Chicago Auto Show features all-new, redesigned and CNG-powered trucks

Feb. 14, 2014
Some trucks and vans for the mechanical contractor at the Chicago Auto Show: The 2014 Ram 1500. Chevrolet’s all-new 2015 City Express. Chevrolet’s expanded availability of bi-fuel versions of the new 2015 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD trucks. The all-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. The all-new 2015 Ford F-150. The 2014 Ford Transit Connect. The 2014 Nissan NV200 for the U.S. The 2014 Toyota Tundra.

CHICAGO — The Chicago Auto Show is a hit with consumers, the media, and even the staff at CONTRACTOR magazine — we definitely love a good auto show! Plus, the Chicago Auto Show showcases many work-truck vehicles for the mechanical contractor.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.

Featured at the Chrysler exhibit is the 2014 Ram 1500, which won the coveted honor of 2014 Truck of the Year bestowed by Motor Trend. The Ram 1500 half-ton pickup is offered in Regular Cab, Quad Cab and Crew Cab models.

Multiple trim levels are available, each with a unique appearance: Tradesman, Express, HFE, SLT, Big Horn/Lone Star, Outdoorsman, Sport, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn. A flex-fuel capable 4.7 liter V-8 provides 310 horsepower and is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. It's available exclusively on the Tradesman. A new 305hp 3.6L Pentastar V-6 develops 42% more hp and better fuel numbers than the previous 3.7L.

Also available is the 395hp 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. A new class-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission is standard with the 3.6L and available with the Hemi, as is rear-wheel, part-time and on-demand four-wheel-drive transfer cases.

The Ram 1500 towing capacity ranges from 3,450-10,400 lbs, and has a maximum payload of 5,110 pounds. Depending on cab configurations, the Ram 1500 interior carries up to six passengers.

Chevrolet City Express, Colorado and more

Chevrolet’s all-new 2015 City Express is on display, matching maneuverability and cargo-hauling flexibility with efficiency. The City Express goes on sale this fall, offering 122.7 cubic feet (3,474 liters) of customizable cargo space, a tight turning diameter of only 36.7 feet (11.2 m) and an estimated payload capacity of 1,500 pounds.

The City Express also will deliver greater efficiency than full-size vans due to its smaller size and a 2.0L inline-four-cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing matched to a continuously variable transmission.

“As the newest member of the Chevrolet Express family of vans, the 2015 City Express offers a smaller, more efficient choice for businesses that don’t need the cargo volume or other capabilities of a full-size van,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president, GM Fleet and Commercial. “It is an easy-to-maneuver van that makes the most of its compact dimensions with clever features, allowing business owners to maximize its space – and their resources – with a vehicle sized for their needs.”

Designed for function, the City Express’s all-important cargo area accommodates large and bulky items, with 4’6” of space from side wall to side wall. There’s also 6’10” of room from the rear doors to the back of the front seats. With the passenger seat folded, the length grows to 9’8”. The tops of the rear wheel houses are flat to enable tiered storage and to maximize storage space.

The Chevrolet Silverado.

Also, at the Chicago Auto Show, Chevrolet’s expanded availability of bi-fuel versions of the new 2015 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD trucks are showcased. These trucks give customers and fleet managers more choices for cleaner-burning compressed natural gas-powered models – and savings at the pump.

“With CNG capability to be offered on all Silverado HD cab configurations, customers have a wider range of choices when it comes to selecting the alternatively fueled truck that matches their needs,” said Peper. “And for companies and municipalities that maintain multiple trucks in their fleet, the fuel cost savings of CNG can really add up in a year.”

The CNG option is available on all Silverado 2500HD configurations and Silverado 3500HD models with single rear wheels. The 2500HD double cab and crew cab models are on sale now, with 2500HD regular cab and all 3500HD models going on sale in July.

If you are in the market to buy new vans or trucks for your contractor fleet, let us know what makes and models you are considering on our new Plumbing Talk forum.

With the additional driving range enabled by a separate CNG tank, Silverado HD bi-fuel models have a total range of up to 650 miles, meaning less time needed for fill-ups. When equipped with a 4.10 axle ratio, the maximum conventional trailering rating is 13,000 pounds on gas or CNG.

The unique version of the 6.0L engine – identified by an LC8 engine code – features special hardened valves and valve seats that enable it to run on CNG or gasoline. It is rated at 360 horsepower (268 kW) and 380 lb-ft of torque (515 Nm) on gas, and 301 horsepower (225 kW) and 333 lb-ft of torque (452 Nm) on CNG.

A separate CNG fuel tank enables the driver to switch between fuels at the flip of a switch. When the CNG tank is depleted, the system automatically switches to gasoline. GM’s tier-one supplier installs the CNG fuel tank and complementing fuel system upgrades at a secondary location. Chevrolet dealers deliver the trucks as they would with any optional content.

The all-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado is showcased at the Chicago Auto Show. The Colorado goes on sale in fall 2014 as a 2015 model.

