By David Boldt
Monday, Oct 7th, 2013 @ 11:45 am
 
On the heels (or wheels) of General Motors' just-launched Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra comes the release of an all-new 6.2-liter V8 accompanied by upmarket "addendums" from both truck-oriented divisions.

As the first foray into the luxury segment by Chevrolet, the Silverado was granted a new "High Country" tag, while GMC's Sierra once again takes the higher road with "Denali."

In the context of an absolute boom in the sale of luxury vehicles and accessories, the announcement seems all-too-astute from a revitalized GM. And with a $2,000 uptick in pricing over the standard 5.3, the new 6.2-liter V8 is ready to fuel consumer appetites for more. Oh, and it doesn't hurt GM's bottom line, either.

Hunger for power
At GM, the hits just keep on coming, as the all-new Silverado is one of more than a dozen all-new or significantly redesigned debuts in 2013. And while the new family of light duty trucks from Chevy and GMC don't rewrite pickup truck science, GM's top-to-bottom resuscitation of what had become long-in-the-tooth pickup platforms has proven thoroughly impressive.

Of course, the redesign paid appropriate attention to what's under the hood, where the volume, work-a-day trucks are equipped with an available 5.3 liter V8 (standard on High Country and Denali) producing 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. With direct injection, Active Fuel Management and standard 6-speed automatic, this in-the-sweet-spot V8 provides responsive acceleration, oh-so-relaxed cruising capability and best-in-class efficiency. In short, most will find GM's 5.3 more than enough for anything a typical personal-use pickup owner might throw at it.

Of course, for those Americans wanting more, the General is historically there to provide it. In contrast to the 5.3's power and torque, the 6.2 delivers 420 horsepower (at an identical 5,600 rpm) and 460 lb-ft of torque (again, at the same 4,100 rpm as the 5.3 liter). Built from its own unique 6.2 liter block with a larger bore and larger, hollow valve stems, the bigger engine also benefits from higher compression (11.5 vs. 11.0 in the 5.3).

Behind the wheel of either Chevy or GMC, an astute driver will find the difference perceptible, but probably not enough to draw passengers away from their smartphones or iPads. The bigger horsepower and torque numbers equate to more authoritative performance, especially when hauling or towing.

For our evaluation in Central Texas, GM made available both High Country and Denali trims hitched to 5,000 lbs. of flatbed, or with roughly 1,200 lbs. in the bed. In both instances - and admittedly at low altitude - the trucks performed with an assured capability fully in keeping with their spec and, uh, window sticker.

For maximized capability, however, the just-announced HD 2500 - available next spring as a 2015 - is more fully appropriate to a mission of heavy hauling or frequent towing.

Luxo-laden
Of course, entries in the luxury pickup segment are also about pampering. On the swanky side of the Chevy showroom, High Country content includes a chrome grill with chrome bars, body-color bumpers and trim-specific chrome wheels.

Inside, an exclusive (to the Silverado) Saddle Brown interior with heated/cooled leather seats is complemented by a Bose audio system and MyLink infotainment with simple, intuitive controls; presumably, even a cowboy can do it. Giving that cowboy more confidence is an interior with a decidedly western flair. This isn't, to be sure, Ford's King Ranch, but it is a noticeable improvement over a Silverado LTZ.

GMC takes its menu from roughly the same page, although GM's truck division has been baking it longer. In the Denali, Sierra intenders will enjoy GMC's signature chrome grill (occupying roughly the same area as your man cave's TV), 20-inch chrome wheels and body-color bumpers. Upscale Nuance leather appoints the cabin, seats are both heated and cooled, while the interior as a whole leaves a slightly more unified impression than that offered by the Chevrolet.

Nits were few. The lack of a one-touch-up feature for the passenger's front window seemed an oversight. We were confused by the front seat door panels having soft-touch material on the sill immediately below the window, while the rear doors were simply hard plastic (like, uh, Chevy's Sonic).

And while the rear seat has a center armrest with cup storage, the cup storage carved out of the door panel is useless for anything other than the smallest water bottles. It should - at the very least - accommodate a Grande frap from Starbucks, which it didn't. After all, these swanky trucks will probably spend more time there than prowling a ranch in West Texas.

Leftlane's bottom line
At a base price of around $45,000 for the Silverado High Country and $46,400 for GMC's Denali, trucks present for evaluation were optioned to just under $55,000. And while that same money would buy you two trucks from GM's work fleet, the High Country and Denali reflect a decidedly different ethos. Not to mention they're a little cheaper than rivals from Ford and Ram.

Both are fully capable of doing the work, but they sure don't want to look like they're working.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country base price, $45,100.
2014 GMC Sierra Denali base price, $46,400.

Photos courtesy General Motors.