For the moment, imagine you own a landscaping business and from job to job you tow a 20-foot trailer loaded with gear. Say, 9,200 pounds or 4,173 kg worth of mowers, digging tools, weed whackers, leaf blowers and the like.
Typically, you do big, big jobs. You need a tow rig with room for four beefy landscapers, which means a crew cab is a must. The crew is mostly millennials, which, of course, means they need built-in wi-fi with 4G LTE data.
Your crew also demands both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility (because some run with the iPhone, others with Androids). Texting, Tik Tok, Instagram…
And you need good sound. At least a Bose seven-speaker audio system with Richbass woofer.
Fuel economy and grunt? This is a work truck and it’s going to do a lot of towing and hauling. Fuel costs are a worrisome expense, too.
That all calls for a diesel engine, maybe a Duramax inline six-cylinder turbodiesel engine (277 hp/460 lb-ft of trailer-pulling grunt). GMC sells one for its 2020 Sierra 1500 crew. It’s a $4,830 hit, on top of the $52,298 tag for the 4WD (four-wheel drive) Elevation model. It’s a beautiful ride, with all the above luxury features. Your crew is spoiled.
On the work side of things, the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) comes in at 7,200 lbs or 3,266 kg, so the pickup weighs less than a loaded trailer. A well-engineered chassis and excellent suspension design/tuning are essential. That loaded trailer often weighs more than the truck; slopping engineering could mean the back end is steering the front end of this two-part rig.
In the end, you choose to add on the ProGrade Trailering system ($625) to get the special app and trailer brake controller.
Let’s cut to the chase: this very nice GMC Sierra Elevation lands at $68,023; that’ quite a hit to your little company’s budget. It’s all good, except for the 8.0-inch touchscreen. Really? It looks like a kiddy toy in a cabin the size of your living room.
The lack of standard running boards is an issue, too. Without them, that short-stuff landscaper with the big biceps on your crew must take a running leap to climb up and into the cab.
And it seems a bit much to spend $3,370 on those very comfy front bucket seats and the locking differential. But what can you do? Why you ticked the box for a $1,325 sunroof remains a mystery. A sunroof in a work truck?
The thing is, rigs like this are not the exclusive domain of landscapers, ranchers, trades workers and other shall we say “traditional” pickup buyers. In recent years, fancy pickups have morphed into luxury vehicles for thousands and thousands of Canadians each year.
I mean, over the three years leading up to the March pandemic lockdown, Canadians had bought more than 1.1 million full-size pickups. There are about 1 million trades workers and the like in this country, and we can be certain that they all did NOT buy a new rig between 2017 and 2020. Regular ol’ folks, then, have taken to commuting in a battleship on wheels.
But by god, out in the country or the widest of wide-open suburbs, I can see the appeal. My Sierra Elevation tester was quiet, comfortable and a little awe-inspiring. That miniature touchscreen looked almost silly, though. I mean, it was tiny compared to what we’re seeing in the Tesla, Volvo and Chevy Bolts of the EV and plug-in world. General Motors will someday address this oversight, we hope.
The obvious question is, why the GMC Elevation over, say, a Ford F-Series or a Ram or a Chevrolet Silverado? The answer is: depends on your band loyalty or your personal taste.
The Ram and the F-Series, by the way, have most recently received the most comprehensive updates in the segment. They are both more gadgety now. But honestly, the basics across all these rigs are quite comparable.