By Tom Crosby
Pick-up trucks are the most profitable vehicles in the automotive industry and Chevrolet has raised the ante with an all-new Silverado 1500 for 2014 with rugged good looks, new engines with more horsepower, revised steering, suspension and brakes and more robust towing capability.
The result is one of the most muscular appearing full-size pickup trucks with fuel-saving finesse accompanied by towing chops between five and six tons. That's twice the weight of our test drive Silverado 1500 Z71 four-wheel drive LTZ crew cab with 6' 6"long bed.
Pricing remains stable, despite the improvements, and our $5,430 worth of added options boosted safety with forward collision alerts that vibrates the driver's seat when too close for comfort, a lane departure warning helpful with a vehicle longer than 12-feet and vehicle and parking assists.
A standard rear view camera shows what's behind you on the 8-inch dashboard screen. Luxury options included audio upgrades, power sunroof, navigation, heated/cooled leather front seats, chrome assist steps to help with the 8.9-inch ground clearance and functional options like movable tie-downs, cargo box lighting and trailer brake controller.
Like its sister vehicle, the GMC Sierra, the Silverado comes in three different engine types (ours was the EcoTech 3 middle size 5.3-liter V-8) and various cab and cargo bed sizes. Everyone can find a combination/configuration to fit his or her tastes.
Square fender flares, new headlights, truck-wide front bumpers below a pair of horizontal front grilles and monochromatic sculpted sides provide the strong 2014 look.
Chevrolet has been building pickups for 95 years and this year two-thirds of the body is made from high-strength steel, fit and finish are so complementary interior noise is almost totally squelched and the newly efficient engines continue to reduce cylinder usage when not needed to reduce fuel consumption yet produce more horsepower and torque than their predecessors.
Chevrolets are flex-fuel and more power is generated when E85 is used, although its faster burn reduces mileage. The upgraded front and rear suspensions provide a smooth highway ride and our Z71 used monotube Rancho shocks for off-road balance and control.
Steering and handling were responsive and auto grade braking slowed speeds on downhills without using the brakes. Interior controls are easy to reach, gauges readable, and technology gets its due with MyLink infotainment for customized features and numerous mobile device plug-ins.
LIKES: Power, inside looks/space, comfort, quiet DISLIKES: Options needed
BOTTOM LINE: Improvements make it more competitive 2014 pick-up truck
2014 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 1500 4WD LTZ CREW CAB
Base price: $44,460
Curb weight: 5,424 lbs.
Wheelbase: 153 inches
Length: 239.6 inches (6'6" box)
Width: 80 inches
Engine specs: 5.3-liter, V-8, OHV, sequential fuel injection
Horsepower: 355 hp at 5,600 rpm (gas), 380 hp at 5,600 rpm (E-85 fuel)
Torque: 383 ft.-lbs. at 4,100 rpm, 416 ft.-lbs. at 4,100 rpm (E-85 fuel)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
EPA Rating: 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway
Range: 26-gallon tank, regular fuel or E-85
Performance: 0-60 in less than 8 seconds
Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.