I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 decked out in the range-topping High Country trim and powered by the largest V-8 offered by The General . While the High Country competes with the gaudy western-wear cowboys from Ford and Ram , the Chevy pulls off the John Wayne look with a touch more class and refinement.
Missing is the dinner-plate belt buckle styling with embroidered seats and barbed-wire floor mats. In their places are simple saddle-colored leather seats with matching leather stitched atop the dashboard, door panels, and armrest. The look is just subtle enough to remind occupants of the truck’s western flair without choking them with the motif.
While the overall theme of the truck isn’t outlandishly equestrian, the Corvette-derived 6.2-liter, V-8 engine under the hood has no shortage of horses — 420 to be exact. Only a handful of parts separate the Silverado’s powerplant from that found in the new C7 Stingray , and after pressing the accelerator, that becomes clearly evident. Though the truck weights double the Vette, the 6.2-liter still motivates the truck with ease, hitting 60 mph in just six seconds.
Click past the jump for the full review
The Silverado pickup has certainly come a long way over the last 30 years. Vinyl bench seats, AM/FM radios, and manual transfer cases have given way to temperature controlled leather seats, a stereo system that communicates with orbiting satellites, and a four-wheel-drive system that acts automatically. Sure, it might carry the same name and legacy as the Chevy trucks before it, but the all-new 2014 Silverado is a completely different beast.
The back-up camera and front park sensors also played a major role in me liking this truck.
The Silverado is still fresh from its 2014 revamp, complete from the frame up. New exterior wrappings, new engines, new suspension, and a slew of innovative features in the bed help make the ’14 a solid offering from General Motors and a strong competitor against the Ford F-150 , Ram 1500 , and Toyota Tundra .
At first, I found the Chevy’s looks to be a bit over-the-top; too flashy, square, and bulky – even in the lower trim levels. But the more time I spent with the truck and looking at it face to face, I began to like the looks. Pictures sometimes can’t do a vehicle justice and I feel the Silverado is a prime example.
A few of my favorite aspects about the truck revolved around its bed. The corner bumper steps and integrated hand-holds made getting into the bed a snap. Try it without the step, and you’ll feel older than you are. The LED lighting under the bed rails is such a great idea and worked very well at lighting not only the bed, but the surrounding area beyond the tailgate. The high-mount cargo light was a great contributor to this as well.
The back-up camera and front park sensors also played a major role in me liking this truck. Without them, parking or reversing would be a nerve-racking experience. With its high hood, pulling up to a parking curb was a bit of a challenge, but the front sensors gave an auditory alert as to how close I was, along with a visual diagram in the gauge cluster’s TFT display. The backup camera also featured trajectory lines that adjusted with steering inputs. Power-folding mirrors further contributed to close-quarter parking confidence.
Like I was saying before the jump, the High Country’s interior is a nice departure from the gaudy western themes of the competition. This is Chevy’s first stab at the cowboy crowd and its execution seems to be spot-on.
Besides the interior’s theme, the overall impression was greatly positive with only a few complaints. The dashboard’s layout was simple and effective with no confusing switchgear, unnecessary buttons, or extraneous information. The HVAC controls were a breeze to operate, as was the MyLink infotainment system with 8-inch touch screen. The steering wheel controls kept settings within easy reach while the large TFT display inside the gauge cluster was full of useful information of the truck’s mechanicals. The six analog gauges were easy enough to read at a glance with its white-on-black color scheme.
Off to the left resided the integrated trailer brake controller, four-wheel-drive selector, and headlight controls. Setting both the headlights and four-wheel-drive in Auto mode meant not having to worry about touching them very often. Over to the right, the passenger is greeted with two glove boxes that provide ample storage. The center console provides even greater amounts of space to hold stuff. Cell phones get their own shelf and two levels of cubby holes live under the movable cup holders. The armrest lid lifts up to reveal a cavernous space large enough for hanging file folders.
Large, open spaces continue in the back seats with ample amounts of legroom for even the tallest passenger. If more cargo room is needed, the rear seats simply fold upwards to reveal a nearly flat load floor with room enough to haul several mega-sized flat screen TVs from the local big-box store.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Silverado’s interior is the numerous power ports within the center console. Three USB ports, two 12-volt plugs, and a 110-volt household plug reside under the center stack with more USB ports and 12-volt plugs inside the armrest. Literally all five passengers can charge their USB-powered devices at the same time. That’s outstanding.
The rear seats simply fold upwards to reveal a nearly flat load floor with room enough to haul several mega-sized flat screen TVs
The Chevy’s interior didn’t go without complaints, however. My biggest one revolves around the placement and relationship between the driver’s seat and the steering wheel. Seated perfectly straight in the driver’s position, the steering wheel falls roughly an inch off to the right, not centered with the driver’s chest. The same can be said for the dashboard itself. This makes it somewhat difficult for short-armed guys like myself to reach the far end of the center stack. However, taller folks shouldn’t have any trouble reaching those controls.
Along with its redesigned interior and exterior, the Silverado enjoys three all-new engines: the 4.3-liter V-8, the 5.3-liter V-8, and the 6.2-liter V-8. Each feature the same three fuel-saving yet power-producing technologies wrapped up within GM’s EcoTec3 nomenclature. Variable valve timing, direct fuel injection, and Active Fuel Management all keep the EPA fuel economy numbers up while producing more horsepower and torque than ever. The engines may share the same displacement figures as the older mills, but make no mistake; these three engines are basically brand new for 2014.
