PONTIAC, Mich. —
General Motors has unveiled its next generation of pickup trucks, the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
What's different about them? Plenty.
The all-new trucks feature fresh styling, Ecotec 3 engines, six-speed automatic transmissions, and modern interiors that GM claims will be quieter and more refined than before.
"We built these trucks and tested them to the extreme — more than 13 million miles worth," said Jeff Luke, GM's executive chief engineer for full-size trucks. "They're smarter, quieter, more comfortable, more efficient and easier to live with."
Three new Ecotec engines will be introduced in the Silverado and Sierra: a 4.3-liter V-6, 5.3-liter V-8 and 6.2-liter V-8.
GM also announced that its entire pickup lineup will be redesigned, starting with the Silverado and Sierra 1500 pickups for 2014, followed by new heavy duty models, then with all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize trucks.
Both trucks get new styling that sets them apart visually, even though they share the same underpinnings.
One of the most unique changes is the use of inlaid doors that fit inside the body openings instead of on top of the roof, which improves wind noise and aerodynamics.
Tighter body gaps and other refinements have reduced the trucks' coefficient of drag by 5 percent, which helps gas mileage.
Crew-cab models will get larger rear doors and will be available with a 6-foot, six-inch bed - something not offered before 2014. In back, a step built into the corner of the bumper makes it easier to climb up and lift things into the bed. The new tailgate also opens and closes in a quiet, controlled way. It goes down softly, unlike the loud clunk that's so familiar on most pickups.
LED lighting will be available under the rails to make loading and unloading easier in the dark.
Perhaps the biggest change for 2014 will be a new lineup of Ecotec 3 engines. They all feature direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, leading GM to claim they're the "most technically advanced engines in any light duty pickup."
All these features are designed to precisely control the burning of fuel in the cylinders, which will maximize performance and minimize fuel consumption.
When full power isn't needed, the engines seamlessly switch to four-cylinder mode to save fuel.
"It has the power and torque of a real truck engine when you need it and four-cylinder operation under light loads for efficiency," Luke said.
The new engines will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and new, stronger rear axels to handle the added torque.
Both trucks will be available with the Z71 off-road suspension system, which includes monotube Rancho shocks and hill descent control.
GM claims the new interiors will be far quieter and more refined - something truck drivers who spend a lot of time on the highway will appreciate.
Controls are designed for operation with gloves on, and they offer easy access to USB ports and power outlets.
Heated cloth seats are available for the first time ever in a pickup. The new cloth is designed to be more durable, and the seats are built with "dual firmness foam" that's meant to maintain seat comfort over a long timeframe.
The new digital display features big, iPhone-style icons to operate apps and connect the trucks to smartphones and other devices. They include natural voice recognition, a feature that's becoming more common on luxury cars, and will also be the first full-size trucks to offer forward collision alert and lane departure warning.
Derek Price is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at email@example.com.