2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71Posted on August 13th, 2013
Light-duty pickup with the heart of a sports car
By Nina Russin
This year, Chevrolet introduces the newest generation of its Silverado light-duty pickup trucks, with three available engines and some enticing new cargo features. The first model off the line is the 5.3-liter: the smaller of two V-8 blocks. There is also a 4.3-liter V-6, and a 6.2-liter V-8 that rolls out later in the model year. All are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Chevrolet has, for some time, shared Corvette engine technology with the Silverado. The 6.2-liter Gen 5 aluminum small block V-8 available on the 2014 Silverado continues that tradition. In this writer’s opinion, it’s a brilliant strategy.
While a light-duty pickup truck’s power and performance needs might seem diametrically opposite to that of a sports car, both require a light yet rigid block with abundant low-end torque, plus lubrication and cooling systems that can function under extreme loads. By tuning the blocks differently, engineers can use one piece of machinery to meet the needs of both vehicles.
GM has dubbed the new family of engines EcoTec3, reflecting three fuel-saving technologies: direct injection, cylinder deactivation and variable valve timing. My average fuel economy during my test drive was 23 miles-per-gallon, a four mile-per-gallon improvement over the 19-mpg EPA estimate. That’s a pretty impressive achievement for a 355-horsepower engine pushing 5000 pounds of sheet metal uphill.
Base price for the rear-wheel drive crew cab with Z71 off-road suspension is $35,855, excluding the $995 destination charge. The 5.3-liter V-8 block is an $895 upgrade from the V-6. Other options include power adjustable pedals, power sliding rear window, rear park assist, 18-inch alloy wheels, power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, remote start, MyLink infotainment system, rearview camera, rear window defroster, 110-volt power outlet, chrome running boards, heated front seats, trailer brake controller, 3.42 rear axle LED lighting and cargo tie downs, bringing the final MSRP to $40,910.
Test drive in Phoenix
This week was my first time behind the wheel of the 2014 Silverado. My drive route included a 100-mile loop through the foothills of the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix as well as some time on surface streets and highways in the east valley.
Its powertrain is the Silverado’s biggest selling point. The 5.3-liter engine has abundant torque for towing and hauling heavy loads, with plenty of horsepower for passing slower vehicles at speed. The truck literally floated over the pitchy hills on the Bush Highway east of town.
The Z71 suspension consists of independent coil over monotube shocks up front and a solid rear axle. The rear axle enhances the truck’s towing capability. While some trucks with solid rear ends suffer from highway hop, the Silverado’s ride is virtually indistinguishable from a passenger car.
The electric power steering system provides plenty of assist at lower speeds for maneuverability with decent on-center response on the highway. Because of its long wheelbase, the turning circle is rather large: 47.2 feet with the smaller of two available cargo boxes. This precludes the ability to perform U-turns except on extremely wide roads. I also found myself having to correct when pulling into tighter parking slots. It’s the price one pays for a big truck with a roomy passenger cabin.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the truck in firm, linear fashion.
Engineers did an excellent job of isolating passengers from wind, road and engine noise, enhancing the Silverado’s car-like feel. Because of its high cowl, I found myself adjusting the driver’s seat quite far upward. Were it not for the adjustable pedal feature, I might have had problems reaching the accelerator.
Aside from that, visibility around the perimeter is good. Convex inserts in the side mirrors make it easier to monitor low-profile vehicles in the adjacent lanes. The rearview camera eliminates what would be a large blind spot below the rear glass. Lines superimposed over the image show the truck’s trajectory according to steering inputs.
The crew cab is the configuration of choice for buyers who plan to use their trucks as a family car. Not only can the interior seat up to five adults, the rear seats also provide valuable enclosed storage space for luggage, athletic gear, camping equipment and groceries.
The optional side steps make it easy to climb inside, while remote start enables the driver to fire the ignition and heat or cool down the interior prior to driving. I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust, with plenty of lower lumbar support for my two-hour test drive.
Information pages in the gauge cluster give drivers instantaneous access to important data including tire pressures, oil and transmission fluid temperatures, driving range and fuel economy. The MyLink voice-activated infotainment system enables the driver to program the audio and navigation systems with minimal distraction. Standard Sirius and HD radio give the Silverado owner a limitless number of entertainment options. The optional 110-volt outlet on the test truck enables kids to plug in computer games on long road trips.
My only criticism of the interior is that the styling looks a little plain when compared to some of the Ram products. The materials used are nice, and I prefer easy-to-clean cloth upholstery to leather. It also stays cooler in extreme heat. But unlike the head-turning exterior, the interior lacked pizzazz. It needs some sexing up.
The Chevrolet Silverado comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring and daytime running lamps.
Standard OnStar automatically notifies police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a serious collision. Beginning with the 2014 models, Silverado owners also get complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership.
Chevrolet builds the Silverado at its assembly plant in Silao, GJ Mexico.
Like: Chevrolet’s powertrains continue to excel in the all-new 2014 Silverado models. The 5.3-liter V-8 engine has abundant torque for acceleration and towing, with plenty on the high end for passing other vehicles at speed. The six-speed automatic transmission progresses seamlessly through the gears with no perceptible shift shock.
Dislike: Because of the high cowl small drivers will need to adjust the driver’s seat far upward, making it hard to reach the accelerator without the adjustable pedal option.
Model: Silverado Z71 2WD LT Crew Cab
Base price: $35,855
As tested: $40,910
Horsepower: 355 Hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 383 lbs.-ft. @ 4100 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Off-road: Yes (4WD version only)
Fuel economy: 16/23 mpg city/highway2014, Luxury 2014, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Chevrolet, performance, pricing, standard safety
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