Twin power

September 2, 2010
by By Howard Elmer
The GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado can haul a 12,000-lb, 38-foot-long horse trailer up an eight-percent grade at 100 km/h. Photo: Howard Elmer

It’s no news that General Motors (GM) has had a rough couple of years. The automaker’s troubles during the global financial crisis have made front-page news around the world.

How has all this affected GM’s fleet business? After all, the division is a substantial part of the overall business; any vehicle the automaker builds can be purchased as a business car.

Post-bankruptcy, post-recession, GM has some interesting fleet options available, as showcased at a 2011 model year preview event earlier this summer.

For 2011, all the familiar GM nameplates are joined by several new offerings, including the small Chevrolet Cruze, the electric Chevrolet Volt, the resurrected Buick Regal and the two-door Cadillac CTS Coupe.

Some of these may very well be of interest, depending on your business, but in my view the really important fleet news comes from heavy-duty truck department this year.

GM has released an all-new (redesigned from the inside out) 2500 and 3500-series truck under the twin Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra banners.

When I say these trucks are new from the inside out, I mean the company has spent most of its development dollars on the powertrain and chassis, and comparatively little on the interior and the shape of the tin. But capacity is where GM has recently fallen off, and its designers knew it. This effort at least puts them back in competition with Ford, if not so much with Dodge.

During my first drive of these 2011 models I drove a 3500-series Chevrolet that can carry 6,635lb and a 2500-series truck that can haul 4,192 lb. These numbers have increased significantly thanks to a whole new chassis. Also the upgraded 6.6-litre Duramax V8 diesel engine is now rated at 397hp and a stunning 765 pound-feet of torque—more than the new Ford and significantly more than the Dodge Ram.

And what will this heavy chassis pull with all that power? Well, the claim is 17,000lb of conventional towing (up from 13,000lb on the 2010 model) and 21,700lb of fifth-wheel towing (up from 16,500lb on the 2010). These capacities are slightly higher than those of Ford and are pulling well away from those of Ram. In all of the above areas, GM claims to currently have the best-in-class power, towing and payload.