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Road Test: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Crew Cab

Mobile Office That Can Tow 3 Tons.

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Chevy Silverado-luxury in a truck

In the market for a truck? How about a really nice truck that seats five or six big adults very comfortably, comes ready to act as your office on wheels, can tow pretty much anything you have in mind and if necessary, can get you through the mud and muck over hill and dale? Or maybe you are looking to “feel like a man,” which is what the SoCal Chevrolet dealers radio commercial told me that driving the 2014 Silverado will do. Other commercials note that the Chevy pickup’s V8 gets better fuel economy than rival Ford’s V6. That must be some truck!

The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado was awarded North American Truck of the Year at the Detroit auto show: a well-earned honor. The Silverado has been head-to-head (though slightly behind in sales) with the Ford F-150 for many years and according to General Motors, the 2014 has “hundreds of improvements, large and small.” With the base price carrying-over from the 2013 model, you can’t argue with getting new and improved at no additional cost.

I drove the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Crew Cab with the 4.3L V6 EcoTec3 engine, which is one of three engine options, including two V8s. The 4.3L V6 is rated at 17 City/22 Highway for a 19 MPG combined

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Coming on like the big trucks


So why is Clean Fleet Report reviewing this pickup truck as we primarily feature high-MPG, alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles? Because, as a six-cylinder gasoline-powered full-size pickup that weighs 7,200 lbs. and can tow 6,700 lbs., this truck is worth considering. Also, this Silverado can run on the E85 blend (85% ethanol / 15% gasoline) which give it alt fuel cred.

We felt the gasoline-powered Silverado was newsworthy for those of you looking for a large pickup that can tow 3+ tons at respectable fuel economy. Clean Fleet Report will feature more of these vehicles when they merit the attention and recognition, as well as diesel versions of Ram and Nissan pickups as well as Ford’s new lightweight F-150, which we reviewed at the recent Detroit Auto Show.


The four-door Silverado, powered by the 4.3L direct-injection, 262-cubic-inch V6, is rated at 285 hp delivering 305 lb-ft of torque. If using the E85 blend those numbers increase to 297/330. The engine mates to Chevrolet’s Hydra-Matic 6-speed automatic, driving the rear wheels in 2WD mode.

Our Silverado came with 4WD and the Z71 off-road suspension package, which included a 2-speed AutoTrac transfer case, hill descent control, underbody and transfer case shield, auto-locking rear differential and monotube Rancho brand shocks.


The base Silverado comes with a nice list of standard features such as power windows, mirrors and door locks, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt column steering wheel with audio controls, MyLink audio system with the 4.2-inch color display with OnStar, Bluetooth, SiriusXM and HD radio, USB and MP3 ports. Add-in the LT Convenience Package and the Silverado gets an 8-inch color display screen for the MyLink audio system, heated power driver and passenger-side adjustable seats, dual-zone climate control, remote start, rear vision camera, rear window defroster and a very handy 110-volt AC power outlet.



Gauges where they belong – expect one

A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly General Motors representative to handle emergencies, directions and general assistance to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. This is one area where GM has been the industry leader; it is well worth renewing after the initial six-month service plan expires.

The dash and gauges are laid-out in a clear manner within easy reach, clustered to the right and left of the steering wheel and in the center stack/console. This layout was better than in many cars I have driven. One note, though, is that the knobs to engage the 4WD and the headlights are next to each other, shaped the same, are the same size and color and have the same feel. This made for an interesting first time I turned-on the headlights and instead was now driving in 4WD. Lesson learned on my part, but since the front drive wheels are rarely used (as compared to the headlights) it seems this knob could be placed elsewhere or shaped differently. Regarding the knobs, I will say that if you are wearing work or ski gloves, they are all easy to grab.

The interior space, front and rear, is spacious and comfortable. The cloth seats are padded well, offered good support and rear legroom had me thinking I was in a limo. If you opt for the LTZ Package, the leather seats will make you feel like being in a luxury car instead of a pickup truck.

The headline to this review mentioned the Silverado LT can become your mobile office. Chevrolet has gone to great lengths to recognize the needs of those who will be buying a $46,000+ pickup truck: contractors and

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Welcome to the crew

building industry folk. Cubbies are seemingly everywhere, including a nicely thought-out wide center armrest that lifts to reveal storage for a laptop, notebook or iPad. You will also find inside the armrest USB ports, 12V and 110-volt AC outlets. So with the Bluetooth you can be hands-free when sitting on the job site to correspond or complete bids. The interior workspace is so welcoming that with the heated seats and the office accommodations, you can be comfortable and productive anywhere you set up business.

