DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: I'm old enough to remember when pickup trucks were work vehicles. They still are, but the modern crop of half-ton machines from Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, Toyota and Nissan are so much more. Really, if it weren't for the still-cringe-worthy fuel economy, only sports car aficionados would need more in a vehicle.
Setting aside for a moment the fact that I am a fan of low, lithe machines, the Silverado is a really good pickup truck. The refinement is nothing short of outstanding, with our LTZ tester delivering NVH isolation better than certain fairly high-falutin' German and Japanese sedans I've driven lately. Occupant comfort is equally luxurious thanks to heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, comprehensive automatic climate control, a full gauge package, Chevy MyLink and a side window height ideal for resting one's forearm (as is the custom among truck owners, I'm told).
Size? This LTZ crew cab has it in spades, but from behind the wheel you don't really notice. It's amazingly easy to drive, with a decent turning radius, nicely weighted power steering and brakes with confident, linear travel -- it's easy to learn the truck's stopping distances in various conditions, from completely unladen to piled with pea gravel (both of which were tested). For those who trailer, an electronic trailer brake controller is included.
The only weirdness I experienced in a long weekend with the Silverado centered on the transmission or more likely the engine/transmission interface. On one stretch of stop-and-go freeway traffic involving braking followed by rapid acceleration, there was a disconcerting thunk from the gearbox. Later, on a hard 3-4 upshift, the engine freewheeled before the gear engaged. Perhaps I caught the new small-block V8 off-guard during cylinder deactivation or something similar, but the issue never reared its head again in several more days of driving.
Overall, the new Silverado 1500 LTZ is a truck that can easily do double duty as a luxury car; the space, surroundings, fit-and-finish and ride are just that good. Like many of you, it's easy to think “$50,000 for a pickup truck?” but consider the number of near-luxury sedans and crossovers parked around that price point. The Silverado is a lot more vehicle, for better or for worse; if carrying pea gravel is on your list of things to do, it's tough to beat.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Split time this weekend between this 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 and the new Chevy Corvette. I know, tough duty.
I love this truck. That's no surprise to those who know what a huge Silverado slappy I am. I drove the GMC Sierra previously, and now the Chevy. In both cases the refinement is off-the-charts high exceeding my expectations.
This truck drives like a luxury sedan in terms of refinement, fit and finish and quiet operation, and I'm not exaggerating. It's that smooth and quiet. Chevy says it's the quietest full-size truck on the market, and I believe it.
It's luxurious, comfortable, and huge inside, with nice, big, easily decipherable knobs and switches -- and it will haul a couple thousand pounds of whatever you put in the back when you want it to. It will also tow up to 11,000 pounds. Amazing. It's the one truck you need for everything, and I dare say the $48K sticker is in line with other cars with this level of refinement. In fact, it is lower than some. I'd probably get mine equipped almost exactly like this.
Any other truck or SUV I've driven that is this smooth has air suspension. This is the best-driving normally suspended chassis on the market. Period.
EDITORIAL INTERN BRAD WILEY: The 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 comes out of the gate with a new front grille and headlight assembly. It reminds me of the split headlights in the '80s Chevrolet truck/SUV lineup. This new aggressive front end and massive hood give a broad-shouldered look to an already big truck; we even had some onlookers ask if it was the new 2500 series. Other exterior highlights are the rear integrated bumper steps that offer an ease of access to the bed, while remaining out of the way and still streamlined enough to be aesthetically pleasing. Also, the tailgate uses an integrated dampening system that allow for the tailgate to be lowered without slamming down like most overlooked tailgate systems. In addition, the bed lighting was aided by under-bedrail LED light strips that allowed for complete bed illumination.
All of my passengers were impressed by the Silverado's quiet interior. Previous models definitely lacked in the sound deadening department. It was like riding in a Mercedes-Benz GL350 Bluetec. The silence was amazing, but the engine feedback coming into the cab was also limited. As for interior accommodations, our tester, nearly touching the $50K mark, was more than loaded for a truck. The crew cab was spacious, with the power driver and passenger seats all including heating and cooling with the touch of a button. My one quibble with the air conditioned seats is the fact that the blower unit used in this system produced an excessive amount of noise, so much so that the radio had to be turned up to drown out the hum of the electric motor.
