Now that the initial buzz over General Motors' new 2014 full-size pickups has subsided somewhat, attention is now being focused on the next-generation full-size SUVs. Like their GMT-900 predecessors, the new "K2" family of SUVs is expected to remain body-on-frame and live rear axle. But that tried-and-true formula doesn't seem to have hurt their popularity.
Absent from the lineup will be the Chevrolet Avalanche and its uptown twin, the Cadillac Escalade EXT. The first models expected to roll off the line in GM's Arlington, Texas plant are the new Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, which will begin production in January 2014, and will probably start showing up in dealerships a month or two after. The Cadillac Escalade and long-wheelbase ESV are expected to start production in April.
As with the pickups, the 5.3-liter V-8 is expected to power the majority of models, with the Escalade and upscale Denali variants getting the 6.2-liter V-8. For the first time in a Tahoe or Yukon, the 4.3-liter V-6 could serve as the base powerplant. The availability of the V-6 is not solidly confirmed yet, but the fact that GM is now offering the V-6 in crew cab, 4x4 variants of its pickups shows its confidence in the new base engine's output and responsiveness. Estimated output for the V-6 is around 290 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Like the pickups, all engines are expected to launch with a six-speed automatic transmission, but an eight-speed could follow shortly thereafter, and could debut as standard on the Escalade.
LED front accent lighting is visible on these late-stage testers. While the Escalade has had LED front lighting for some time, it will be a first for the Tahoe or Yukon. The LED lighting pattern on the Escalade appears to follow the pattern set by the recently-debuted 2014 CTS, with a vertical strip running along the outside edge of the lights, bisected by the bumper, and continuing into the lower fascia.
Although the availability of the EcoBoost V-6 has been strongly hinted for the next generation Lincoln Navigator, its unknown whether Cadillac will utilize its new 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6 in the Escalade, but it remains an intriguing option that could show up down the road.