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The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado: Five New Things Worth the Wait!

IMG_1028 We’ve been awaiting the first drive of the all-new 2014 Chevy Silverado and just found it was worth the wait! Climbing into the saddle of GM’s updated light-duty trucks at the Knibbe Ranch in Spring Branch, Texas, we discovered a lot of things we liked-here are five you’re sure to, as well! Renovated from the ground-up, the 2014 Chevy Silverado gets a boldly-refreshed exterior with “fist-in-the-wind” styling; a redesigned interior with upgraded materials, more elbow and foot room, and new infotainment/navigation features; new and upgraded powertrains that give you more command at the wheel, improve fuel economy and have better towing and hauling capability; a posse of new technologies that aid in on-road and off-road driving; and a collection of new safety features.

The iconic truck competes with Ford, Ram, Toyota and Nissan. On sale now, it is price starting from $24,585 including destination charges. Double-cab versions will retail for $28,610, while the crew-cab model will start at $32,710.

GM says its latest trucks are new “from hood to hitch” and are the “best-driving in the industry”; they have been designed to be used not only from “9-5 and from 5-9—but, also 24-7”. Of note, four-door crew cab models have grown from zero percent in 2001 to 59 percent of the growing pickup truck market.

What is it? What’s new?

The 2014 all-new Silverado 1500 is a light-duty personal pickup that is available in several configurations. It comes in two-or four-wheel drive, with regular, double cab (this new name replaces the “extended cab” moniker) and crew cab versions. You can order one of three pick-up box sizes (5.8-, 6.6- or 8-foot beds); and choose between several trim levels. Three drivetrains are available, including a 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and 6.2-liter V8. There are no hybrid versions at the present. New updated versions of other stablemates in GM’s truck portfolio-the compact Colorado, and the heavy-duty Silverado HD will follow.

IMG_1033Chevy also unveiled a new special edition “High Country”. The first “premium” truck in the Silverado lineup, High Country gets unique “western-inspired”, glam detailing on the outside as well as in the cabin that is appointed with saddle leather, heated and cooled seats and a variety of amenities, like a Bose sound system.

Outside

The 2104 Silverado looks more boxy, angular and aggressive than ever. The more steeply-raked windshield serves a dual purpose; it brings improved fuel economy and reduces wind noise. The new truck is also larger- nearly the height of GM’s current heavy-duty models. A twin-port grille, full-width bumper and dual power dome hood are capped by stacked, rounded headlamps that seem small relative to the overall proportions of the front end. Integrated roof and tailgate spoilers, along with recessed sides and inlaid or recessed doors with triple seals, combine to improve exterior airflow and reduce noise in the cabin; GM says the new truck is the quietest in the segment.

IMG_1030Exterior changes and innovations of note include the front-hinged rear doors on extended cab models that make it easier for rear passengers to get in and out. A corner step on the rear bumper is a great way to solve the problem of having to reach over the lift gate to grab something in the bed, or simply climb in over the gate; the steps pair with grips on the side of the bed. The rear lift gate has been redesigned and is easy-to-lift and drop-down. Tie-downs are available as are thoughtful rail-mounted LED lights and a power lift gate. Regular cabs come with the 8-foot or 6.6-foot box; double cabs are equipped with 6.6-foot box; crew cabs come with 5.8-foot boxes but can, for the first time, be ordered with the 6.6-foot box. Standard wheels on entry-level models are 17 inches, but they can be ordered in sizes up to 22 inches, which come standard on the Z71 4WD trim; this model also gets underbody shields to protect vulnerable parts.

The use of high-strength steel and aluminum accents make Chevy’s pickups stronger on the outside and quieter on the inside. Stiffer cab-to-frame mounts smooth out the ride. GM says its new lineup gets higher marks on safety tests because of the new cab structure, too.

