New Silverado quieter, more refined and plenty strong
Pickup trucks are tall and boxy and, well, originally intended for work, primarily in farm fields and on construction sites. That’s why they ride higher and even the new – nose to tail – Chevrolet Silverado has an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance.
But you and I know that somehow over the last two decades pickups have gone from being affordable work trucks to expensive everyday vehicles, although still plenty capable of work. Pickups aren’t simple in any sense of the word anymore and their price tags prove it.
A base 2-wheel-drive standard cab starts at $23,590, but the tested Crew Cab, which is more popular because you can carry the whole family to the mall or to town if you’re still a rural dweller, started at $35,855, about $4 grand higher than an average new car. A base Silverado Crew Cab with standard bed lists at $32,200, plus a $995 destination charge. Want 4-wheel drive? That’s just $300 more.
The tested handsome blue-gray Silverado 1500 Z71 LT Crew added a load of options to hit $40,910, even after a $750 discount. The truck comes with a new 4.3-liter, V6 Ecotec3 engine that cranks 285 hp. If you’re not doing any towing (and you may not be if you’re a suburban “farmer,” this will do fine.
However, most folks (especially guys) will opt for the 355-horse 5.3-liter V8 ($895) that’ll pull a monster 11,400 pounds with trailering options. That’s what the test truck had, and there’s no denying it has guts and works well with an easy shifting 6-speed automatic GM transmission. This feels strong.
We drive a 6-year-old Silverado at work to pull snowmobile trailers and sleds each winter and it has proved durable. But this new Silverado is two to three times quieter inside, Chevy really upped the sound insulation to help quiet the beastly tire noise of earlier models. That’ll make mom and the kids a lot happier on a long trip.
Silverado is still large, weighing in at 4942 lbs. and riding a 143.5-inch wheelbase. This one had just a standard bed though, so it looked short in crew cab layout. A long-bed model is available, but costs more. Still, if you also use this at work, the longer bed is a big help.
As I said, power is more than ample and handling is good too. Steering wheel effort is moderate and Chevy has firmed up the steering some to reduce the vagueness that is standard on all pickups. Handling follows that, with the Silverado an easy cruiser on the highway and simple enough to maneuver in town. Even with the short bed though it’s a bit awkward in grocery parking lots and because of the raised hood line, seeing parking space lines can be difficult. My advice is to park a ways from the store. The exercise will likely do you good.
Ride is reasonable, but trucklike. It’s not bad on highways, but a little choppy when city streets turn rough. Silverado has independent suspension up front and a live axle in back. Braking from the four-wheel discs is solid.
I like the truck’s revamped interior. The test truck’s cockpit featured a two-tone gray dash and door trim with a gray leather wheel and light gray stitching. Door handles are chromed and the dash features a gun metal gray trim on the center stack and around air vents.
Seats were an attractive gray cloth and fairly flat seat bottoms with moderately contoured backs. It was plenty comfy, but I question cloth seats in a truck costing just north of $40 grand. Cars costing much less often now have leather interiors.The truck does feature power windows and mirrors, as you’d expect, but a key start. Automatic lights are standard and the cruise control and trip computer are adjusted on the steering wheel hub. I like the six gauge pod directly in front of the driver and the nice carbon fiber look trim that surrounds the gauges.Everything inside is easy to see and reach and the touch screen worked well for the radio and there are three big dual climate control knobs. There’s also OnStar, visors that slide and a monster fold-down storage container between the front seats with 3 cup holders. Fold it up and three could sit up front too.
One annoyance though, the extremely loud door chime. This goes off as soon as you start the truck, alerting you to put on your seatbelt. That’s understandable, but it’s deafening and could at least wait 30 seconds until you put the car in gear to go crazy. Some folks in northern climes like to start a vehicle to get the heat going before we buckle up.Outside I like Silverado’s big running boards that help you climb aboard this macho machine, plus there are steps built into the rear bumper to aid in getting into the cargo bed. The easy-lower tailgate that doesn’t just drop with a bang, as does our work truck, also is a winner.The test pickup loaded up with luxury and doodad packages, including the LT plus that adds a power sliding rear window, universal home remote, rear park assist and power adjustable gas and brake pedals. That costs $785 and seems a worthy investment.
The All Star edition adds $1,080 after discounts, and includes fancy 18-inch bright machined aluminum wheels, a power driver’s seat, that dual-zone climate control system, a tilt/telescope steering wheel (standard on nearly all vehicles now) a remote start, GM’s MyLink audio system and touch screen, a rear vision camera, rear window defroster and 110-volt outlet. It’s your money!Other extras included 6-inch chrome assist steps, heated front seats, a trailer brake control, moveable tie-downs and LED light for the cargo box.GM is happy to tell you how its new engines and smoother truck design help increase gas mileage, and they seem to, although the numbers probably won’t get you cheering. The EPA rates this truck at 16 mpg city and 23 highway. My experience in our company Silverado is about 18 on the highway and 14 to 15 around town. Pull a trailer and you’re down to 11 mpg. So these figures look pretty good. In a week’s drive, about 60% city, I got 17.9 mpg, a healthy increase.
Silverado and its GMC kissin’ cousin, the Sierra, are GM’s top-selling vehicles each year and this remake keeps these among the leading pickups on the market. To me, the much improved cabin and quiet interior along with the mild boost in gas mileage make the new Silverado a winner.
FAST Stats: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 2WD LT Crew Cab
Hits: Handsome macho looking truck with good power, excellent tow capacity and good handling. Much quieter interior than previous model, comfy heated seats, running board, well laid out dash with back-up camera, OnStar, big fold-down storage bin up front and steps to help you get in the bed.
Misses: Cloth seats in a $40 grand vehicle? Door chime is way too loud and starts on ignition.
Made in: Silao, Mexico
Engine: 4.3-liter, V6 Ecotec3, 285 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Weight: 4942 lbs.
Wheelbase: 143.5 in.
Max. Tow: 11,400 lbs.
Base Price: $35,855
Dealer’s Price: $33,796
5.3-liter V8 (355 hp), $895
LT plus package (power sliding rear window, universal home remote, rear park assist, power adj. pedals), $785
All Star edition (18-inch bright machined alum. wheels, power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, tilt/telescope wheel, remote start, MyLink audio w/diagonal color touch, rear vision camera, rear window defroster, 110-volt outlet), $1,830
6-inch chrome assist steps, $700
Heated front seats, $250
Trailer brake control, $230
Moveable tie-downs, $60
Cargo box LED lighting, $60
Discounts: All Star package (-$750)
Test vehicle: $40,910
Sources: Chevrolet, www.autos.yahoo.com
Photos: Courtesy of Chevrolet