2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country 4WD Crew CabPosted on March 14th, 2014
Engineered to overachieve and styled to stand out
By Nina Russin
There’s a reason that the Silverado has been a consistent best seller for Chevrolet since the model launched fifteen years back. It’s a really good truck, with the ability to haul, tow and crawl through muck. The 2014 model also handles very much like a passenger car: a difficult challenge to fulfill with a single product.
The High Country is a premium version of the base model, with unique exterior and interior trim. With a base MSRP of $47,380, the Silverado High Country targets the heart of the luxury market. Although its four-wheel drive system makes it capable of serious off-road terrain, I doubt many owners will want to tackle the Rubicon trail with twenty-inch chrome rims.
Entrepreneurs needing a prestigious yet versatile vehicle for their businesses should find a lot to love in the new premium model. Payload capacity is 1957 pounds, and the Silverado can tow up to 9800 pounds. The optional 6.2-liter V-8 engine has 460 foot-pounds of peak torque: an important component for off-the-line performance. Basically, it’s a Corvette engine in a light-duty truck.
To enhance fuel economy, engineers added a cylinder deactivation feature when engine loads are light. Direct injection delivers gasoline directly into the engine cylinders to improve throttle response and reduce parasitic fuel loss. Despite having a relatively high compression ratio (11:1), the engine does not require premium gasoline.
Options on the test truck include the 6.2-liter engine, special exterior paint, a premium package that includes forward collision alert and lane departure warning, a heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, trailer brake controller, running boards and cargo box LED lighting. Final MSRP, including the $995 destination charge, is $53,075.
Test drive in Phoenix
This week I drove the new premium Silverado around the Phoenix, Scottsdale and Chandler, Arizona metropolitan areas as well as a section of the Gila River Indian reservation south of town. Except for its high seating position and large footprint, the Silverado feels very much like driving a Cadillac.
The six-speed automatic transmission is paired with a two-speed transfer case, providing the low gear range necessary for navigating uneven off-road trails. An automatic locking rear differential prevents the rear wheels from slipping under these conditions. I would recommend buyers who plan to take their trucks off-road forgo the running boards and buy a smaller, less expensive set of rims with off-road tires. The standard all-season tires are fine for graded dirt roads, but off-road tires will grip better on serious trails.
The cylinder deactivation feature is notable for its invisibility to the driver. I remember the 4-6-8 Cadillacs of the 1980s: one of the bleak chapters in the history of GM engineering. In mechanic’s school we referred to them as the 1-2-3 Cadillacs because that’s how many of the cylinders typically worked.
But on-board computers have improved significantly since that time, and with them, the ability to make cylinder deactivation robust enough for everyday use in a work truck. It’s a win/win for the truck owner because it decreases cost of ownership without any negative impact on power and performance.
Engineers have made some other major improvements as well. Braking performance is light years ahead of what it was in earlier models: firm and linear. A special hardening process makes the brake rotors more durable and extends service intervals.
The suspension consists of a coil over shock setup in front and multi-leaf in the rear, keeping all five passengers comfortable on rough surfaces. Electric power steering has decent on-center response. The test truck has a very wide turning circle, but that’s to be expected from a long wheelbase vehicle with oversized wheels.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior, making it easy for both rows of passengers to converse.
As a smaller person, I was happy to be able to adjust the driver’s seat high enough to have a clear forward view: something I have not found in some of the Silverado’s competitors. The truck’s B pillars are thick, but I was able to monitor traffic in adjacent lanes thanks to convex inserts in the side mirrors. The standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle, eliminating blind spots in the back corners and beneath the rear glass.
Engineers utilize haptic feedback to alert the driver if he is swerving out of his lane or approaching an obstacle to the front or rear. In either case, the driver’s seat vibrates: a much less disruptive signal than an audible chime.
The styling, fit and finish of the Silverado High Country interior befits a luxury truck. Styling is reminiscent of western boots and saddlery without appearing campy. A dual locking glovebox and deep center console bin keep valuables such as purses and personal computers out of sight. The second-row seat provides some valuable interior storage space when not occupied by passengers.
Designers did a good job of providing both rows of passengers with 12-volt outlets, cup and bottle holders. I was disappointed not to find air vents in either the B pillars or behind the center console. In this part of the country, that could make second-row passengers uncomfortable at the height of summer.
Standard memory settings enable multiple drivers to share the car. The driver’s seat automatically reclines when the driver turns off the ignition: a feature I’m not particularly fond of. I would rather see it as an option as opposed to a default setting. For me, it meant having to readjust the seat every time I entered the truck. In addition, the seat reclines past the B pillar, making it more difficult to exit the vehicle.
I found both the gauge cluster with digital information display and the center stack screen easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. Steering wheel controls enable the driver to change audio settings, scroll through the information pages and utilize the Bluetooth interface with minimal distraction.
The Chevrolet Silverado received a five star crash test rating from the National Traffic Safety Administration. Standard safety features include front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, trailer sway control, hill start assist, daytime running lamps and tire pressure monitoring.
A complimentary six month subscription to OnStar includes emergency crash notification and stolen vehicle location.
Chevrolet builds the Silverado at its Silao GuanajuatoˇMexico assembly plant.
Like: An exceptionally well designed and engineered light duty pickup truck with the ability to do serious work, handle off-road trails, and perform like a luxury car.
Dislike: Driver’s seat automatically defaults to its full back position when the driver cuts the ignition. Lack of rear vents can make second-row passengers uncomfortable in temperature extremes.
Model: Silverado High Country Crew Cab 4X4
Base price: $47,380
As tested: $53,075
Horsepower: 420 Hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 460 lbs.-ft. @ 4100 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 14/20 mpg city/highway2014, Luxury Offroad 2014, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Chevrolet, performance, pricing, standard safety
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