The Daily Drivers: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 4x4 Crew Cab

Last summer, we drove the redesigned 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 and found it to be a smooth-riding, well-appointed and practical full-size pickup. The new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is its nearly identical General Motors cousin, and we were no less pleased with it.

Appearance: The Silverado maintains its wide-set stacked headlights, which now fit into a heavily chromed wraparound grille. Much like the GMC Sierra, the Silverado has been given pronounced wheel arches, which recall GMC's Terrain SUV. Chevy added a clever step built into the rear bumper to hoist yourself up onto the bed. There's also an E-Z Lift tailgate that won't slam open and can be closed with one hand.

Performance: The new Silverado comes with three EcoTec3 engine choices, including a 4.3-liter V-6 (305 horsepower) and a 6.2-liter V-8 (420 hp). A diesel is planned for this year. Our tester had the 5.3-liter V-8, which puts out a stout 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Chevy says the Silverado also comes with improved fuel economy — as good as 18 mpg (city) and 24 (highway) with the V-6. Those numbers keep the truck competitive with rivals Ram and Ford. Our tester came with the Z71 off-road package, which adds off-road suspension, hill-descent control, a transfer case shield, Rancho shocks and an autolocking rear differential. Still, the Silverado is well-suited for asphalt, with a carlike ride. A 6-speed automatic is the only transmission available, which shifts smoothly even in tow-haul mode. The truck can pull up to 12,000 pounds depending on configuration. (The rearview camera with grid lines makes hooking up to a trailer easy.)

Interior: Silverado once seemed to be a poor cousin to the Sierra, which had a more premium feel. That's no longer the case. Our LTZ-trim tester has power-adjustable pedals (which shorter driver Lyra appreciates), Bose audio system and heated steering wheel. The cabin is surprisingly quiet for a V-8, thanks to triple seals on the doors, a more aerodynamic windshield angle and muffler tuning. The interior is roomy (rear legroom has increased by 2 inches) and the seats are much improved and comfortable, especially in the rear, where the bottoms fold up for in-cabin cargo space. The truck can seat six with a front bench seat, but our tester was the five-seat configuration with front buckets. The center armrest bin is big enough to store hanging folders or a laptop, and there are plenty of outlets: 12-volt, 110-volt and three USB ports. The audio and climate controls are intuitive and easy to use, especially with Chevy's MyLink system and its 8-inch touchscreen. Our tester had the Driver Alert Package with park assist, lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert and safety-alert seat that vibrates to warn you. But why no blind-spot monitor?

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Paint: Deep Ruby Metallic is a rich hue.

Steps: This handy bumper detail can sway buyers.

Fold: The rear seats go up easily, which creates room for family gear.

Lyra Solochek

Office space: The center console can act as your mini work space.

More space: Rear seats are roomier; doors are bigger.

Comfort: The seats are more comfortable and better cushioned.

The bottom line: If you plan to use a pickup for daily driving, family hauling and occasional cargo, the Silverado is a good choice, especially with the V-6 option.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 4WD LTZ Crew Cab

Price: $25,575 base start, $50,475 as tested

Powertrain:

5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8, 6-speed automatic, 4x4 with 2-speed AutoTrac transfer case

Horsepower: 355 at 5,600 rpm

Torque: 383 pound-feet at 4,100 rpm

Curb weight: 5,218 pounds

Dimensions

in inches:

Wheelbase, 143.5

Length, 230.3

Width, 80

Height, 73.97

Ground clearance, 8.9

Maximum payload: 1,957 pounds

Towing capacity: 9,600 pounds

Seats: 5 (with front bucket seats)

Fuel economy:

16 miles per gallon city, 22 mpg highway

Website:

chevrolet.com/silverado-pickup-trucks.html

The Daily Drivers: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 4x4 Crew Cab 01/09/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 9, 2014 1:45pm]

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