2014 GMC Sierra: A BoldRide Breakdown
In the weeks prior to the Detroit Auto Show, General Motors debuted the next generation of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2014 GMC Sierra 1500. The new trucks may look like an evolution of the current models, but a number of thoughtful updates have left the new pickups as capable and useful as ever. Here is how GM updated the duo of pickups, focusing specifically on the Sierra. Considering that very little has changed in the Ford F-150 but still sells like gangbusters, and that the Ram 1500 has won Truck of the Year by offering comfort-minded features, the truck market is an incredibly varied place. People buy trucks for all different reasons, and both contractor and soccer mom buy them in big numbers. The F-150 holds down the "family hauler" market, resulting in Ram offering features like air suspension and other comfort items to go after that same casual truck user. The Silverado/Sierra, on the other hand are the workman's trucks.
As such, GM is offering features geared towards making the workday easier. I stopped by my local auto show, the New England Auto Show, in Boston to speak with Roger McCormack, director of global marketing for Buick/GMC (top image). He took us around the new Sierra and showed us the significant changes you might not notice by just staring at press photos.
The first things that he pointed to were the engines. A 4.3-liter V6, and two available V8s all offer direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. The presence of all three in every engine offered are firsts in the truck market. These technologies will conspire to offer improved fuel economy and power, though we're still waiting on numbers.
The engines are the big ticket items that make their way to the top of most news on the trucks, but from there McCormack raised one of the great conundrums in truck use; climbing into the bed. If you are 6'3" like myself, climbing into the bed is as simple as putting one foot on the rear wheel and heaving the other one over the bed wall. For shorter individuals, or if you're wearing slick, muddy boots, this can get a bit difficult. That is why GM has designed these bed steps (above) built into the corners of the rear bumper. They provide easier access to the bed, without having to use the goofy "Man-Step" employed on the Ford F-150.
McCormack went on to demonstrate the slow-release tailgate and truck bed LEDs. The former makes it so that the tailgate doesn't come crashing down when released– a trait that will shorten the life of any tailgate. The latter provides light in the truck bed where the rear cab light cannot reach. Together, these features make using a truck far more easier. They are features you may not have realized how badly you needed them.
Finally, we were shown the rear wheel well covers. This is something that I think every truck needs. It is quite unsightly to see the exposed inner bed wall when staring at a truck's rear wheel well. It may not be a pure functional thing, but it was a simple feature that goes a long way in improving the Silverado/Sierra. In essence, that sums up the new GM truck lines– simple updates that conspire to become more than the some of their parts. We'll reserve final judgement on the truck as a whole until we get behind the wheel of one.