Full-size pickup trucks are Detroit's bread and butter. Chevrolet has played fairly conservatively with the Silverado's first major redesign since the 2007 model.
The Silverado looks a lot like the last one on the outside with some influence from the heavy-duty line. Not much beyond the bow-tie emblem on the steering wheel looks the same inside.
New for 2014
Aside from the changes mentioned above, there are a number of other alterations. The steering assist has been changed from engine-driven hydraulic to electric, a common switch these days that cuts noise and saves fuel but sometimes rules out snowplow use. Brakes have returned to all-disc as they were in 2005, and the Z71 suspension option continues, including monotube shocks.
The biggest mechanical changes are under the hood with a trio of EcoTec3 engines. A 4.3-liter V-6 will likely be standard across the board, a 5.3-liter V-8 is optional, and a 6.2-liter V-8 is available on longer cabs. All are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Finally, the new interior is an area where many experts and observers thought the Silverado needed the most work. Show models suggest improvements in both materials and fit and finish, with familiar parts limited to a couple of switches, logos and the shift lever.
The broader grille, which varies by trim level, appears to sit higher. The tailgate spoiler was shaped in the wind tunnel as were most exterior details.
Chevy's characteristic square-cut, large wheel openings and equally large flared fenders cover wheels a half-inch wider, and some driver's side mirrors have a wide-angle element in the upper corner.
Perhaps most changed is the profile view of the cabs. The windshield appears to reach forward more, the front door looks a tick smaller, and the crew cab rear doors look larger, with much more glass area. On extended cabs the rear doors are hinged at the leading edge, now independent of the front doors. The roof-mounted satellite antenna is well forward, out of danger from utility racks.
At the back is the first new definition of "step bumper" in decades, with a step cut into the corner of the bumper that returns bed access to when trucks were lower and bumpers wrapped around. Cargo equipment (some standard, some optional) includes low-effort lift and drop for the locking tailgate, LED under-rail lighting and tie-down points near the top of the bed as well as near the bottom.
Drivers will find a new interior stocked with the latest gadgets and big switch gear that can be operated while wearing gloves. Steering-wheel controls may require thinner gloves but don't overwhelm in complexity or number. Trailer brake, light and four-wheel-drive controls are top left where the air-conditioning vent usually goes.
Full, numbered analog instruments remain, although a more compact layout frames a midsized display for vehicle functions. A conventional column-mounted shifter keeps tow/haul and manual gear selection at the right thumb.
The new center panel groups controls logically for audio and 8-inch touch-screen navigation, if so ordered. Climate control is below and includes left/right temperature zones and heated and cooled seats on luxury models. Under the climate controls are three large flip switches, with storage, power and connecting points below.
Chevrolet's MyLink can link up to 10 devices, includes voice recognition and lets passengers make phone calls, enter destinations, browse media, play music and more by telling the vehicle what to do. It will also store contact information and 60 favorite radio stations.
Under the Hood
All the engines now use aluminum blocks, direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, a 11:1 or higher compression ratio that works on regular unleaded, six-bolt main bearings, a structural aluminum oil pan rather than steel stamping, piston oil cooling, a mechanical vacuum pump and cylinder deactivation.
The base 4.3-liter V-6 is all new. Chevrolet claims it will be fully capable of driving a crew cab pickup pulling a trailer.
The midrange 5.3-liter V-8 has the same bore/stroke dimensions as last year's engine and is said to produce more power and use less fuel than the 2012 version.
Also the same bore/stroke as last year, the 6.2-liter V-8 is said to be the "most capable" engine offered in any pickup, according to Chevrolet.
All engines use a revised version of the GM's six-speed automatic, and the 4.3 and 5.3 are flex-fuel capable.
The new Silverado cab is composed of about two-thirds high-strength steels, and it offers one optional safety feature new to pickup trucks: forward collision alert. An optional safety seat uses tactile sensations for driver warnings in addition to audible or visual warnings. Other features, both standard and available, include electronic stability and trailer-sway control, head curtain side airbags, hill start assist and descent control, lane departure warning, park assist and a rear camera.
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