The Chevrolet Kodiak along with GMC TopKick and Isuzu H-Series is basically a range of medium-duty trucks manufactured by General Motors. It was first launched in 1980 and remained in production until 2009, when General Motors officially discontinued its production.
These trucks were widely used as work trucks, cargo haulers, dump trucks and for other similar tasks where medium-duty torque, GVWR, towing capacity was needed. Apart from this, these were also converted into pickup trucks and commercial trucks for consumers by aftermarket coachbuilders.
First Generation (1981–1989)
In 1980, the first generation Kodiak and TopKick was launched as a high end version of GM’s current medium-duty C-Series trucks. The Kodiak pursued the pattern of ‘frontier beast’ names used for heavy duty trucks like Chevrolet Bison and Chevrolet Bruin, whereas the ‘TopKick’ was derived from military slang and attached to the GMC’s heavy duty trucks named after General and Brigadier. Prior to the introduction of first generation models, the models produced between 1973 and 1989, C50 and C80s came with single round headlight and an emblem positioned on the grille. The first generation models, however, featured a full-width grille with quad square headlights horizontally positioned in chrome bezels.
Second Generation (1990–2002)
The second generation model was launched in 1990 and remained in production until 2002. The Kodiak and TopKick monikers were given to all GM medium-duty traditional trucks before they were discontinued in 1995. These models continued to be sold in US market until 2002 after which they were discontinued here, but remained in Mexican market where these were assembled at GM’s Toluca plant during 2008.
Third Generation (2003–2009)
The third generation models were launched in 2003 with a new more spacious platform based on the GM full-sized vans. The 4500 and 5500 truck versions were available with all-wheel drive configuration. Also, solid front axles on both 4×2 and 4×4 were offered rather than an independent front suspension found on the 3500 series. The models featured a drivetrain based on a Duramax V8 engine, an Allison 1000 transmission and a Dana S 110 rear axle. A New Process 273C Transfer case and a Dana 70 front axle were introduced in 4×4 models later.
An announcement had been made in December 2007 according to which the General Motors showed its intentions of selling their medium-duty truck business including Kodiak and TopKick to Navistar International. However, a joint statement from both General Motors and Navistar aired in August 2008 suggesting that the memorandum of understanding for the purchase had expired and won’t be renewed. General Motors worked for about four years with potential buyers involving an expected five-year deal with Isuzu Motors declared January 2009 to take control of the production line in Flint, Michigan, eventually General Motors opted to slow down the production of its medium-duty trucks. On July 31, 2009, General Motors discontinued the production of Chevy Kodiak and GMC TopKick medium-duty trucks in Flint plant.