2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500: The General’s Next-Generation Pickups
General Motors says that today’s pickup truck buyers don’t just use their trucks from 9-5, but also from 5-9, too! They want trucks that have the DNA or core technology of toughness for work, carrying payload, and hauling trailers, but also comfort and room for taking their kids to ball games and ferrying their family around town, as well as connectivity and good gas mileage. Listening to their customers, who are also buying more extended cab models, GM has just taken the wraps off of its next generation Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 that have been updated and renovated for 2014.
Scheduled to go on sale later this year, the stablemates have a refreshed exterior, a completely redesigned interior and upgraded powertrains for more power—but also improved fuel economy. We took a ‘first look’ at the new models recently in Detroit; pricing has not been announced. While General Motors played it safe with this model year update, and kept some familiar exterior design cues and, in some areas made modest changes, there are also some significant improvements, particularly with some technology features – the improvements offer a welcome change and are clearly a sign of many new and good things to come from The General.
The Chevy Silverado and upscale sibling GMC Sierra are full-size personal pickups. Both are available in several configurations: two- or four-wheel drive; regular, extended and crew cab; one of three pick-up box sizes (5.8-, 6.6- or 8-foot beds); and several trim levels, including a special off-road trim. Three drivetrains are available, including a 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and 6.2-liter V8. There will be no hybrid version at the present. Outside GM used high-strength steel and aluminum accents (such as on the hood) to make its pickups stronger on the outside and have a quieter cabin on the inside. Notable are the rear doors on crew cabs that are larger for easier in-and-out and redesigned cab-to-frame mounts that smooth out the ride.
GM says its new lineup is taller and closer to the height of its heavy duty models. It delivers better performance on safety tests because of the new cab structure, as well. When you see the exterior, you’ll agree that the Silverado looks as boxy and aggressive as ever (GM’s designers say it’s like a fist-in-the-wind!), though GM says its design is more aerodynamic than in model years past. A twin-port grille, full-width bumper and dual power dome hood are capped by stacked, rounded headlamps that seem small relative to the overall proportions of the front end. However, integrated roof and tailgate spoilers, along with recessed sides and inlaid doors, combine to improve exterior airflow and reduce noise in the cabin. The beefy-but-refined Sierra also has been refreshed and it retains the big GMC badge and grille, but shares the updated dual power dome hood and full-width bumper of its Chevy sibling. Similarly, its side door and panel design is made to increase aerodynamics and make for a more comfortable ride on the inside. Among the innovations that show progress in exterior design by GM: first, front-hinged rear doors on extended cab models make it easier for rear passengers to get in and out, without the front doors having to open.
Second, a corner step on the rear bumper is a neat way to solve the problem of having to reach over the liftgate to grab something in the bed, or simply climb in over the gate; the steps pair with grips on the side of the bed. Sierra comes with four tie-downs for securing cargo in the pick-up box; tie-downs are optional on Silverado. Rail-mounted LED lights and a power liftgate are available on both model line-ups. Both Sierra and Silverado are available with a choice of three pick-up box sizes: 5.8 feet and 6.6 feet and 8 feet. Regular cabs come with the 8-foot or 6.6-foot box; extended cabs are equipped with 6.6-foot box; crew cabs come with 5.8-foot boxes but can, for the first time, be ordered with the 6.6-foot box. Standard wheels on entry-level models are 17 inches, but they can be ordered in sizes up to 20 inches. Inside You’ll also notice that the cabins of the full-size pickups have been thoroughly renovated for this model year; they have been designed to have a more comfortable and stylish ride. An upright instrument panel and center stack with 4.2-inch information screen and big knobs and controls are easy to see, reach and manipulate, even with work gloves on. Standard upholstery is a high-wear, easy-clean cloth.
Heated seats are optional with cloth (a great innovation!), standard with upgraded leather trim. On Silverado, Chevy has introduced MyLink (it’s called IntelliLink on Sierra), GM’s late-to-the party voice recognition system. Silverado also retains the traditional column shifter, with tap-up/tap-down and tow-haul functions integrated into the lever, which is easy to use and economical in terms of cabin space. Similarly, the available integrated trailer brake control is mounted high and to the left of the steering wheel, where the driver can more naturally reach for it. Available powerpoints on both trucks include a 110-volt socket, up to five USB ports for multiple devices, an SD card insert and four 12-volt power outlets. Under the hood The new Sierra and Silverado can be ordered with a choice of three motors: a 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 or a 6.2-liter V8. The V6 is all-new and GM says was purpose-built for the 1500 series of pickups, rather than being adapted from a passenger vehicle already in the GM stable.
All three motors – the torque, horsepower and EPA gas mileage ratings for which are as yet unavailable – are matched to a six-speed transmission with Auto Grade Braking to reduce brake wear on downgrades. The three engines also share GM’s EcoTec3 technology, which allows them to operate with only four cylinders through cylinder deactivation, in conditions such as highway driving, where fuel efficiency can be maximized. Interestingly, four-cylinder operation can cause vibrations that increase cabin noise, and a quieter ride was a priority for The General in designing the 2014 1500s, so engineers included special engine mounts as well as (on V8s) active noise-cancellation technology to reduce feedback inside the cabin. On the road independent coil-over-shock; monotube shock absorbers, available with aluminum upper and lower control arms, are lighter and stiffer than previous versions.
A new electric power assist rack and pinion steering system is responsive and makes even the biggest versions of the truck feel easily maneuverable. Four-wheel discs with ABS and anti-rust rotors are standard, as is traction and stability control. Safety and security The new trucks have all the modern-day safety systems you would expect and also have new active alert systems that make their debut as optional equipment: forward collision alert and lane departure warning, which generates vibrations on the left and/or right side of the driver’s lower seat cushion bolster to signal dangers like approaching another vehicle too quickly, are among them. Also available are front and rear park assist, as well as a rearview camera.
Trim and feature packages The 2014 Silverado is available in Work Truck, LS, LT and LTZ, as well as a Z71 off-road model. The Z71 includes monotube Rancho shocks, front tow hooks, a transfer case skid plate and unique 18- or 20-inch all-terrain tires. The Z71 package, which is available on LT and LTZ models, also includes Hill Descent Control. Interior badging and sport trim, as well as an automatic locking rear differential, also are part of the Z71 package. The 2014 Sierra comes in SLE, SLT and Denali trim lines. Also available is the Sierra All-Terrain package on SLE and SLT models, which includes the Z71 off-road suspension with monotube Rancho shocks, hill descent control, front recovery hooks, a transfer case shield and unique wheels and tires and the automatic locking rear differential. The All-Terrain interior is ebony with front bucket seats on SLE models; carbon-fiber-look seat accent is standard on SLT models.