The Chicago Auto Show is the largest on the continent, spanning over one million square feet of production, concept, and exotic vehicle exhibit space. For us, it's a chance to pump product engineers for information and ask key executives anything we want. We get to goon out on incredible cutaway engine displays, look at restored vehicles from the past, and be amazed at the kinds of cars some people buy. As members of the press, we get there before anyone else, while the workers are still driving forklifts and wiping down the vehicles to a spotless shine. We're loose on a huge floor littered with Airstream trailers, concept muscle cars, a monster truck or two, and the latest in special police vehicles, serenaded by live bands and plied with catered food and drink. Like they say, it's tough work, but someone's gotta do it.
The big news out of Chicago was Chevy's new 2011 HD pickup. It's a brand new platform, with two new engines and two new transmissions. But the show also gave us very close looks at Ford's 2011 Super Duty components, including the new 6.2-liter gas engine for the Raptor, and the new transmission that will back the 2011 Scorpion diesel engine. We found Ford engineers standing by at the cutaway displays, ready to talk with us about what they had done, and why.
Chicago is also always a great show for commercial trucks, heavy-duty customs, and military equipment, some of which we show you here.
2011 Silverado HD
The 2011 Silverado HD pickup, which Chevy executives billed as a "heavier-duty, heavy-duty truck," will go on sale this summer. There will be 11 2500 HD models and eight single- and dual-rear-wheel 3500 models, including a 3500 Crew Cab with longer, 6.5-foot bed. This is the truck that will house the new 6.6L Duramax diesel and Allison 1000 six-speed transmission. Tow and cargo ratings are impressive: 6335 pounds max payload, and up to 20,000 pounds towing capacity using a fifth-wheel hitch. With just a conventional hitch ball, a properly configured new HD will tow up to 16,000 pounds. Diesels will have an exhaust brake system to manage the bigger loads.
75th Anniversary Suburban
After 75 years of continuously producing the Suburban, Chevy introduced a limited edition Sub' to celebrate. They're calling it the Diamond edition. There will be only 2,570 units, distinguished by a White Diamond Tricoat exterior color and a Cashmere interior, along with unique 20-inch chrome-clad wheels and new roof-rack rails. There is special badging on the C-pillar, steering wheel, sill plates and front headrests.
All the Diamond Anniversary Suburbans have LTZ content, which includes extras such as heated leather seats, Bluetooth, rear-view camera, remote starting, and XM satellite radio as standard equipment. The engine will be a Vortec 5.3L V-8 with a six-speed automatic, enabling a towing capacity of 8,100 pounds, although 2500 models offer a 6.0L V-8 and can tow up to 9,600 pounds. The Suburban remains the ultimate Mother Ship, seating nine passengers with room for another 45.8 cubic feet of gear behind the third row. We'll have a special tribute to the Suburban's 75th anniversary in an upcoming issue.
Not announced was Ford's plan to offer a four-door Raptor. Asked about the Raptor, Ford marketing head Jim Farley said, "We've been completely unprepared for the reaction we've had with the Raptor. Our dealers in the Arizona/Nevada area are already asking for more. It's something we're watching very closely. We really didn't expect to sell that many, but now we're wondering where it will go." When we asked Farley point-blank to confirm a four-door version of the raptor, he said, "We have no news at this time." That usually means they'll have it by October.
LML Diesel Internals
The LML diesel is warranted to burn B20 biodiesel, largely because care is taken to keep biodiesel fuel from accumulating along the cylinder walls and leaking, unburned, into the engine oil. Because biodiesel is just a bit less volatile than regular #2, it can leak down and contaminate the engine oil more easily. The three-ring piston design, shown here, is the first line of defense. GM engineers feel confident they can handle B20 in the LML without requiring more frequent engine oil changes.