DETROIT -- General Motors is considering an off-road model for the redesigned large SUVs it unveiled this month, GM's top truck engineer said.
GM for years has sold a Z71 off-road package for the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, with stronger shocks, bigger wheels and special styling cues such as larger wheel flares and badging. But they haven't been big sellers, said Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer for GM trucks.
"We are looking at, for this generation, a more off-road variant," Luke said during a media preview last month to introduce the SUVs, the first redesign for the body-on-frame trucks in eight years.
Luke said off-road capability is one reason buyers gravitate to big SUVs instead of unibody crossovers, which largely have replaced body-on-frame architectures.
Owners "just love off-roading with these vehicles," Luke said. "They look at this vehicle as more off-road capable" than crossovers, he said.
In general, Luke said GM will introduce more enhancements to the next generation of SUVs, which will go on sale by March for the 2015 model year. The outgoing SUVs have gone without major modifications or powertrain advancements since their debut in early 2006.
"In the life cycle of this product we're going to continually upgrade and add technologies, including in the powertrain area," Luke said. Asked about the possibility of an eight-speed transmission, he said simply: "Stay tuned."