Plenty of new Chevys coming in 2014
By Mark Sherry
Mark Sherry photo
Between the longevity of Vogel Chevrolet in Kiel and Kelly Johnson (left) as a salesman for Vogel, Johnson has helped multiple generations of families with their vehicle purchases. Dale Dirks of Howards Grove and granddaughter Corra, 15, stopped in recently and are one such example as Johnson has also sold vehicles to Corra’s father.

For anyone who thought 2013 was an exciting model year for Chevrolet—and it was—they should wait until they see 2014.

Ground-up redesigns of the ever-popular Silverado, Suburban and Tahoe, reintroduction of the Colorado pickup, and—brace yourselves, car lovers—a redesign of the Corvette and the return of the Stingray name highlight the months ahead for Chevrolet.

All of that has “car guys” like Kelly Johnson of Vogel Chevrolet in Kiel even more excited than they were a year ago at this time when they were looking forward to the arrival of the new Impalas and Malibus.

Johnson is always keeping an eye out in the showroom and around the lot, ready to help anyone who might need it in his usual low-pressure, low-key but knowledgeable way. Come this spring, however, those glances out the showroom windows might be to keep an eye out for the arrival of several 2015 models scheduled for early release already in the spring of this year.

New Silverado on the way

One of those early release vehicles will be the all-new heavy duty version of the Silverado pickup truck. Last summer the newly redesigned “regular” version of the Silverado hit the Vogel Chevrolet showroom, and Johnson said the reaction among local buyers has been very positive. He said the riding and driving comfort of the new Silverado has been greatly refined. That continues the trend of a number of years now in which pickup trucks no longer drive like grandpa’s pickup truck did.

In addition to attention to improved ergonomics, Chevrolet has also improved the economics of the new Silverado with the refined 5.3-liter EcoTec 3 engine which is rated to get 23 mpg on the highway.

Meanwhile, Chevrolet’s Suburban is the true granddaddy among any makes or models of vehicles. The large sport utility vehicle is the longest continuous use automobile nameplate in production in the world, starting from 1934 for the 1935 U. S. model year, and has traditionally been one of General Motors’ most profitable vehicles.

The Suburban has obviously gone through a lot of redesigns over the years, and the latest will happen for the 2015 model year. Johnson said that will include a new frame and new body style to provide “fresher lines.”

Tahoe also new for 2015

The same can be said of Suburban’s slightly smaller brother, the Tahoe, which was first introduced in 1995. This will be the fourth generation of redesigns of the Tahoe, and both it and the Suburban will be early releases for 2015 and available on lots such as Vogel Chevrolet already this spring or early summer.

“It’s official, it’s announced,” Johnson said of the once rumored return of Chevrolet’s Colorado pickup truck. Production of the Colorado was halted in 2011 but returns in 2015 “for those that don’t want that big truck,” Johnson said.

But do not misunderstand—while the Colorado’s forefather might have been the somewhat small S-10, the new Colorado will be a truck which can still do plenty of towing and hauling while providing a comfortable and even more economical ride than larger pickups. Expect the Colorado to start appearing on the Vogel Chevrolet lot in September.

What passersby on Park Street in Kiel will want to watch out for will be if and when an all-new Corvette appears on the lot. “Ground up, that is an all-new car,” Johnson said. Given the passion Corvette lovers have had for their vehicles over the decades, a person has to believe that Chevrolet did not take the process of redesigning the Corvette lightly. “They have to do a lot of research,” Johnson said.

The generation which had one of the first Corvettes in the 1950s or 1960s, however, is now making way for a whole new generation of Corvette lovers. Johnson said, “They’re really targeting those who are not Corvette owners.”

Aggressive but affordable

He described the new Corvette as a very aggressive, high performance vehicle but with a lower price tag than comparable sportscars made by other manufacturers.

The Stingray name also is coming back on the Corvette for the first time since 1976. Johnson said the Stingray will be the “regular” version of the Corvette, but he refused to call it the base model. “There’s nothing base about it,” he said.

Meanwhile, 2014 models which already rolled onto Vogel’s lot last year continue to sell well. Johnson said he has had Cadillac and Lincoln owners switching to the roomier (and less expensive) Impala, which like the Malibu was redesigned for 2014.

Then there is the crossover Equinox, which did not change last year, will not change this year, but which continues to sell well among all age groups, Johnson said.

In addition to busy months ahead on the sales lot, the service and body shop departments at Vogel Chevrolet no doubt will remain busy as always. That is because both service all makes and models of vehicles and offer an experienced staff equipped with the latest equipment to make broken, battered vehicles like new again. It is now common to see Vogel Chevrolet service technicians hooking up vehicles to laptop computers to diagnose problems.

Like most businesses, change has been a constant at Vogel Chevrolet since it was started in 1927 in St. Nazianz, moved to Kiel in 1967, then moved into a new facility in Kiel in 1969.

Johnson has been with Vogel Chevrolet since August 1987 and is selling new and quality used vehicles to his third generation of customers, like the Howards Grove grandfather and granddaughter who stopped in recently.

“When you’ve dealt with a place so long and our turnover of employees is so low, they know your name when you walk in,” Johnson said. He added that “you have to make it right” when the customers you serve are your friends and neighbors.

Vogel Chevrolet has been making it right for a lot of years, and Johnson said new car shoppers will feel the same way about Chevrolet as they see the 2014 and 2015 models on the lot.