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

chevy-silverado-big grille

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.

 

chevrolet-silverado-interior-luxury

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

chevy-silverado-crew cab-spacious

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

chevrolet-chevy-silverado-step

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

chevrolet-silverado-business man's friend

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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You Can Make a Difference – Save Gas, Save The Planet Excerpt

You Can Make a Difference – Save Gas, Save The Planet Excerpt

By John Addison

Excerpt from the Prologue of Save Gas, Save the Planet: John Addison’s book about hybrid and electric cars, pathways to low carbon driving, and the future of sustainable transportation. © 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.

You Can Make a Difference

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

You can make a difference. Save Gas, Save the Planet tells the story of two new types of heroes: the “car-light” and the “car-free.” The car-light are the people who have dramatically reduced their gas usage, thereby helping save the planet and increasing their bank accounts. The car-light includes those that drive less, do not always drive solo, and use vehicles that get over 40 miles per gallon. The car-free are the millions of people who do not own a car. They prefer to use public transit, car sharing, bicycles, and walking.

The first chapters of Save Gas, Save the Planet will help you consider what you want in your next car. You may already have one fuel-efficient vehicle. You are debating whether the other vehicle should be replaced with a hybrid, a diesel, a flexfuel vehicle running on ethanol, or possibly a zero-emission alternative. These chapters describe the clean vehicles being driven today including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, biofuel vehicles, electric vehicles, and hydrogen vehicles. Issues are clarified. Myths are dispelled, including ones that suggest that these technologies are in the distant future.

You will find a number of ideas for improving your lifestyle in the middle chapters of Save Gas, Save the Planet. Millions reduce driving by participating in flexible work programs. People commute together and share rides. Many employers pay for these commute programs. There are many ways to reduce miles and improve fuel economy with your current car.

Each chapter concludes with suggested action that you can take as an individual and steps you can take to help save the planet. Your actions and your words will influence more people than you expect. Supported with the facts and examples in the pages that follow, you may inspire children, sway friends, and improve employer commute programs. You might even persuade your community to improve transportation.

Some of the 94 solutions contained in Save Gas, Save the Planet are free and simple. Other solutions require more thoughtful approaches to work, commuting, sharing vehicles, or making the best choice when buying a new vehicle. You may gain free hours and reduce stress by participating in flexible work programs, using a home office, and replacing some drives with bike rides and walks. None of these are all-or-nothing ideas. Consider realistic improvements for yourself, your family, your friends, and your community.

Be inspired by how people are living better and making a difference. Enjoy the journey.

Visit Amazon for free look inside or discount on paperback and kindle ebook.

© 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.

Magical Solutions – Save Gas, Save The Planet Excerpt

By John Addison

Excerpt from the Prologue of Save Gas, Save the Planet: John Addison’s book about hybrid and electric cars, pathways to low carbon driving, and the future of sustainable transportation. © 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.

Magical Solutions

As a small child, I was distraught to learn that Santa Claus was not the person that I imagined. And after reading Harry Potter, I searched the Internet trying to book a stay at Hogwarts. We want to believe in magic.

When I tell people that I write about clean transportation, they often lecture me about their one magical solution. Some tell me it is the plug-in hybrid; some say diesel. One fellow was angry that I did not immediately accept that the one answer is railroads. Another felt the same way about motorcycles.

Some believe that the answer is electric vehicles. Others believe that electric vehicles will only encourage people to use cars without guilt; these enthusiasts want car-free cities and zero suburbs. Some promote ethanol; still more don’t believe that the answer is converting food to fuel.

Some believe that the future is a hydrogen economy; others believe that hydrogen is an evil conspiracy. Some believe that energy efficiency is everything. Others will take 10-percent efficient solar power over 40-percent coal power any day. Too many people argue that there is no problem. These people do not like change. Surprisingly, the people who do not lecture me are those who walk, bike, and live car-free. Perhaps these people, free from the stress of driving in gridlock, are more flexible and optimistic.

Even the friendly walker cannot escape the critic. By one calculation, if two people walk a mile and a half, then replenish the burned calories by each drinking a glass of milk, less greenhouse gases would be emitted by driving. This contrived example works because cows emit lots of methane and milk must stay refrigerated throughout the delivery chain. Skip the milk, and the argument falls apart. Ditto, if the car is driven solo. We all need a little exercise and more than a little common sense.

