More and more SUVs are switching to lighter, car-based “unibody” construction in order to achieve higher fuel economy numbers. However, there’s a subset of SUV buyers who actually need the body-on-frame, heavy-duty construction of a truck-based SUV. Or they’re rappers or athletes who just want a swanky ride.
Spied testing are all of full-sized GM SUVs, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade and longer Escalade ESV, 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, and the 2015 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. Still heavily camouflaged, General Motors is testing them with ovoid badges on their fronts to make them look like they might be Ford products. They’re not, though, evidenced by the Cadillac Escalade’s LED lights running from the headlight housings all the way into the bumpers. Also, the Ford Expedition has an independent rear suspension; so far as we can tell, the new GM SUVs will carry on with a truck-like solid rear axle. That may come up short versus the silky smooth ride in competitors the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, but the Lexus LX570 and Toyota Land Cruiser still have solid rear axles and do wonders, too. We’ll have to wait and see how GM tunes the suspension.
Under the hood, we expect to see the same engines GM is offering in its pickup trucks: a base 4.3-liter V-6, 5.3-liter V-8, and a range-topping 6.2-liter V-8. The new 5.3-liter V-8 is the only one to receive official ratings thus far–355 horsepower, 383 pound-feet of torque, and a 23-mpg fuel economy rating. There’s also a chance a small diesel engine could be coming as well as a turbocharged V-6 to take on Ford’s wildly popular EcoBoost option. Engines will be paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, with an eight-speed coming later. From everything we’ve heard, the hybrid models are being discontinued, but they may make a comeback eventually.
The Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban as well as the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are expected to start production in January 2014. The Cadillac Escalade and longer Escalade ESV–the Escalade EXT and its Chevrolet Avalanche version have been discontinued–are expected to follow in April 2014. If we had to give our best guess, we’d say that GM is planning to launch them at next January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the same venue where where it unveiled the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks.
Hopefully, this time, GM won’t have a Ford truck stealing its thunder, but there’s a high chance the next F-150 could be at the very same show, too.