2014 Chevrolet Silverado
The English language is as confusing as it is beautiful.
There are different versions: American English, British English, Australian English. Each is spoken and written with unique quirks and foibles.
The Chevrolet Silverado has become the newest homonym and homograph in the American lexicon. It’s spelled the same, pronounced the same, and in many ways, looks the same, but don’t mistake the outgoing 2013 model for the all-new 2014 pickup. They are as different as nouns and verbs.
The new Silverado is more comfortable, more efficient, and more powerful. So powerful, in fact, it can metaphorically haul that elephant out of the room. (Max towing for the full-size Silverado is 11,500 pounds, depending upon its configuration.)
Yes, the new Silverado looks a lot like the old Silverado. Oh, there were changes. The stacked headlamps are fancier (projector beam headlights are available), the grille is meatier, and the double domed hood is made of aluminum. There are also other exterior changes such as a body-color rear bumper and the ingenious step tucked into each corner of the bumper that allows you to easily step into the bed.
But while there was no extreme makeover for the Silverado to debut on the stage as the crowd screams in delight, there’s plenty to get excited about. First are the trio of new aluminum-block EcoTech3 engines, including a 4.3-liter V-6 and two V-8s, the next iteration of the small-block 5.3-liter V-8 and the 6.2-liter V-8. During my day of driving crew cab Silverados, I tested the V-6 and 5.3-liter V-8 models outside of San Antonio, Texas. (The 6.2-liter will be available later this year, and specs were not available.) Both engines feature General Motors’ cylinder deactivation system, dubbed Active Fuel Management, which shuts off half of the V-8 engines’ cylinders and two cylinders on the V-6 when less power is needed. All engines are mated to GM’s six-speed automatic transmission, which is impeccably calibrated for smooth acceleration.
The 4.3-liter generates 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. While towing a 5500-pound camper using a trailer hitch, the Silverado never hesitated. It accelerated quickly and the integrated trailer sway controls, which use the truck’s anti-lock brakes, helped steady the trailer down the windy Texan roads. The V-6 has a max towing rating of 7500 pounds.
The 5.3L engine lives up to its small-block heritage. Creating 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, the 5.3-liter comes with a growl that would make any musclecar fan smile. It will also deliver 16/23 mpg in city/highway driving.
Suspension upgrades, a slightly wider track, wider tires, and electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering have smoothed the Silverado’s ride and tightened up its handling. One of the most impressive parts of the Silverado’s performance was how quiet it rides. Even with the windows down, you hardly hear the engine. Off-road, the Silverado easily climbed, forded, and moved over every obstacle in front of it. I was also able to test Chevrolet’s new Hill Descent Control, which allows the Silverado to maintain a slow speed down a hill without the driver touching the accelerator or brake. It worked perfectly and quietly. For anyone facing uphill, Chevrolet includes Hill Start Assist, which holds the brakes for about 1.5 seconds when the truck detects a 5-degree grade. This prevents the pickup from rolling back, especially handy when a big trailer is hooked to the bumper.
The Silverado offers safety features taken from Cadillac such as the Safety Alert Seat. The seat vibrates to warn the driver of things such as crossing a line on the highway (if equipped with Lane Departure Warning) or even if pulling too close to an object while parking. A simple feature I appreciated is the tiny convex mirror inside the driver’s side external mirror. It’s reminiscent of those stick-on mirrors you can buy at auto parts stores, but this one is integrated into the mirror and will never fall off.
The Silverado’s interior is a huge jump forward. The previous generation was sturdy, which is a critic’s equivalent of calling your aunt handsome. The new Silverado is simple and well-laid-out, with lots of luxurious touches. The new six-gauge cluster is crisp with its red needles and small LCD screen providing the driver with information that’s scrollable with a push of the steering wheel button. Even the steering wheel was beefed up and made thicker, making it feel more substantial.
Chevy includes either a 4.2-inch or 8.0-inch center stack screen and the newest version of MyLink, Chevrolet’s infotainment system. Bluetooth streaming, hands-free telephone operation, and app operation are all standard with MyLink. It’s easy to use and provides as much utility as it does entertainment with as many as five USB ports.
Throughout the cabin, there are loads of cubbies and storage areas including a double glove box with a lock on the upper one. The seats are comfortable and nicely bolstered. By carving into the back of the seats, Chevrolet created an additional 2 inches of second-row legroom.
All of the materials look upgraded, and the attention to detail stands out. Along the bottom edge of the dash on the center stack are control buttons for some of the Silverado’s features. However, if your Silverado doesn’t have a particular feature, a different key assembly is used, meaning no owner ever sees a blank key and then spends the rest of his life wondering what he didn’t get. It’s minor, but considerate.
The new extended cab model will use small regular-opening doors instead of the previous generation’s rear-hinged half-doors. The addition of a B-pillar on the extended cab model provides more rigidity to the cab, but don’t mistake the extended cab model for the much more spacious crew cab version, which has similar regular doors for the second row.
But there should be no confusing the new-generation Silverado with the previous one. The previous model was a good truck, but it had gotten old and the competition had passed it by. This Silverado catches up, powered by three new engines, new technology, and an interior that could go inside a Cadillac Escalade.
It doesn’t matter which English a Silverado owner speaks: It’s a great truck in any language.
|2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500||LT Z71 Crew Cab 4WD||LTZ Crew Cab 4WD|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$46,400||$48,935|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck||Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck|
|ENGINE||4.3L/285-hp/305-lb-ft OHV 12-valve V-6||5.3L/355-hp/383-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed automatic||6-speed automatic|
|WHEELBASE||143.5 in||143.5 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||230.0 x 80.0 x 74.0 in||230.0 x 80.0 x 74.0 in|
|CURB WEIGHT||5139 lb (mfr)||5218 lb (mfr)|
|MAX GVWR||7100 lb||7200 lb|
|PAYLOAD CAPACITY||1936 lb||1957 lb|
|TOWING CAPACITY||5900 lb||9800 lb|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||Not yet rated||16/22 mpg|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||Not yet rated||1.06 lb/mi|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Summer 2013||Spring 2013 (est)|