Heavy-Duty Trucks Are the New Luxury Sedans

The heavy-duty work truck used to be a diesel-guzzling, bare-bones, mud-tire-d offering for contractors, forestry workers and landscape architects, only created to do heavy hauling and towing. But as the generations have come and gone for the GMC Sierra HD, Chevrolet Silverado HD and Ram HD, these trucks have become more comfortable, quieter, more efficient and more convenient for longer trips.

They now include heated, cooled and massaging seats, touch screen infotainment systems, supple leather appointments, the latest safety technology and Wi-Fi connectivity with high-five-figure prices to match – features and a cost usually reserved for luxury sedans.

Ford revealed its latest heavy-duty pickup earlier this year; Chevrolet and GMC recently followed suit and Ram updated its truck for 2023, which was heavily revamped in 2019. The latest batch is a bumper crop of hard working yet luxurious trucks.

Ford is aiming for a business class experience with its new Super Duty. “When you look at those customers that are buying the Limiteds and King Ranch and Platinums, they have very high expectations for a luxury vehicle … and they are not prepared to compromise when they get into their truck that they will be using to tow their camper or their horses or their boat,” Brian Rathsburg, Ford’s Super Duty Marketing Manager, told Newsweek.

Heavy-duty trucks usually come with more power and torque, in larger sizes, with more ground clearance and with more payload and towing capability than a standard Ram 1500, Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado 1500. They get bigger names like F-250 and F-350 for Ford, or 2500 and 3500 on the Chevrolet and Ram side. They’re also more expensive, though GMC sees that as a challenge.

“Today, we are number one among all of the brands in the heavy-duty space in the top price band, well ahead of our competitors in terms of share for heavy duty pickups priced $75,000 or higher,” Jaclyn McQuaid, executive chief engineer for full-size trucks said at a virtual press event. “And again, this represents a big part of the segment. When customers want a top-of-the-line pickup that is as much premium as it is capable.”

2024 GMC Sierra HD

The 2024 Sierra HD is GMC’s version of the Chevy Silverado HD. It comes with a slightly higher price and with slightly better interior accoutrements. For the new generation, GMC will offer the first Denali Ultimate trim for the truck, as well as a new AT4X off-road trim later in the model year, following a similar move for its regular duty truck lineup.

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The current Sierra HD Denali starts at $84,000; the Denali Ultimate trim will cost even more.

The GMC Sierra HD comes with a 6.6-liter diesel engine delivering 470 horsepower (hp) and 975 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque. That’s good for 21,900 pounds of towing on the 2500HD and up to 36,000 pounds on the 3500HD. It also offers 14 camera views to keep drivers safe when towing and hauling including the new “transparent trailer view” that uses a camera in the rear of the truck and an accessory camera on the back of the trailer.

But the real luxury is on the inside where buyers can use a 13.4-inch touchscreen, rest their arms on full-grain leather door panels and sit in 16-way leather-wrapped power adjustable seats with heat and massaging functions. Audiophiles will likely option the 12-speaker Bose sound system with Center Point surround technology.

That digital display isn’t an afterthought, featuring new user preference options for customization with a split screen. It comes with Google built-in on all trims except Pro and with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A 15-inch head up display and a 12-inch digital instrument cluster are both offered allowing drivers to see most relevant information without taking their eyes off too far the road.

2024 Chevrolet Silverado HD

The 2024 Chevrolet Silverado HD is also available with the same 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engine making the same 470 hp and 975 lb-ft of torque as the Sierra. A 6.6-liter gasoline V8 is also offered making 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque. The gasoline engine can tow a maximum weight of 21,600 pounds. A 10-speed transmission is standard across the range.

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In the cabin, the Silverado HD offers a 12.3-inch digital driver information cluster in addition to the 13.4-inch infotainment screen. That screen, and other controls, are angled toward the driver, which Chevy says is a callback to the interior shapes command position of the C/K Series trucks in the 1970s and 1980s. A spot to wirelessly charge a smartphone is beneath the touchscreen.

“It’s a more open-feeling and contemporary interior that passengers will find inviting,” said Phil Zak, executive director of Global Chevrolet Design in a press release. “It’s an environment that intentionally puts more at the driver’s fingertips, for a greater feeling of confidence and connection with the vehicle.”

As with the Sierra, the Silverado is swathed in leather and open pore wood. It now has 10 cupholders depending on the model and new physical knobs for easy volume and climate control.

These HD trucks come with many of the safety technology options luxury buyers are used in their personal models including front pedestrian braking, lane departure warning and forward collision alert along with blind spot indicators and adaptive cruise control. GM’s Chevrolet brand also offers a surround view monitor and a Bed View camera to make checking payloads and parking easier.

2023 Ram HD

The Ram 3500 HD was heavily updated for 2023, though it kept its six-cylinder diesel under the hood. The strongest Rams can tow up to 37,090 pounds with 1,075 lb-ft of torque. It also has a payload rating of 7,680 pounds.

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Like GMC with its off-road focused AT4X trim, Ram introduced its Rebel trim at the State Fair of Texas in September. The Rebel adds a unique exterior design, off-road tires, an electronic rear locker and rear limited-slip differential, skid plates and an optional 12,000-pound WARN winch.

Buyers are offered the option of a 12-inch infotainment touch screen, a 17-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo system and a surround view camera. The Ram HD offers leather and wood like the other trucks, but also steel accents on the interior. Contrasting piping adds character to the seats. A new 12-inch frameless digital gauge cluster with nearly two dozen different menus that can be saved to a profile.

The Ram HD is quieter than its predecessor too with active noise cancellation system and acoustic glass that reduce ambient cabin sounds by nearly 10 decibels. The new climate control system features more air flow at lower noise levels while new heating elements help speed cabin warmup on cold days in diesel models.

Tomorrow’s Heavy Duty Trucks

Today’s new models feature luxury appointments, especially at top trim levels. Tomorrow’s heavy-duty trucks will be more connected than ever before, making use of 5G technology to integrate their work lives into more specialized fleet management, optimizing productivity, increasing up time, and allowing businesses to see the pain points that are needlessly costing them time and money. As the saying goes, “time is a luxury”.

Ford already has a leg up on the competition with its Ford Pro connected vehicle ecosystem, a product that is already available to customers, no matter the make and model of their fleet vehicle.

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