2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 review
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
The full-size pickup market is changing. With recent updates to the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150, pickup buyers are expecting more refinement, additional amenities and improved fuel economy — as well as traditional power and capability. Despite being the second-best-selling vehicle in America last year, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 hasn't really kept up with the Joneses. It was, after all, last redesigned for the 2006 model year, before buyers started expecting so much from their trucks. All that changes for 2014, with a Silverado that is new from hood to hitch. We drove it Texas — pickup country — and can report that the Silverado has found its way back into contention for the best pickup in America.
Trim levels start with the very basic 1WT (work truck) and progress through 2WT, LT, LT Z71, LTZ, LTZ Z71, and the new line-topping High Country. The 1WT is sparsely equipped, with vinyl floors and upholstery. The 2WT gets cloth upholstery, remote keyless entry, power-adjustable mirrors and General Motors' OnStar telematics system. The LT has carpeting, an 8-inch color touch radio and a trailering package, while the LTZ gets the 5.3-liter V8 engine, dual-zone automatic climate control and leather upholstery. The off-road-themed Z71 variants have Rancho shocks, front tow hooks, a transfer case skid plate, automatic locking rear differential, and all-terrain tires. The High Country features more chrome exterior trim, as well as 20-inch wheels, saddle-brown leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, Bose audio, and front and rear park assist.
Under the hood
The 4.3-liter V6 engine produces 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque, while the 5.3-liter V8 makes 355 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Both can run on regular gasoline or E85 ethanol. A 6.2-liter V8 will also be offered later this year, but power numbers have yet to be announced. The lone transmission is a 6-speed automatic.
Thus far, Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings have only been announced for the 5.3-liter V8 engine, which Chevrolet touts at the most fuel-efficient V8 in a full-size pickup. It is rated at 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway with rear-wheel drive and 16/22 mpg with 4-wheel drive.
The Silverado's capability increases for 2014. Maximum payload tops out at 2,108 pounds with the V6 engine and 2,102 pounds with the 5.3-liter V8. Maximum towing figures are 11,500 pounds with the 5.3-liter V8, which is tops in the class, and 7,200 pounds with the 4.3-liter V6. Capability for the 6.2-liter V8 hasn't been announced.
The Silverado comes with rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive. The 4WD system works full time, so it doesn't need to be disengaged on dry pavement, and it comes with low-range gearing for improved off-roading.
The Silverado's interior also offers a lot of space and utility. In any cab style, the front seat has plenty of space for any size driver, usually with enough headroom for a 10-gallon hat. The steering wheel tilts, but doesn't telescope, so some drivers won't find an ideal driving position. However, available power-adjustable pedals take care of that problem. The rear seat in the crew cab has enough space for three adults, but the double cab lacks the legroom needed to make adults comfortable. The door opening is also quite small, and both the front and rear seats require a large step to get in or out.
The split-level glove box is rather large, and the available center console is big enough to accept a laptop and/or hanging files. The center console also houses two USB ports, an auxiliary jack and an SD card slot. Up to three more USB slots are at the base of the center stack, and buyers can also get a 110-volt outlet. That will really help Silverado owners stay connected.
Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system also becomes available for the Silverado this year. The system is controlled through a 4.2- or 8-inch touch screen or by voice commands, and the screen is offered with a choice of four graphic treatments. MyLink provides access to the Pandora Internet radio application through owners' smartphones, and it accepts up to 60 programmable favorites, including radio stations, navigation destinations and phone contacts. We find MyLink to be one of the simplest and most intuitive infotainment systems on the market.
The 2014 Silverado truck bed also adds some convenience features. The rear bumper has a step in each corner to ease access to the bed, and the tailgate is damped to reduce the work needed to raise or lower it. Chevrolet provides four lower tie-down hooks, and nine upper tie-down hook locations to help secure cargo, and there is also LED lighting at the back of the bed to aid nighttime visibility. Kudos to Chevrolet for adding features that will help hard-working owners get things done.
On the road
The 5.3-liter V8 engine is even smoother than the V6, and it doesn't suffer the towing issues. We towed an 8,500-pound trailer with relative ease, without the lurching we experienced in the V6. Getting up to speed was certainly affected, but nothing that would hold up traffic. Unladen, the 5.3-liter V8 also provides willing power across the rev range. We expect the 6.2-liter V8 will make the Silverado feel like a hot rod.
The Silverado's on-road character is improved as well, thanks mostly to the new electric-assist power steering. Steering feel is light at low speeds and it firms up nicely at higher speeds. We detected none of the loose feel on center that plagued previous Silverado iterations, and while the steering is relatively slow, that's appropriate for a big truck.
Otherwise, driving the Silverado is a bit like captaining a luxury liner. That's not Chevrolet's fault. The modern pickup has become so big and unwieldy it's practically sized itself out of city driving. The tall height and immense length make the Silverado hard to maneuver in tight quarters and very hard to parallel park. There is nothing sporty or carlike about this truck, and it objects to being driven hard through corners, complaining with copious body lean. The solid rear axle and leaf springs also make the tail-end hop over bumps if the bed is empty. The only truck that deals with this issue is the Ram 1500, with its quicker-acting coil spring suspension.
Right for you?
(As part of a sponsored press event, the automaker provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitatethis report.)
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.