GM 4x4s arrive

GM's long-awaited Kodiak and TopKick C4500/C5500 series 4×4 trucks began production in July as a 2005 model, providing commercial accounts with a true Class 4-5 truck featuring major benefits GM says are not offered by the competition.

“We've brought to market a truck with medium-duty capabilities,” product manager Elliott Benson said. “That's the position we've held since we launched this truck a few years ago. We've taken what is truly a medium-duty truck and brought it down to the Class 4-5 level so you're not trying to put medium-duty equipment on a pickup truck and make it something it really isn't.”

Benson listed the following competitive advantages: GVWR, 1500 lb for the C4500, 500 lb for the C5500; payload, 500 lb for the C4500 (84" CA diesel) and C5500 (60" CA diesel); turning diameter, 6" for the regular cab 84" CA; 4-channel ABS brakes; stronger frames (80 KSI/610,400 RBM).

He listed the following competitive features: larger tires (245/70R19.5G); greater front ground clearance (can climb 15" step); greater approach angle (35.5 degrees, a 7.1-degree advantage); and an easier-to-operate transfer case, with IP-mounted rotary selection switch and electronic actuation.

The vocations are municipal, snowplow, fire and rescue, landscaping, construction, forestry, agriculture, utility pipeline/powerline operations, and tree trimming.

He said future changes for the 4×4 include: a 32-gallon fuel tank that was available for production September 7; 60" CA crew cab that is estimated to be available for production November 29; 108", 120", 126" CA crew cabs on stop order, with anticipated availability in January; a Michelin price increase effective with January 3 production; and a second factory shift that was added October 4.

Wheelbase offerings

Benson said the “big news” for 2005 is that the regular cab is offered in four wheelbases (84", 108", 120", and 126") and the crew cab is offered in five wheelbases (60", 84", 108", 120", and 126").

The engines are the Vortec 8100MD V8 gasoline (325 hp) and Duramax 6600 V8 Turbo Diesel. The engine exhaust brake is not available with the 4×4.

The Allison 1000 series 5-speed automatic is the only transmission available. The transfer case is an electronically controlled 2-speed NV273, with IP-mounted rotary selector switch (2H/4H/4L/N) and heavy-duty skid plate.

The 4×4 features include: GVWR, 17,500 lb for C4500, 19,500 for C5500; front axle, 7000 lb GAWR, 7000-lb tapered-lead spring rating, manual locking front hubs, 5.13 axle ratio; rear axle, 13,500 lb GAWR, 13,500-lb or 15,000-lb multi-leaf spring ratings, rear limited slip differential standard, 5.13 axle ratio; tires, 245/70R9.5G, highway traction on/off road tread, speed rated at 75 mph; brakes, 4-wheel disc with 4-channel ABS, in-wheel rear park brake standard; exhaust, single horizontal, driver side mounted inside frame rails; fuel tanks, 32-gallon aft-axle (minimum rear overhang, option NLA), 40-gallon aft-axle, 60-gallon aft-axle.

The C5V042 has longer wheelbases: the EC4 213.5" wheelbase has been released for 19,500 lb GVWR and above as a regular production option; EQ8 233" wheelbase has been released for 19,500 lb GVWR. They are available with the school bus (B3D) and shuttle bus (ANC).

A 60-gallon fuel tank is available on the EC4 213.5" wheelbase. The shuttle and school bus are available with 40- and 60-gallon tanks on EC2, EC3, EC4, and EQ8.

The new 32-gallon aft-axle fuel tank (NLA) is designed for 4×4 with dump body or rollback and matches the F450 tank extension beyond the rear spring hanger. The minimum frame cutoff is 48" behind the centerline of the rear axle.

Colorado/Canyon

Tim Cavanaugh, Colorado/Canyon marketing/product manager, said the “best-kept secret” is Colorado/Canyon's chassis cab.

The 2-wheel-drive chassis cab's standard features (regular cab only) are P235 spare tire with steel wheel and front independent torsion bar suspension with stabilizer bar.

The Colorado/Canyon comes with three suspensions (Z71 off road, Z85 standard, and ZQ8 sport), three cab types (regular, extended, and crew), two engines (Vortec 2800 2.8L 14 and Vortec 3500 3.5L 15), and two transmissions (all new 5-speed manual and 4-speed electronic automatic).

The Vortec 3500 and 2800 inline 5- and 4-cylinder engines feature: 220 hp and 225 lb-ft torque for the 5-cylinder and 175 hp and 185 lb-ft torque for the 4-cylinder, long-term dependability/durability, and high specific output with broad-range torque curve.

The mid-box truck has secured storage, optional roll-out drawers, heavy-duty door seals to make the mid box weather- and dust-resistant, and will hold 500 lb inside and 300 lb on top. The UteLtd flatbed has a lightweight, flexible aluminum bed with drop sides and a payload of over 1700 lb.

Mike Eaves, product manager for TopKick/Kodiak and T/F Series, said the new Right-Spec program is designed to promote ordering of commonly built specs and will be rolled out in 2005.

“It will enable us to have more reliable production and delivery times, and to target higher volume applications, starting with wholesale/retail, construction, and landscape applications,” he said.

Over 180 initial specs are identified. The C- and T-Series are addressed, there is the ability to identify content, and additional Right-Specs will be added as required.

It will be promoted to customers in these ways: trucks will be spec'd to meet customer needs; a “stackable” incentive will be offered ($500 discount); body companies for “complete” trucks will be included; and there will be Right-Spec volume in the first quarter of 2005.

Steve Higgs, product manager for commercial vans, said GM has gained 14.2% of market share in the full-size van segment over the past six years. As of August, Ford had 50%, GM 44.6%, and Dodge 5.4%.

He said the large van segment is expected to stabilize at about 2% of the industry and 325,000 units through 2009. He said GM's growth in 2003 was 10,500 units, and GM had topped that in the first seven months of 2004.

New for the 2005 model year for the Express/Savana: new seat risers and seat skirting; deletion of the “pop-up” air filter monitor; RPO exterior color changes (pewter, sandalwood, and indigo blue have been deleted, and silver birch, dark/deep blue, and sandstone/sand beige are new).

Passenger vans

Passenger vans will have: standard StabiliTrak on the regular wheelbase new option package discounts on 1SB and 1SC; deletion of armrests on rear bench seats with vinyl trim; new On-Star mirror (electrochromic, with compass and temperature gauge); the 3/4-ton passenger model G23406 is government only.

Cargo vans will have: LR4 4.8L V8 engine standard on 1-ton cargo (6000 V8 will be an available option); introduction of the “Super Heavy” work van; LT245/75R16E tires (XHH, YHH, ZHH) are the base tire on 3/4-ton work van HD, and LT 225 is now optional (8600 lb and federal emissions); all state emissions are available on LR4 4.8 V8 engine on 2500 and 3500 series; PRP stock units are shipped with Adrian bins.

Higgs said there are no plans to extend production of Astro/Safari beyond June 2005.

“This really is the end and final year of Astro,” he said. “We are now down to 25,000 to 30,000 units a year. This is not enough to keep the factory going. We believe we will be quite successful in bringing customers over to the half-ton G van. If you look at the pricing we have on the G van, you'll see we've priced it below the Astro van.”

He said the marketing team already has seen movement to the G van, and direct mail is currently under review to support retention of Astro/Safari cargo customers.

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