Trucks: GM’s heavy hauler

In its goal to create the ultimate heavy-duty pickup truck, General Motors divisions Chevrolet and GMC Truck have teamed up with Monroe Truck Equipment, Monroe, Wisconsin, to create a line of high-torque haulers designed for both hard work and high-profile play. The new trucks use Class 4 and 5 Chevrolet C4500 and C5500 vocational trucks as a base platform. Monroe then adds an 8-foot steel pickup bed with panel lines designed specially to merge with the contours of the Kodiak/TopKick body. The result is a massive truck with impressive pulling power.

High cargo and towing capacities standard
Because of the attention paid to vehicle styling, at first glance the Kodiak/TopKick appears to be a “prestige” truck – designed for the high roller who wants to pull his horse trailer or yacht around town. But both General Motors and Monroe were insistent the trucks be capable of performing in harsh applications such as construction, mining, utility and snowplowing. And the trucks’ base entry price of $42,000 puts them in the same price range as many smaller work trucks on the market today.

Kodiak and Topkick pickups are offered in two-wheel or four-wheel drive versions, with standard or crew cabs. C4500 versions are available with 16,000 to 17,500 pound gross vehicle weight ratings while C5500 models range from 18,000 to 19,500 pounds depending on the axle and cab configurations. GM’s Duramax 6600 V-8 turbodiesel engine is standard, but you can spec an optional Vortec 8100 MD V-8 gas engine if you prefer. Also standard is Allison’s 1000 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, while a ZF S6-650 manual is available for 4-by-2 versions only. The four-wheel drive models feature an 8,000-pound front axle rating and an optional exhaust brake. When equipped with the Duramax diesel, the truck churns out a maximum 605 foot-pounds of torque.

Monroe engineers crafted a specialized subframe to support the 8-foot pickup box. Cargo capacity for the bed is 5,500 pounds and the bed comes standard with a spray-in bedliner. The frame accommodates an interchangeable gooseneck and fifth wheel hitch. An optional “HitchCam” rear video camera mounted directly above the rear receiver relays images to an in-cab, flat-screen monitor to enhance backing and hitching vision. General Motors lists the trucks’ towing capacities as 12,000 pounds with the hitch mount and 15,000 pounds with the fifth wheel/gooseneck hitch.

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A matter of size
Without a doubt, the most obvious feature of TopKick and Kodiak pickup trucks is their massive size. Standing tall 95 inches above the ground, they even tower over the mighty Hummer H2, which checks in at a mere 79-inches tall. But that bulk requires finesse to move around in heavy traffic. So the 4-by-2 pickups feature 53-degree front wheel cuts, which give them a tight 38.4-foot turning radius – tighter than the turning diameter of a 1-ton, dual-cab dualie. Views from the driver’s seat are aided by a sloping front hood design that allows you to spot objects as close as 13.8 feet from the front bumper. Large, extended side mirrors help keep track of trailing traffic.

Inside the cab, the standard GM 3500 vocation interior has been given a rather substantial makeover, including air ride, leather seats (in models with the Ultra Seating package), Pioneer stereo system and DVD player with folding flat screen monitor, aluminum or wood grain dash trim, tilt steering wheel and GM’s GPS navigation system. E