NAIAS Preview: GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept
By Charles Krome
With the North American International Auto Show scheduled to open in Detroit in just a few weeks, we’re now starting to get information about some of the vehicles, both concept and otherwise, that are slated to make their debuts at the event. And one that’s particularly caught my eye is the GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept, because it’s an interesting sign of how the industry has changed in the past few years—and how it hasn’t.
As anyone who follows the industry knows, the most recent auto show seasons were primarily devoted to the showing of the green. High-efficiency small cars, hybrids and electric vehicles dominated the stands, with even supercar makers like Porsche and Ferrari getting in on the fun. Everyone seemed to be pretty geeked on the idea of a more fuel-efficient future except, it turns out, customers. Today, with fuel prices relatively stable here in the U.S., buyers are bringing renewed demand to the truck side of the business, and unsurprisingly, the “domestic” automakers are responding.
The first shot came in the form of Ford’s SVT Raptor, which is essentially a street-legal off-road racer. The strategy behind this truck is an excellent one: In the same way companies like the aforementioned Porsche occasionally whip out track-ready models that have been recontented specifically for speed, Ford did the same thing with the F-150, only it’s been reconfigured for off-road performance. The Blue Oval added the big wheels/tires, a heavily revised suspension, underbody protection, etc., etc., and the truck was an instant hit. Then for the current model year, Ford upped the ante further by moving the truck to a standard 6.2-liter V8, capable of topping the 400 mark for both torque and horsepower.
The GMC concept is sort of like a Raptor HD. It’s built off the foundation of the Sierra 2500 HD, and boasts both a heavy duty chassis and GM’s monster 6.6 Duramax diesel under the hood. As a result, the GMC won’t be able to outrun the Raptor, but it will be able to out-work the Ford. And a glance at the Sierra’s content list indicates it will likely out luxe the Raptor as well. Playing up GMC’s “professional grade” positioning to the hilt, the Sierra All Terrain includes everything from motorized assist steps to a leather interior to LED lighting to a next-generation navigation/audio system.
I’ll give GM a few points for using a diesel here, as that engine likely delivers better fuel efficiency than the Raptor gets with its gas engine, but everything else is taking an already outrageous truck and supersizing it. In other words, if GM showed this off at last year’s Detroit auto show, the company would have been lambasted for political incorrectness, auto-style.
What a difference a year makes.