Silverado at home on and off road
Chevrolet's all-new Silverado 1500 pickups are now rolling into dealerships, completely redesigned for 2014, offering a large array of model choices to suit just about any need.
And as far as needs go, the Silverado I recently tested fits mine perfectly: It was the LTZ Crew Cab version with the Z71 off-road package and four-wheel drive.
Because I love leaving the paved roads behind and venturing into the wild, I'm always looking for a vehicle capable of negotiating woodsy trails, mud and sand. And the Z71 Silverado's four-wheel drive is perfect for one of my favorite runs – driving up the beach on South Padre Island.
But I wouldn't buy this LTZ Crew Cab just for off-road driving. It's capable of much more than exploring the woods and beaches. The real value in this truck is in its other attributes, including a cabin that has four full-size doors and plenty of room for five adults (six for versions with a three-person front bench seat).
That makes it practical for a variety of personal and business applications, whether it be to take the family on a trip or haul a crew to a work site. The LTZ is a bit fancy to dedicate to crew hauling, but I can see the rancher or construction firm owner using it as a combination personal and work vehicle.
Crew Cab models can be bought for a lot less if you can do without all the premium amenities found on the LTZ. Crew Cab prices begin at $31,715 for the rear-wheel-drive base version. Double Cab models, which have slightly smaller cabins but still carry up to six, start at $27,615. The Double Cab, with four regular doors, replaced the previous-generation's Extended Cab model.
The Regular Cab model, with two doors and only a front seat, begin at $23,590. All of the Silverado base prices are the same as those of the 2013 models.
There's also a Silverado Texas Edition package available, which can be added on several different configurations of the Silverado.
Our tester's options raised the total sticker price to $49,890. But even without those extras, this is a very nice truck. It comes with a 5-foot, 8-inch cargo box, and leather seats are standard.
On ours, though, we had the LTZ Plus Package, which brought power-adjustable pedals, a Bose audio system, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
We also had the Driver Alert Package, which added high-tech safety features such as lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, front and rear parking assist, and a safety-alert seat that vibrates to warn of a potential forward collision.
We had a power sunroof and 6-inch oval chrome assist steps; the Chevrolet MyLink system with navigation; heated-and-cooled front seats; front bucket seats; a trailer-brake controller; moveable cargo tie-downs; and LED lights for the cargo box.
Bright-aluminum 18-inch wheels were included on our vehicle. Although we didn't have it on our truck, the Texas Edition package adds 20-inch polished-aluminum wheels, along with body-color outside mirrors and door handles, the Bose premium audio system, locking rear differential, trailer-towing package, and, of course, the special Texas Edition badges.
The LTZ is next to the top of the line for the 2014 Silverado. Above it is the new High Country model, similar to the Ford F-150 Platinum Super Crew and Toyota Tundra Platinum and 1794 Edition models.
GM offers the Z71 off-road package only on the LT and LTZ models. It includes four-wheel drive, low-range gearing, mono-tube Rancho shocks, front tow hooks, a transfer-case skid plate, and all-terrain tires. Hill-descent control and an automatic locking rear differential are included, as well.
Three engines are offered: a 4.3-liter V-6, 5.3-liter V-8, and 6.2-liter V-8.
The 5.3-liter Ecotec Flex-Fuel V-8, included on our LTZ, comes with an aluminum block, cylinder deactivation, and ratings of 355 horsepower and 383 foot-pounds of torque. It's connected to a heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission. Cylinder deactivation cuts out four of the cylinders during level highway cruising to improve gas mileage.
EPA ratings for the 5.3-liter engine are the best in the segment – even better than the F-150's EcoBoost V-6 engine – at 16 mpg city/23 highway with rear-wheel drive, and 16/22 with four-wheel drive.
We tested the Silverado in the Great Smoky Mountains on a weekend trip, and found this engine to have plenty of power. The four-wheel drive was quite helpful on some of the rougher unpaved roads in the park and adjacent Cherokee National Forest, allowing us to visit some out-of-the-way scenic spots we might not have been able to see with just two-wheel-drive.
