would never happen for the stang as it was designed for heavy truck duties but the F150?....if Ford doesn't go for it, I'm sure the aftermarket companies will pounce on the opportunity....

Lionel is such a spaz.

A big heavy cast iron gasser makes no sense in a street-racer. The cam and engine internals are specifically chosen to be a truck engine.

Lionel...why not take a motor from a Massey Ferguson or a Farmall tractor and put it in your street racer? that makes as much sense.

Meanwhile back to truck news;
Ford announced the new 7.3 V8 gasser could fit in a mustang & F150 too; most likely it would never happen for the stang as it was designed for heavy truck duties but the F150?....if Ford doesn't go for it, I'm sure the aftermarket companies will pounce on the opportunity....
Posted by: Lionel

It has long been rumored that the Raptor will be offered with the next V8 to come out. In performance trucks some enthusiasts have to have that V8 sound.

Get a new pair & reread my post; was simply pointing out Ford's announcement their new 7.3 could actually fit in the F150 & stang too...


its no use trying to talk to papajim

his blindfold must have slipped down over his eyes again

try to minimize conversation with him

he will hurl out insults

^^^^^thanks & got it

....why not take a motor from a Massey Ferguson or a Farmall tractor and put it in your street racer? that makes as much sense.

Posted by: papajim | Feb 11, 2019 3:03:26 PM

That is funny.

@papajim--You are looking for an argument. Never said anything about drones delivering goods. Senility is finally taking its toll on you. Must be tough to be getting so old you cannot comprehend what others say. I don't have a dog in the fight when it comes to HD trucks. In other words it doesn't affect me me one way or the other and I have no interest in regulating HD trucks. You seem to stick you nose in everyone's business which is what a retired senile guy with no life with lots of time on his hand does.

Make trucks great again--brings up some valid points on HD trucks versus class 8 trucks. There is a need for HD trucks and there is a need for Class 8. Not my concern but it seems you have an opinion on everything and if it doesn't fit in your narrow parameters then it must be wrong.

@papajim--I don't really care one way or the other so as for Government regulation I am not going to lose any sleep over them. As for drones I hope they can deliver you some memory pills since you are so senile that you cannot comprehend what others write. I am too busy making a living paying taxes to support curmudgeons like you.

The front-end of the Chevy HD wasn't inspired by the Aztek by no stretch of the imagination, more like the Last Generation Chevy Colorado.

more comments from the Fake jeff s. You can always tell the Fake Jeff from the real one.

Hint: the FAKE one works on a sheep ranch of some kind, in a part of Australia with a name regular people cannot pronounce.

The REAL Jeff will tell you about every job (and car) he ever had, including those of his family members, cousins and neighbors, and the FAKE Jeff never does.

The REAL Jeff is always very polite and the FAKE Jeff always goes straight for the jugular. The REAL Jeff usually posts during US business hours and the FAKE one does not.

@papajim--Never said anything about eliminating HD trucks and that drones would take over deliveries. Drones are going to be used by Amazon for smaller door to door deliveries to individuals. There are lots of large tractor trailer rigs that deliver goods to Amazon warehouses. Are you suggesting that Amazon use large tractor trailers for door to door deliveries? If so only you could come up with such nonsense. As for Government regulation whether you like it or not it will not be totally eliminated. Presidents and political parties come and go and not even you have the power to control that. Manufacturers have to look beyond the current President and his turning back regulations. Anyone with half a brain realizes that things always change some for the better and some for the worse. Doesn't do any good to stick your head in the sand and ignore what likely will happen even if you don't like it. You self profess to be an expert on business but businesses has to plan long term. Go ahead and stick your head in the sand if that makes you feel good but it won't change things. Eventually we will get more liberal leaning legislators and a more liberal President which contrary to your beliefs about me I am not looking forward to and neither does the stock market like big swings especially since the stock market hates uncertainty. The manufacturers cannot just plan on an environment where there will be little or no regulation especially when the courts have held up some of the current regulations that the President has tried to eliminate. You can wish differently.

The manufacturers cannot just plan on an environment where there will be little or no regulation especially when the courts have held up some of the current regulations that the President has tried to eliminate. You can wish differently....Posted by: Jeff Feb 12, 2019


the president's political opposition is being led by a girl who looks like she just got out of college and she wants to have us all riding bicycles in 10 years to avoid planetary extinction. Let that sink in. The entire obsession with C02 and soot is going to look pretty ridiculous in 20 years. Our international competitors are building coal fired power plants by the dozens.

While India and China are focused on moving ahead, the big bankers in the EU are freaked out over C02 at a time when their national economies are DEAD in the water. Ford's pulling out of Spain and GM sold their interest in Germany.

No perspective at all.

@papajim--Reread my comments again. Apparently you skipped over the parts you wanted to. Even if the current President is re-elected we are talking about another 6 years. Do manufacturers just plan for 6 years? Maybe they do and that is why they have to be bailed out. Most businesses plan for what could happen. Is there an absolute guarantee that the US will have the next 10, 20, or 30 years with no change in political parties. Typically the Presidency changes after 2 terms and goes from more conservative to liberal policies and back again. if you knew anything about American History or politics you would know that. Agree that much of the current crop of Democrats bodes well for the re-election of our current POTUS but how about for the next 10 or more years. Unless our current POTUS gets the Constitution changed and is allowed no term limits then in 6 years he will definitely not be President. You have heard that the President of the US cannot serve more than 2 consecutive terms? This was became law after FDR died--FDR died in his 4th consecutive term.

@papajim--Eventual you and I will be dead and you will not have to worry about liberals or Government regulation. You might not like many of the changes that have happened in society and neither do I but if you want to survive you have to adapt. Change will happen regardless with some change being good and some being bad. Many believed before the Wright Brothers made their first flight that if man were meant to fly God would have given man wings. Many also believed that computers were bad and that we would all be sitting around without a job. Go back further and people believed that the World was flat and that a ship could sail too far and fall off the Earth. I do not want to pay for everyone to go to college or a few of the extra agenda items that the biking riding college girl proposes but some of those items could eventually happen. For now I think we all are safe because they would never even get to the floor of the House or Senate to vote on just so much talk. Don't you think some of the corporations are looking at this as well and planning?

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