The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Chevrolet Sweeps 2008 Fleet Car & Truck of the Year

December 2007, by Cindy Brauer & Lauren Colin

This year’s award also marks a “threepeat” honor for the Impala. Previous winners in the car category were the Chrysler 300 and the Chevrolet Malibu. The Silverado has alternated with the Ford F-150 for the Truck of the Year award.

Qualified fleet buyers voted on 64 2008 model-year domestic and import-badged cars and 37 light-duty trucks, including pickups, vans, and SUVs. Votes were cast on

Impala ‘A Good Fit’ for Fleets
“What I like most about this award is that it is pure — only fleet managers can vote, and you can’t ‘stuff the ballot box,’ ” said Brian McVeigh, general manager for GM Fleet & Commercial Operations.

“The fact that the people who actually make the vehicle purchase decisions for their companies picked the Impala Car of the Year three years in a row is the best customer endorsement you could hope for,” McVeigh added.

The Chevrolet Impala is particularly popular among fleets with in-field service and sales applications. Deborah Melton’s fleet experience with the Impala is typical.

“The Impala is a good buy for the price,” said Melton, corporate fleet administrator for Family Dollar Stores, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.

“It’s a good fit for our fleet. The Impala can accommodate five people comfortably. It’s a good serviceable vehicle for us,” Melton explained. The company operates a multi-state chain of 6,300 low and middle income retail stores.

Two Impala Engines Now E-85 Capable
For 2008, the mid-size Impala offers new features and revisions, including increased flex-fuel engine availability and safety protection, according to the automaker. The sedan is offered in four versions — LS, LT, LTZ, and SS.

Chevrolet is expanding Impala’s array of fuel-efficient engines. The 3.5L V-6 engine, is standard on the LS and LT with E-85 flex-fuel capability, allowing the vehicle to run on any combination of gasoline and/or E-85.

New in 2008, the 3.9L V-6, standard on the LTZ and optional with the LT, is now also E-85-compatible. This powertrain is already equipped with the Active Fuel Management system, GM’s cylinder- deactivation technology.

“The Impala offers a great range of models that answer the needs of those looking for efficient, flexible engines — and with the 3.9L engine, they can now choose a flex-fuel vehicle that also provides the gasoline-saving benefits of Active Fuel Management,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager.

The 3.5L V-6 offers 211 horsepower and 214 lb.-ft. of torque, “more standard power as a base engine than some key competitors’ top offering,” according to GM. The 3.9L produces 233 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. of torque.

All Impala engines are matched with the Hydra-Matic 4T65 electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission.

GM notes the Impala’s quiet and smooth ride and handling, produced through a robust front-end structure that helps reduce noise, vibration, and harshness while enhancing steering and handling performance.

Safety Enhanced with Standard StabiliTrak Feature
The Impala’s safety and crash avoidance features have been enhanced in 2008 with the addition of the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system as standard on the 2LT package and the LTZ and SS models. Side-curtain airbags are also standard, as is a tire pressure monitoring system.

Standard on LTZ and SS models and available with the LS and LT, the ABS system helps improve steering control while braking. The system includes electronic brake force distribution, which “helps provide optimum braking regardless of load, traction, or braking speed,” according to GM. Also available is a traction control system that works with ABS to help ensure stable acceleration on varying road conditions.

Drivers can now use a second function of the standard remote keyless entry system button to locate their cars without sounding the panic alarm.

In addition to lighter, more rigid front and rear bumper systems, the Impala also features a strengthened “safety cage” passenger compartment. Front and rear doors are designed to improve energy dissipation during a crash.

Interior Offers Room, Style, and Comfort
The Impala’s roomy trunk space (18.6 cubic ft. cargo room) can be extended with the generous-sized pass through, created by flipping the back seat bottoms forward and the seat backs flat, an exclusive feature in the mid-size segment, according to GM.

The flip-and-fold rear seats are standard on the LTZ and SS, available on the LT. Additional cargo space can be found by flipping forward the rear seat cushions to reach the covered storage tubs under the rear seats.

Among the Impala’s comfort and convenience features are:

  • Firmer seat cushions and increased lumbar support, with adjustable lumbar for the driver.
  • Available dual-zone climate control system.
  • Available factory-installed remote vehicle start system and automatic climate preconditioning to warm or cool the vehicle before entry.
  • Expanded driver information center with more than 50 alerts possible.
  • Eight-way, heated power driver seat standard on the LTZ and SS; six-way power driver seat standard on LS and LT.
  • XM satellite radio standard on all models.

