BUSINESS HEADLINES

New line of trucks should keep GM on top

By Roy J. Eaton | Published Saturday, October 5, 2013

Finally, it’s my turn.

After reading reports for several weeks from my friends and business associates who have driven the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, I finally had the opportunity to spend a few days with a new Texas Edition GMC recently.

All of the rave reviews that I’ve seen about the new pickups are right on the money. Even Consumer Reports, which rarely likes anything American-made, put the new GM pickups on top in a recent review.

On the Road

ON THE ROAD – The 2014 GMC Sierra half-ton and its companion Chevy Silverado offer a host of new features. General Motors claims the two vehicles offer the best gas mileage and highest towing capacity in their hotly competitive class. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

The GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado are basically the same pickup with different styling designs. I happen to like the GMC better – but styling is always in the eyes of the beholder.

The Sierra we had at the Messenger was the Texas Edition Crew Cab powered by GM’s 355 horsepower 5.3 liter V8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The first 2014 models to roll off the assembly lines were the crew cab versions of the pickups, and now production is underway on both double cab and regular cab pickups. Sales of GM trucks were down in September. The factory said it was because of limited selection of 2014 models and the quick sell-down of remaining 2013 pickups.

Like many of those who drove the truck, I was most impressed with the comfort of the cab and the ease of using the electronic interface with my iPhone and the truck radio. The salesman at James Wood Motors took only minutes to sync the phone and get me on my way.

It is ironic that at the same time we had the GMC Sierra we also had a 2013 Ram crew cab pickup in our Messenger fleet. The Ram is a V-6 with an eight-speed transmission and from my observation the Ram outperformed the GMC’s 5.3 liter V8.

While I had the truck, I shared it with some of my co-workers who own later model GM pickups and sport utility vehicles. Lisa and Dale Davis own a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 4×4, and Dale loved the new pickup.

“It drives as good as our Tahoe,” Dale said. He was also impressed with the dash and how the cup holders could be moved for a comfortable reach.

The new GM pickups have a feature that vibrates the driver’s seat when there is danger in changing lanes, and Lisa loved that. “I also like that they have added the electric phone charger.”

Our executive editor Bob Buckel also liked the truck as did our news editor Kristen Tribe, who regularly drives a 2010 Silverado 4×4.

“You could close your eyes and not know you’re driving a pickup,” Bob said. “And with the little buzzers in the seat when you veer out of your lane, you really could almost drive it with your eyes closed.”

Kristen also mentioned the major upgrade in the comfort of the truck compared to hers. Bob said the electronics were easy to use “and give you an amazing array of options for listening, temperature control, phone, etc.”

One new feature that really appealed to me was the built-in step in the rear bumper and the convenient handholds to pull you up to the bed. The tailgate is also easier to raise and lower.

I checked out the rear seat, and it is big and comfortable with 2 inches more legroom than earlier GM pickups. You can choose seating for five or six in the double cab and crew cab models.

As many of those who tested the vehicle have said, the new pickup is a significant improvement over GM pickups in recent years.

I’m not a pickup driver but have driven full-size SUVs built on pickup chassis for almost three decades, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one of the new Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburbans or GMC Yukons when they arrive in the James Wood showrooms in the spring.

If the new SUVs are as good as the pickups, GM will continue its run with over 70 percent of the full-size SUV market for many years to come.

Texas is definitely truck country – and Wise County is no exception. With these new trucks, maintaining sales leadership in the county should be no problem for Chevrolet and GMC.

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