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Saturday, January 5, 2013
New Chevy/GMC pickups.
When I first came to Canada in the early eighties, I was amused by the number of pickup trucks on the road. Large and heavy vehicles, with large cargo beds, driven around town mostly empty and with just the driver in the cab seemed a little strange and amusing. Among my European friends we often joked about their drivers forgetting their cowboy hats. European truck scene was totally different, with more focus on utility and a clear division between private and commercial use vehicles. In Europe the pickup truck was almost non-existent and if a manufacturer built one it would be a design like the one in the picture below: a cab-over truck, with a raised flat-floor bed and side walls and tailgate folding down vertically to enable easy loading from three sides. These trucks mostly had a small to medium sized diesel engine and would rival compact sedans for their fuel economy.
By contrast, a Yankee pickup truck was a disaster in ergonomics and efficiency: A large heavy bed, a huge V8 under a looooong hood, poor handling, sticking out tailgate (in open position) and an uncomfortable sofa seat in the cab made it a dinosaur sort of a vehicle. I remember driving a late seventies base Ford F150, and it was as dangerous to drive as a Ford Pinto or a Chevy Chevette, except for four times the mass. Heavy steering with too many turns to count, brakes that required a gym membership to engage and handling of a large barn made the truck very entertaining to drive in heavy traffic, requiring full concentration from the driver and all of his four limbs working full time just to keep the beast going straight.
As the pickup truck improved over the years, and I grew accustomed to the new way of life, I began to see the benefits of having a Silverado or a F150 on my driveway. I realized what the pickup had to offer: a large comfortable cabin for the whole family, a large bed capable of swallowing a small apartment's worth of furniture and a towing capacity good enough for large boats and heavy trailers. For a suburban active family guy it began to make a lot of sense. It also made a lot of sense for a small business owner (not to mention a cowboy) to have one vehicle instead of two or three.
Pickup trucks were also so refined over the last 20 years, that they became luxury vehicles with tremendous utility added as a bonus. Their macho status only solidified their popularity. That macho thing did it for me (admittedly I'm a little weak in that department). I'm fully converted now and I like pickup trucks very much.
The Chevy/GMC combo was always my favorite one. For some reason, the General's trucks felt just right to me and the new one looks great. The new Sierra wouldn't be my first or second vehicle, but it'd surely be third. Oh, well, one day there will be a nice red GMC in my future ten-car-garage. Until then, it's whatever reliable trade lands on my lap...
Autoweek: 2014 Silverado/Sierra