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The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is the next generation of Chevrolet's best-selling vehicle. Although some things look and sound familiar, like the three engines that are all-new despite being the same size as their predecessors, virtually everything has evolved to the next level or been replaced.
Substantial bodywork and a larger grille for cooling match a more imposing facade with better aerodynamic properties, while the frame underneath the 2014 Silverado has been stiffened despite a 30-pound weight loss. By most measures, the 2014 Silverado is lighter than the 2013 model, but it hauls and tows more than before.
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado comes with a roomier cabin with more luxury and safety features in a stylish new design. There's more room up front, and 2014 Silverado Crew Cabs offer more space in back than previously. The driver gets excellent instrumentation and MyLink telematics.
Silverado base price is $23,590, according to Chevrolet, but that's almost a meaningless number because anything you buy will cost more.
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country model is the fanciest Silverado to date. The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country is directed at Ford F-150 King Ranch, Ram Longhorn, Toyota and Tundra 1794.
For the first time, the mid-size cab choice comes with a center side pillar and four conventionally opening doors. This generally improves rollover crash performance, makes a quieter, less squeak-prone interior and is easier to load in tight quarters. Chevrolet has dropped the Extended Cab moniker and calls this the Double Cab, the name Toyota has used on its four-door pickups for more than a decade.
The three new engines are dubbed EcoTec3 because of three shared features: direct injection, active fuel management and variable cam timing. Often reserved for the thirstiest or most expensive engines on some trucks, these come standard on every 2014 Silverado.
The new 4.3-liter V6 is standard on every cab/bed combo. At 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque it rates just 30 less (of each) than last year's 5.3-liter V8 and out-grunts most competitor base V6s.
The new 5.3-liter V8 is rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. That's right in line with Ford's 5-liter V8, and 2014 Silverado Crew Cabs with the 5.3-liter V8 match or better competitors for top payload and towing ratings. Figures for the 6.2-liter V8 had not been released at press time but were expected to bring at least 420 hp and 435 lb-ft of torque.
All Silverados come with a 6-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD).
Suspension and braking systems are updates on current designs; external dimensions haven't changed but the track (width between left and right wheels) has increased aiding both stability and aesthetics. The 2014 Silverado uses electric power steering.
The new Silverado drives like a more refined version of the last one, even though it will tow more, go quicker or get better mileage. A very quiet cabin means happier passengers and less fatigue for owner/operators, with the Double Cab likely to show the most improvement.
The only thing we see lacking in the new Silverado is that elusive intangible that grabs people. Chasing power and fuel economy Chevrolet used different technologies than Ford's EcoBoost (though GM's direct-injection turbocharged car engines preceded EcoBoost by years). And the new Silverado doesn't offer the flashy 8-speed automatic or optional air suspension of the Ram. But trucks are made for people and to tow and carry things, and if the numbers are accurate the Silverado is a player.
Teasing the bigger-is-better trend, the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado looks bigger than the last one but is virtually identical in exterior dimensions; for example, it is one-tenth of an inch wider. The most obvious changes are up front and the rear doors.
A taller grille, with more chrome as price rises, and revised bumper allow more powertrain cooling, but with fewer pieces and tighter fits, more aerodynamic than before. The windshield lays back another degree and fairs into the roof such that frontal area, the other component of aerodynamic resistance, is no larger than last year's.
The new styling will sit well with conservative pickup buyers. The new Silverado is instantly identifiable as a Chevy even if not wearing the big badge. At least one observer initially thought the 2013 Silverado next to it was just a different trim level.
Massive rectangular wheel openings consume the majority of the bed side panels and reinforce the GM impression; wider wheels help fill them, but there's still a lot of open space around the tires. In profile, the bed section is almost military in its geometric execution.
The B-pillar, the post between the front and rear doors, has been moved forward four inches. This may have negative implications only for tall, very broad shouldered types, but is outweighed by the superior access through the rear door, especially for boots or big toolboxes headed for the floor.
On most models the rear bumper sports a step in each corner and a corresponding handhold in the side rail for easier bed entry. High Country's painted bumper loses it, but a chrome step bumper is available. Most versions offer LEDs under the side rails of the bed, activated by the shower-head bed light switch, for illumination beneath bed covers. And many have a tailgate damped for both up and down motion, a feature you'll really appreciate when you remove the gate for something and find what it really weighs.
