Cars

GM’s new pickups; Who’s best of 2013? Acura’s donations

Chevrolet (and GMC) made a significant gambit in the battle for pickup truck supremacy this month when they gave us an early look at their 2014 Silverado and Sierra models.

Make no mistake about this advance reveal; this was big news in the truck world. Ford’s F-150 has been the top-selling vehicle in the United States for 30 years. The Silverado isn’t far behind and is always looking to close the gap. Meanwhile, the new Ram 1500 has been named Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year and is up for other major awards.

Getting a jump on showing the next model is early marketing, especially since both the new GM and Ford trucks will be major players in next month’s Detroit Auto Show.

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Ford, however, will only be giving a preview of its 2015 redesign, which is expected to be geared toward returning higher mpg numbers.

And the Ram, which ranked No. 8 in sales through the first nine months of 2012, moved up to No. 5 for the month of September. It’s also one of three finalists for the North American Truck of theYear, along with the Mazda CX-5 and Ford C-Max, and on Cars.Com’s list of finalists for the Best of 2013 Award.

Viewing the Silverado from the outside, it looks more like an evolving design than the all-newmodel it actually is.

New for 2014 are three EcoTec3 engines, a 4.3-liter V-6, 5.3-liter V-8, and 6.2-liter V-8. All have direct injection and can seamlessly switch into four-cylinder mode (cylinder deactivation) to improve efficiency during lightload conditions. All are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions. The powertrains feature Auto Grade Braking, which uses the engine and transmission to slow the vehicle on long downgrades.

In terms of style, aerodynamic changes are everywhere: front-end sealing designed to improve engine cooling, inlaid doors set to reduce wind noise, hood power domes and roof and tailgate spoilers built to smooth airflow.

Inside, the instrument cluster is a straightforward six-gauge affair with an optional Driver Information Center. The center stack appears efficient with infotainment on top, audio controls on a second tier, climate controls below that, and finally a row of extra buttons.

It seems that the Chevy versus Ford wars in coming years will also involve Chevy’s MyLink versus Ford’s MyTouch as the brands push their proprietary infotainment systems.

The Chevy also has a convenient step bumper with handholds built into the tailgate. The beds—three lengths are available—also have tie-down hooks, under-rail lighting, and an EZ lift-and-lower tailgate.

With pickups lasting an average of 10.4 years on our roads, new technologies such as forward collision alert, lane departure warning, park assist, sway control, and hill start assist are welcome.

Best of 2013

The folks at Cars.Com have announced the nominees for their Best of 2013 Award, the website’s highest honor.

“Each year, automakers roll out upwards of 70 brand new or redesigned cars,”says Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief. “From those, we chose the best that represent change, forward thinking, and a breath of fresh air.”

The winner will be announced on Jan. 15 in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show. The contestants (with editors’ comments) are:

• BMW 3 Series: The new 3 Series has outdone itself in too many areas not to be considered…more interior room … contemporary looks … an engine BMW can be proud of.

• Honda Accord: Admirable EPAmileage … improved driving refinement … generous standard equipment. An impressive redesign.

• Honda CR-V: The CR-V’s edgy styling, standard features, affordable prices, and fuelefficiency helped make it a top pick.

• Ram 1500: There is no segment more competitive and significant (in terms of sales) than full-size, half-ton pickups. The all-new 1500 offers class-leading fuel economy, a segment-exclusive eight-speed transmission, airbag suspension, and a vastly improved and technologically advanced interior.

• Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ: Nearly identical, they provide a rare driving experience in a market that is dominated by the practical and the expensive. Sports cars at this price deserve praise.

•Toyota Prius C: Toyota ups the ante with a subcompact that achieves an EPA-estimated 50 mpg, at a price $5,000 lower than the regular Prius. The nimble, light feel is ideal for the confines of city driving.

Etc.

The New England Acura dealers have pledged to raise $500,000 for Boston’s Children’s Hospital over the next two years. Each of seven participating dealerships is pledging a portion of the proceeds from every Acura sold to the hospital. The donations are earmarked for the Children’s Fund, an unrestricted fund that supports the hospital’s greatest needs. Participating dealers are Acura of Auburn, Acura of Boston, Acura of Peabody, Herb Connolly Acura, Prime Acura, Prime Acura North, and Sunnyside Acura.

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