2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country - front three-quarter view

It’s no secret that fullsize pickups are the financial engines that power Detroit automakers – it’s been that way for decades. In recent years, though, growing consumer appetites for dolled-up trucks has meant even more opportunities for manufacturers to line their coffers while pleasing increasingly discerning customers. Trims like King Ranch on the Ford F-Series and Laramie Longhorn on Ram trucks now include high-end amenities that were the exclusive preserve of luxury cars just a few years ago.

General Motors has been content to let its GMC brand harvest top-shelf pickup buyers for some time now – particularly with its high-line Denali models – but it’s hard to turn away easy profits. GM says over 30 percent of new pickup sales now transact above $40,000, and that figure is growing by the year. Thus, it’s no surprise that execs are finally letting Chevrolet get in on the action with this new range-topping High Country trim for the 2014 Silverado. Officials tell Autoblog that it’s the first premium-branded Chevy pickup since the Cameo Carrier of the 1950s.

Sitting above the LTZ and Z71 off-road model, the Silverado High Country sets itself apart with trim-specific chrome grille and body-color bumpers front and rear – the only fullsize Chevy so equipped – along with unique 20-inch alloy wheels and a few bits of chrome frosting to go with the usual complement of badges. Available only in crew cab configuration, High Country will be offered in both two- and four-wheel drive with the buyer’s choice of V8 engines – 5.3-liter or 6.2-liter – along with either a 5-foot, 8-inch or 6-foot, 6-inch box. There are no specific powertrain or suspension calibrations for the model.

Related Gallery2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country

Inside, the changes continue the somewhat restrained Western theme, with saddle brown leather (a grade nicer than what’s found in lesser Silverados) lining heated and cooled bucket seats that have the High Country logo embroidered on the headrests. We’ve already had the chance to sit in the truck, and it’s a comfortable, high-quality environment that’s perhaps a notch or two down on the cowboy overtones compared to something like an F-150 King Ranch. GM knows they need this model to perform well in Texas, the nation’s largest truck market, but they’re also hoping the model plays well on the coasts.

Pricing has not yet been announced, but options will be few. A High Country Premium Package with driver alert technologies (read: lane departure and collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert and haptic seat), power pedals, trailer brake control and heated steering wheel figures to be the big-buck bundle, while other options will include navigation, sunroof, rear-seat entertainment, and GM’s new CornerStep bumper finished in chrome.

Interestingly, Chevy’s research suggests that pickup buyers at this elevated price point are less brand-loyal than those under $40k, so the company is eying more conquest sales than it might with lesser models. Yet officials say they don’t think High Country will cannibalize GMC Sierra Denali buyers, because despite their close mechanical and visual kinship, the two brands support different owner demographics (GM labels target High Country buyers as “Everyday Hero” and Denali customers as “Disciplined Achievers”). As it is, the High Country will be priced above the starting price of well-equipped Sierras but fall short of Denali models. The latter will also keep some exclusive features to ensure it remains GM’s most prestigious pickup, including a reconfigurable eight-inch screen in the instrument cluster. Chevy Truck director of marketing Maria Rohrer says the two GM divisions are working “closer than ever,” presumably to make sure the divisions don’t step on each others’ toes as they approach each other at the high-dollar summit of the truck market.

By Chris Paukert