'Silverado High Country' Gets Chevy Into Luxury Pickup Race
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)
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
Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com
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