Select 2016 model Chevrolet Silverado and Silverado HD pickup models are also expected to feature a new “prognostic” maintenance capability called Proactive Alert. This is provided via the vehicle’s OnStar 4G LTE onboard wireless network in combination with fleet management tools from Telogis.
Bi-fuel package options allow Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD pickups to operate on CNG. A dedicated CNG option on the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana cargo and passenger short-wheelbase vans is available for the three- and four-tank system. The bi-fuel CNG option will be available on all Silverado and Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD single-rear-wheel models. Fully dedicated CNG fuel systems, available in three- or four-tank models, remain for the Express and Savana cargo vans.
Chevy City Express
GM also revealed the fuel economy ratings for its City Express cargo van, which it is building under license based on Nissan’s NV200 platform. GM says the City Express is rated at an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, resulting in 25 mpg combined. This is due to the van’s 2.0L dual-overhead cam inline 4-cyl. engine matched to a continuously variable transmission. The Chevrolet City Express LS is covered by a 2-yr./24,000-mi. warranty.
Topping the 2016 model upgrade list for General Motors is the addition of a 2.8L Duramax turbodiesel engine for its GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickups. The OEM says that technical details and Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates for those pickups—brought back to life in the 2015 model year—will be available closer to launch.
GM is also investing $1.2 billion in its fullsize pickup truck plant in Fort Wayne, IN, for upgrades and technology that will improve the plant’s competitiveness in assembling high-quality light- and heavy-duty models. Construction of a pretreat, electrocoat paint operation and sealing facility, expanded body shop, expanded and new material sequencing centers, and upgraded general assembly area began in June and will take several years to complete. GM stresses that fullsize pickup truck production schedules will be unaffected by the construction, which is part of a three-year, $5.4 billion investment in all of the OEM’s U.S. factories.
Speaking of fullsize pickups, GM is rolling out several new changes. For starters, an 8-speed automatic transmission is now standard on Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups (along with the high-end GMC Yukon Denali/Yukon XL Denali models) equipped with the OEM’s 420 hp., 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine. The GM-developed Hydra-Matic 8L90 8-speed is about the same size and weight as the Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed automatic, but its 7.0 overall gear ratio spread is wider. This provides a numerically higher first gear ratio to help drivers start off more confidently with a heavy load or when pulling a trailer. The 8L90 also enables numerically lower rear axle ratios, which reduce engine rpm on the highway.
The big news from Ford in the light-duty category for the 2016 model year is the addition of more options for its Transit van and its popular F-150 pickup, which underwent a major overhaul for the 2015 model year. The OEM is making its SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system an option for the 2016 Transit. It is also boosting the number of available configurations for the Transit to 58, up from 47 in model year 2015, thanks to the addition of dual sliding cargo doors on Transit medium- and high-roof vans.
Ford’s all-new Pro Trailer Backup Assist will be offered as an option on the 2016 model F-150 pickup. The technology limits vehicle speed while letting the customer steer the trailer with a control knob as the truck steers its wheels. To operate, the customer rotates a knob to indicate how much the system should turn the trailer. The feature automatically steers the truck to turn the trailer the desired amount. Ford notes that this system limits vehicle speed to enhance occupant comfort over various road surfaces.
Ford’s new gaseous-fuel prep package for F-150 pickups equipped with the OEM’s 5L V8 engine allows the truck to operate on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane. Ford says this package includes upgraded intake and exhaust valves and valve seals, adding that F-150 trucks running on CNG or propane will be able to tow the same amount as if they were running on gasoline. Payload capability is the same as well—minus the weight of the installed CNG or propane system, the OEM says.
All 2016 Transit vans and wagons come standard with a rearview camera and trailer hitch assist technology. Trailer hitch assist automatically engages when the vehicle is shifted into reverse and displays a graphical overlay on the screen that helps guide drivers when lining up a hitch with a trailer. On top of that, Transit cutaway and chassis cab customers have the option to display the area behind the vehicle on the rearview mirror.
A new compact van is what Mercedes-Benz USA is touting for the 2016 model year. The Metris, globally known as the Vito, will be available in October in passenger and cargo configurations. It is 202.4-in. long, 75.9-in. wide and 74.8-in. high and is powered by a 4-cyl. gasoline engine producing 208 hp. and 258 lbs.-ft. of torque. An optional eco stop/start function is incorporated with its 7G-Tronic 7-speed automatic transmission.
Like the Sprinter, the Metris is packed with a variety of safety advancements, including six airbags for the cargo van and eight for the passenger van variant. All models will feature standard attention assist, crosswind assist, and standard load-adaptive electronic stability control. Optional features include active parking assist, lane keeping assist, Parktronic, collision prevention assist, blind spot assist, and a rearview camera.
