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November 4, 2010

With an uptick in the domestic economy – and a return (as this is written) to a Republican majority in the U.S. House – a corresponding rebound in the sale of domestic pickups couldn’t be far behind. General Motors, with a fully mature lineup of both light and heavy duty pickups, doesn’t want to be left behind. And with a nod to the pickup’s role in both recreation and work, GM’s Chevy division looked to both with the display of a Z71 Concept built upon its Silverado 2500HD truck.

As Carl Hillenbrand, Chevrolet’s product manager for Silverado, noted, Chevy’s presence at SEMA is an attempt to “show off mods and concepts we would work to make available down the road.” In short, Chevy’s interest isn’t in building lunar rovers; instead, the intent is to gauge reaction to new accessories – or different versions of existing accessories – in making a business case for their distribution through Chevrolet retailers.

The 2500HD, aggressively revised for model year 2011, brings to the truck segment an all-new fully-boxed frame in combination with stronger suspensions; a new 6.6 liter Duramax diesel with both greater efficiency and dramatically reduced emissions and B20 biodiesel capability; and an array of control upgrades which make for safer towing.

Sheetmetal variations for 2011 are subtle. The HD models, both 2500 and 3500, are distinguished by a power dome-style hood boasting a new, louvered design, in combination with a new grille and front bumper. Also redesigned are the truck’s available wheels, in 17-, 18- and 20-inch diameters.

On the SEMA Silverado, Chevy’s design team added a body-color grille, 20-inch wheels (already on sale) painted a Corvette Competition Gray, a hard folding tonneau cover for the bed, a hitch-mounted winch, amber roof lamps and custom Z71 graphics. Inside, the Z71’s interior is trimmed in Dark Titanium leather, a Chevrolet Accessory interior trim plate kit, Dual DVD headrests with HD WiFi phones, a navigation-equipped radio and Autonet mobile WiFi. If your home or office loses electricity, simply boot up the truck.

With its silver metallic exterior, the overall effect was one of purposeful energy – and that’s as a static display. For GM, this may be their very best pickup line.

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