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'Silverado High Country' Gets Chevy Into Luxury Pickup Race

Monday, 6 May 2013 | 11:00 AM ET
Treasury to Begin Selling Final GM Stake
Monday, 6 May 2013 | 1:55 PM ET
The Treasury will begin selling the remaining $241.7 million stake it has in the automaker, reports CNBC's Phil LeBeau.

After years of ignoring the luxury pick-up market, the folks running Chevrolet have had a change of heart. The company is extending its pick-up lineup with the new Silverado High Country.

The luxury truck hits showrooms this fall and in my opinion, it is long overdue.

The luxury market is a relatively small niche within the pick-up market, but for years Chevy ignored it.

For GM, the GMC Sierra Denali was the company's competitor in the upscale pick-up market—and while it's a fine truck you have to wonder why Chevy never came out with a high-end model of its own. Now, that is finally changing.

(Read More: Pick-Up Truck Sales are Surging)

A 2014 Chevy Silverado at the 105th Annual Chicago Auto Show.
Raymond Boyd | Michael Ochs Archive| Getty Images
A 2014 Chevy Silverado at the 105th Annual Chicago Auto Show.

So what stands out about the Silverado High Country?

In a word: chrome. There is lots of it to dress up the truck.

  • Unique chrome grill with horizontal chrome bars
  • Unique 20 inch chrome wheels
  • Chrome body side moldings, door handles and mirrors
  • Chrome rear bumper with CornerStep

You get the idea, this is a truck that makes a statement. It also will feature plenty of creature comforts like heated and cooled leather bucket seats, an 8-inch touch screen and Bose premium audio system.

In a statement announcing the new truck, Maria Rohrer, Silverado marketing director said, "High Country will be the top model in the Silverado lineup, with a higher level of premium features and materials with a rich, Western themed appearance,"

Playing catch-up with Ford's Upscale F-150's

For Chevy, the Silverado High Country will face an uphill climb convincing luxury truck buyers to go with its new model instead of the upscale pick-ups from Ford.

(Read More: Ford Putting the Pedal to the Medal)

Ford has a number of upscale F-series trucks including the King Ranch, The Lariat, the Platinum and the Limited. Combined, they generate about a quarter of all F-Series trucks sold last year. That's roughly 180,000 high-end pick-ups that start at $45,000 and run up $60,000.

In short, they are extremely lucrative and one reason why the average transaction price for Ford pick-ups is about $5,000 higher than GM pick-ups. Dodge and Toyota also have high-end pick-ups already on the market.

(Read More: GM Turns the Corner With Investors)

Chevy hasn't said yet what the list price will be for the new Silverado High Country, but you can bet it will likely start around $40,000. If you live in anywhere other than the east and west coast, you know there are plenty of people looking for a luxury truck that makes a statement, especially in Texas.

The Lone Star state is the country's largest market for pick-ups and for many people there, life's not complete without a high-end truck. It also helps Chevy that its introducing the Silverado High Country at a time when pick-up sales are surging. They are up 21 percent this year, while the auto market as a whole is up 6.9 percent according to the research firm AutoData.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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