Inside

The Silverado cabins are larger and have been thoroughly renovated, created to give a more comfortable, stylish ride and beset with higher-quality materials. An upright instrument panel and center stack with 4.2-inch information screen, with big knobs and controls, are easy to see, reach and manipulate– even with work gloves on. Standard upholstery is a high-wear, easy-clean cloth. Heated seats are optional with cloth, and come standard with upgraded leather trim.

IMG_1041Chevy has added the MyLink infotainment/telematics/voice recognition system. Silverado also retains the traditional column shifter, with tap-up/tap-down and tow-haul functions integrated into the lever, which we found easy-to-use and economical in terms of cockpit real estate. Similarly, the available integrated trailer brake control is mounted high and to the left of the steering wheel, where you can more naturally reach for it. Available power points include a 110-volt socket, up to five USB ports for multiple devices, an SD card insert and four 12-volt power outlets.

Under the hood

The new Silverado comes with a choice of three motors: a 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 or a 6.2-liter V8, which will be available in the fall. The all-new V6 that gets 285 hp. and 305 lb.-ft. of torque; it was purpose-built for the 1500 series of pickups, rather than being adapted from a passenger vehicle already in the GM stable. The beauty of this engine is that it shuts down to 4-cylinder operation when driven at moderate speeds, with a light tip-in on the throttle and when not under heavy load. While fuel economy figures are not EPA-certified, Chevy says it will be the best-in-class. When we drove the V6, we were able to achieve 19-23 mpg on average, even with some spirited motoring. We also drove the 5.3-liter V8 that gets 355 hp. and 383 lb.-ft. of torque and is rated at 16/21 mpg. All three motors are matched to a six-speed transmission with Auto Grade Braking to reduce brake wear on downgrades. The engines share GM’s EcoTec3 technology, which allows each of them to operate with only four cylinders through cylinder deactivation, in certain conditions, where fuel efficiency can be maximized.

Safety and security
Silverado gets a host of new active alert systems (optional on some models and standard on the premium edition): forward collision alert and lane departure warning, which generates vibrations on the left and/or right side of the driver’s lower seat cushion bolster to signal dangers like approaching another vehicle too quickly, are among them. Also available are front and rear park assist, as well as a rearview camera.

IMG_1041Our Drive
Our the course of our drive day, we tried out a number of Silverado models and were highly impressed with the new trucks that have clearly come ready to battle the competition in the U.S. and in the high-volume Texas truck wars. We drove on highways and two-lane country roads, as well as on the Knibbe Ranch’s dirt roads and rougher, off-road terrain. We also towed trailers and hauled heavy loads to assess its ride and drive in conditions that many buyers will perform.

Silverado’s designers have done a great job with updated and new styling that also keeps a heritage Chevy look and feel. We especially like the upgrades to the modernized cockpit, with great visibility and roominess; updated materials; ample and clever stowage; and GM’s new technologies that bring convenience and add safety.

Our favorite take-aways were the quietness of the cabin and the ease of conversation from the front to the back seats, even when under power. IMG_1031We found plenty of power on tap in the V6 and liked the drive of the smaller V8; we were impressed with the new transmission that delivered shifts on time and torque when needed. Both on the road and over rough terrain, we appreciated the updated suspension and engineering upgrades that make the stiffer truck feel lighter on its feet. The new electric power assist rack and pinion steering is responsive and made even the biggest versions of the truck feel easily maneuverable. We also loved the upgraded brakes (four-wheel discs with ABS and anti-rust rotors are standard, as is traction and stability control) and the smooth and confidence-inspiring pedal feel-something we have found lacking with previous generation trucks. Also of note is Chevy’s hill descent system, a great aid with off-road or other traction-compromised settings, such as driving in snow.

Trim and feature packages
The 2014 Silverado is available in Work Truck, LS, LT and LTZ, as well as a Z71 off-road model. The Z71 includes monotube Rancho shocks, front tow hooks, a transfer case skid plate and unique 18- or 20-inch all-terrain tires. The Z71 package, which is available on LT and LTZ models, also includes Hill Descent Control. Interior badging and sport trim, as well as an automatic locking rear differential, also are part of the Z71 package.

 

 

 

 

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