Outside mirrors have slightly less area but you won't notice; you will like the built-in convex mirror on the driver-side. A towing mirror option will be available but was not seen nor evaluated.
Myriad trims, chrome packages, three wheel diameters, 10 tire choices and plenty of stickers yield many appearance permutations, even before adding accessories. One of our sample trucks listed a chrome exhaust tip at $185; for that amount we'd expect polished stainless steel.
Bigger-and-better has been applied to badging, too, with enough large-scale bow-ties and nameplates you might have to downsize your magnetic business signs so they still fit and stick.
It's worth noting that 4WD versions are about the same roof height as 2WD because some other 4WD pickups are inches higher and may not fit the parking garages you frequent.
The 2014 Silverado cabin is comfortable, quiet and can be packed with enough features and USB plugs for each passenger to have one. The only parts that might have been pulled straight from the 2103 are the shift lever and some door switches.
A big, more segmented dashboard dominates the cab like never before. Outboard of the AC vent left is a switch panel convenient if you rest your arm on the door. Switches for trailer brakes are at the top, ideal for adjusting while you watch for locked wheels in the mirror. On 4WD models, near-identical round knobs for are used for selecting 2WD/4WD or turning on the headlights. Be sure you grab the correct one if you don't use Auto for both.
Inboard is a steering wheel slightly canted and off center for crashworthiness. It tilts on all, telescopes on some, but each function uses a separate lever and isn't easily done in one fluid motion. One observer noted that the big outboard switch panel feels like it crowds the wheel and gauges against the center, but that looks worse in pictures than from the seat.
Instrumentation is very good. After a sleepy, multi-seconds gauge-check sweep the numbered, analog displays swing to life and respond quickly; watch the oil pressure carefully and you'll feel these are indeed connected to something. The tach has no redline but neither the 4.3 nor 5.3 went beyond 5550 on their own, and the 140-mph speedometer is likely 25-40 beyond a tire-imposed electronic limit. Transmission fluid temperature and fuel economy are among the broad data available in the screen under the smaller gauges.
The central panel requires nearly a third of the real estate, logically laid out with vents, touchscreen, audio and climate controls. The MyLink infotainment navigation system maps well, the Bose stereo system sounds good, and we didn't sample voice operation given limited cell service. As with any telematics the MyLink should be tried thoroughly, while parked at first then moving (some functions will disable in motion), to see if you prefer all those features or simply your smartphone paired via Bluetooth.
Accessory switches (pedals, bed light, park sense, etc.) are along the bottom and symmetrically laid out. There are no blank spaces to either show you didn't get something or to fit your own aftermarket switches.
Dual gloveboxes cover the right third of the dash. Doors have up to three storage locations in each, and the center console has a variety of shapes and sizes, if not one big cooler-size bin. The top-line full-length console has in total five USB ports, three 12-volt power points, an SD card slot and a grounded 110-VAC outlet, with another in the back optional. Taller drivers found the trim panels on the console and door inconveniently at knee height, while other sizes found the center armrest too high even with the seat at full height.
The 40/20/40 front bench seat option has good storage in the fold-down backrest-becomes-armrest, with more storage space beneath the seat cushion. With minimal padding and no shoulder belt it works better as console than seat.
Front seats are very comfortable and easy to climb into (front grab handles are mounted to steel structure). The rear seat on Extended cab models will carry adults in a pinch, better if all on board are average stature or smaller. Crew cab rear seats rival the front for comfort except the headrests wouldn't keep even a 5-foot, 9-inch rider's head off the rear window. There is no center headrest, and LATCH anchors will fit up to two child seats in any of the three seating positions.
You can now get heated seats on cloth upholstery models. High Country leather is heated and cooled in front. Heated steering wheels wisely have the switch in plain sight on the spoke, not buried on the column or in a touchscreen menu.
Outward visibility is slightly less than before because the windshield pillars appear wider and to a lesser extent the windshield top feels lower relative seating position. However, the edges of the hood are better defined and new options mitigate other aspects.
Silverado now offers forward collision warning, lane departure warning and the seat-vibration alert introduced by Cadillac last year. How and when you're alerted can be adjusted and turned off, handy since our trail drive at less than 10 mph buzzed our jeans every time the truck sensed a collision with a deep rut, rock, or bush in our path.
The new 2014 Chevy Silverado drives and does pickup chores well. We think it has the most realistic base engine in the business, a new 4.3-liter V6.
