In Preview: 2001 GM Heavy-Duty Trucks - Off-Road Insider

News, Notes, Reviews, And Other Important Stuff

Just as this issue of your favorite magazine went to press, we had the opportunity to spend serious seat time in the newly restyled and upgraded 2001 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty trucks. Our time with the trucks, including the 4x4 and the 2WD models, included on- and off-road testdrives with the picturesque Ozark Mountains near Branson, Missouri, as a backdrop.

GM officials, designers, and engineers are justifiably enthusiastic about the new haulers, which feature two new engine options, a restyled front sheetmetal clip, a slick five-speed automatic transmission option, rear disc brakes, and loads of structural, convenience, and comfort upgrades.

In an upcoming issue, we'll have an in-depth road test and a technical analysis of the General's new trucks; until then, here's a preview of the trucks to come.

And Now, the News... Reports out of the Motor City state that the 2003 GMC Envoy and the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, previously dubbed the Jimmy and the Blazer, will be joined by a stretched wheelbase version when the compact SUVs arrive in showrooms later this year. The new stretched SUVs will feature a unique functional trait: Their rear doors will be longer than the front doors to ease ingress and egress and for easier access to the third-row seating. The new models will be powered by a re-tuned version of GM's Gen III small-block V-8 engine, while the standard-wheelbase models will get the new 4.2L inline-six stuffed under their hoods.

DaimlerChrysler, in a move that's shocking - given rising fuel prices and a general backlash against large-scale SUVs - has announced that it will upgrade a Canadian manufacturing plant in order to build an alternative to the Suburban and the Expedition. The new SUV, which will be based on the restyled 2002 Ram pickup, is said to be distinctively styled and possibly powered by a V-10 powerplant.

Consumer Reports magazine dodged a major bullet when a federal jury cleared its publishing company of defamation charges previously brought against it by Isuzu Motors regarding the rollover possibilities of the '95-to-'96 Isuzu Trooper. Isuzu claimed that Consumer Reports made false and misleading statements during its tests of the Trooper, and the jury agreed that many of the remarks in the original Consumer Reports test were false or incorrect.

However, the same jury determined that the magazine believed - at the time - that the inaccurate statements were true. Consumer Reports was found to have shown reckless disregard for the truth when it published the statement: "Careful driving, however, is ultimately not the answer to the problem. Isuzu... should never have allowed these vehicles on the road." No damages were awarded to Isuzu.

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