Driver comfort can only be as good as driver confidence in the vehicle’s safety equipment. The Silverado LT comes with eight airbags, cruise control, remote start, outside power and heated mirrors, rear vision camera along with power disc brakes, ABS, daytime running lights, Stabilitrak and TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System.)


The Silverado 1500 (1500 signifying what has historically been known as a half-ton pickup, indicating its nominal payload) exterior was redesigned for 2014 with a bold, upright, aggressive chrome grill divided by the bowtie logo. The look is more evolutionary than revolutionary, but now makes a stronger connection with its beefier siblings, the 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty models.

The Silverado 1500 LT Z71 sits high due to the 4WD package so road vision is excellent. One appreciated feature are the foot steps found on the corners of the rear bumper. This simple element makes accessing the bed


A necessary step

an easy task. However, what could be a bit better is the Assist Step that almost runs the length below the front and rear doors. “Almost” is the key here because for some reason the step is cut short by about six inches, which, as it turns-out, are the most important six inches needed to assist reaching into the bed. Because of the 4WD Z71 Package, the truck height is such that unless you are very tall and with long arms, you cannot reach the bed over the bedsides. I guess one solution would be to make sure you always carry a ladder.

The tonneau cover with the folding access section was a nice and convenient touch.

The Driving Experience: On The Road

One of the first things you will notice is how quiet it is inside the Silverado. This truck rides like a high-end – dare I say – luxury car? It is smooth and quiet and unless pushed really hard around corners, the ride is flat and handles most road surfaces well. If there are any misgivings about how a full-size truck can ride, handle and its ease of driving, let them end with the Silverado. I did not drive the Silverado with a loaded-down bed or pulling a trailer, nor off-road. But I can extrapolate that with the suspension package, trailer brake controller, Stabilitrac stability control, trailer sway control and hill start assist, I am confident that it performs as advertised.

The 305 lb-ft of torque coming from the V6 has a strong powerband, coming-on where it should – not necessarily off the line to spin the tires but when you really need it for passing and hauling. It also has enough oomph to power the Crew Cab in either the 5-foot-8-inch bed (which we were driving) or the 6-foot-6-inch bed, plus pull when in 4WD.

The electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering helps make for a reasonable turning radius for a 19-foot-long vehicle, with only three turns, lock-to-lock, which means you don’t need to be muscle- bound to hustle it in city driving and parking lots.


The 2014 Silverado 1500 LT 4WD Crew Cab was priced at $45,130 including the $995 Destination Charge.

The 2014 Silverado comes with these warranties:

Basic:                             3 year/36,000 miles

Powertrain:                     5 year/100,000 miles

Scheduled Maintenance: 2 year/24,000 miles

Drivetrain:                      5 year/100,000 miles

Roadside Assistance:      5 year/100,000 miles

Rust:                              6 year/100,000 miles

Observations: 2014 Silverado 1500 LT 4WD Crew Cab

A first thought might be – who would pay $45,000+ (closer to $50,000 with the LTZ Package) for a pickup truck? But when you dig deeper into whom a truck like this is built for and what that person uses it for, then the price is no longer an issue.

Chevrolet knows that the Silverado has to meet the needs of business executives, especially in the construction trades, vocational professionals who will load the bed with everything from gravel to barbells, sportsmen and

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Ready for business – front and back

the family that pulls a trailer filled with ATVs and motorcycles, a boat or camper. So how do you design a truck to meet all these needs?

The 2014 Silverado 1500 LT 4WD Crew Cab answers these needs with comfort, style, power, towing capacity and overall ruggedness without looking or driving like a brute of a truck. Everything from the infotainment system to legroom and mobile office accoutrements exceed the needs for that diverse group of owners and shows why it was awarded the Truck of the Year honor.

Do you need a truck? If so, the Silverado should be on your shopping list. Take along the family to the dealer and take it for a lengthy test drive. I bet you will see smiles coming from the back seat.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new truck and, as always, Happy Driving!

Words & Photos By John Faulkner

Posted on February 12, 2014

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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