2013 GM Truck Homecoming Fort Wayne
2013 GM Truck Homecoming Parade
Sept 14, 2013
By Steve Purdy
Fort Wayne IN September 16, 2013; Hundreds of GM truck enthusiasts
gathered in the huge parking lot at the Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana to
celebrate the launch of the fresh, fully redesigned full-size pickup line
that primarily come from the 27-year-old assembly plant just south of town.
Invitations went out to owners within about 100 miles
but word spread even
further and trucks came from all over. In addition to a static show of old
and new trucks we were entertained by speeches from a gaggle of
politicians, a vehicle walk-around by the chief engineer of GM trucks Jully
Buran and the presentation of $100,000 in grants from the GM Foundation to
10 local charities. To finish the day a parade of 200-plus trucks wound
through the streets of Fort Wayne.
Your intrepid Michigan Bureau chief was invited down to cover the
event and provided a loaded GMC Sierra to make the trip. How could I
I made the two-hour drive into about a three and a half-hour jaunt
taking the verdant two-lanes from my home base in south central Michigan to
Fort Wayne where the mighty Maumee River emerges out of two lesser streams.
Corn and soybeans were quickly turning brown along the back roads as they
ripen before harvest. The little towns I pass through, like Hicksville,
Ohio, define this rural part of the country where trucks are essential
tools as well as image statements for farmers, suburbanites and every
category of workmen and women. My GMC Sierra Crew Cab SLT stood out as I
noticed more than a few heads turn. This is a striking new design.
Having recently reviewed the 2013 GMC Sierra Denali, the 2014 Toyota Tundra and RAM pickups I had some
basis for comparison. All are excellent, competent, well-equipped trucks
that emphatically make the point that this is an intense segment of the
vehicle market in which to compete. With each redesign they all must
increase performance, add content and move upscale without adding to price
more than nominally. This truck does all that well - the Chevy Silverado
with no price increase and the GMC with just a modest one. They are both at
Our test loaded SLT truck shows a base price of $43,125 and that
includes the 5.3-liter V8, a trailering package, the 3.08 rear end, a
nicely damped tailgate, stitched leather interior, polished aluminum
wheels, multiple USB ports, a 110V outlet and lists of other stuff. Options
include heated steering wheel, power sliding rear window, park assist, lane
departure warning, collision alert, buzzing seat, premium Bose audio,
chrome steps, power sunroof and navigation with 8-inch screen. Total price
on our sticker shows $50,185. Don’t expect many incentives to begin
with, but if you’re lucky enough to find a 2013 on a dealers lots you
can save buckets of cash, but you’ll not have all the new stuff
included in this truck.
Just about every element of the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado is
fresh and updated. Rear suspension continues to use leaf springs in order
to achieve the best balance between strength and ride both loaded and
unloaded. The frame has been strengthened marginally and uses hydroforming
and more high-strength steel in the substructure to reduce weight. The
three-engine powertrain lineup – 4.3-liter V6 along with 5.3 and
6.2-liter V8s - includes all new Generation-5 technologies featuring direct
injection, variable valve timing and active fuel management. The aluminum
hood and better aerodynamics also contribute to improved fuel mileage.
The GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado are the same truck under the
skin. They differ primarily in elements of trim.
The EPA rates the Sierra with the 5.7-liter V8 at 16 mpg in the
city, 22 on the highway and 18 combined. My test truck managed 19.1 mpg
this week with plenty of freeway, a little bit of city and lots of back
road driving. Of course, I was not hauling a load. I will also note that
acceleration is strong and though I did not attempt to drive it like a
sports car I did not hesitate to put my foot in it occasionally and push it
through some turns. Edmunds testing shows a zero to 60 mph time of about 8
seconds – not bad for a big truck like this.
Inside, the interior is all redesigned with better materials
including stitched dash, door panels and seats on some models, better
center stack layout and the necessary connectivity enhancements. The
interior, as with the competitors, has move substantially upscale, or as
they all like to say, “more refined.” That is a good
description. Materials, fit and finish are all much better than the
quite-good last version. Front seats are well bolstered and firm. A huge,
deep center console can function nearly as a mobile desk.
The new truck’s tailgate is gently damped so that it
doesn’t slam down when opened and a handy step is built into the rear
bumper. Two-tiered tie-downs are built in to the bed as well. You can even
get indirect lighting that glows from under the rail cap if you like.
The Fort Wayne truck plant dates back to 1986 and is now building
its fourth generation of GM trucks. The transition to the new version
happened just a couple months ago and went amazingly well according to the
line workers and team supervisor I chatted with at the event. The most
difficult element of that changeover was retooling the line to account for
the truck’s new cab with “B” pillar, a first for this
That and other elements of the transition went well, they told me,
partly because of the exceptionally solid working relationship between the
workers and management at the Fort Wayne plant. There was a time in the
dark days of the auto manufacturing business when the union leaders took
pride in how adversarial they could be with management. That is no longer
the case. Now they take great pride in working toward the same goal of
making the best possible truck. And it shows in this new Sierra.
It appears that Fort Wayne takes great pride in their association
with GM and the corporation pays attention to supporting the community.
With traffic held back while these hundreds of trucks wound through the
streets of Fort Wayne I expected to see exasperation and impatience of the
faces of the locals who were backed up at busy intersections but what I saw
instead were smiles and waves of appreciation and enthusiasm. Fort Wayne is
a great truck town.
© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights