The launch of the 2014 GMC Sierra will mark a notable next phase in the evolution of the full-size pickup in this country: When the V6-powered Sierra reaches dealerships later this year, all three of the U.S. automakers finally will be offering six-cylindered entries designed for 21st century customers. The Blue Oval was first, of course, with its highly successful Ford F-150 EcoBoost model, and the Chrysler Group opened eyes with the 2013 RAM 1500 that will be available with an eight-speed automatic transmission; Ram's upcoming clean diesel will rock six cylinders as well. And now the General is making its move with the 2014 GMC Sierra, which will boast an all-new EcoTec3 V6 that offers a best-in-class 305 lb.-ft. of torque.
Now, to be clear, the “class” is full-size pickups with standard V6 engines, so the EcoBoost and its 420 lb.-ft. of torque aren’t in the mix. But here’s how the output of GM’s EcoTec3 V6 matches up against its direct competitors:
GMC Sierra (4.3-liter V6)—285 hp, 305 lb.-ft. of torque
Ford F-150 (3.7-liter V6)—302 hp, 278 lb.-ft. of torque
Ram 1500 (3.6-liter V6)—305 hp, 269 lb.-ft. of torque
Toyota Tundra (4.0-liter V6)—270 hp, 278 lb.-ft. of torque
(Note: A V6 is not offered in the Nissan Titan; also, specs have not been released yet for the 2014 Chevy Silverado, but it will no doubt have a powertrain that matches that of its Professional Grade sibling.)
It makes for a fairly significant 9.7 percent advantage for the 2014 GMC Sierra as compared to its next closest rival, and that will outweigh any apparent horsepower deficiencies for most truck owners. After all, torque is what gets a vehicle on the move from a standing start, while horsepower has more to do with how fast it can go once it does get moving. And in pickups, it’s the former that is the key to towing capability—and the Sierra’s max tow rating of 7,200 lbs. As a result, the 2014 GMC Sierra will have a top towing mark that is “500 pounds more than the most capable Ford F-150 3.7L and 700 pounds more than a Ram 1500 3.6L,” according to the company.
2014 GMC Sierra: Putting the Tech in EcoTec
The EPA has yet to get its hands on the 2014 GMC Sierra, which means we’ll have to wait to see how well the truck’s new V6 lives up to its “Eco” moniker, but the “Tec” benefits include three popular powertrain technologies that are being combined for the first time in a single powerplant family: direct injection, cylinder deactivation and continuously variable valve timing.
“This is technology no other truck maker can match, and we offer it in every EcoTec3 engine, for every customer,” said Jordan Lee, GM Powertrain chief engineer. “It is a standard feature, so our drivers get our best and most sophisticated technology regardless of trim level.”
That includes, of course, the base model, slated to go on sale with an MSRP of $24,090. To put that into perspective, the starting point for the 2013 GMC Sierra lineup is $23,590, so customers are looking at a relatively modest $500 price increase for a completely redesigned truck. Keeping in mind that the 2014 GMC Sierra will represent GM’s more premium truck family, with the 2014 Chevy Silverado again serving as the high-volume choice, here’s how the Sierra will fit into the pickup pricing puzzle:
2013 Nissan Titan—$29,279
2013 Toyota Tundra—$25,455
2014 GMC Sierra—$24,090
2013 Ford F-150—$23,995
2014 Chevy Silverado—$23,590
2013 Ram 1500—$23,400
A final factoid that provides more evidence of the renewed focus on six-cylinder power in the fullsize pickup segment: GMC is playing the ol’ technology leadership card with the 2014 GMC Sierra, boasting that, “In 1960, GMC debuted the first V6 pickup truck ever.”
“The family of V6 engines introduced in 1960 was designed to last, and I’ve heard of some owners going more than 450,000 miles on the original engine,” said Donald Meyer, GMC truck historian. “They had really high torque and pulled loads well. GMC engineers know how to build durable, reliable engines that never quit.”
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