BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI – General Motors knows chatter surrounding the aluminum-intensive ’15 Ford F-150 will only get busier as its fourth-quarter launch approaches. So despite putting out its redesigned large trucks just one year ago, the automaker freshens up its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra with special-edition models and new features.
Sandor Piszar, director-truck marketing at Chevrolet, says updates for the trucks, both pickups and SUVs, are part of an effort to keep up with customer expectations. But he also admits crosstown rival Ford will get plenty of attention with its redesigned F-150, already the best-selling pickup in the U.S., and GM’s truck brands must be ready to match the marketing bluster.
“They are making a lot of hay” ahead of the F-150 launch, Piszar tells WardsAuto during a media event here to detail GM truck updates for ’15. “Any manufacturer would do the same launching a new truck.
“For us, it’s about getting these features out there and keeping (GM) trucks new,” he says.
Much like other segments in the industry, model-year changeovers in the truck business these days bring with them more updates than in the recent past. Competitive pressures are too intense to let a product go untouched, GM marketers say.
“It’s the new norm,” Piszar says. “You can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to keep people thinking about your brand.”
GM’s activity, however, could be considered vigorous whatever the competitive landscape.
The automaker not only adds two new midsize offerings for ’15 in the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, but the Silverado and Sierra models with the 6.2L small-block V-8 add an all-new 8-speed automatic transmission. GM’s large SUVs with the same engine also include the 8-speed, which offers a 1 mpg (0.4 L/100 km) bump up in city and highway fuel economy.
Infotainment options on the trucks improve, too, with the addition of OnStar 4G LTE and built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, as well as updated text-messaging and Siri Eyes Free capabilities.
Other additions to the Silverado and Sierra include available up-level trailer mirrors with chrome caps, forward-facing running lights and back-up lighting; a spray-in bed liner for all models in the ranges; an additional USB port for the upper glovebox; and a fresh line of exterior colors.
The Silverado LTZ and Z71 models receive a new grille treatment and chrome trim along the lower doors, and a Rally Edition package for LT-trim double-cab body styles offers a body-colored grille with a black bowtie; 22-in. black alloy wheels; black tubular side steps; and black mirror caps and door handles.
Twin black Rally stripes to the hood and tailgate finish its unique appearance, and a trailering package with a hitch and automatic locking rear differential are added as standard equipment to the model.
The Sierra Denali adds magnetic ride control, a real-time suspension damping system for more refined ride and handling characteristics, making it the only large pickup on the market with the technology.
An Elevation Edition greets the Sierra line in the new model year, offering a body-colored grille, color-keyed door handles, mirror caps and side moldings and front and rear bumpers meant to convey a sporty, monochromatic appearance.
Premium headlamps are unique to the Elevation Edition, featuring LED lighting. The pickup rides on black 20-in. aluminum-alloy wheels.
A Carbon Edition comes to the line, as well, offering unique styling elements.
Both the Sierra Elevation and Sierra Carbon give GMC new entries in the double- and crew-cab segments at price points the brand did not have previously.
“Those are great (models) to keep the lifecycle fresh,” says Rich Latek, director-marketing at GMC. “It gives us an opportunity, as we see areas of the marketplace we can attack, when we do not have the right entry.”
The Silverado and Sierra Heavy Duty models receive strengthened cargo boxes, integrated corner-steps to the rear bumpers for easier access to the bed and tailgates that are easier to open and close. The exteriors of the pickups receive styling tweaks, and the interiors get comfort and convenience updates.
Sierra HD models get an All Terrain model for the first time, giving double-cab and crew-cab 2500HD and 3500HD units off-road items such as Rancho twin-tube shocks, hill descent control and a skid plate.
GM’s large SUVs receive some fine-tuning for ’15. The Chevy Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL now offer new safety technologies, wireless smartphone charging and hands-free lift gates. A Z71 off-road package returns to the Tahoe and Suburban for the first time in a decade.