Aerodynamics made 2014 GMC Sierra more fuel efficient

Article by Anita Panait, on May 17, 2013

Aerodynamics played a big role in bringing in design changes to the all-new 2014 GMC Sierra full-size pickup truck, making it more fuel efficient and giving it a more silent cabin. It turned out that the 2014 Sierra had more development time in a wind tunnel than any GMC pickup before it. Aerodynamic engineers like Diane Bloch examined every square inch of the Sierra to spot areas that needs to be improved while demystifying some myths along the way.

They used General Motors’ advanced Aerodynamics Lab, a 750-foot-long tunnel in which flow winds of up to 138 mph as produced by 43-foot-diameter fan powered by a 4,500-hp DC electric motor. The Lab allowed engineers to study the way air passes over, under and around the 2014 Sierra. Advancement in aerodynamics will allow the 2014 Sierra to become the most fuel-efficient V-8 pickup.

For instance, a new air dam below the front bumper reduces drag by directing air toward the ground, away from the 2014 Sierra’s underbody. The ducted flow path between the Sierra’s grille and radiator prevents air from moving around inside the truck’s front cavities.

The top of the truck’s tailgate and the center high-mounted stop light are also optimized to guide air smoothly around the truck. During tests, engineers detected unwanted airflow between the cab and bed, and they resolved this issue by adding a new sealing.

Bloch remarked that they discovered that the most “harmful air” between the cab and bed came over the cab and down through the gap, making them pay more to this specific area. According to Block, aftermarket accessories for pickups have varying impact on aerodynamics. She said that accessories like bug deflectors on the hood, wider tires or aftermarket bumpers can increase the drag coefficient.

GMC’s new Sierra 1500 full-size pickup can be considered the most sophisticated, most refined, and most potent truck in the automaker’s 110-year history. The 2014 GMC Sierra boasts a bold new exterior, which houses one of the vehicle’s three new EcoTec3 engines, an updated cabin that features next-generation IntelliLink connectivity, as well as other elements that have been designed especially for discerning truck owners.

According to Tony DiSalle, GMC Marketing’s vice president, when the latest Sierra pickup was being developed, the company’s engineers and designers did not leave anything on the table. The truck possesses all the power and all the capability one could possibly expect, as well as excellent fuel efficiency and even unexpected yet purposeful features that have been developed to satisfy truck owners.

Aside from new technologies and an all-new design, the 2014 Sierra has a long list of standard features – in fact the longest ever for a full-size pickup from GMC. The premium features that can be found in each new Sierra include connectivity solutions, standard projector beam headlamps, and standard tie-down system at the rear.

For 2014, the GMC Sierra's engine portfolio has been updated for increased power, fuel efficiency, and torque across the board. The Sierra offers the 4.3L V-6, a 6.2L V-8, and a 5.3L V-8, all from the EcoTec3 engine family. All the engines feature continuously variable valve timing, standard direct injection, and Active Fuel Management. This means that these engines switch to run on 4 cylinders seamlessly during light-load driving in order to save fuel.

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