The information readouts you get with GM products are a cool bonus, as you can scroll between transmission temperature readings to rear-tire pressures to engine hours. That's information a real truck guy wants access to with real numbers, not just an idiot light or numberless gauge. This powertrain and tech center could be the standard for the category (although, so far Chevy doesn't have a product answer for the new bigger, stronger F-450 Super Duty King Ranch).
Almost as impressive as the improved powertrains, the interiors are upgraded from the previous generation. Like the GMT900 half-tons before them, the HD interiors have three trim levels (WT, LT, and LTZ for Chevy, and WT, SLE, and SLT for GMC), and two dash layouts (Pure Pickup and Luxury Inspired). By now, many know that the Pure Pickup is the more work-friendly of the two: It allows front bench seating and more room for big boots, but also offers a second glovebox and has a different, oversize door grab-handle design. The uplevel interiors offer the same type of large center-stack console as those in the 1500 and GM full-size SUVs. Nav and entertainment systems are available in all configurations, and those heavy-duty owners who have to use their truck more than just heaving bags of concrete or aggregate around will enjoy how quiet and sumptuous the new HD interiors are.
Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel
Allison 1000 6-speed
Base engine: Vortec 6.0-liter V-8
There's nothing new about the cab configurations, however: familiar regular, extended, and crew cabs are offered. Extended-cab HDs will have 170-degree, dual-hinge rear doors for easy access, and the four-full-size door models have rear seats that fold into the seatbacks for a tremendous amount of interior cargo volume. HDs will come with three bed sizes, five wheelbases, three cab models, two different suspension packages (including a new Z71 choice in 4x4 or 4x2), single and dual rear-wheel options on 3500 trucks, and pricing starting from $24,575 (WT Regular Cab 4x2 longbox), working all the way up past $40,000.
GM has finally included an integrated trailer-brake controller with its Z82 trailering package (which also includes a hitch, wiring, and bigger mirrors), much like the system Ford uses in its Tow Boss setup. Maximum trailer ratings (bumper-mounted hitch) for the new Heavy Duties range from 11,600 to 13,000 pounds, with fifth-wheel maximum trailer ratings reaching 16,000 (for a look at various weights and loads, see "By the Numbers"). HDs can carry between 2100 and 5300 pounds on its back, depending on the vehicle. Look for a comprehensive tow test in a future issue. This segment is steadily growing, so we're likely to see more interest in this size category in the years to come, maybe even from import companies.
GMC Sierra HD
No big surprises here. Anything you can order on the Chevy you can get from GMC as well, except now there's more visual distinction. Long the red-headed stepchild, GMC is beginning to carve out its own territory away from Chevy. First it was the premium-trim Denali brand, making its way onto pickup trucks and SUVs, and now the Acadia crossover is turning heads and opening GMC up to an entirely new market segment. Don't be surprised if GMC has a few more trick trucks up its sleeve. With all the play in the luxury-truck market, how far away can the Crew Cab Sierra 3500 Denali option package be? Certainly Cadillac can't play there, but GMC can. A few exclusive accessories, some plush carpeting, and a large-screen DVD player and Bose system--we'd tow our boat to the river in one of those. More to come, we're sure.--M.W.