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New GM 1500-Series trucks are designed to tow

November 26, 2006|by JEFF JOHNSTON / Motor Matters

It's not often that a major American car manufacturer launches an all-new, fully redesigned truck model. When it does, it's a safe bet that truck owners, and in particular those who tow RV trailers, will have something interesting to consider when it's time for a new tow vehicle.

The new 2007 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500-series pickups carry on the company's legacy of building trucks to suit a wide range of needs and tastes. The towing capability of half-ton trucks has been on the rise, and General Motors is at the forefront. The new truck can be rated to tow as much as 10,500 pounds when equipped with the 6.0-liter engine, 3.73 axle, 4WD and enhanced trailering package. The 2WD version of the same truck can be rated at 10,300-pounds towing capacity.

From the ground up, the truck is all new, including its sheet metal frame and so on. The Chevy and GMC versions feature different front-end clips to provide family design cues, as well as separate brand identities. Both trucks have cleaner front ends with less clutter and more solid detailing that promote the muscular appearance. Significant raised wheelwell flares front and back may not be to everyone's taste, but given the truck's other features, the flares may be easy to live with.

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There are two all-new interiors with a choice of two completely different component arrangements, including the "Pure Pickup" version in Chevy WT and LT and GMC WT and SLE models, or the upscale luxury-inspired interior in Chevy LTZ and GMC SLT models. Both versions make for some highly accommodating drives in comfort and style.

Buyers can choose from standard, extended cab and crew cab body styles with short, standard or long pickup boxes.

The frame is all-new with extensive hydroformed sections, fully boxed frame members and significantly greater stiffness than the last model. Coil-over-shock independent front suspension, new rack-and-pinion steering and standard leaf springs out back make up the suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes or discs and drums, depending on the model, are likewise standard.

Gone are the days of a V-6, small-block V-8 and big-block V-8 engine options. GM offers no fewer than eight engine options for the 2007 truck, including two 5.3-liter FlexFuel engines capable of running on E85 fuel. You'll need to review the GM literature for a full rundown on the confusing array of which engine is available with which truck and trim level, but the engines range from a 4.3-liter V-6 up to the 6.0-liter V-8 rated at 367 horsepower and 375 lbs.-ft. of torque. A 6.2-liter engine, rated at 400 hp and 415 lbs.-ft. of torque and backed by a new six-speed automatic transmission, is exclusively available on GMC Sierra models. Both top engines put out enough muscle to handle a good-size towed load.

It was the Chevy Silverado 4WD max-towing truck that we briefly spent time in during a GM media event introducing the new models. We towed a Fleetwood Pioneer 24RKS travel trailer supplied by Earnhardt RV in Mesa, Ariz. The trailer's approximately 5,000-pound dry and empty weight was about half the truck's tow rating, so it didn't represent a true blood-and-guts test of the Chevy's new abilities. However, it was a 26-foot full-profile trailer that was subject to the usual towing situations and driver inputs, so it hauls a good payload to get a general idea about the new GM's abilities.

A quiet ride is a standard feature both towing and solo. GM has done a fine job with air or wind noise management and sound-deadening materials.

We enjoyed the exacting road feel delivered by the rack-and-pinion steering. It helped us keep control of the trailer when the desert wind whipped across the freeway and tried to push us around like a kite on a string. We had little trouble keeping our lash-up in its proper lane.

Cornering at speed is confidence inspiring. The truck doesn't feel as if it's being pushed around by the trailer. It's always fun when the driver can feel in complete control.

Braking is secure and solid. We'd adjusted the brake control to balance the trailer and truck brakes as best we could, and the lash-up halted in a stable, predictable fashion.

The new 2007 GM trucks offer a ream of features and options to suit the needs of many light-truck drivers. RV trailer owners may find the combination of improved towing ability, plus passenger comfort and driving capability, an appealing package.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2006

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