'04 Chevrolet Cheyenne Concept Truck: Will GM build it?
Details are slowly leaking out of General Motors' Chevrolet Division regarding a new Cheyenne truck. Although very little is known about the Cheyenne Concept, we do know that it's a fullsize truck equipped with a cargo box (bed) designed with multi-access and multi-use in mind. The bed sports dual-access side doors, hidden storage bins beneath the floor and sidewalls, and a dual folding tailgate that opens fully for complete access to the bed. The interior looks standard compared to the details on the bed, but we're sure there will be a lot of gee-whiz features inside the cockpit as well. We'll keep you informed on the Cheyenne's design details as more information becomes available.
Toyota Tacoma: Hecho En MexicoToyota Motor Corporation recently announced it would build 20,000 Tacoma pickups in '05 on a new $140-million assembly line in Tijuana, Mexico. The new plant, built on 700 acres south of San Diego, California, will employ 460 workers and will also produce approximately 170,000 Tacoma beds for North American trucks.
In related news, Toyota is searching for a location to build a new vehicle assembly plant, which will cost between $500 and $700 million and employ approximately 2,000 workers. Eight states are currently in the running for the new Toyota facility: Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia.
GM's New Five-Speed Automatic Transmission
The General is set to release an all-new automatic transmission during 2003: the Hydra-Matic 5L.50-F five-speed. That's right, GM has developed what it claims is one of the most technologically advanced transmissions available specifically designed to handle a V-8's high torque and horsepower. There's only one slight problem: the 5L.50-F is intended for the '04 Cadillac XLR and SRX performance cars. So why do we mention the 5L.50-F in a truck magazine? Simple: General Motors has a long history of parts sharing, and once the 5L.50-F proves itself, we'd bet the five-speed automatic Overdrive finds its way behind the V-8s of any number of fullsize and midsize GM trucks and SUVs.
Based on the Hydra-Matic 5L40-E transmission installed on the Caddys CTS, the 5L.50-F boasts three performance features that we think would be terrific for truck and 4x4 use: Driver Shift Control (DSC), Performance Algorithm Liftfoot (PAL), and Performance Algorithm Shifting (PAS).
Driver Shift Control lets the driver shift from automatic shifting to clutchless manual shifting. Once the shift lever is moved into DSC mode, a quick tap on the lever shifts the transmission to the next gear, higher or lower. A special Transmission Control Module (TCM) protects the transmission when it's in DSC mode by monitoring vehicle speed, engine torque, and the selected gear; if the TCM computer detects excessive engine rpm, it will automatically upshift to prevent transmission damage. Additionally, DSC provides engine braking in all five gears so the vehicle doesn't free wheel when the driver removes their foot from the accelerator pedal.
Performance Algorithm Liftfoot prevents upshifts while maintaining engine braking following performance-type driving. The TCM monitors driver input to determine if the PAL program should be enabled. If the PAL system detects a drop in vehicle speed prior to entering a turn, one or two downshifts can occur to provide the driver with maximum deceleration and control.
Performance Algorithm Shifting allows the transmission controller to modify the automatic gear selection during closed-throttle lateral acceleration (cornering), which provides a downshift to match engine speed to vehicle speed, thus providing a quick power-up when the throttle is opened while exiting a turn.
The gear ratios of the Hydra-Matic 5L.50-F are as follows: 3.42 (First), 2.215 (Second), 1.60 (Third), 1.00 (Fourth), 0.76 (Fifth). Reverse gear has a 3.02 ratio.
As we said, it seems only natural that GM will equip selected trucks with the 5L.50-F at some point in the future. Exactly when, we don't know, but hopefully during model year 2005.
Hot Sheetmetal Colors For 2003
Blue is in; green is out, at least according to those in the know, such as Christopher Webb, color and trend designer for General Motors. Globally, 80 percent of vehicles are one of four colors: black, silver, beige, or white. However, silver blue and navy blue are poised to make a strong showing during 2003, according to Webb. "Blue is a very important color story, " said Webb. "We're also seeing red, but even the reds are branching into bluer shades, like purple," he continued.
The color green stole market share from blue during the '90s, but it's currently losing favor with new car and truck buyers. In 1994, green's share of the market was 21 percent; last year, green was the choice of only 10 percent of new vehicle buyers. The study, conducted by automotive paint-manufacturer PPG, shows that blue's market share has grown from 8 percent in 1999 to 11 percent in 2001.
Meanwhile, yellow is gaining momentum with buyers, with 2 percent of new vehicles bearing the sun-like pigment, although today's yellows are moving toward a green-yellow hue and away from the traditional red-yellow tint.
Bob Daily, color marketing manager for DuPont Performance Coatings and a member of the Color Marketing Group, which meets to discuss color trends, says orange is another color to watch. "Typically, orange is one of those colors that has a fairly short life cycle. It's in and out in about two years, very much in the same way as purple."
New Truck Preview:
2003 Dodge Dakota
Although the Dodge Dakota may be getting a bit long in the tooth, Dodge hasn't given up on its popular midsize truck. For 2003, the Dakota will be available with the new Stampede package, which includes monochrome front and rear body fascia moldings, body-side moldings, 16x8-inch alloy wheels, fender flares, and a rear antisway bar. Other new-for-'03 upgrades include standard four-wheel disc brakes on the Dakota Quad Cab and all 4x4 models, and the 5-45RFE electronically controlled five-speed automatic Overdrive transmission is now available with the Magnum 4.7L V-8 engine.
There's a lot to like about the Dakota, especially its available V-8 power and the fact that there are three available cabs: Regular, Club, and Quad. Here are the '03 Dakota's new features and updates:
Jeep Axles For The Jeep Grand CherokeeWe expect plenty of styling and powertrain changes on the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, but one of the biggest changes will be the new Cherokee's axles, which will be manufactured in-house. Previously, all Jeep axles were manufactured by the giant Dana Corporation, which also manufactures axles for GM. The new axles will be manufactured by a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler - Detroit Axle - and will be seen on the '05 or '06 version of the Grand Cherokee.
The existing Detroit Axle plant - built in 1917 - will gain a third shift and 251 additional workers in order to keep pace with the projected 750,000 axles required for the new Grand. The 1.2-million square-foot Detroit Axle facility will also build rear-drive axles for DaimlerChrysler's new rear-wheel-drive cars as well as the next-generation Dodge Durango SUV. The switch to Detroit Axle-built axles is the second recent setback for Dana; the '03 Dodge Ram HD trucks will also use axles built by Detroit Axle. Previously, Dana had supplied the Dodge Rams with axles.
New 5-45RFE Five-Speed Automatic Transmission Is Standard With The 4.7L Engine; Optional On Sport, Sport Plus, SLT, And SLT Plus Models. (2.5L Engine Is Discontinued)
Four-Wheel Disc Brakes With Rear-Wheel Antilock Are Now Standard On 4WD Models And 2WD Models With A GVWR Of 5,350 Pounds.
16x7-Inch Alloy Wheels Are Standard On All Models Except R/T.
245/70R16 All-Season Tires Are Standard On Base, Sport, And SLT Models.
245/70R16 All-Terrain Tires Standard On Sport Plus And SLT Plus Models.
255/65R16 Tires Optional On 2WD Models.
265/70R16 Tires Optional On 4x4 Models.
Optional Green Exterior Color.
Four-Gauge Instrument Cluster Standard On Base And SXT Models.
New Optional Six-Disc In-Dash CD Player/Radio Tuner
Upper Head Impact Protection