The 2015 Colorado

“Our strategy is simple: meet the needs of the broadest possible customer base, and let them choose precisely the right truck to meet their needs,” said Mark Reuss, General Motors executive vice president and president of GM North America. “The all-new Colorado benefits from the solid foundation established by the Silverado, and it reinvents the midsize truck while reinvigorating the segment at the same time.”

Chevrolet expects Colorado to be the most powerful truck in the segment, allowing owners to haul and tow more.

A 2.5L I-4 is standard, and a 3.6L V-6 is available. Each engine is tuned, tested and validated for truck use, and each features direct injection and variable valve timing to make the most of power and efficiency. Each is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Colorado will also offer the segment’s only diesel engine in its second year – a proven Duramax 2.8L I-4 turbodiesel already offered in global markets. The diesel engine will expand Colorado’s powertrain lineup to cover the broadest range of needs.

Ford F-150, Transit Connect  

Also featured at the Chicago Auto Show is the all-new 2015 Ford F-150, featuring a 360-degree rear camera, dynamic trailer hitch assist and a host of driver-assist technologies. For the first time, high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys are used throughout the F-150 body. These alloys, already used in aerospace, commercial transportation and other industries, make the new truck’s body lighter, stronger and more resistant to dents.

The 2015 Ford F-150.

The F-150 is up to 700 pounds lighter, helping the truck tow and haul more, accelerate and stop faster, and operate more efficiently. Changes were made under the hood as well, with four engine options that include an all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost with standard Auto Start-Stop technology. All models deliver enhanced interior and exterior designs that are the result of customer feedback collected over decades.

The interior was created with comfort and utility in mind. In addition, the buttons and controls are sized so that a person wearing work gloves can operate them.

Another popular Ford vehicle at the Chicago Auto Show is the 2014 Ford Transit Connect. Redesigned from the ground up, the 2014 Transit Connect wagon can seat up to seven passengers, while the Transit Connect cargo van hauls more payload than some full-size pickups. Both versions maneuver and park as easy as driving a car, and capable of delivering 30+ mpg on the highway.

To meet the needs of North American customers, the 2014 Ford Transit Connect van is offered in two wheelbase lengths, in XL and XLT series levels, with up to a 1,600-pound payload and more than 130 cubic feet of cargo space. Plus, for the first time, this versatile compact van is approved to tow up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.

There is a choice between a standard 2.5-liter and an optional 1.6L EcoBoost four cylinder engines that are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, geared for around-town responsiveness and low-rpm highway cruising. The 2.5L engine can be specified with compressed natural gas/liquid propane gas preparation package.

Nissan NV200, Toyota Tundra

The 2014 Nissan NV200 for the U.S., displayed at the Chicago Auto Show, has been extended 7.9 inches versus the models sold in other global markets. It's built on Nissan's proven commercial platform and is equipped with the efficient 2.0 liter DOHC four-cylinder engine, matched with a next-generation Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission).

The large body side includes low-effort dual sliding side doors and large areas for business signage and graphics. In the rear, NV200 features tall 40/60 split opening doors with dual opening positions. A low floor height and tall interior cargo height aid easy loading and unloading.

The longer body length offers additional work room with a cargo capacity of 123 cubic feet and 1,500-pound maximum payload. For 2014, there are two well-equipped models on tap, the Nissan NV200 S and Nissan NV200 SV in a choice of five exterior colors, matched with a gray cloth interior. Fresh exterior features include halogen headlights, durable black front and rear bumpers, outside mirrors with wide-angle spotter mirrors and available heated function.

Toyota Platinum Tundra.

Last year, Bill Fay, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager, introduced the redesigned 2014 Tundra full-size pickup at the Chicago Auto Show. Returning to the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, the 2014 Tundra was designed and engineered, in the U.S.A. The engine is built in Alabama, the transmission in North Caroline, and the entire vehicle assembled in San Antonio, Texas or Baja California, Mexico. 

The SR grade is the entry-level Tundra, while the SR5 continues to be Tundra's volume model. Moving up, the Limited offers more premium features, followed by the Platinum grade that has a more urban contemporary edge. The newest member is the Tundra 1794 Edition inspired by the ranch founded in 1794 where the Tundra plant is now located in San Antonio. Three powerplants are offered, including the 4.0 liter V-6 connected to a five-speed automatic transmission; a 310hp 4.6L V-8 and the mighty 5.7L V-8 that produces 381hp. Both V-8s come mated to six-speed automatics. With the 5.7L, Tundra carries more than 2,000 pounds and tows more than 10,000 pounds.

The Tundra also features a number of segment firsts including a new blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert on premium models. It continues to have the largest front brakes in the class and the segment's only standard knee airbags.

About the Author

Candace Roulo

Candace Roulo, senior editor of CONTRACTOR and graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, has 15 years of industry experience in the media and construction industries. She covers a variety of mechanical contracting topics, from sustainable construction practices and policy issues affecting contractors to continuing education for industry professionals and the best business practices that contractors can implement to run successful businesses.      

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