As a competitor ad points out torque is what gets the job done in pickups. The new 4.3-liter V6's 305 pound-feet is more than Ford's 3.7-liter (278 lb-ft), Ram's 3.6-liter (269 lb-ft), or Toyota's 4-liter (278 lb-ft). And the Silverado's 4.3-liter gives up no more than 20 hp to Ford or Ram's high-revving V6s. Ram's 8-speed gearbox helps with torque multiplication and highway mileage. Chevy 4.3-liter estimates weren't available at posting, but considering Chevy's 5.3-liter V8 ratings (16/23 mpg for 2WD) nearly match Ford's 3.7-liter V6 (17/23 mpg 2WD) and Ram's 3.6-liter (17/25 mpg SLT 2WD) your load and driving style will have far more effect on fuel economy than which brand you choose.
The 2014 Silverado's 4.3-liter V6 pulled a dual-axle travel trailer for us with no problem, whether or not we engaged Tow/Haul. It revs to just 5500 rpm, at least 1000 less than the Ford or Ram, generating less noise and vibration. We were pleasantly surprised by the very quiet, smooth idle at just 500 rpm, a lower speed than the V8. Not towing, on an undulating course with traffic, we managed almost 18 mpg in the V6, not a bad number given locale and driving style.
The new 5.3-liter V8 makes the Silverado faster, of course, and its shorter gearing enables top trailer ratings to 11,500 pounds. The V8 doesn't have an obvious advantage in smoothness over the V6. Both engines will switch to four-cylinder operation unnoticed (unless you watch the dash carefully) when power isn't needed, and since 2/3 of the V6 is a bigger engine than 1/2 of the V8, the V6 appears to run as a four more often. Were the 4.3 offered with the same axle ratios as the V8 we'd recommend it even more, and unless you're towing more than 5000 pounds frequently through hilly terrain the V6 will be more than adequate. If you don't think so, we'll remind you a Chevy dually with a 7.4-liter V8 less than 25 years ago had only 230 horsepower. It had 80 lb-ft more torque, but just half the gears so less torque got to the wheels.
Both 4.3 and 5.3 are E85-capable, but fuel economy with E85 ethanol drops about 30 percent over gasoline. The 6.2-liter V8 requires Premium fuel.
Silverado ranks well on maximum payload figures, with more than a ton of capacity on base Regular cabs and from 1751 pounds to 2101 pounds on four-doors. Like most half-ton pickups, we found it worked at about 2/3 of capacity and expect the ride to suffer beyond that.
Tow ratings are up too, to 10,200 pounds on Regular cab and 11,500 on Double cab. Crew Cab ratings are about 200 pounds lower than Double Cab as are 4WD, except on Crew V6 (6600 pounds) because of a better axle ratio. Remember that tow ratings are not always directly comparable among brands because the only industry-wide standard is SAE J2807, and only Toyota certifies its ratings to it.
Even a short drive shows the Silverado to be more refined, quieter, and delivering a better ride, particularly on choppy road surfaces that make trucks shake and things like sharp bumps in corners that cause the rear end to skip sideways. Ride quality will vary among the 10 tires and various suspension choices. As before, we found the Z71 package designed for off-road use delivers the best blend of handling and comfort on rural highways, ranch roads, pockmarked infrastructure and expansion-heaved expressways most pickups travel.
Steering is electric-assist now and needs the same space for a U-turn as last year's despite wider tires and track. It requires little effort at low speeds, doesn't lose assist in heavy maneuvering like corkscrewing a trailer into a camp site, weights up nicely with speed and tracks well. We noticed it doesn't seem to return to center quite as fast, but it's a subtle difference.
All-disc brakes have good feel and retarding, and a new material is said to last much longer; only time will tell.
The integrated trailer brake controller is well worth the price; even if your trailer has surge brakes consider it for resale value or loaning the truck to others.
With plenty of choices to keep up with the competition, the 2014 Chevy Silverado adds considerable refinement, efficiency and comfort to a new look, new cabin and new engines. By pull-and-carry truck standards, fuel economy and features it is absolutely competitive, whether or not you're loyal to bow-ties.
G.R. Whale filed this report after driving various Silverado Crew Cabs in the Texas hill country.
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We have information you must know before you buy the Silverado 2500HD.
We want to send it to you, along with other pricing insights.
We will not spam you, and will never sell you email.