    The OnStar system is standard on the Impala, offering upgraded hands-free voice recognition capabilities. OnStar services available on the 2008 Impala include GM’s advanced automatic crash notification, providing crash data to 911 centers to facilitate necessary emergency response.

    The 7.0 Generation OnStar system also offers Turn-by-Turn navigation, stolen vehicle location assistance, vehicle diagnostics, and maintenance alerts.

    2008 Silverado Captures Auto Industry Triple Crown
    “We’re really excited that the Silverado won the triple crown of the auto industry: Motor Trend Truck of Year, the North American Truck of the Year, and now, the Fleet Truck of the Year,” said Rob Minton, communications manager for GM Fleet & Commercial Operations.

    “It’s especially gratifying to receive the fleet truck award; the Silverado was really built and designed with the business and commercial customer in mind. We’re pleased the Silverado was recognized by the people who really put it to work,” Minton added.

    A dependable commercial workhorse pickup, 2008 Chevrolet Silverado is not only the strongest pickup ever offered by Chevrolet, but also delivers segment-topping fuel economy, according to GM.

    Used in fleets across the country, the Silverado has become the truck of choice by many. “We began using the Chevrolet Silverado in 2002,” said Christy Coyte, global fleet manager for Johnson Controls, Inc., headquartered in Plymouth, Mich. “We now have approximately 1,720 Silverados used for hauling materials and equipment. We selected this vehicle because it met payload requirements and was the most overall cost-effective solution.”

    Features Make Silverado Powerful and Dependable
    Minton pointed out features that “make the Silverado a real work truck,” which include the cargo management systems, fold-up rear seats that allow the operator to carry a large toolbox in the cab, the dual glove box, and oversized console. “These are features commercial customers told us they need,” said Minton.

    Three cab styles are available — Regular, Extended, and Crew Cab — as well as three cargo box lengths — 5 ft.-8 in. (short), 6 ft.-6 in. (standard), and 8 ft. (long). The pickup is available in four trim levels: WT, LS (Crew Cab only), LT, and LTZ; and is available in 2WD and 4WD.

    The Silverado lineup is built on an all-new platform introduced in 2006 as a 2007 model. According to GM, it provides a smoother ride and confident handling while delivering segment-leading capability and power. A lineup of smallblock V-8 engines complements the stronger chassis to deliver towing capacity of 10,500 lbs., 367 hp, with a maximum payload capacity of 2,160 lbs.

    A newly integrated trailer brake controller is available on extended Cab and Crew Cab models. Previously, this feature was only available on heavy-duty models; however, it is now integrated with the ABS system and provides immediate and measured brake force signaling to the electric-controlled trailer brake system.

    Silverado models are offered with a range of 17-, 18-, and 20-inch wheels. Eighteen-inch wheels are optional with the Z71 package. Twenty-inch wheels are available on LT and LTZ models.

    Strengthened Frame and Body Provides 360-Degree Safety
    Silverado delivers 360 degrees of safety protection through a stronger frame and body structure. The 2008 Silverado 1500 Series is the only full-size pickup to earn the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s highest side-impact crash rating of five stars. The Silverado also received a five-star rating in frontal crash tests.

    Features include StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollovermitigation technology and roofmounted rollover-capable head curtain side airbags integrated into strengthened chassis and body structures to provide greater passenger protection that activates during a rear-end crash. The rollover- capable head curtain side airbags are available on LT and LTZ models.

    Additional safety features offered on Silverado include factory-installed remote vehicle starting (a segment exclusive), Autotrac active transfer case to help keep the vehicle sure-footed in slippery driving situations, ultrasonic rear parking assist, and a revised, easier-to-use tire pressure monitoring system.

    General Motors Truck History
    Founded in September 1908 as a holding company for Buick, General Motors introduced its first pickup truck in 1930. The designation “Silverado” was used to identify the higher-level trim for the Chevrolet C/K pickup trucks from 1975 through 1999. In 1999, both GMC and Chevrolet dropped the C and K designations, and the Chevrolet Silverado was born.

    GM Fleet & Commercial Operations General Manager Brian McVeigh poses with a 1925 GMC Cab and Chassis upfitted with fuel delivery equipment displayed in the lobby of the automaker’s Detroit headquarters.

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