Ford's dramatic switch to an aluminum pickup body for the 2015 F-150 has dramatically outshone the new-for-2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, and the Ford isn't even on sale yet. Well, hold your horses, Ford fans, because Chevy's going to tell you why steel is still king.
What you're looking at is a stock 2015 Silverado 1500 LTZ with a bill of materials painted on its body. The Silverado Toughnology concept, unveiled at the Texas State Fair alongside the Colorado Sport concept, is GM's way to assert that high-strength steel is worth its added weight and lower cost over aluminum. Like all Silverados, two-thirds of the concept's cab is made from high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, particularly in the pillars, roof rail, and rocker panels, while the bed uses roll-formed regular steel, a process that's lighter than stamped steel and offers higher durability, according to GM. The hood, painted black to stand out from the truck's "unpainted" gray shade, is the only aluminum body part onboard, although the steel tailgate is also painted black.
It gets really confusing, however, when GM mentions the "steel molecule graphics" on the doors, mostly because steel is an alloy, not a molecule, and the line drawing (creatively dotted with Wi-Fi and OnStar logos to demonstrate the tech inside) doesn't appear to resemble a known compound. Plus, the elements shown (oxygen, sulfur, and phosphorus) are regarded by the steel industry as impurities and exist in the finished product only in very minute quantities. But hey, high-strength steel rules!
The SEMA crowd won't care about a chemistry lesson, however, and will instead form bonds with the truck's factory accessories. Among the most noticeable are the five-spoke black and silver 22-inch wheels, the larger brakes with red calipers, and the set of off-road tires. The tinted headlamp covers, black fender flares, tubular side rails, soft tonneau cover, and carpeted bedliner are also available from Chevy's parts catalog. Under the aluminum hood is a revised air intake for the 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8. No power increase was given.
Here's where we mention that, despite the current Silverado 1500′s mix of high-strength steel and aluminum, our scales show that it weighs roughly the same as previous versions, or about 5600 pounds for a 5.3-liter 4×4 Crew Cab. Still, in a recent comparison test, it was lighter that the (previous-gen) Ford and (current) Ram competitors by a few hundred pounds. The 2015 F-150 may put the Chevy's number to shame, but we won't know for sure until we schedule another pickup battle royale.
Originally published at .