2014 Chevrolet Silverado Review | Toronto Sun
By Howard Elmer, Toronto Sun
Texas buys more pickup trucks annually than any other region of North America – or all of Canada combined for that matter. That’s why; once again, I’m attending a pickup truck launch in the Lone Star State. But that’s OK – the more time I spend here the more I realize that truck guys throughout the northern hemisphere are very much alike. We all expect a lot out of our trucks and from what I’ve seen and drove I know that what Chevrolet has brought here to the Hill Country of Texas is going to work just fine in Saskatoon, Huntsville, Lac St. Jean and Deer Lake.
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is the third generation of the same named line up that now stretches back to 1998. Of course the trucks themselves can trace their lineage to the 1930s though they bear little resemblance to what we now get; but the job remains largely the same – the truck must work, and work well. That’s why I always look at the business end of a truck first.
With the Chevy, what’s new is a spring-loaded tailgate that drops slowly and takes half the old effort to close. New tie-points on the box sides are easier to access and under the box lips are LED lights for night time (or light under the tonneau cover). Either side of the rear bumper now has a foot-sized indent for easy climbing – each rear stake hole is also now hand sized for a firm grip when using the bumper-steps. Also new this year is a 6’6” bed option on the crew cab version of Silverado. Lastly, a spray-in bedliner will finally be an option.
For 2014 overall the new truck is bigger, squarer with a front grille presence that imitates a flying fist. The windshield is raked further back and the doors are flush mounted in their openings without any kind of overlap or rain gutters. Of note is the demise of the suicide doors on the extended cab versions of the truck – long overdue – all doors (regardless of trim or style) are now forward hinged. So, taking in the whole truck, it just looks slippery – and GM says that this look just adds to the improved aerodynamics of the truck body. And yet, despite its hulking look, the fuel economy on this new gen is the best ever.
Back in December GM announced a trio of new engines to power this new truck – the EcoTec3 motors. These each feature three distinct technologies, which save fuel but also boost power. These are direct fuel injection, Active Fuel Management (which includes cylinder deactivation) and continuously variable valve timing. And while the displacements of the blocks are carryovers everything else is new, including a compact overhead-valve design, aluminum blocks and cylinder heads that reduce mass for additional energy savings.
The first one I drove was the 5.3L V8 which now makes 355 hp and 383 lb.ft of torque. GM thinks this will be there most popular engine. To say it moved the truck well is an understatement. This motor is coupled to the carry-over six-speed automatic transmission that has been working well in the Silverado for several years now. Unloaded it had all the snort you’d want but it often dropped into V4 mode on the highway – this is where substantial fuel savings will be realized as even the busiest trucker is still empty most of the time.
Later in the day I towed a trailer with a skid-steer on it. This weighed in at 8,600 lb. Now with the Max Tow package this engine and ½ truck combo is rated to a new high of 11, 500 lb (a hundred more than Ford – huh, wonder why they picked that number?) and while I suspect the powertrain is up to the task I personally wouldn’t be comfortable at anything more than 10,000 lb; I don’t like it when the tail wags the dog.
Past the weight though, the other thing that slowly surfaced in my mind as the towing day wore on was how comfortable (seats) and quiet the truck was. This is by far the quietest Silverado ever – as confirmed by the engineers who have done a lot of work on noise and vibration suppression.
Of the three new engines I think the one that will create the greatest interest though is the new V6. This EcoTec3 engine has a displacement of 4.3L and it also uses cylinder deactivation to drop into a V4 mode when possible. No one else is doing this. This engine is also tied to the six-speed automatic transmission and makes 285hp and 305 lb.ft of torque. It’s rated to tow up to 7,000 lb (the most of any V6).
Being that Ford’s V6 EcoBoost engine has been ordered in more than half of new Canadian purchased ½ tons it stands to reason that we will be cross-shopping this new GM option hard. Not to mention the new V6 – eight-speed transmission option in the Ram this year.
Still, if power is a must have in your truck, later this year the Silverado will be offered with a 6.2L V8. It will have the same EcoTec3 technologies that the others have but with a lot more jam.
Over the past few years the Silverado has gotten lots of criticism over its dated, plastic-heavy interior – particularly as Ford and Chrysler beautifully updated theirs. This must have been a source of pain to GM stylists because with the recent great unpleasantness decimating their budgets (and almost the whole company) they just didn’t have the money to fix the drab features of the Silverado; till now. This is what makes the new interior so much lusher and well received. New materials inside are soft, bright, colourful and beautifully laid out. The style drought is over!
The new upright instrument panel gets a six-gauge instrument cluster and lots of new storage spaces – in part this is a function of the choice GM made in keeping the traditional column shifter. This also allows the 40/20/40 front bench seat option to still function as bucket seats or a three-person bench. Under that fold-down centre section is a dual armrest, flip-up storage and even deeper under seat space. New controls are large, logically placed and easy to handle – even with gloves on. All these are centralized in a new center stack “pod”. It sits nice and high – easy to see and use. At its centre is an eight-inch touch screen radio that also has redundant controls for the HVAC and other functions. Even the base models feature a 4.2-inch screen that uses Silverado’s MyLink technology for driver information and phone pairing, etc.
Everything the Silverado revealed to me in Texas made me smile, because it puts the bowtie truck back into play with its peers. I said smile, not laugh hysterically, because the sum total of all this updates does not make this truck a market knock-out. Instead it makes it a contender once again. A very strong contender. By the way, if you are a GMC Sierra fan, rest assured that all this new technology and the interior upgrades will find its way into the Chevy Silverado’s sister as well.
Fact file: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado Pickup Truck
Trim level: Seven in total.
Base Prices (before taxes): •Regular Cab: $25,540, •Double Cab: $29,435, •Crew Cab: $30,995
Configuration: front engine/ rear-wheel drive/ truck
Engine/transmission: 4.3L V6, 5.3L V8, 6.2L V8
Power/torque: 285hp/ 305 lb.-ft. ; 355hp/383 lb.ft. ; N/A
Fuel (capacity): Regular 98L
Fuel economy ratings: 14.7L/100km city; 10.2L/100km hwy for the 5.3L V8 only
Competitors: Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra 1500, Nissan Titan
Strengths: fuel economy; new look; new engines
Weaknesses: same old transmission, rear end does not change
Report Card (out of 5):
Fuel Economy: 4 – V8 looks good – need to see how the V6 does later
Value for $: 4 – pricing is aggressive, particularly at the low end.
Styling: 3.5 – does not change that much – thank goodness
Comfort: 4.5 – very quiet, very comfortable, good dash layout
Performance: 4 – big improvement over the previous generation
Overall: 4 – This truck is a player