Big Trucks on the Move
By Jim Gorzelany CTW FeaturesWith modest increases already being registered during 2012 and into 2013, full-size pickup sales are poised to skyrocket. According to the Wall Street Journal, the recovery of the U.S. housing market is an important driver of pickup sales, with builders and contractors, punished by the drop in new-home building caused by the economic crash of 2008 meeting a pent-up demand to replace old vehicles.
Fortunately, these buyers will be able to choose from a trio of revamped full-size pickup trucks later this summer, including the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Toyota Tundra.General Motors takes more of an evolutionary than revolutionary approach with its mechanically equivalent trucks, the Silverado and Sierra. The overall look for both models is familiarly boxy and broad-shouldered, with the GMC versions carrying distinctive and more sophisticated-looking front-end treatments. As before, the trucks come in two-door standard-cab, extended cab models with a small back seat and two rear-hinged access doors and four-door Crew Cab versions. All models feature a new step built into the rear bumper for easy access into the cargo bed; Crew Cab models offer a longer 6.5-foot cargo box.
A trio of new “EcoTec3” engines – a 4.3-liter V6 and 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8s – promise improved performance and fuel economy thanks to the latest powertrain technology, including direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and automatic cylinder deactivation. The optional 5.3-liter V8, which is expected to be the volume seller, will be rated at 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque and deliver a best-in-class 23-mpg in highway driving (22-mpg with four-wheel-drive). Assorted structural and engineering improvements are claimed to yield improved ride and handling characteristics.
Both the 2014 Silverado and Sierra feature nicely redesigned interiors with large legible gauges, and big buttons and dials on the dashboard. Newly available features include forward collision and lane departure warning systems for added safety and the MyLink infotainment system that allows users to place calls via Bluetooth-tethered phones, operate the navigation system, play music and control other functions via natural language voice-commands.
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado will start at $24,585 for a regular cab model, while the base GMC Sierra will be priced at $25,085, including delivery charges.While the Toyota Tundra’s 2014 update isn’t as extensive, it’s redesigned to make a respectable run at the domestic competition – specifically targeting the sales-leading Ford F-150 – in a market segment that’s fiercely brand-loyal. As with the F-150, the new Tundra comes capped with either of five separate front-end treatments, each of which is customized slightly according to each trim level.
Again following the domestic pickups’ lead, the 2014 Tundra adds a new luxury minded version, called Platinum, which features premium double-stitched leather upholstery with heated/cooled front seats and a full platter of high-tech features, including the automaker’s Entune multimedia connectivity system. To counter the Western-themed F-150 King Ranch and Ram Laramie Longhorn models, the Tundra adds a new “1794” edition with saddle brown embossed leather seating with ultra-suede accents (it’s named for the ranch, founded in 1794, on which the Tundra plant is located in San Antonio, Texas).
Inside, a redesigned dashboard features easier-to-read gauges and improved ergonomics across the line, with a Bluetooth interface and backup camera now standard; a blind-spot warning system is newly optional. As before, the truck comes adequately powered in standard and extended-cab models by a 4.0-liter 270-horsepower V6 engine, with a 4.6-liter 310-horsepower V8 standard on Crew Cab models and a 5.7-liter 381-horsepower V8 optional to tackle heavier duty tasks.
Expect the 2014 Toyota Tundra to start at around $26,000 for a base regular cab version. © CTW Features