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2014 Silverado High Country Review | Toronto Star

2014 Silverado High Country Review
 
By Costa Mouzouris, Toronto Star
 
Pickup trucks were once utilitarian workmates with minimal trim and few frills.
 
I’ve owned a few, all of them basic trucks with vinyl bench seats and rubber floor coverings. I’d throw cargo into the bed, tie down motorcycles back there and, after visiting recycling yards while working on a project, I’d pile used parts on the passenger floor. I would wash the interior out with a garden hose.
 
I wouldn’t aim a garden hose anywhere near the interior of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country or GMC Sierra Denali – GM’s fully decked-out, top-of-the-line crew-cab pickups. Although the spec sheets confirm they’re ready to take on the toughest of tasks, their lavish interiors and abundant chrome trim would make me shy away from hard work. Or maybe I’m just lazy.
 
Both of these trucks are only available with four-wheel-drive, and the standard engine is GM’s new 5.3-litre, 355-horsepower Ecotec3 V8.
 
But I’m in Austin to test the big engine – the optional 6.2-litre V8 that pumps out 420 hp and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s 17 hp and 43 lb.-ft. more than the current 6.2-litre engine. It’s the most powerful gasoline engine you’ll find in a light duty truck.
 
Pricing starts at $53,315 for the Silverado High Country and $58,890 for the Sierra Denali. Opting for the 6.2-litre engine on either of those trucks adds $2,195 to the price tag.
 
Like all of the light truck gasoline engines GM introduced this year (including the new 4.3-litre V6), the 6.2-litre is made from aluminum and uses direct injection and variable valve timing to boost power and reduce fuel consumption.
 
The V8s also use cylinder deactivation and can run on four cylinders to cut down on fuel consumption when cruising on the highway at low loads.
 
The 6.2-litre does this seamlessly, with the use of hydraulic engine mounts, but also with a noise-cancelling frequency transmitted through the sound system that was developed in conjunction with Bose.
 
The 6.2-litre hauls the truck quickly when unloaded, and I had little difficulty hauling a large, twin-axle camper trailer during a towing demonstration.
 
The 5.3-litre claims fuel use of 11.4 L/100 km combined. Figures for the 6.2-litre have not yet been released, although it should be better than the current engine’s 14.9 L combined.
 
There’s only one transmission choice, a six-speed automatic, and it is equipped with auto grade braking, which automatically downshifts on descents to increase engine braking. Buttons on the shift lever allow manual gear selection.
 
The High Country is a new premium trim level for the Silverado and its interior is posh, functional and adorned in saddle-brown leather and wood-grain trim.
 
There are six analogue gauges in the instrument cluster, with a small, configurable TFT screen nestled between the speedometer and tachometer. The Sierra Denali has a different gauge cluster, with a larger TFT screen between the two outer gauges.
 
The centre stack includes an 8-inch touchscreen for the audio and (optional) navigation systems, as well as buttons for the dual-zone climate control system, bed light, traction control deactivation, and the power pedal adjustment, which let me better tailor my driving position.
 
The tilt and telescoping steering wheel is operated with two levers. Electric adjustability would have been more in line with the rest of the interior frills, as would a memory feature for the seating position – friends and family do have a tendency to borrow pickup trucks, after all.
 
The leather seats are La-Z-Boy like, and they are heated and cooled.
 
My test truck was equipped with lane-departure warning, which sent a gentle vibration through either side of the seat to let me know if I was drifting off centre. Between the seats is a large storage box.
 
The suspension does a fine job of isolating the cab from road irregularities and the interior is well-insulated from road and engine noise. The Silverado’s composed ride quality is unbecoming of a truck that can pull up to 4,354 kg on a hitch and has a maximum payload capacity of 887 kg.
 
To aid access to the bed, the rear bumper has steps recessed into its corners, and there are handholds built into the box rail protectors.
 
New for 2014, there’s an optional 6-foot-6 box available on the Silverado and Sierra Crew Cab trucks, as well as the standard 5-8 box, with more connection ports inside.
 
You may wonder how much hard work either of these lavish trucks will do in their lifetime. I think they’ll likely see a fair amount of trailer towing, and not so much of carrying buckets of gravel or palettes of bricks.
 
There’s a market out there for premium full-size pickups, hence the popularity of Platinum, Laramie and King Ranch variations from competing brands. The High Country enters the segment in grand form, and at a lower price than its GMC twin.
 
Transportation for freelance writer Costa Mouzouris was provided by the manufacturer. Email: wheels@thestar.ca.
 
2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country
 
Price: $53,315 ($55,510 with 6.7 L V8)
 
Engine: 5.3 L or 6.7 L V8s
 
Power/torque: 355 hp/383 lb-ft. (5.3 L), 420/460 (6.2 L)
Fuel economy (L/100 km): 11.4 (5.3 L), na (6.2 L)
 
Competition: Ford F150 Platinum, Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn
 
What’s best: Big power, smooth ride, frills galore.
 
What’s worst: No diesel option, navigation system is optional.
 
What’s interesting: The Silevrado’s GMC twin, the Sierra, is GM’s top-selling vehicle in Canada.
 
Source: http://www.wheels.ca/car-reviews/2014-silverado-high-country/