ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: Things are better in High Country… at least if you prefer your 2015 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck to be packed with some extra standard features, additional chrome exterior jewelry, and an exclusive saddle-brown interior color scheme. When we awarded the Chevy Silverado our Best of the Best Truck award for 2014, we had a High Country model for testing. A year later and after spending a couple of days with another example, it’s pretty to easy to see why we gave this truck the nod.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a new Ford F-150 in the office, and it was a nice truck. The aluminum body panels to save weight are big news for the Ford, but in terms of refinement in the ride quality and the interior, it wasn’t a quantum leap ahead of the old truck. Instead it just felt like an update with small improvements. It was familiar and felt like an F-series truck, which isn’t a bad thing, because the Ford remains the sales king in the segment.
Now, after getting out of this Silverado, I remain impressed with the smooth ride (for an unloaded truck), and the cabin, which you easily settle into with controls that are large and clearly marked to make working through easy. Also, it just seems better isolated from road and wind noise compared to the Ford. It doesn’t bounce as much over ruts as the Ford, either. The Silverado definitely isn’t the best-riding truck, though. That title goes to the Ram 1500 with its rear coil-spring suspension. But the Silverado is a solid second-best in the ride comfort category.
New for 2015 is eight-speed automatic transmission that you get if you decide to upgrade to the 6.2-liter V8 engine. For the most part, it performed fine with fluid shifts, but there’s still some tuning refinement needed when it comes to slow-speed situations. In parking lots, it hunts for gears as you idle around looking for a spot, and if you get back onto the gas, it will often try to go in a higher gear for a little bit then downshift and slam into the lower gear.
No complaints about the big V8, which easily got the Silverado moving in all situations I encountered. No towing, just normal commuting around on surface streets and expressways where passing slower traffic was easy enough with the power on tap.
We did get some snow during my stint, making for a slick morning commute into the office. The 20-inch all-season Goodyear tires wrapped around the High Country-unique chrome wheels did real well in those conditions.
Remote start was my best friend, providing a warm, welcoming cabin before my drives, and the heated seats and steering wheel are other fabulous features to have with single-digit temps. The spray-on bedliner is also something I like better than the plastic liner we have on our long-term Silverado LTZ Z71.
Like I said… Things are indeed better in High Country -- especially during a particularly cold Michigan winter.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: Maybe it’s juvenile (OK, it’s totally juvenile), but I can’t get over the High Country trim name. Where is this High Country? Does it share a border with Flavor Country? Is it a sly reference to post-legalizationColorado? Are there lots of car washes there? Because that shiny $995 white diamond tricoat paint was looking really rough after a few days on the end-of-winter roads around metro Detroit.
Adding two extra transmission speeds only bumps city/highway estimates up 1 mpg each; combined remains unchanged at 17 mpg estimated, though real-world figures seem to be on par with, or perhaps even slightly better than, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost-equipped 2015 Ford F-150 we recently tested. Jon’s right in that there is some low-speed gear searching, which is something we’ve sadly become accustomed to on these new higher-speed transmissions -- at least on domestic vehicles.
Anyway, this High Country-trimmed truck starts with everything we like about well-equipped Silverados, including our Z71-equipped long-termer -- a quiet, relatively refined ride, ample power from the big V8 and genuinely useful features like factory bedliner -- and then takes the luxury thing maybe half a step further than it needed to go.
Not that you shouldn’t get the extra bling, or attractive brown leather interior (promotional materials indicate that it’s supposed to recall a finely crafted saddle) if you want it. I won’t judge -- I’ll leave that to our pickup-driving readers, many of whom write in to criticize ultra-lux, seldom-dirtied trucks packing proportionately luxurious price tags whenever we review something like this Chevy or its Ford and Ram counterparts.
I like to think that Chevy, Ford and Ram wouldn’t be building pricey high-end pickups like this if there wasn’t a market for them, and I’ll add my usual caveat that, as a non-pickup driver, I may not be qualified to speak about what’s truly necessary on an up-market truck. But I don’t see much here beyond aesthetics that differentiates the Silverado High Country from trucks costing thousands less.
Unless you’re dying to show your truck buddies that you’ve got a lot of cash to throw around, or you absolutely need those High Country badges and embossed seatbacks, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the comfort and tech goodies you seek in lower-trimmed Silverados. You’ll get the capability without the fancy-pants appearance stuff.
But if it calls for you, screw the haters and go for it. Hell, kick it up a notch with the Silverado High Country HD if you’re so inclined -- it’s a free country, etc. If you do opt for this trim, though, skip the diamond white tricoat paint. Most trucks look good with a bit of dust on ’em. This thing just looked dirty.
Front seat configuraton for the 2015 Silverado High Country include heated and cooled leather bucket seats, with contrast stitching and 12-way power adjustments, including four-way power lumbar.PHOTO BY CHEVROLET
Options: 6.2-liter V8 Ecotec3, eight-speed automatic ($2,495); rear seat entertainment system ($1,495); power sunroof ($995); white diamond tricoat paint ($995); high country premium package including driver alert package with forward collision alert, lane departure warning and safety alert seat, heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, trailer brake controller ($950); LED cargo box lighting ($60).
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