My Silverado tester came with the range-topping 6.2-liter V-8. And yes, it is a Corvette engine. Its air intake system, oil delivery system, and computer programming are among the only changes the LT1 sees between the two Chevys. In the truck application, the small block makes 420 horsepower and a stump-pulling 460 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic that works well in most situations, though it does have a tendency to hold second gear too long before up-shifting under hard acceleration.
This small block makes 420 horsepower and a stump-pulling 460 pound-feet of torque and still gets 24 mpg on the highway
Around town, the truck has a very calm demeanor about it. It almost wants to be babied. I found it very easy to average 22 to 24 mpg while cruising 50 to 60 mph down flat, two-lane highways. That’s no typo – 24 mpg in a full-size truck with a 420-horsepower V-8 and four-wheel-drive. (Insert slow claps here) Just meandering around town I averaged 17 to 19 mpg. Jump on the throttle, however, and the average drops like a lead zeppelin on fire. Though the fuel economy drops, the performance capability is certainly there.
While the 6.2-liter is a great stop-light champ, it also works great as when there’s work to do. With a final drive ratio of 3.42, my tester was equipped to pull a 9,500-pound trailer. Opt for the 3.73 axle ratio, and the truck will pull 11,800 pounds. An integrated four- and seven-pin wiring harness connector makes hooking up a trailer an easy task. And even in two-wheel-drive, the Silverado benefits from an Eaton G80 automatic locking rear differential for extra traction.
Though a bare-bones Silverado can be had for $25,575, my tester came equipped with nearly every option. Starting out at a base price of $47,380, my High Country tester had the optional 6.2-liter V-8 ($1,995), the premium package which includes the driver alert package, heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, and the trailer brake controller ($950), six-inch chrome assist steps ($700), and the LED bed lighting ($60) for a grand total of $52,080. Also in the mix is a $995 destination charge.
That’s not cheap, but it’s a lot of truck for the money.
Despite my complaints about the dashboard/driver’s seat relationship, I found a comfortable driving position easily.
Cruising around town and coasting down the interstate was an easy affair. While the truck is pretty large, it drove smaller than it looks. The long hood has two ‘power domes’ that helped me keep the truck centered within my lane by lining it up with the road lines. The large side mirrors helped minimize blind spots. The driver’s mirror even had in integrated blind spot mirror, though it was too small and convex for quick glances.
Also present was the lane departure warning and safety seat. When driving over 35 mph, the truck monitors the lane, and will vibrate the left or right seat bottom if I drifted from my lane. The system worked well enough on roads with wider lanes, but got annoying on smaller, back country roads when drifting over the center line is a common occurrence.
Despite my complaints about the dashboard/driver’s seat relationship, I found a comfortable driving position easily. The padded center armrest nor the door panel never grew stiff or uncomfortable on longer drives while the leather seats held up their end of the deal by having ample support. I really enjoyed the heated and cooled functions in the seats. It’s one of those options that seems frivolous, but is hard to give up once you’ve grown accustomed to it.
The F-150 has been the Silverado’s main competition for as long as dinosaurs have been extinct. Ford has done a great job with its overall packaging, engine options, and competitive price point. Like the Chevy, the F-150 Crew Cab’s rear seats will fold up for a massive amount of storage space. A cavernous center console helps keep the driver organized, while four engine options offer a Goldilocks scenario for buyers.
The base engine is the 3.7-liter V-6 followed by the 5.0-liter V-8, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, and the range-topping 6.2-liter V-8. Comparing apples to apples, Ford’s 6.2-liter V-8 only makes 411 horses and 434 pound-feet of torque.
Starting price for the F-150 begins at $24,735 and rises toward the $60,000 for a loaded-out platinum model.
Gallery Ford F-150
The Ram 1500 has seen a resurgence in its competitiveness and gains in its trophy cabinet, having won MotorTrend’s Truck of the Year award for 2013 and 2014. One of the main reasons for its recent success has been its 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel and eight-speed transmission. Making 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, the light duty diesel earned an EPA rating of 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
A coil-over, four-link rear suspension gives the Ram an SUV-like ride with minimal loses in towing and payload capacities. An available four-corner air suspension further helps smooth out the ride.
Pricing for the Ram starts at $24,610 and rises over the $55,000 mark.
Gallery Ram 1500 EcoDiesel - Driven
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Silverado. It proved itself to be a capable truck with interior room to spare and mechanical capacities that few customers will ever fully need. The 6.2-liter V-8 was a sweetheart of an engine that did everything I asked it to, though its transmission was a little finicky at times. The looks grew on me the longer I had it, just as its size and ease-of-driving become easier over the week. I regret not having a trailer to pull or stumps to uproot, but I know without a doubt, the Silverado could have performed those tasks without breaking a sweat.
- Good fit & finish inside and out
- Amazing power from the 6.2-liter V-8
- Surprising fuel economy
- Guzzles gas when pushed
- Transmission holds second gear under hard throttle
- Slight ergonomic issues for smaller drivers