Bow-tie brand pivots from cars to trucks

Mike Colias
Automotive News July 23, 2012

The redesigned Chevrolet Colorado mid-sized pickup is already on sale in Asia. It is expected to arrive in U.S. showrooms in the second half of 2013.

Based on Chevrolet’s vehicle launches over the past few years, a casual observer might not know that General Motors’ bow-tie brand still makes trucks.

Well-received entries such as the Cruze compact and Sonic subcompact have helped transcend Chevy’s image as a trucks-and-sports-cars brand. In coming months, the transformation of Chevy’s car lineup will continue with the launches of the Spark minicar, two new engines in the redesigned Malibu and the long-awaited next-generation Impala, due early next year.

After that, though, get ready for the trucks. The next-generation Silverado should hit showrooms by late spring, to be followed by the redesigned Suburban SUV and Colorado mid-sized pickup.

Here are highlights for Chevrolet’s 2013-15 models.

Spark: The minicar, imported from Korea, will be launched by September to rival the Scion iQ and Smart ForTwo. It will feature a 1.2-liter, four-cylinder engine. Chevy is counting on more interior space and features such as the MyLink infotainment system to set the Spark apart from competitors.

A Spark electric vehicle should arrive in the second half of 2013 as a 2014 model.

Sonic: Chevy will follow the 2011 debut of the new subcompact with a performance version, the RS, which will arrive in showrooms in late 2012. The hatch-only model will feature a 1.4-liter turbo engine and a sportier front fascia and grille.

Cruze: Significant changes for Chevy’s top-selling nameplate globally won’t happen until 2014, when the compact is due for a restyling that could give it the new corporate face that is seen on the upcoming 2014 Chevy Impala. GM also has confirmed a diesel engine for the 2014 model year, which likely will be released in the second half of 2013.

Also for the 2014 model year, Chevy is considering a hatchback for the United States. It currently is sold in Europe and other markets. A plug-in hybrid or the eAssist mild hybrid system also are possibilities.

Volt: For the 2013 model year, GM improved the battery to get an extra three miles of electric range from the plug-in hybrid, allowing drivers to go up to 38 miles on a single charge before a small gasoline-powered generator kicks in to run the electric engine.

An expected restyling for the 2014 model year could see the Volt take on some of the styling cues of its European sibling, the Opel Ampera.

Malibu: The rollout of the redesigned 2013 Malibu begins in earnest in August with the introduction of GM’s all-new 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. An Eco model of the redesigned sedan with a 2.4-liter engine mated to GM’s eAssist mild hybrid went on sale in the spring.


A 2.0-liter turbo engine will be available in the fall.

Impala: The redesigned 2014 Impala will go on sale in early 2013, marking a major improvement in styling from the current car. The engine lineup includes a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with eAssist, the new 2.5-liter and a 3.6-liter V-6.

Chevrolet SS: GM has confirmed that an Australia-built, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan will arrive in U.S. showrooms by late 2013 as a 2014 model. It will feature a V-8 engine. A V-6 turbo also is likely.

The SS will be derived from GM’s rwd Zeta platform, which is used for the current Camaro and the upcoming VF Commodore for Australia. Expect production to move to North America by 2016, when GM is likely to move the car to its new Alpha rwd platform, which underpins the upcoming Cadillac ATS.

Corvette: For the 2013 model year, Chevy is marking the Corvette’s 60th year — and the final year of the nameplate’s sixth generation — with the 427 convertible, which features a 505-hp, 7.0-liter V-8 engine.

But all eyes are on the second half of 2013, when GM will introduce its next-generation Corvette, the C7. Recent spy shots reveal evolutionary styling changes and a longer wheelbase. The engine is a source of intense speculation among enthusiasts: The best bets are the fifth generation of GM’s small block V-8 engine or a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8.

Camaro: For the 2013 model year, GM is adding Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system to most trim levels. It’s also rolling out a 1LE performance model for Camaro SS coupes.

A Camaro redesign is expected by late 2015 for the 2016 model year. GM plans to take substantial weight out of the car by moving it to the Alpha rwd platform.

Equinox: For the 2013 model year, GM is replacing the Equinox’s 3.0-liter, 264-hp V-6 with a 3.6-liter that will produce 301 hp with the same fuel economy as the smaller engine. The popular crossover also gets MyLink, an optional rear-seat entertainment system, and an optional safety package that includes forward collision alert.

Expect the addition of eAssist for the 2014 model year. The crossover is due for a redesign in 2014 as a 2015 model.

Traverse: The large crossover has been restyled for the 2013 model year. It features a new domed hood and restyled front end with a wider grille that supplants the previous split-mesh grille. The interior is improved, with more soft-touch surfaces and a new center stack that features MyLink.

A redesigned Traverse is expected by the 2016 model year.

Tahoe/Suburban: The next-generation versions of Chevy’s large SUVs are expected to arrive in showrooms in late 2013 as 2014 models. Expect greater use of high-strength steel and other weight-reducing techniques. The SUVs will remain on a body-on-frame platform.

They should get GM’s fifth-generation small-block V-8 engine, which will have direct injection, variable-valve timing and cylinder deactivation. An eight-speed transmission is likely.

Avalanche: GM says the 2013 model year will be the last for the Avalanche. GM is offering a Black Diamond edition to commemorate the final production year.

Colorado: The current generation ends after the 2012 model year as GM winds down the Shreveport, La., plant that assembles the mid-sized pickup.

A next-generation Colorado is expected to arrive in the second half of 2013 as a 2014 model. GM launched the truck in Asia last year and has confirmed that it will sell it in the United States, but it hasn’t confirmed timing.

The body-on-frame, four-wheel-drive pickup will be built in Wentzville, Mo., and sport brawnier styling than the current Colorado. The engine lineup is likely to include a 3.6-liter V-6 and a 2.0-liter turbo. A Duramax diesel engine is sold in Asia and could be used here.

Silverado 1500: Chevy’s full-sized pickup gets its first redesign in more than six years when it is launched by late spring as a 2014 model. It’s expected to drop several hundred pounds from the current version through greater use of aluminum and high-strength steel.

It will get GM’s next-generation small-block V-8 engine, which will feature direct injection, variable-valve timing and cylinder deactivation. An eight-speed transmission is likely.

Silverado 2500, 3500: Restyled versions of Chevy’s heavy-duty pickups, which were re-engineered for the 2011 model year, are expected by late 2014 as 2015 models.