For years, General Motors has sold what it calls its Z71 “Off-Road” versions of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban full-size SUVs. What that has equated to has been a recalibrated suspension for muddin’, some skid plates, and copious plastic cladding adorning the outside. Oh, and maybe some nicer interior materials.
But seriously, it was more of an image vehicle than one with real abilities that could shame a Jeep in the rough stuff. It looks like General Motors could be re-evaluating what real off-road capabilities mean with the introduction of the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, and its GMC Yukon contemporaries.
Jeff Luke, the executive chief engineer for GM’s trucks, told Automotive News that ”We are looking at, for this generation, a more off-road variant.”
Why the sudden change of heart? Maybe because the Ford SVT Raptor is eating everyone’s lunch at a starting price of around $55,000. That’s an off-road pickup truck with Baja racing-like capabilities. It’s stunning when the going gets rough, with Fox shocks that help it fly like Superman and land again on all four tires. Well, at least it looks like it can jump like a trophy truck…don’t actually try that at home (NSFW language).
Anyhow, both GM and Chrysler are studying their own factory off-roaders, as Ford has recently had to increase production for a truck that’s well exceeding initial expectations. Ford is selling over capacity at a rate of approximately 13,000 Raptors a year.
To counteract that, GM’s stronghold in the full-size SUV segment could come to its advantage if it positions the vehicles properly. Chevrolet has been rumored to be preparing a Raptor competitor in the Silverado; this would be a natural follow-up.
It’s just a matter of when or if it happens. We hope it does. Just with the Z71 name already taken, we’re wondering what Chevrolet is planning on calling it. T-Rex, maybe?
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)