2014 Chevrolet Silverado: First Drive

2014 Chevrolet Silverado LTZThere is no better place to greet a new pickup than Texas Hill Country. It’s beautiful and rugged — a place where pickups aren’t just fashion accessories. A recent stint in San Antonio put us behind the wheel of the re-designed 2014 Chevy Silverado.

Let’s get to the important bits first. The new Silverado is available with a 285 horsepower 4.3-liter V6, a 355 horsepower 5.3-liter V8, or a 6.2-liter V8. All three feature aluminum blocks, direct injection, and Active Fuel Management (which shuts down cylinders at cruise to conserve fuel). As a result, the 5.3-liter V8 achieves 23 mpg on the highway. Ratings haven’t been released for the V6 yet, but they’re expected to approach the magic 25 mpg highway threshold.

Silverado aficionados will certainly recognize the new truck through its facelift, but it is styled to appear tougher with a larger grille, bulging wheelwells, and refined body contours. The changes are more dramatic than these promo photos indicate. Chevy’s bi-level grille and stacked headlamps remain but are much flashier. Available projector headlamps and LED accent lighting look expensive. Extended “Double Cab” models add two front-hinged doors with outside handles that can be opened with the front doors closed. Crew Cabs have nearly a foot larger opening for rear entry. Despite high style, obvious attention was paid to practicality.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado High CountryOwners will also appreciate the little details that enhance hauling. Rear bumpers have steps carved into the sides for climbing into the bed. Four movable tie-downs are standard, while LED cargo lights beneath the bed rails make late night pursuits shine. Underneath, four-wheel disc brakes with Duralife rotors resist vibration and corrosion.

Soft touch materials improve the Silverado’s comfy accommodations, but large buttons and knobs are easy to grip, even with gloved hands. Newly-introduced High Country editions sport saddle brown leather, woodgrain trim, and Bose audio. Upper and lower gloveboxes, deep door cubbies, and a center console that can hold most laptops provide a YMCA’s worth of lockers. Port count includes a 110-volt outlet, five USB plugs, four 12-volt outlets, and an SD card slot. But that’s not the best of the technology.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado High CountryChevrolet’s MyLink system utilizes a reconfigurable eight-inch touchscreen to control Pandora internet radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth, and new map displays. Functions can also be controlled by voice or by buttons on the steering wheel. To improve safety, Silverado is available with Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning systems. “Rump shaker” seats vibrate should this chariot’s pilot annoy the warning gods.

Hopping through Texas backroads and ranch lands, it’s obvious that engineers did their homework. Steering is weighty, yet precise. On rough pavement there’s less hop, and the truck tracks more like an SUV. Stomp the V6 or V8 and you sense smooth and ample power. The hard time spent refining the driving characteristics of the new Silverado clearly paid off.

Not everybody will have the chance to drive the Silverado in Texas, but if the truck can make it there, it can make it anywhere (like Midwestern farms, urban driveways, and open Interstates). Prices start under $25,000, but rise significantly.

Storm forward!