The big dog is back
Right away I fell in love with the new front fascia; it’s very reminiscent of the 90s trucks I adore so much, all the while still looking fresh and modern
I’ll start by saying that I’ve always been, and always will be a fan of GM trucks. As a kid, I loved watching the classic Chevy “Like a Rock” commercials and to this day I still admire the rock solid reliability displayed by the many run-down, well-used and high mileage examples still working hard on the road today. Sadly though, even I will admit that over the last decade GM’s offering in the pickup market had really started to fall behind that of its key competitors. Of all the cars I’ve driven recently, I’ve been most excited about testing the brand new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado Z71. This is solely so that I could determine for myself whether GM was back in the pickup truck game, or if this was just another half-hearted attempt to freshen up a stale truck.
The previous generation (2007-2013) of the Silverado was a reliable hard-working truck, but in my opinion it was really lacking in a couple key areas. Firstly, the exterior looks did nothing for me. The full length doors without any visible rocker panel and GM’s attempts to move away from the split headlight front grill made the truck look cheap and sort of awkward. Secondly, the interior seemed much less refined than other trucks, and possibly even a step backwards from the generation it replaced.
Enter the re-designed 2014 Silverado. Right away I fell in love with the new front fascia; it’s very reminiscent of the 90s trucks I adore so much, all the while still looking fresh and modern. Thankfully someone at GM has recognized that some designs are worth sticking with and the split headlights have returned. Moreover, the doors have been cut short and inset into the cab, so a real visible rocker panel exists. It all comes together well and my Jet Black tester was a great looking truck that attracted plenty of attention from my fellow GM fans everywhere I took it. I only wish it came with HID lighting as it would be the perfect complement to the new front end.
The interior though is where this truck really shines. It’s clear than GM has really taken all the negative remarks made over the years about their truck interiors and have made a massive effort to ensure this new truck has an exceptional interior. My LTZ Z71 Silverado came equipped with all the bells and whistles you’d expect to find in something like a Cadillac or Lexus, but then again, at a rather steep price of $57,000 it’d better have some gadgets. Over my week with the Silverado I couldn’t get over just how well thought out storage compartments in the cab were; it had the perfect place for my tissue box, the perfect place for my phone, keys, and wallet. It was also a very pleasant place to be, the heated and cooled seats were trimmed in very nice black leather with white stitching, which matched the steering wheel and dashboard. It was easy to find that perfect seating position and even after spending hours on the highway I never felt sore or fatigued. As my colleagues have noted in the past, the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system is one of the best in the business and it has now made its way into the Silverado, including a very competent navigation system and a Bose stereo.
Prior to picking up the Silverado I had been driving my sporty little Mercedes SLK, so climbing up into the cab of the Silverado and lumbering out of the parking lot felt very awkward. After a while I got used to, and even came to appreciate the less-than-exciting driving dynamics of a full-size truck. Corners are to be taken slowly and parking in the city must be carefully planned, but out on the open road is where the Silverado truly is at home. Cruising along on the highway the ride is extremely smooth and interior noise is virtually non-existent, even motoring along on gravel farm roads, the Silverado remains comfortable and composed – no drama here. The steering also really impressed me, with just the right amount of feedback and effort and a very tight turn radius for a truck whose size rivals that of a school bus. The 5.3L V8 in my tester delivered plenty of passing power, but the electronic throttle response was really not a strong point and made maneuvering in heavy traffic a bit of a chore.
It seems that one of the hottest topics when it comes to pickup trucks right now is fuel mileage. While the likes of Ford and Dodge have turned to advanced technologies and smaller engines to post some palatable fuel economy numbers, Chevrolet has stayed the course with the recently refreshed 5.3L which my tester was equipped with. It does however come with a very seamless cylinder shutdown feature, which shuts down four of the truck’s cylinders when the power isn’t needed. Under my relatively light foot I managed an average of 13.8L/100km in rush hour commuting, and a very respectable 10.4L/100km on a highway run.
At this point, it’s no secret that I really like this truck, but is it really enough to put GM back into the pickup game? At some point over the last decade or so, pickup trucks have transitioned for many people from basic tools of the trade, unpleasant utilitarian work vehicles, to hard working and luxurious status symbols. This upper scale truck market has been a great source of growth, as more and more people from different trades have justified spending the extra money to get themselves behind the wheel of their choice of a fully loaded pickup truck. While I do feel that Ford has, for a while now, lead the premium pickup race, I really do think the new Silverado Z71 is positioned to be a very serious challenger. It really can do just about anything you could ask of it, with confidence and grace.
It’s also worth noting that while the aforementioned MSRP for my tester is quite high at $57,000, Chevrolet is currently offering cash rebates amounting to $10,000, which puts this truck right in-line, or even below similarly equipped trucks from the other two Detroit players. I did truly enjoy my time with this truck and if I had any need, really any need at all for a truck like this, I wouldn’t hesitate to put one in my driveway. Who knows, maybe by the time these hit the used market I’ll be able to find a need to have one.
2014 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 Gallery