There is no one magical solution. Save Gas, Save the Planet captures over 120 different ways that people are making a difference by riding clean, riding together, and riding less. Many people can avoid some driving but not all. Not everyone can take transit or carpool all the time. A busy parent in the suburbs with three kids has different requirements than someone with no children who lives in a city. As you read Save Gas, Save the Planet, you will discover a number of ways to burn less fuel without needing a new car. When, and if, you are ready for a new car, you will make a better choice.

Visit Amazon for free look inside or discount on paperback and kindle ebook.

© 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.

Biofuels: Important Options for Cleaner Transportation

Biofuels: Important Options for Cleaner Transportation

Updated July 6, 2014

Transportation around the world continues as it has for the past 100 years, dependent on petroleum in its many forms to function–as gasoline, diesel or jet fuel. The latest word from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is that even in 2040 the government expects 93.23 percent of light-duty vehicle fuels to be gasoline (down 6.1 percent from in market share from 2012). During that same period diesel will increase to 3.23 percent of the market, E85 take 2.82 percent of the market and electricity will take .28 percent (all three of those will make huge market share gains, but starting from a very small base). The rest of the market will be filled by propane, natural gas and hydrogen, according to EIA report. The resulting CO2 is one of the major contributors to global warming so many efforts around the world are looking for ways to reduce the carbon content of fuels with biofuels being the leading contenders to move the needle. Leading the way worldwide is the Low Carbon Fuel Standard of California, which measures the carbon content of fuels and their alternatives, assigning values for comparison. New alternatives are being developed and new fuels making their way to market slowly.

Biodiesel

Diesel engines are the standard for heavy vehicles, such as trucks and buses. Biodiesel is a blend of petroleum diesel and biofuel from sources such as soy, waste vegetable oils or animal fats. Blends of 5, 10, and 20% biodiesel are popular because they run in many current diesel engines. The federal government has been promoting the use of B20, so look for wider use of B20 in heavy-duty vehicles, but watch out for restrictions from some light-duty manufacturers about any blends higher than B5. The latest word from California Air Resources Board’s testing showed FAME biodiesel increasing NOx, which may limit its application in that state.

  • Nature Conservancy
  • National Biodiesel Board
  • USMC Camp Pendleton
  • Portland Oregon Fleet of 84
  • WVO Designs – Waste Vegetable Oil As A Fuel

Renewable Diesel

Renewable diesel is produced from non-petroleum renewable resources but is not a mono-alkyl ester like biodiesel. Renewable diesel consists solely of hydrocarbons and thus is a drop-in fuel that can be used at various blend rates. There are several different chemical approaches to producing renewable diesel. One is based on hydrotreating vegetable oils or animal fats, a process already in use as part of petroleum refining. A second method involves synthesis of hydrocarbons through enzymatic reactions. A third method involves partially combusting a biomass source to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen (syngas) and utilizing the Fischer-Tropsch reaction to produce complex hydrocarbons. Compared to biodiesel, renewable diesel uses similar feedstocks but has different processing methods and can include chemically different components. (Thanks to the California Air Resources Board website for some of the details above.)

Ethanol

When you drive a car, there is most likely an ethanol blend in your fuel tank. Ethanol is a fuel from a plant source that is normally mixed with gasoline. All U.S. gasoline vehicles can run on a blend of up to 10% ethanol (E10). Ethanol has the potential to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. We are growing our own fuel. Ethanol—a form of alcohol—is the predominant biofuel in use today. The United States and Brazil together produce about 90 percent of global fuel ethanol. Brazil has used ethanol to reduce its dependency on gasoline by 40% and has the auto industry producing vehicles that can run on blends of up to E99 as well as gasoline. In the U.S., the vast majority of ethanol is processed from corn although a major effort is being made to move to cellulosic ethanol that will reduce the carbon intensity of the biofuel. In the real world vehicles running on E85 will discover that the less energy-dense fuel will deliver reduced fuel economy.

Butanol

BP is spending millions running TV ads about fuel from sugar beets. BP and Dupont is looking for the type of funding assistance that is given to ethanol. They are also looking for millions of customers. Butanol has a much higher energy content than ethanol. Butanol can most likely be blended with gasoline in higher percentages than ethanol and run in non-flexfuel engines. Butanol may get transported in the same pipelines as gasoline.

