Chevrolet rolled out their new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickups for a first drive by the media in, no surprise, Texas where one in five pickup trucks are sold in the United States.
Following a first look at the new Silverado in December, we said that the new truck looked pretty good and appeared to have returned the Silverado to a competitive position in the segment, but that the proof would be in the first drives.
This first drive in Texas was staged as a strong show of confidence by Chevrolet in their new Silverado pickups – betting that they would show well in the largest truck market in the country.
And, just to be certain, Chevrolet boldly chose to do the first drive at the ranch location, near San Antonio, of the annual Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) prestigious Truck Rodeo.
This event is a ‘must win’ for pickup truck manufacturers as the winner of the Truck of Texas award leverages that recognition to sell a whole lot of trucks in Texas for at least a full year following.
For this writer, it seems that Chevrolet’s gamble on the venue was a good bet on these new trucks.
Having driven the competitor vehicles at the Knibbe Ranch venue each of the last three years as a member of TAWA, our early conclusion is that the new 2014 Silverado 1500 – on first drive – is going be competitive with Ford and Ram, winners over the last several years.
We did not get a chance to drive the complete line of the new Silverado 1500 trucks and power trains at this event, but did drive what would be considered the heart of the line in the LT and LTZ trim lines with crew cabs and short boxes.
Several of the trucks were 4WD while others were 2WD. Several of the LT and LTZ models had the Z71 package of performance and appearance enhancements.
The entry level WT (Work Truck) series have not gone into production as yet and the very impressive looking new premium level Silverado 1500 High Country model will not be available until well into the fourth quarter.
The Silverado trucks tested were equipped with mostly the new 5.3-liter Ecotec V-8 engines delivering 355 horsepower and 282 lb.-ft. of torque. A few had the (also new) 4.3-liter V-6 that delivers 285 horsepower with its segment leading 305 lb.-ft of torque.
All of the trucks were equipped with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission.
Absent from the test was the new 6.2-liter V-8 engine (available in the Fall) for which performance figures have not yet been announced.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the 5.3-liter V-8 are 16/23 mpg city/highway for the 2WD and 16/22 mpg for the 4WD. EPA estimates have not yet been released for the V-6.
We were able to drive six of the 20 or so trucks on hand during the course of the day. From the V-8 power train group we drove a LTZ Crew Cab Z71 4WD, the special Texas Edition LTZ Crew Cab 4WD, LTZ Crew Cab 4WD, LTZ Crew Cab 2WD and, from the V-6 group, a LTZ Crew Cab 2WD and a 4WD.
We drove several on both the road and the off-road course and we drove two under cargo bed load on the road course only.
In every drive, we found lots of features and capabilities that excited us in these new Silverado 1500 pickup trucks that we think make the new Silverado a very worthy segment competitor.
The new styling with a stronger and bolder front end, that is both good and capable looking from all angles, gets in your face and, as one of the Chevrolet personnel present remarked, it looks like a “fist in the wind”.
The new line of Ecotec engines with the newly designed Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation system, for efficient operation and fuel economy when not under load, performed well in this first drive.
We tested this feature in both the V-6 and the V-8 on the road and highways near the ranch.
The Ectotec engine shifts from 8 to 4 or 6 to 4 cylinders so quickly and quietly that you do not hear or feel it at all. If it were not for the very easy to see lighted symbol change from V-8 or V-6 to V-4 on the Driver Information Center screen, you would not have known the cylinder deactivation was working.
New interior designs and materials are high quality and feature style and luxury with productivity and convenience everywhere in the cabin. Things like good size knobs placed where you can easily reach them to push buttons large enough to easily see and operate, add to the ease of driving.
The change in the B-pillar placement in the crew cab enables a 4-inch larger rear door entry that also adds 2-inches to leg room in the back without taking anything from the front row cabin space.
The new front row bucket seating is exceptional. Just getting in and sitting down told you that this new Silverado was going to be a very comfortable ride for driver and passenger. The construction of the back and side bolsters matched with seat and butt bolsters almost cradle you in the seat – effectively isolating the driver from road condition and time-behind-the-wheel weariness.
Other details that make the new Silverado stand out include the hydraulic damper assisted tailgate which lowers or raises slowly with just a single hand, the built in step molded into each corner of the bumper coupled with a handhold in the top of the bed side make it easy to swing up onto the bed for working the load, the cargo bed LED lighting system accessory which is reasonably priced ($60) and the availability of a Driver Alert Package ($845) which includes Lane Departure Warning Forward Collision Alert, Rear Park Assist and the “butt rattler” Safety Alert Seat all make the new 2014 Silverado 1500 a good value.
Pricing for the 2014 Silverado appears to be competitive as well.
Base prices on the Silverado LTZ Crew Cabs are the same as 2013. The base prices on the trucks we drove ranged from $39,235 to $43,165.
Models we tested were all equipped with various package adds and accessory equipment to showcase the vehicle. As driven, the truck prices as tested ranged from $47,860 to $50,910 for the Z71, including delivery.
We are seriously looking forward to the 2013 Texas Auto Writers Association Truck Rodeo in October when the Silverado goes head to head with Ram 1500, Ford F-150 and the new Toyota Tundra.
And, oh yes, the new 2014 GMC Sierra will be there too.
In meantime, the new 2014 Silverado 1500 pickups will be in dealerships soon. Go drive one, you should be impressed also.