Power outlets galore! Everywhere I looked, there were a handful of 12-volt outlets, USB outlets, and even a center console card reader. However, the 120-watt household outlet was a plus; personally, I would have sacrificed two 12-volt outlets for an additional 120-watt outlet. As for entertainment and GPS, the Bose system sounded great, even while rolling down the expressway with the windows open. However, the interface was laggy. Changing stations and interchanging between FM and XM were more of a waiting game than a thoughtless turn of a knob. The GPS also fell short with the same ailments. Perhaps a resume button on the touchscreen would make for ease of use, for when the map is moved away from the intended route.
It isn't every day that we are able to truly test the capabilities of the vehicles in our press fleet, but for this truck an exception was made. I borrowed a 7-foot by 12-foot dual-axle hydraulic-dump trailer from a friend with plans of moving a lot of pea gravel from a rock quarry to our family cottage a few miles away. With years of towing experience and the licensing to do so legally, it would be interesting to see how the Silverado would do.
So we loaded up the truck with equipment and attached the brightly painted John Deere green trailer; the truck's on board towing system recognized the trailer being attached, allowing for the integrated brake controller to work. The added rear park assist definitely makes hooking up a trailer a one-man operation. Keeping in mind that the trailer weighs approximately 4,000 pounds empty, we anticipated loading up with 3.5 tons of pea gravel equal to 7,000 pounds, keeping us around the truck's max GVWR of 11,500 pounds. With the payload in the tow, the rear leaf packs leveled out, leaving the truck in an optimal handling position with a trailer in tow. The real challenge was getting the rig out of the quarry and up a very steep grade. The 3.08 rear differential was able to apply all of the torque of the 5.3-liter V8, allowing the truck to ascend without overworking the gearbox.
Once on the surface streets, the truck handled rather well for a half-ton with that load size. Using the towing mode for the gearbox and setting the hill descend mode for engine braking. The front end remained planted, while steering was nimble; it never caused exaggerated trailer-wagging. The integrated dash-mounted trailer brake controller allowed for instant control, and made for an ease of conscience when fearless drivers aimlessly pulled in front of the loaded truck. Despite having the towing package on this Silverado, the blind spot mirrors simply were not enough for my comfort. After arriving at our destination, the truck had to be backed down a single-lane road nearly an eighth-mile long; having had towing mirrors, this task would have been a bit easier. After unloading our first haul of material, we loaded the trailer down with 2 tons of crushed concrete, brick and block. The truck still had no issues with towing this load, equally leveled in the trailer. Navigating through narrow streets and getting on the expressway was easy and acceleration was not hampered too much with the added trailer weight. The lane departure warning in the truck also offered a constant reminder, with a rumble in the bottom of the seat each time the truck deviated from the lane.
With the truck disconnected from the trailer, it was an enjoyable drive, the higher stance was very easy to track down the road, and the Z71 upgrades like the Rancho shocks created a very comfortable ride. For such a massive truck, I can see why they are adding the 6.2-liter V8 to the 1500 lineup, it would help not only in towing, but overall pep. As with previous generations, the six-speed automatic gearbox is very wonky. While driving around town, the typical hard-shift from first to second is replaced by a confusing shift-pattern. The upshifting and downshifting in first and second gear is a bit goofy. This almost late shift or modulating issues result in shift-shuddering and is exaggerated in the cab. Yet when the truck was towing, the shifting issues were nonexistent.
Overall, the Silverado was a great handler for towing and offered an enjoyable ride; I would have liked to see what it could do back in the woods trudging through a few mud wallows.
2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 Crew Cab
Base Price: $44,160
As-Tested Price: $48,750
Drivetrain: 5.3-liter V8; 4WD, six-speed automatic
Output: 355 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 383 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
Curb Weight: 5,218 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 16/22/18 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 15.7 mpg
Options: Driver alert package including front and rear park assist, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, safety alert seats ($845); Mylink audio system including 8-inch color touch and navigation ($795); LTZ plus package including power adjustable pedals, Bose audio system, heated steering wheel ($770); 6-inch chrome assist steps ($700); heated and cooled seats driver and passenger, front full feature leather appointed buckets ($480); integrated trailer brake controller ($230); four movable upper tie downs ($60); LED lighting, cargo box ($60).
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