2014 Silverado: Kingpin of GM trucks

Farm Forum

Chevrolet’s long-awaited 2014 Silverado 1500 pickups are rolling into the marketplace, flaunting design and engineering improvements “from hood to hitch.”

“The Silverado is the kingpin for us,” said Chris Perry, vice president, global Chevrolet marketing and strategy, of the top-selling Chevrolet in the United States. “Like Camaro and Corvette, it helps define the brand.”

Along with the Silverado’s long list of refinements, Chevrolet strengthens the pickup’s appeal with seven trim levels, which include new model choices. The automaker kicked off the Silverado’s press debut with the showing of its new premium Silverado High Country model.

Scheduled to go on sale this fall, the High Country stands apart from its siblings. It wears a distinctive grille with horizontal chrome bars, halogen projector headlamps, color-keyed front and rear bumpers, 20-inch chrome wheels, and chrome body-side moldings, door handles and mirrors. Inside, seats are upholstered in western-inspired saddle-brown leather with High Country logos embossed into the headrests.

The off-road-enhanced Z71-badged Silverados have graduated from a special package to a full-fledged model for the 2014 model year. Z71 pickups are available in LT and LTZ trim levels.

New for 2014, Chevy has changed the “extended-cab” designation to “double cab.” Regular cabs and popular crew cab body styles continue, with the crew cabs already arriving in dealerships, and regular and crew cab models available this summer. Double cab models have forward-hinged doors for 2014 and crew cabs gain 2 inches of rear legroom and 4 inches of foot-swing room via repositioning of B-pillars 4 inches forward. Crew cabs are available for the first time with a 6.5-foot cargo box.

Big news comes with what Chevy hasn’t changed, and that’s pricing. Despite the long list of upgrades, base pricing for Silverados carries over from 2013. Like the previous models, the crew cabs will start at $32,710, including the $995 destination charge.

Propelling the Silverados into the 2014 model year is a new EcoTec3 engine family, given enhanced efficiency with direct injection, active fuel management and variable valve timing. The EcoTec3 trio includes 4.3-liter V-6, 5.3-liter V-8 and 6.2-liter V-8 engines. The V-6 delivers 285 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 305 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm. Chevy’s bread-and-butter 5.3-liter V-8 engine produces 355 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 383 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. Output of the 6.2-liter V-8 — coming later in 2013 — will be announced closer to its arrival.

All three powerplants are mated with a six-speed automatic transmission and run on regular-unleaded gas. Estimated fuel economy for the 2014 Silverado 5.3-liter V-6 (the only engine with announced fuel-economy figures) is 16 miles per gallon city and 23 mpg highway for 2WD model. During light-load driving, both V-8s smoothly switch to fuel-saving four-cylinder mode.

When its cylinders are deactivated, the 5.7-liter is equivalent to a 2.7-liter engine and the 6.2-liter is equivalent to a 3.1-liter engine, said Jeff Luke, Chevrolet’s executive chief engineer for global full-size and midsize trucks.

Chevy reports the 4.3-liter V-6’s towing capacity of up to 7,000 pounds eclipses any base V-6 in the segment. With the max towing package, Silverados equipped with the 5.3-liter V-8 are reported to have a class-leading towing max of up to 11,500 pounds.

Pulling the reins on this power are four-wheel-disc brakes featuring extended-life Duralife rotors. Teaming with the engines to send the message of power and capability is the Silverado’s more-muscular design. The powerplants sit beneath an imposing-looking hood that Chris Hilts of the Silverado design team said conveys power. The truck also is taller, wider, has fender bulges and increased track width. Sculpting the body with more of a coke-bottle shape gives the truck a broad-shoulder look, said Hilts, noting that its build quality is more refined and its form more aerodynamic.

“All of the gaps are so tight that it looks monolithic,” he said.

The cab, which also is stiffened, works with sound-isolation measures such as acoustic lining on wheel wells to provide a quieter interior environment. The fresh-design interiors boast the practicality of available high-wear cloth for bucket or bench seats, multiple power and USB connections and enhanced storage capacity.

“Storage-wise it’s pretty much a minivan,” said Hilts.

The upright instrument panel with six-gauge cluster gains sophistication with model upgrades. A base LT, for instance, has a no-nonsense design and an up-line LTZ model gains a more-premium look with accent upgrades such as contrasting stitching.

Chevy’s 2014 Silverados are the first in the automakers “three-truck strategy.” These half-ton pickups will be followed by new Silverado Heavy Duty and midsize Colorado models. This pickup trio is a “Goldilocks” answer, said Perry — “just right to meet the needs of today’s truck buyers.”