2013 GM Truck Homecoming Fort Wayne Indiana

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2013 GM Truck Homecoming Parade Sept 14, 2013

By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

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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.
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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 resist?

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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 dealers now.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 production line.

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.

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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 Reserved

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