  • Butanol Facts and Links (PES Wiki)
  • Dupont and BP Biobutanol Fact Sheet

Di-Methyl Ether (DME)

DME can be derived from many sources, including renewable materials (biomass, waste and agricultural products) and fossil fuels (natural gas and coal). It is currently being tested as a transportation fuel in California in a project based in the San Joaquin Valley involving Volvo Group and Oberon Fuels. They believe the fuel can provide reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced PM and NOx emissions, and be a replacement for diesel fuel.

Oil Consumption Peaks for World’s #3 Consumer

Oil Consumption Peaks for World’s #3 Consumer

Traffic jam“Only the USA and China consume more oil than California,” observes Jim Boyd, Vice Chairman of the California Energy Commission. With oil prices soaring, California must reduce its dependency on oil to sustain prosperity and achieve energy security.

As 38 million Californians deploy a range of solutions to reducing oil usage, the world will learn valuable lessons. In 2006, California consumption of gasoline peaked, even though population continues on the path of doubling over a 30 year period.

In California, more people are driving fewer miles; importantly, fewer solo miles. More efficient vehicles are being used, often benefiting from hybrid-electric drive systems. As an alternative to oil, there is a growing use of biofuel, natural gas, hydrogen and renewable electricity.

Solutions to the state’s, the nation’s, and world’s transportation needs were presented at the WestStart-CALSTART Clean Heavy Vehicle Conference 2008. Conference Presentations

Many of the solutions were discussed by managers of large fleets. These people can save millions with improvements that passenger vehicle drivers often ignore, such as low-rolling resistance tires. Fleet managers can also install the infrastructure for their fleets; such as fast-charge stations, hydrogen fueling, and specific biofuel blends.

Fleets often pilot new technology years prior to commercialization. Large prototypes are later miniaturized for passenger vehicles. All successful fleets continually improve efficiency. In the transportation lifecycle, 80% of all energy is lost, estimates Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.

John Boesel, President of WestStart-CALSTART, observed that linked trips, public transit, hybrids, and improved mileage vehicles are all factors in peak oil demand in California. Mr. Boesel is in a good position to observe future transportation trends. His organization facilitates bringing together fleet managers, vehicle and fuel producers, researchers, and top government officials.

John Boesel discussed a number of reasons to be optimistic when we talked over lunch. Investment in cleantech and clean transportation is exploding. New lightweight materials are allowing vehicles to travel further with less fuel. There is ongoing innovation in materials. Hybrid-electric drive systems allow heavy mechanical components to be replaced with lighter ones. Engines are being made more efficient. Heavy vehicles that formerly burned fuel during the 40% of the time that they idle, now idle-off. Major corporations and venture capital backed startups are creating next generation biofuels and synthetic fuels.

WestStart-CALSTART encourages public policy makers to set performance standards and not attempt to pick technology winners. Government is also critical in early funding of new fuels and efficient vehicles. “There are many paths to the future,” noted John Boesel.

Biofuels will play a major role in reducing California’s oil dependency. By law, California AB 2076 requires 20% Alternative Fuels Use in 2020 and 30% alternative Fuels Use in 2030. The bulk of alt-fuels are likely to be biofuel. By law, 40% of that biofuel must be produced in California by 2020 and 75% by 2050. This creates a challenge and an opportunity. California is the nations leading agricultural state. Draughts and reduced snow accumulation are creating water scarcity for farmers. Corn ethanol and soy biodiesel generate tremendous greenhouse gases in their lifecycle of production and consumption.

New low-carbon fuels are being developed including next generation biofuels. In pilot production, gasoline and diesel are being made from synthetic fuels. Next Generation Biofuels

To keep California’s $1.5 trillion annual economy from running out of gas, the state is investing $200 million per year in clean transportation for the next 7.5 years. AB118 is the law that makes this possible. It was sponsored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The money is funded with vehicle fees.

CEC will fund $120 million/year for the commercialization of alternative fuels and efficient vehicle technologies. The California Air Resources Board will fund $80 million/year for enhanced fleet modernization and an air quality improvement program.

All these initiatives promise to create millions of jobs for a state that continues to grow. Despite a state budget crisis, no one is trying to remove AB118’s $200 million annual investment in the future.

With intermodal transportation solutions, integrated freight movement, light materials, hybrid-electric drive systems, efficient vehicles, and new fuels, California is leading the way to control its own destiny without being dependent on foreign oil.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report.