CREATURE COMFORTSThankfully, the previous Silverado's dreary, dated cabin isn't carried over into the new truck. The redesigned interior boasts a dashboard with large, round nacelles that flare from the instrument panel. Switches and buttons on both the center stack and the steering wheel are oversized for use with gloves, and a split-level locking glovebox returns. Regardless of trim, the 2014 Silverado makes do with a touchscreen audio interface with USB auxiliary inputs, although higher trim grades gain Chevy's new MyLink infotainment system with an eight-inch screen. The mid-level LT and top-tier LTZ trims have a new four-inch color information center embedded into the gauge cluster. Sadly, the packaging of the four-wheel-drive system results in a steering column that is still slightly off-center from the driver's seat.
There's plenty of storage space inside thanks to a rash of small cubbies cut into each door panel and a new floor console that's capable of holding file folders, small laptops, and so on. Even models with bench seats boast a sizable armrest storage compartment along with a lockable underseat storage area.
Predictably, the top-tier LTZ and the new, Western-inspired High Country model are the most impressive Silverados, boasting leather-wrapped instrument panels with contrast stitching, leather-wrapped door arm rests, and leather seating with contrast stitching and piping. High Country models go a step further with unique trim accents and saddle-hued leather seats. Step down a grade to the LT, and the cabin loses some of that panache: soft-touch materials are still applied to the door panels, but the dashboard regresses to hard plastic and the interior reverts to a monochromatic black color scheme unless you pony up for the optional convenience package. Fleet-oriented WT models are even more modest, skipping the argent dash accents, wrapping the seats in vinyl trim, and eschewing carpet in favor of rubber flooring.
EXTRA CONTENTHigher-trim models come packed with a fair amount of interesting content. A 120-volt household power outlet is available, as are a pair of 12-volt sockets for the front passengers. Models with the bucket seats/floor console combination gain another three USB ports tied to the infotainment system. LTZ and High Country models are available with forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, which Chevrolet says are firsts for the segment. Later this summer, crew cab models equipped with both the optional Bose audio system and the 6.2-liter V-8 will be available with an active noise-canceling system.
Some of the new features lie outside of the cabin. All Silverados are available with LED lamps located beneath the bed rails and with steps carved into the corners of the rear bumper. LT grades and higher gain a new "EZ-Lift" tailgate that smoothly lowers itself without assistance and needs only one hand to close. LT models are also available with rear park sense detection, but LTZ and High Country models feature front detection as well. Opt for the Z71 package on either a Silverado LT or LTZ, and you'll gain a few unique trim pieces along with heavy-duty Rancho dampers, upgraded springs, skid plates, a locking rear differential, and, for the first time, a brake-based hill-descent-control function.
HOW IT ALL COMES TOGETHERThe new Silverado drives a lot like the old truck, although it's sturdier, quieter, and a little more compliant over long stretches of tarmac. Wind and road noise are less intrusive than before. The electric power steering feels much like the old hydraulic system but is still a little light at highway speeds. Four-wheel disc brakes offer good bite and a firm brake pedal.
The stalwart 5.3-liter V-8 remains plenty powerful, but we walked away more impressed with the revised 4.3-liter V-6. No longer the dog of the lineup, the engine had adequate power for around-town use; we used it to lug a 5000-pound camping trailer around the outskirts of San Antonio without much difficulty. Chevrolet views the V-6 as an entry-level engine for budget-minded customers, but we think that is selling it short -- especially as Ram and Ford continue to find success selling six-cylinder engines in their full-size trucks.
Is the 2014 Silverado the sales giant GM needs? That's a question that still needs to be answered. It is certainly an improvement over the last Silverado, but it doesn't quite alter he paradigm of what a Silverado -- or a full-size pickup, for that matter -- can and should be. Revolution seems to be a thing of the past; instead, evolution and cautious progress are the way forward. It's neat that GM is watching the market when it comes to new transmissions and light-duty diesel offerings, but it'd be great if the company actually stepped forward and once again led the entire segment in terms of innovation.
That said, the 2014 Silverado is a solid foundation to build on as time and technology march on. Here's hoping GM does just that -- but before another seven years fly by.
2014 Chevrolet Silverado LT Crew Cab
|Base Price:||$35,260-$38,835 (destination not included)|
|On Sale:||Q2 2013|
|Engine:||5.3-liter OHV V-8|
|Horsepower:||355 hp @ 5600|
|Torque:||383 lb-ft @ 4100|
|Drive:||Rear- or Four-wheel|
|L x W x H:||230 x 80 x 74 in|
|Curb Weight:||5139-5424 lbs|
|EPA Rating:||16/23 (2WD), 16/22 (4WD)|