According to some prognosticators, millions of Americans were supposed to be trading in on hybrids, plug-ins and battery cars this year. The V-8 engine and the full-size pickup were both supposed to be relegated to the automotive scrap heap.
It hasn’t worked out quite as expected. Battery car sales have barely registered, and though demand for V-8s has certainly fallen, pickups have been rapidly regaining momentum. We’re expecting sales will grow even more substantially in the months ahead as buyers get a look at the new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500.
While Chevy’s full-size truck is far from perfect, it is arguably the best pickup General Motors has ever built. The 2014 Silverado does everything you’d expect a truck to do such as pull a trailer, carry a load or traverse rugged trails. But it’s more than just a solid work truck. The new Chevy Silverado’s cabin is both unexpectedly quiet nicely furnished, while the pickup delivers a firm, poised ride more similar to that of a large, expensive sedan than the classic, rough-riding truck.
In addition, there are slew of other changes to the Silverado that make it both more civilized and a more precise tool at the same time. The 2014 remake has clearly benefited from the money GM spent researching the needs, desires and preferences of its customers.
Given a sneak peek – along with the big GMC Sierra – last December, there was a decidedly mixed response to the new Chevy truck. The big complaint took aim at the decision to make only marginal changes to exterior styling rather than opting for a major redesign.
As you’d expect, Chevrolet defends its approach and insists it put its money where it mattered, improving fuel efficiency and aerodynamics and reducing wind noise. The 2014 Silverado’s grille, for example, directs air away from the rough underbody. There are even new seals to reduce turbulence where the cab and the bed come together. Tweaks to the windshield alone reduced drag wind by about 5%.
The last time GM revised the Chevrolet Silverado was for 2007, and a lot has changed since then. For one thing, while buyers still want rugged, reliable trucks, they also expect interiors that are as refined and comfortable as passenger cars.
That’s apparent on the inside of the 2014 Silverado. The instrument panel is more upright, and it includes spaces for gauges, controls and storage, that dare we say it, are more like those found in its arch-rival, the F-150 – Ford adapting quicker to market trends than Chevy.
GM is one manufacturer that seems to appreciate the big screen a good infotainment system requires and the new display is large enough to help reduce the distractions created by the infotainment system.
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is very much improved when it comes to noise, vibration and harshness, as well as overall ride and handling. The new electrically assisted power steering is as good – no, make that better – than the old truck’s traditional, hydraulic system. There’s just the right boost at low speeds to handle maneuvering a fully-loaded truck. But at highway speeds, the Silverado retains good road feel.
The four-wheel disc brakes have very good stopping power and the four-channel ABS guides the truck to a smooth stop with the kind of chatter that once seemed acceptable on light-duty trucks but really isn’t.
The result is a truck that handles well under a wide range of on- and off-road conditions it’s likely to face, from driving unloaded on a highway to pulling a load of hay or a horse trailer on a rutted dirt trail – all situations we encountered during our test drive.
The new Silverado delivers ride and handling so smooth you’ll experience little of the head toss and swaying that used to come with a full-size pickup. In addition, the truck is easier to maneuver, which is quite useful in parking a vehicle as large as a full-size Silverado.
If the pundits got anything right, it’s the steady demise of the V-8. No, the big powertrain isn’t going to go away entirely, not when it comes to heavy-hauling work trucks. But as we’ve already seen with the Ford F-Series, pickup buyers are willing to downsize to a capable V-6 to save fuel.
For 2014, the Chevy Silverado gets a new array of power trains. The engine family now includes a 4.3 liter V-6, a 5.3-liter V-8 and, coming later this autumn, a 6.2-liter V-8.
Essentially the 5.3-liter engine with two cylinders sliced off, the new 285-hp V-6 could generate a real following among the mileage-minded. For the moment, GM has not released specific fuel economy numbers, however.
It has for the all-new 5.3-liter package, however. The EcoTec3 engine is a far more efficient alternative to the old Silverado V-8, getting an EPA-rated 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 miles per gallon on the highway while delivering 355 horsepower and 387 foot pounds of torque. That’s better mileage than both the V-8 and EcoBoost V-6 versions of the Ford F-150, while also topping V-8 versions of the Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra and even the new Ram 1500 — though the Chrysler offering does deliver more power at 395 hp and 407 lb-ft of torque.
Chevrolet also has equipped the Silverado with the MyLink service so customers can safely place calls, enter destinations, browse media, play music and control other functions hands-free. MyLink also can be operated via the touch screen or with controls found on the steering wheel
New technologies available on the truck include two available active safety systems – forward collision alert and lane departure warning, both utilizing a forward-mounted camera to identify obstacles and other problems and warn drivers when they’re at risk of colliding with another vehicle or leaving their lane.
Overall, it’s hard not to be impressed once you go over the list of features and improvements found on the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. While the modest redesign may not shout it out, there’s a lot more to like than first might meet the eye. Taking all into account, this really is the best truck to ever wear the Chevrolet bowtie.