duminică, 30 ianuarie 2011

GM Unveils 2007 Chevy Tahoe!

Never mind leveling the playing field. Instead, with the unveiling of their new full-size trucks and SUVs, GM just leveled the competition. The first truck to have the wraps pulled off is the 2007 Chevy Tahoe. Its is, in a word, spectacular.

The look of the new Tahoe is evolutionary in nature, with a very attractive, crisp-looking front fascia. The clean lines extend everywhere, creating a neat package that makes the truck look more compact (in photos, at least) than it is.

The tech specs, as reported by AutoWeek, are as follows:

The SUVs will come in two wheelbase lengths—116 inches and 130 inches—three bodystyles and 12 different models, including light-and heavy-duty versions. Three plants share production of the new SUVs: Arlington, Texas; Janesville, Wisconsin and Silao, Mexico .
The new range of V8 engines includes:
  • 4.8-liter, 290 hp
  • Two 5.3-liters (one aluminum block and one iron block), with Displacement On Demand, 320 hp
  • 6.0 liter heavy-duty with variable valve timing, 350 hp
  • 6.0-liter with Displacement On Demand and variable valve timing, 355 hp
  • 6.2-liter with variable valve timing, 380 and 400 hp
Don't let the big V8s fool you. The new GM trucks are set to be the stingiest vehicles in their class, when it comes to fuel consumption. This is made possible in large part by GM's use of their Displacement On Demand technology (similar to the Multi-Displacement System Chrysler has built into their 5.7L HEMI V8s). Basically, how it works is this: under certain conditions, such as highway cruising, the the engine will shut down half its cylinders, thereby contributing to increased fuel economy.
Are we talking compact car numbers? No. Nor will this win over the enviro-conscious hybrid crowd. But these numbers are pretty darn good for a full-size SUV: 20.4 mpg for 2WD models, and 20.1 mpg for 4WD models. GM says that the new body's low drag coefficient helps make these numbers possible. To put the numbers in perspective, my 2WD Passat with the 2.8L V6 gets around 20mpg combined city/highway. Sometimes less, if I do more local driving. Considering that I am giving up a minimum of 100hp to the smallest engine GM offers (the 4.8L), and that my car weighs much less, the 20mpg numbers GM claims for the new trucks are very, very impressive.
A month or so ago, I had the opportunity to drive an '05 Chevy Silverado Crew Cab pickup for a day. Power delivery with the smallest V8 was excellent, and the truck rode like a Lincoln Town Car. The interior, however, was the worst cheapo fisher-price GM disaster you could imagine. Ergonomics were lousy, and the interior surfaces were dominated by unbelievably cheesey-looking and feeling plastic.
Well, I'm happy to report that those days are over. At right, you see the all-new interior GM has bestowed upon the new Tahoe. It's logical, attractive, and is a 180-degree turn from the old interior, which was basically terrible.
GM has been working very hard at improving their interior quality the last couple of years, and now it's starting to pay off. Corvette and Cadillac led the way, with the higher quality now appearing in more GM products, such as the Cobalt and HHR from Chevy, Solstice and GTO from Pontiac, and Lucerne from Buick.
GM, a punchline for a long while, is getting its act together. The product is improving notably, and the new full-size trucks, based on what I see in this new Tahoe, are going to exceed expectations in almost every way. One can only imagine how nice the new Escalade is going to be, based on what we see in the new Tahoe.
Expect pictures of the rest of the line to be released any day now. GM is sending everyone a message.
It's back.
Update: The Car Connection's Paul Eisenstein reports that GM is working with DaimlerChrysler and BMW to jointly develop a new hybrid option that it would offer on its full-size trucks and SUVs:
General Motors' new full-size SUVs will get hybrid power options in the 2007 calendar year, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz announced on Tuesday. The technology, being developed as part of a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler and BMW, is aimed to be both lower cost than comparable Japanese hybrid systems, and more fuel efficient at highway speeds. According to Lutz, the two-mode system should deliver a real-world boost of about 25 percent, without sacrificing either performance or towing capacity.
A 25% boost in fuel economy? Let it be so. I'm interested in seeing how much power the automakers can derive out of a hybrid powertrain. Honda showed with its Accord V6 Hybrid that you can have a greener engine with higher horsepower, as it produces 255hp, more than even the gasoline-only v6. If GM and it's German partners can come up with hybrid power options that deliver the big horsepower people buying trucks that size expect, they would be well-positioned to remain big players in the market with the full-size trucks, regardless of rising fuel costs.