- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2007

There are few in this country that do not believe full-sized pickup trucks are extremely important to auto manufacturers. Just look at what Toyota is trying with its new truck — in the mist of marketing itself as the fuel saver; it brings out a larger gas user.

No one is more cognizant of the importance of full-sized trucks than General Motors. It has invested a great deal into the new sport utility vehicles, which in turn translate into trucks.

Thankfully so for GM, because its new SUVs are doing very well in the market and every single member of its team is hoping that success will translate over to the new trucks.

We in this country should hope for success as well, because we can not afford to loose a GM, Ford or any other large corporation. Like it or not, our economy is tied to these companies.

The good thing is General Motors appears to have done a whole lot of things right with the new pickups.

I just climbed out of a spanking new Chevrolet Silverado and found many aspects of this truck pleasing.

First and foremost it is a truck with truck capabilities in hauling, towing and related work. There are two additional aspects to this truck; it doesn’t feel like a truck.

The ride and handling are both precise, transferring comfort for the passengers inside and confidence to the driver behind the wheel.

On the economy side of the equation is GM’s active fuel management, a system that shuts down four cylinders of the V-8 engine when economy is more important than power.

This feature seamlessly switches from V-8 to V-4 power as the need arises. Power from a stop or while passing is strong because you have the full complement of Chevrolet’s V-8 engine. But, if you are cruising down the interstate just taking it easy, unbeknownst to driver and all inside, the computer switches off four cylinders so you are cruising and saving fuel.

Let’s also not forget the flex-fuel aspect here as well. GM has made a large number of its trucks capable of using ethanol (E85) as well as gasoline for fuel. E85 is 85 percent fuel made from corn or other organic material. Granted you do not travel as far on a gallon of E85 but you are lessening our dependence on foreign oil reserves.

Chevrolet has made two different interior designs available for its new truck. One is an updated version of its present truck dash. It is more upright and utilitarian in the manner in which it presents instruments and switches to the driver.

The more refined dash and instrument panel resembles the full-sized sport utilities, which also have been redesigned.

The top of the dashboard slopes low to crate a more expansive and open cockpit. It carries a more contemporary and tidy appearance.

Ride and handling have also been improved, a major goal for the engineers. The frame went through extensive re-engineering increasing strength and rigidity.

I give all manufacturers kudos for making electronic stability control standard equipment, as General Motors has here. The bottom line for GM’s new trucks is they are more refined for those buyers who like a more carlike feel.

However, these trucks are workhorses able to take care of all the chores owners need a full-sized truck to perform.



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