Road Test: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Crew Cab

Road Test: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Crew Cab

Mobile Office That Can Tow 3 Tons.

chevy-silverado-road test-

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

average.

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.

Drivetrain

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.

Interior

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.

 

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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.)

Exterior

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

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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.

Pricing

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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Gas Misers or Corn Guzzlers

Gas Misers or Corn Guzzlers

Biofuels pumpPeople buying new cars are asking if they should get a high mileage hybrid that runs on gasoline, or a flex-fuel vehicle that could run on E85 ethanol. The United States DOE’s and EPA’s fueleconomy.gov, made it easy for car buyers to compare choices.

When you drive, there is most likely ethanol in your fuel tank. Ethanol is a fuel from a plant source that is normally mixed with gasoline. The percentage varies widely. All current U.S. vehicles can run on a blend of up to 10% ethanol (E10). GM launched a national campaign, “Live Green Go Yellow.” GM and Ford (F) have sold millions of flex fuel vehicles (FFV) on the road. GM is prepared to make up to half its vehicles ethanol capable by 2012.

Although FFVs are hot sellers in the USA, most have never had a drop of E85 in their tank. They are only fueled with standard gasoline blends. There are over 6 million vehicles on the U.S. streets that could run E85. Most never have.

Most FFVs are fuel guzzlers; fueled with E85, they are corn guzzlers. In 2007 the best rated car running on E85 was the Chevrolet Impala, with a United States EPA mileage rating of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway when fueled with E85. For a typical U.S. year of driving, the annual fuel cost would be at $1,657 and 6 tons of CO2 would be emitted by this FFV when running on E85.

By contrast, the EPA rating for a Toyota (TM) Prius running on gasoline was 60 miles per gallon in the city and 51 on the highway. The Prius would have an annual fuel cost of $833 and only emit 3.4 tons of CO2, compared to 6 tons from the most fuel efficient E85 offering.

A big problem is that ethanol cuts miles per gallon by about 27%. The energy content of E85 is 83,000 BTU/gallon, instead of 114,000 BTU/gallon for gasoline. Even by 2030, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that only 1.4% of ethanol use will be E85. The vast majority will be for small percentage blending with gasoline.

The EIA forecasts that ethanol use will grow from 4 billion gallons in 2005 to 14.6 billion gallons in 2030 (about 8 percent of total gasoline consumption vs. today’s 2%). Ethanol use for gasoline blending grows to 14.4 billion gallons and E85 consumption to only 0.2 billion gallons in 2030. In other words, agriculture will be a big winner without any need to spend millions of tax dollars funding E85 stations.

There is a heated debate about whether ethanol helps the environment. In the U.S., the vast majority of ethanol is processed from corn. There is no current environmental benefit if the source-to-wheels use of ethanol includes diesel farm equipment, fertilizer from fossil fuel, coal produced electricity, diesel delivery trucks hauling ethanol over 1,000 miles to refineries, and then fueling a vehicle with poor mileage.

The amount of U.S. corn that became ethanol exceeds 20 percent. The Corn Growers Association says that by 2015 a third of all the corn grown – or 5.5 billion bushels – likely will be for ethanol. Food prices have increased.

World Watch Institute warns “Conventional biofuels will be limited by their land requirements: producing half of U.S. automotive fuel from corn-based ethanol, for example, would require 80 percent of the country’s cropland.” Thus, large-scale reliance on ethanol fuel will require new conversion technologies and feedstock.

A broad coalition is more enthusiastic about cellulosic rather than corn ethanol. Ethanol and other biofuels can be made from a wide range of plant fiber and waste. Currently corn kernels are more easily processed into fuel than cellulosic corn stover, but new enzyme technology can change that. Future stalk for ethanol may include prairie grasses, Miscanthus, Poplar, Willow and algae. Cellulosic sources could produce ten times the yield per acre of corn.

Cellulosic ethanol could account for all 14.6 billion of forecasted consumption, and even more, without needing special E85 pumps. It could all be blended with existing gasoline and fueled into current and future gasoline vehicles. Such blended cellulosic ethanol creates major opportunities for farmers in the United States and the world. It is incremental business, rather than business that competes with existing food business.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has concluded that with “an aggressive plan to develop cellulosic biofuels between now and 2015, America could produce the equivalent of nearly 7.9 billion barrels of oil per day by 2050. That is equal to more than 50 percent of our current total oil use in the transportation sector and more than three times as much as we import from the Persian Gulf alone.”

Increasingly biofuel will not be made from food; rather it will be made from sources such as waste, grasses, fast growth trees, algae, and biotechnology.

Fueling all current high-mileage cars with E10 helps reduce global warming when the ethanol is from cellulosic sources. Putting E85 ethanol in a vehicle with poor mileage does not help. It does not even help the nation with energy independence.

Until flex-fuel vehicles offer the same high mileage as many current cars, do not buy a FFV. The FFV will not help your pocketbook, the nation’s energy security, nor will it help the environment. When you buy your next vehicle, get high miles per gallon.