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2003 Chevy Silverado - Off-Road Insider

Posted in Features on July 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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2003 Chevy Silverado - Off-Road Insider

Although the exterior styling of the Chevrolet Silverado fullsize truck is only four years old and still looks contemporary, the General has seen fit to give the Silverado new front sheetmetal for the 2003 model-year. That's a good thing, or maybe not, depending on how you feel about the look of Chevrolet's Avalanche, since next year's Chevy trucks have been fitted with a front clip that's styled very much like the front sheetmetal on the controversial Avalanche.

Regarding the styling, John Cafaro, GM's vehicle chief designer, stated, "The '03 Silverado's integrated front end flows seamlessly into the sheetmetal of the vehicle with its powerful, sharply chiseled features and angular wheel openings." The styling changes include an aerodynamically aware hood, redesigned headlamps, park and turn signals, and daytime running lamps. Chevrolet's unique mid-grille-style bar, which is seen on all Chevrolet trucks, is prominent; tow hooks and recessed foglamps complete the Chevy's front end.

The new Bow Tie headlights deserve additional mention. Unlike traditional headlamps that are separate from the body, the '03 light housings are affixed to the front sheetmetal; only the inside light parabolas (reflective lens) are adjustable.

There's a slew of changes and enhanced options for the '03 Chevy, including a passenger-sensing airbag system, an upgraded instrument panel, new redundant controls on the steering wheel, an optional Bose sound system, expanded availability of the Quadrasteer rear-steering system, and an optional DVD player for rear-seat passengers.

Of course, all those options and upgrades won't mean a thing if potential Silverado buyers are put off by the new trendy styling. On the other hand, the General's track record for success is solid, so look for widespread acceptance of the angular styling of the '03 Silverado.

Ford's Powerforce Concept: Chiseled, In-Your-Face Styling Teamed With Monster Power
Apparently, someone with a whole lot of authority at Ford Motor Company likes brawny, muscular 4x4s. How else could you explain the Powerforce, a concept truck that takes Super Duty attitude to the next level? Gary Haas, director of Truck Design, said, "Powerforce is a huge truck with a strong individual image; it is the ultimate can-do pickup." Who are we to argue with a statement like that?

The Powerforce is sizeable; Ford claims it is longer, wider, taller, and has more interior space than any pickup on the road. The Blue Oval crew focused on designing a truck that combines all the heavy-duty work and hauling traits of a commercial truck with the comfort and driveability of a light-duty truck, and Powerforce was the result.

Powered by Ford's venerable 6.8L Triton V-10 engine, Powerforce stays true to its big intent, using a fullsize 8-foot bed, huge 19-inch-diameter wheels, and 35-inch-tall tires. Check the photo and you'll start to get a better idea of the Powerforce's mass. Ford even equipped the Powerforce with electrically deployed running boards - the better to step up into its high-riding, leather-accented cab.

Powerforce styling is aggressive, to say the least. Bull bar bumpers and heavy-duty tow hooks on the front end make a no-nonsense statement about the truck's intent, while a power lift system for the tailgate makes loading and unloading cargo a snap, since the tailgate drops to ground level, similar to some kind of full-on delivery rig. Front lighting is trick; High Intensity Discharge, projector-beam lights are powerful as well as stylish, and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are used for the front and rear turn signals.

As usually noted when it comes to concept trucks, it's unlikely you will see a Powerforce at a Ford dealer anytime soon, but it's very likely you'll see future Ford trucks that make use of the concepts, styling, and engineering showcased on the Powerforce.

The Best-Looking Aztec We've Ever Seen
Let's be honest. Pontiac's much-lamented Aztec SUV has the kind of look that only its mother would love. That's why we were so surprised to see what MBRP had done with a SEMA Show-bound Aztec. Martin Barkey, president of performance exhaust system-maker MBRP, told us, "Our intention was to make the Aztec a universal ATV hauler, a personal watercraft or bicycle mover that can go to the desert, beach, or mountains in comfort and style."

To achieve that goal, the '02 Aztec was fully accessorized with Interco Super Swamper SSR tires (32x11.50R17!), MHT Plaque wheels (17x8), and a custom-built, 12-inch (!) suspension lift. Other goodies include an Advanced Flow Engineering air filter, an Audiobahn audio/video system installed by Progressive Car Audio, an Optima battery, and auxiliary lighting from KC HiLiTES. The tubular front bar, side steps, roof rack, and rear bumper were designed and built by Sport Tubes, and the Aztec exhales through a custom stainless steel dual after-cat exhaust built by - surprise - MBRP. With the mechanical mods complete, Bracebridge Boatworks shaved the Aztec's barbs and squirted on a bold orange-over-white color scheme. Gotta admit: It looks pretty good.

While the jury's still out on the Aztec's place in automotive history, MBRP's slick little off-roader just goes to show that a functional and stylish off-road machine can be crafted using almost any vehicle as a starting point - even an Aztec.

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