Chevy And GMC Offer 1/2-Ton Crew Cab Pickups In 2004
GM is finally offering 1/2-ton Crew Cabs for Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras. These new models combine the driver- and passenger-friendly features of light-duty trucks with the roomiest cab on a wheelbase length that gives owners more maneuverability as well as the potential to fit the vehicles in a garage. The '04 Silverado and Sierra Crew Cab's 5-foot 8-inch pickup beds allow the shorter wheelbase.

All have a standard Z85 handling and trailering package, and their performance, trailering, and hauling capabilities seem to be very competitive. The new models come with the potent Vortec 5300 V-8, with 285 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, backed by the Hydra-Matic 4L60-E four-speed automatic transmission as the standard powertrain. GVWRs are 6,800 pounds for 2WD and 7,000 pounds for 4WD, and the base payloads are rated at 1,934 pounds for 2WD and 1,825 pounds for 4WD. Trailer ratings as heavy as 8,500 pounds for 4WD models and 7,800 pounds for the 2WD models are available. The 1500 Series Crew Cabs are available as Silverado Fleetside LS and LT and Sierra Wideside SLE and SLT models. All come with a choice of two- or four-wheel-drive configurations.

Night Vision For The Masses ... Well, At Least The Upper Middle Class Masses
Civilian Hummer H1 owners can now buy a night vision system very close to the system used on military Humvees.

Raytheon Commercial Infared offers a $5,000 system, dubbed Nightdriver, that some Hummer dealerships offer as a dealer-installed option. General Motors already uses a Raytheon night vision system in the Cadillac DeVille. That unit sells for $2,750, so presumably it's not quite as effective as the one offered for the H1, and certainly not as good as the military-spec unit. You'll have to check French, Russian, or German sources for a gray market military-spec thermal imaging system.

GM Recalls
'97 Blazer, Jimmy, And Bravada Suvs To
Replace Seatbelt Buckle Assembly

General Motors says it is recalling about 341,000 '97 Chevrolet Blazer, GMC Jimmy, and Oldsmobile Bravada midsize SUVs in order to replace a driver seatbelt buckle assembly with a new buckle assembly. GM will notify owners of the affected vehicles beginning in July. Owners will be instructed to bring their vehicles to their Chevrolet, GMC, and Oldsmobile dealers to retrofit a new seatbelt buckle assembly that does not contain an energy-absorbing loop. GM says the repairs will be made at no cost to the owner.

The driver-side seatbelt design used in the '97 midsize SUVs used an energy-absorbing system that relied on stitching and belt webbing that extends in response to a frontal impact. This energy-absorbing feature enabled the occupant restraint system for the driver to meet or exceed GM and federal head injury criteria (HIC) values measured in lab testing.

GM is recalling these vehicles because there may be reduced driver restraint if the energy-absorbing loop fully deploys during severe rollover conditions. Rollovers comprise a small percentage of the total crash events that occur in the field; however, GM says it is taking this action in the interest of safety of their customers. Overall, the driver's seatbelt is a safe belt and helps provide protection in many types of crash events. Additionally, says the statement from GM, "energy absorbing loops are widely used in the industry and help provide effective restraint."

GM claims the Blazer, Jimmy, and Bravada models can meet GM and federal government standards with new seatbelt buckle assembly that does not contain an energy-absorbing loop. For more information, log on to www.gm.com.

General Motors Relaunches Goodwrench.com
GM Goodwrench has relaunched its goodwrench.com Web site. The consumer-focused site is designed to enhance the GM vehicle ownership experience by enabling customers to learn about GM's offerings and provide access to the expert on GM products, Mr. Goodwrench. Goodwrench.com integrates the entire GM business-parts, service, and more than 7,000 dealers-in one easy-to-use Web site.

The site features the GM Owner's Center, which ties the branding image of GM into an interactive center of GM vehicle maintenance information. The Owner's Center offers useful organizational tools such as maintenance reminders and service tracking, recall and safety information, and the option for consumers to purchase service and owner's manuals online. Additionally, customers can sign up for a quarterly newsletter.

The site also offers tips and advice, a dealer finder with maps and service menus, as well as coupons and special offers. For more information, visit the GM Goodwrench Web site at goodwrench.com.