New van, medium trucks coming from GM

A REDESIGNED full-size van and a new line of medium-duty trucks topped the news from the GM chassis update session at the NTEA convention and Work Truck Show.

Production was scheduled to begin in April for the General Motors C6500 and 7500, the heaviest of the new medium-duty trucks from Chevrolet and GMC. The lighter C4500 and C5500 models were already in production at the time of the NTEA convention in Orlando, Florida.

With its new medium trucks, GM is bringing back the GMC TopKick and Chevrolet Kodiak brands. The TopKick and Kodiak will be offered in regular cab models, crew cabs, and commercial and motorhome cutaways. CA dimensions for the regular cab range from 60" to 138", with slightly narrower choices for the crew cab and cutaway chassis. Gross vehicle weight ratings will range from 16,000 lb for the C4 models to 19,500 lb for the heaviest of the C5 chassis.

GM will offer a choice of 8.1-liter gas or 6.6-liter diesel engine and either the Allison 1000 Series automatic or ZF six-speed manual transmission. Although the Allison transmission can power a PTO, that capability must be requested at the time the truck is ordered.

Customers can specify one of three paths for exhaust routing: dump behind the cab, side exit, or rear exit.

Several option packages are available, including shuttle bus, fire and rescue, snowplow, school bus, ambulance, and wrecker.

On the heavy side

The heavier C6500/C7500/C8500 Series is an all-new line of medium-duty trucks designed to replace the current C Series. Production of today's C Series is scheduled to end in June.

The new C6500/C7500/C8500 Series trucks cover a range of GVWRs, from 19,501 to 61,000 pounds. They come with a redesigned cab that provides improved visibility, enabling the driver to see objects that are 12 feet closer, compared with the current design with a regular hood.

Power options include the Vortec 8100MD gasoline engine capable of alternative fuel conversions, the Cat 3126E, and the Duramax 7800 diesel. The C6500 and C7500 models come standard with the Allison 2000 Series automatic, while the Allison 3000 Series will be the standard transmission on the C8500. Eaton-Fuller and TTC manual transmissions also will be available. Like the Allison 1000 Series, the heavier Allison transmissions can power PTOs — but only when requested.

Frames have been redesigned using 50,000-, 80,000-, and 110,000-psi steels. With the new design come additional CA dimensions — up to 228 inches. The maximum CA on the current truck is 208 inches.

The selection of front axles ranges from 8,000-lb to 16,000-lb ratings — in 2,000-lb increments. Eight different rear axle capacities — from 15,000 to 45,000 pounds — are offered.

The base fuel tank, mounted on the left side, holds 50 gallons. A 35-gallon is offered on the LoPro model.

Van offers surprises

The first major redesign in the Chevy Express/GMC Savana full-size vans has resulted in some unusual features, including optional all-wheel drive, a 60/40 load door on the left side, and access panels that enable the driver to reach the side of the cargo area from the outside.

The cargo access panels are available with the Savana Pro and Express Access option package. The package includes left- and right-side remote release access panels, power locks and windows, and an optional interior lighting package. It is available on all 135" wheelbase models, regardless of GVWR.

The all-wheel drive option will be available on cargo and conversion models with 135" wheelbase and GVW ratings up to 7,300 pounds. It is similar to the all-wheel drive system used on the Astro and Safari minivans, but it is being applied to full-size vans for the first time.

In addition to all-wheel drive, GM is making four-wheel power disc brakes standard on the new full-size vans. The result is shorter stopping distances and improved brake life, GM says.

The manufacturer anticipates a shortage of 26,000 units between July and October as it completes orders for 2002 models and ramps up production of the new Savana and Express. GM is scheduled to complete production of current model year vans June 28. Details of the launch can be found at www.gmfcolaunch.com.

General Motor's W Series and the corresponding models from Isuzu also have some changes for the 2003 model year. Among them:

  • A new ABS system

  • A 110-amp alternator will be offered on the W-3500/5500 and the Isuzu NPR HD and NQR.

  • A six-speed overdrive manual transmission will be offered on the W5500 and NQR models. The transmission will have a PTO opening on the left side that can handle 180 lb-ft of torque at 1,000 rpm.

  • A rear stabilizer bar will be mandatory when mounting 102"-wide bodies on the W/T5500 Series.

  • A second 33-gallon fuel tank can be combined with a 30-gallon in-rail fuel tank.

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