Mercedes is also touting several changes to its Sprinter van. These include extended service intervals up to 20,000 mi., super single rear wheel, on-demand 4x4 option, and standard crosswind assist. The 4WD system became available on the 2015 model-year Sprinter commercial vans equipped with the OEM’s 3.0L V6 BlueTEC diesel engine. The Sprinter’s 4x4 system distributes torque at a ratio of 35:65 between the front and rear axle, with the vehicle’s 4-wheel electronic traction system handling the rest of its traction needs.
The Sprinter 4x4 can also be equipped with an optional low range gear. Once engaged, gearing is shortened by 42%, further boosting what the OEM calls “tractive power.” Depending on body style, the Sprinter’s 4x4 system adds about 265 lbs. of weight, which only minimally affects payload, the OEM said.
Nissan NV Cargo
The Nissan NV Cargo is the first commercial van to offer rugged body-on-frame construction combined with a high roof, offering most users the ability to walk, stand and work in the cargo area. Enhancements to the NV Cargo (shown at left) include the addition of a new SL trim level, which includes chrome bumpers, grille and door handles, chrome clad wheels, 8-way power driver’s seat, Vehicle Security System and first row side seat-mounted side-impact and roof-mounted curtain supplemental side-impact air bags for front outboard occupant head protection.
A critical research finding was the fact that many van owners have been disposing of their vehicles in favor of light duty trucks, despite the compromise of convenience and utility. Thus one of the overarching goals for the NV Cargo design was to combine pickup truck-like comfort, interior amenities and drivability with a cargo van’s capacity and security. The Nissan NV Cargo interior starts by answering one of the major unmet operator needs — driver comfort and roominess.
Wide front doors provide easy ingress and egress, while supportive bucket seating with extensive adjustability, large armrests and a truck-like driving position with ample legroom and foot room enhance comfort.
The long-awaited 2016 Titan XD fullsize pickup was unveiled by Nissan earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Titan is touted to be the first in a new line of fullsize pickup models and is part of what Carlos Ghosn, president/CEO of Nissan, calls the OEM’s commitment to localized production.
“Nissan has invested more than $5 billion in the U.S. in the past five years and has moved manufacturing for several models from overseas to its North American plants,” he said during the introduction of the Titan back in January. Powered by a Cummins 5L V8 turbocharged diesel engine cranking out 310 hp. and 555 lbs.-ft. of torque, the Titan XD crew cab will be the first release in a line that will ultimately feature three cab configurations, two frame sizes, three powertrain offerings and five grade levels.
Redesigned from the ground up, Toyota’s 2016 midsize Tacoma pickup features a new V6 gasoline engine option that the OEM says will provide more power while sipping less fuel. The truck will be powered by a 2.7L 4-cyl. engine or a new 3.5L Atkinson cycle V6 equipped with Toyota’s D-4S technology, which uses both direct and port injection. The engines are paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift. The V6 can also be mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, the OEM notes.
Primary development of the 2016 Tacoma took place at the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, MI, where engineers added high-strength steel to the pickup’s frame to enhance rigidity and overall strength. A new hot stamping process to reduce weight is used in the ultra-high-strength steel integrated into the body shell.
The Tacoma’s tailgate features an integrated spoiler for improved aerodynamics along with what Toyota calls an “easy lowering feature,” which allows it to slowly drop without slamming down. Other options include smart key with pushbutton start; enhanced touchscreen audio; and blind-spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert. Toyota adds that the 2016 Tacoma will be offered in five grades in both 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and should be available in dealerships starting this summer.
For its fullsize brother, the Tundra pickup, not much will change for the 2016 model year. After what Toyota describes as “a dramatic redesign” for the 2014 model year, the Tundra now features either a 310-hp. 4.6L V8 or 381-hp. 5.7L V8 gasoline engine. Both are teamed with a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is optional. The TRD Pro model includes a special off-road suspension and an available spray-in bed liner.
The Tundra is offered with three cab styles: two-door regular cab, four-door double cab, and the supersized four-door CrewMax. Tundra regular cab models come exclusively with a long bed (8.1 ft.) configuration. Double cab models are offered in both standard bed (6.5 ft.) or long bed configurations and include rear underseat tray storage on the SR5 and Limited grades. The CrewMax comes with a 5.5-ft. bed. All of the bed options are 22.2-in. deep.
Tundra 4x4 models use an on-demand, electronically controlled four-wheel drive system featuring a six-pinion planetary reduction gear set to provide 4x2, 4x4 Hi and 4x4 Lo ranges. Drivers select a particular drive mode using a dial on the dash. Active traction control is included with the 4WDemand part-time 4WD system. This operates like Auto-LSD, except that it allows full, unrestricted engine output and transfers power to the wheel with the most traction on both the front and rear axles.