Among standard features on the LTZ are four-wheel antilock brakes with GM's new DuraLife brake rotors; electric power steering; a fully boxed hydro-formed frame; electronic stability control; Autotrac transfer case for low-range gearing in four-wheel drive; a 4.2-inch color driver-information screen and 8-inch touch screen for audio/navigation; rearview camera system; and GM's new halogen projector-beam headlights. The outside mirrors and door handles are chrome-trimmed.
I'm a gadget freak, so I enjoyed the spacious center console between the front seats, which had room for my various electronics, along with plenty of spots to plug them in for charging. At the front of the console, just under the center dash, is a big tray that includes three USB ports, two 12-volt outlets, and even a 115-volt outlet.
My wife and I took up the USB ports with our three smartphones (one a company-provided iPhone, the other two, Samsung Galaxy Androids). One of the 12-volt outlets I used for a hand-held amateur-radio transceiver, and I used the other for an iPad. We even used the 115-volt outlet to recharge the battery on a notebook computer. Yes, we are a connected family.
There are cubbies and storage compartments throughout the cabin, along with two cupholders in the center console and bottle holders in the doors, front and rear.
The driver's bucket seat was comfortable after I finally got it adjusted just right, and the power adjustment for the pedals allowed me to get them in the perfect position.
We had no rear-seat passengers, but I rode back there long enough to find the seat to be fairly accommodating, as long as I was in one of the outboard positions. There was a small pull-down center armrest with two shallow cupholders.
Our ride was very quiet, even on gravel roads. GM says the Silverado's door openings have been redesigned to reduce drag, which helps make the cabin quieter by cutting down wind noise.
The redesigned exterior has a new twin-port grille, full-width bumper and dual power-dome hood, along with sculpted body sides and fender flares. The front end is engineered to improve engine cooling, and the body's overall shape was tweaked using wind-tunnel testing to help reduce wind drag and improve fuel economy. Special attention was given to the roof and tailgate spoiler,
Three cargo-box lengths are available: 5-foot-8, 6-foot-6, and 8-foot. The longer 6-foot-6 box will be offered on the Crew Cab as an option over that model's standard 5-foot-8 box. The 6-foot-6 box will be standard on the extended-cab models, while the regular-cab versions, with no back seat or rear doors, can be purchased with the 6-foot-6 or 8-foot bed.
GM's new CornerStep bumper and built-in hand grips have been added to make it easier to step up into the bed. The tailgate is better balanced to make it easier to raise or lower it. Two-tier loading, a cargo-box light, and a locking tailgate are standard.
Two-thirds of the new Silverado's cab is made of high-strength steel, and standard features include electronic stability control, trailer-sway control, antilock brakes, roof-mounted side-curtain air bags with rollover protection, and tire-pressure monitoring.
OnStar is standard, and offers turn-by-turn navigation. The MyLink infotainment system is new, and is available with or without the navigation system. It's similar to systems such as Ford's Sync and Toyota's Entune that allow for integration of the onboard audio system with smartphones for hands-free calling, Bluetooth audio streaming and connection to popular Internet sites such as Pandora and Sticher.
2014 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 1500 LTZ CREW CAB Z71 4WD
–The package: Full-size, five- or six-passenger, four-door, four-wheel-drive, V-8 powered, light-duty pickup truck.
–Highlights: This is the newest generation of Chevy's Silverado 1500 line, outfitted with the Z71 off-road package with four-wheel drive. The truck is all-new for 2014, and is wider and more muscular than before, with a wide range of new features and options, including new safety and connectivity technologies.
–Negatives: Can get quite pricey with all the options.
–Engine: 5.3-liter V-8
–Transmission: Six-speed automatic
–Power/torque: 355 horsepower/383 pound-feet
–Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock
–Length: 230 inches (with 5-foot-8 box)
–Curb weight: 5,345 pounds
–Cargo capacity (payload): 1,830 pounds
–Electronic stability control: Standard
–Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain both rows
–Towing capacity: 11,200 pounds
–EPA fuel economy: 16 mpg city/22 highway (4WD)
–Fuel capacity/type: 26 gallons/regular unleaded
–Base price, base model: $23,590
–Base price, model tested: $43,950
–Price as tested: $48,895
–On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10)
Prices exclude destination charge
ABOUT THE WRITER
G. Chambers Williams III has been an automotive columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1994. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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