General Motors bragged that the most popular version of its redesigned full-size pickups will get slightly better fuel economy than Ford's vaunted F-150 EcoBoost V6.
The automaker's North American leader said Chevrolet and GMC also will introduce new midsize pickups within two years, replacing the compact Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon that were discontinued last year.
The full-size 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks will have better fuel economy and performance than the 2013 models when they hit showrooms by June. The Silverado's base price will stay the same.
Regular cab versions of the Silverado, GM's best-selling vehicle, will start at $24,585, the double cab at $28,610 and the crew cab at $32,710. Those prices include destination charges.
For the corresponding versions of the Sierra, base prices are $25,085, $29,110 and $33,210.
GM plans to offer three powertrain options on the new trucks: a 4.3-liter V6, a 5.3-liter V8 and a 6.2-liter V8, all with six-speed automatic transmissions. But the company expects three-quarters of Silverado/Sierra buyers will choose the 5.3-liter engine, which gets 22 or 23 m.p.g. on the highway, depending on whether it has a two- or four-wheel drive transmission, and 16 in the city.
Nearly half of Ford F-150 buyers choose a V6 engine with the company's EcoBoost technology that the Environmental Protection Agency rates at 22 m.p.g. on the highway and 16 in the city. So the difference is small.
GM said the Silverado's largest towing package would offer towing ratings of as much as 11,500 pounds. Its maximum available payload will be 2,102 pounds.
"This sets a new bar for mainstream pickups," said Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer for GM's full-size trucks. He added that GM will freshen Silverado and Sierra during their lifecycle and offer new transmission options.
Meanwhile, GM North America President Mark Reuss said last week that the company would launch two midsize pickups as early as late 2014.
The new Chevy midsize pickup will be aimed at the "lifestyle" pickup buyer. The GMC version will be aimed at fleet buyers and small-business owners, Reuss said. Both will be timed to reach showrooms about the same time as Ford's next-generation F-150 in late 2014 or early 2015.
About 60% of the current Silverados and Sierras are crew cabs, but GM said it expects that will approach 65% with the redesign, which would please investors by fueling an increase in the average transaction price.
GM estimates that Ford's F-150 has a pricing advantage of $500 to $1,000 "on an apples-to-apples basis," Barclays analyst Brian Johnson said in a research note.
Silverado sales rose 30% in the first two months of the year to 77,088 vehicles, while Sierra sales rose 30% to 26,979 vehicles.
The most commonly purchased 2013 Silverado gets 21 m.p.g. on the highway, according to GM's website, with pricing for the crew cab short-box starting at $32,710.
While GM's focus is now on the larger pickups, Reuss said there's an opportunity to gain market share with the new midsize trucks that will be larger than the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.
"This is going to be a new truck -- a new size of truck with a new set of powertrains in those trucks," Reuss said. "It will be a little bigger than a (Toyota) Tacoma."
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