The redesigned Chevrolet Silverado was named 2007 truck of the year by Motor Trend magazine, an award that could increase already strong sales of the popular vehicle.
The truck beat out three other General Motors Corp. contenders: the Chevrolet Avalanche, Cadillac Escalade EXT and GMC Sierra. The Ford Explorer Sport Trac was also eligible for the title.
The vehicle of the year designation is important to automakers, who often use Motor Trend’s endorsement in their advertising. The redesigned Toyota Camry, the hottest-selling car in America, won Motor Trend’s 2007 Car of the Year award earlier.
The Silverado, released in the fall, offers a choice of cab and bed sizes, plus suspensions and drivetrains for a variety of uses. Motor Trend said its reliability and fuel efficiency were also factors in the win.
“The Silverado impressed us most of all because it is a great reworking of an iconic American vehicle,” Motor Trend editor Angus MacKenzie said in a news release. “The Chevy pickup truck has been a part of the American automotive landscape for decades.”
Five Silverado television commercials feature John Mellencamp’s song “Our Country” and have received heavy airplay during NFL, college football and World Series broadcasts.
GM unveiled the Silverado and redesigned GMC Sierra 13 weeks ahead of schedule in a bid to boost lackluster truck sales. The Silverado was one of GM’s biggest gainers for recent sales, increasing nearly 18 percent to 44,363 vehicles in November from 37,633 vehicles a year earlier.
GM spent more than $200 million on machinery and facilities to manufacture the Silverado and the Sierra at its Fort Wayne, Ind., plant over the past two years.
MacKenzie cited a number of improvements in the redesigned truck, including a 5.3-liter V-8 engine that can shift into V-4 mode for greater mileage per gallon.
Motor Trend also takes into account the truck’s value for its price. Prices for most Silverado models have increased only about $300 from 2006 levels, MacKenzie said.
Only new or substantially redesigned trucks were considered for the award, and all had to be on sale to the public by Jan. 1, 2007. Motor Trend evaluates the vehicle’s finish and materials, engineering, handling and response, safety and power.
This is the first time in several years an American automaker’s product has been named truck of the year. Last year’s winner was the Honda Ridgeline and the Toyota Tacoma won in 2005.