New 2014 Silverado and Sierra: Worth the wait

Farm Forum

Eight years have passed since General Motors has introduced a totally revamped full-size 1500 pickup, but Jeff Luke, GM executive chief engineer for full-size and midsize pickups, said the new-generation 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are worth the wait.

“Everything is better on these new trucks,” Luke said, “and some things are significantly better.”

GM isn’t in the “gimmickry business” when developing pickups, he said, and everything it did in creating the new trucks was purposeful and practical. This approach even applies to exterior designing.

True to GM form, designers of the new Silverado and Sierra were conservative, borrowing signature cues from past models. The trucks have a more-aggressive front-end appearance and feature more-streamlined, aerodynamic bodies.

The Silverado’s front end is classic Chevy with a stacked dual-port grille and new-design headlamps divided by a full-width bar wearing a hefty gold bow-tie emblem. The Sierra grille, which maintains its familiar shape, is framed in chrome and flanked by standard projector headlamps. A new-for-2014 Sierra All-Terrain model wears a painted grille with subtle chrome accents.

Better-sealed front ends on all models provide more-efficient engine cooling and improved aerodynamics. Among other measures taken to cheat the wind are low-drag mirrors, lower front bumpers, redesigned cabs with inlaid doors, more-sculpted body sides and fender flares, a tailgate spoiler and new cab-to-box seal. Cabs also are stronger, with almost two-thirds of the structure constructed with high-strength steel.

A built-in CornerStep bumper and easy-reach handholds in the box-rail protectors team with an EZ Lift and Lower tailgate to make cargo hauling more convenient. Pickup-box construction is roll-formed, offering superior strength to stamped-metal beds. Crew cab pickups are offered for the first time with a longer 6.6-foot box.

Another first is front-hinged rear doors on extended-cab models, which improve access by providing 4 extra inches of foot-swing room. Rear doors on crew cabs are enlarged to make entry and exit easier.

Passenger comfort and quietness are improved with new body mounts that limit up-and-down and side-to-side movement. Cab isolation is further enhanced on extended-cab and crew-cab mode via an extra set of hydraulic body mounts. These measures are key contributors, Luke said, in making the GM pickup the “quietest truck in the segment.”

Superlatives continue with his description of the trio of EcoTec3 engines with improved combustion systems: 4.3-liter V-6, “has best-in-class torque and towing”; 5.3-liter V-8, “the V-8 fuel-economy leader”; and the 6.2-liter V-8 “a Corvette engine cousin and the most capable engine in any light-duty pickup.”

All three engines boast fuel-saving variable valve timing and cylinder-deactivation technology, which allows the engines to “seamlessly” switch to four-cylinder mode during light-load conditions. They are paired with six-speed automatic transmissions with cruise grade braking, which automatically downshift on downgrades.

While horsepower and torque ratings, fuel economy estimates and towing/payload capacities aren’t yet available, GM reports “all three are engineered to provide more power, more torque and better efficiency than the previous versions.”

Larger 9.5- and 9.76-inch rear axles are fitted on V-8 models to handle the higher output. New for 2014, the V-6 powerplant will be available on long-box 4×4 pickups.

Bringing the more-potent GM pickups to a stop are four-wheel disc brakes with Duralife rotors. Benefiting from hardened and strengthened corrosion-resistant surfaces, the rotor’s lifespan is expected to double that of a conventional rotor.

While tapping into this workhorse grunt, the driver of Silverado and Sierra pickups benefit from a more comfortable cab environment. Chevy and GMC interiors have different looks, but both are upgraded with new-design upright instrument panels featuring easy-to-read six-gauge clusters, along with logically positioned, intuitive controls that are larger and can be easily operated while wearing work gloves.

Seats gain comfort and support with new dual-density foam padding, and are upholstered in high-wear cloth that’s difficult to soil and easy to clean.

In-car connectivity is improved via optional Chevy MyLink and GMC IntelliLink infotainment systems. MyLink is a customizable system that can link with up to 10 devices. It also features voice recognition, which allows users to accomplish tasks such as placing calls, playing music and entering destinations via voice commands. IntelliLink also provides voice recognition, and allows users to control features such as audio, Pandora app, Bluetooth phone and the available navigation system via an 8-inch color touchscreen.

Pricing for the 2014 Silverado and Sierra 1500 pickups, expected to arrive in dealerships in early summer, will be announced later. Luke said GM is “very conscious” of the need for its new-generation trucks to be competitively priced.