Comfort, convenience, and connectivity underpin the design themes of the completely revamped interiors on General Motors' 2014 full-size pickup trucks, which were unveiled to the media on Dec. 13 in Pontiac, MI.
The Chevrolet Silverado’s and GMC Sierra’s new Lear-supplied seats include the first GM truck application of front heated cloth seats. On crew and extended cab models, the 60/40 rear seat gains sculpture.
“Unlike the flat rear seat of the past, the seatback angle on our new trucks is slightly reclined. And, there is topography to the seatback and seatbottom so it has a higher bolster and a softer center because of dual-density foam,” Chris Hilts, Creative Design Manager for GM’s Full-size Truck Interiors, said in an interview with AEI.
Although the crew cab and extended cabs are the same size as GM’s current full-size light-duty trucks, the interior’s redesign resulted in more occupant space in the rear. “A prime example of that is the approximately two inches of additional rear legroom,” Hilts said. While interior specifications for the 2014 trucks will be released at a later date, the 2013 trucks provide 34.3 in (871 mm) of rear legroom in the extended cab.
The interior makeover also netted more storage space in the instrument panel, door panels, and elsewhere. At approximately 35 L (1.24 ft3) of storage volume, the center floor console is the biggest ever on a GM pickup truck. “It’s large enough to stow a laptop. It can accommodate hanging file folders. And, it has reconfigurable cupholders and dedicated placements for mobile devices,” said Hilts.
When the vehicle is not fitted with a center floor console, the center seat of the 40/20/40 front seat includes a lockable storage unit within the seat itself.
With access to three auxiliary power outlets, three USB outlets, and a 110-V outlet, the center floor console is a power outlet mecca.
“We know that people will plug in a device, but usually leave the cord in the vehicle. To hide those cords, we created trenches in different locations, including a trench on the side of the floor console that runs from the armrest to the instrument panel,” said Hilts. “We think truck owners are a bit like minivan owners in that functionality is a primary want.”
The new IP spotlights functional groupings. For instance, the chassis control pod—located to the left of the steering wheel—includes knobs for headlamps, 4WD, and trailer brake. “On today’s Silverado and Sierra, the 4WD knob is down low on the IP, so it’s really a blind reach. Now, the 4WD control is in its own chassis pod as are other in-vehicle controls,” said Hilts.
A new 8-in, high-resolution touchscreen is the interface point for navigation, audio/media, cell phone connectivity, as well as for graphical communications with OnStar services.
According to Micah Jones, Silverado and Sierra interior design lead, the touchscreen is “really the most important piece of [HMI] equipment on the vehicle. You have to be able to look at it, touch it, and read it. We made it a point to place that screen very high in the dash, so it’s a short eye-distance from the road, making it safer and easier to use.”
The upper dashboard-positioned touchscreen is also one of three ways to interact with in-vehicle communications, referred to as IntelliLink on GMC-equipped vehicles and MyLink on Chevrolet-equipped vehicles. Jeff Massimilla, Engineering Group Manager for Next-Generation Infotainment Systems at GM, said the next-generation connectivity system features upgraded voice recognition capability for hands-free Bluetooth calls, in-vehicle media selections, and navigation functions.
“We now have natural language voice recognition, which is more conversational-like. You don’t have to give specific commands. You can talk freely, and the system will work to understand what is being said and complete the command,” explained Massimilla, adding that IntelliLink and MyLink in-vehicle connectivity are new features on GM’s full-size pickup trucks.
In addition to making commands via the dashboard touchscreen or by voice recognition, the in-vehicle connectivity system can also be accessed by steering wheel controls for the 4.2-in driver information center in the gauge cluster.
Gesture recognition is also a feature of the next-gen technology. “A user can accomplish various tasks using gestures, such as a swipe across the screen,” said Massimilla, noting that the gestures are the same as what is commonly used on mobile devices.
GM’s 2014 trucks, which will be built in Flint, MI; Fort Wayne, IN; and Silao, Mexico, start production some time in the second quarter of 2013.