2014 Chevrolet Silverado First Drive

Building a better Silverado
By Imthishan Giado


2014 Chevrolet Silverado
 

In the UAE, if you’re thinking of a truck, you’re probably thinking of the Chevy Silverado. This popular pickup has been a mainstay in the region for decades, thanks to its combination of muscular good looks, strong V8s and down-to-Earth running costs. Now there’s a new one at last  – will it live to its formidable predecessor?

We’ve already driven the Silverado in GMC Sierra form in the UAE, but GM was kind enough to let me have a brief go in the new Silverado while I was there to drive the new Corvette. Feel free to send hate mail to Imthishan@motoringme.com

In the US, the Silverado is a working vehicle and available in a ton of variants to suit every small business need. In the Middle East, the usage pattern is slightly different: we tend to use it as a lifestyle vehicle, substituting cement in the tray for quad bikes and kayaks. According to GM, the most popular version in the region is a Regular (or single cab) in up-spec LT trim, followed by the crew cab – the latter is the version I drove in the hills of Virginia.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado

Big Dog
Unlike its more upscale Sierra cousin, the Silverado is meant to embody working class values and simpler, less blingy design. As such, the front fascia swaps the Sierra’s single headlights for double-stacked quads, framing an expansive grille with the bowtime smack dab in the centre. In the pictures I wasn’t entirely convinced but in person it really does work – it’s got presence to spare, and you’ll definitely get out of the way if you see one coming up behind you on the highway.

What I like most about the new look is how it pays homage to the classic square “Like A Rock” Chevys of the 90s, which wore a very similar front face. Going to school in the US, I saw these things on the road every day; getting into the new one brings back warm fuzzy memories of woodland drives and hiking in the Montana wilderness. I approve!

Leaving the front aside, it’s difficult to innovate with truck styling and the remaining flourishes are harder to spot. Look for a slightly wider rear end – 10mm – and wider, more dramatic fenders. Overall though, it’s not trying to be as avant-garde as a Ram – this is a truck, and likely always will be.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado

Block-tastic
Inside, there’s more of that ‘90s flashback. Where the old Silverado tried to present a car-like environment, the new truck is unashamedly…well, truck-like with big blocky shapes denoting driver and centre console pods and a huge rectangular expanse before the passenger. Plastics quality is far improved and there’s the welcome introduction of Chevy’s great MyLink infotainment system, plus a highly detailed colour screen in the main instrument cluster.

As befits a working vehicle, there’s space everywhere. The centre console easily swallowed my MacBook Air and if I wanted to charge it – with a standard inverter well hey, no problem. Got phones? There are three USB ports easily accessible as well. Fun fact  – the Silverado actually uses a custom key because the regular Chevy switchblade item would not clear the standard column mounted transmission when in Drive. Rather than move the shifter to the centre column – giving valuable space and displeasing conservative truck buyers in the process – Chevrolet opted to build a new key instead.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado

Country Roads
We drove Crew Cabs all the day on the winding twisty roads of Virginia and I can report, as Shahzad did, that this is a quantum leap forward for the brand in terms of refinement.

Singling out MVPs is easy – the lack of wind noise and the pillowy pliant ride quality make this a rival to many luxury cars, so effortlessly does it cruise down the highway. Power from the standard 5.3-litre 355bhp V8 is ample; laying your foot into the throttle produces an authoritative rumble from the tailpipes and a gentle surge as the big Silverado gets off the line. It’s plenty quick enough considering that you’re pulling 2350kg along, not to mention whatever you’ve got in the tray.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado

Cornering is surprisingly good – no, it’s certainly no sportscar and the shift in weight can make itself felt easily but the steering is direct and the chassis nimble enough to cope with rapid changes in direction. We took through the same windy roads that we would later take the Vette and the Silverado maintained a rather surprising turn of speed for something with the aerodynamics of your apartment.

Being in the US, there was no opportunity to take the Silverado up the side of a dune as Shahzad did, but I did play around with it in a muddy field. Frankly, there’s so much grunt on tap that you can power through most things easily even in 2WD – certainly enough to pull off a few naughty slides on command! When you’re not being silly, the automatically-engaging 4WD system is perfectly competent and with a low range box on offer, this truck’ll do whatever you need.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado

Verdict
An easy result for the reborn Silverado. It may not be entirely obvious from the pictures but this truck is better to drive, more comfortable and light years more refined than the old car.

Comparing it to rivals is a bit pointless – in this class truck buyers stick fiercely to their own brands. But it definitely feels more modern than the aging F-150 which can’t beat the Silverado on looks, power or fuel economy. Tougher fight against the Dodge Ram which boasts more car-like handling and aggressive styling – but also higher prices. Let’s call that one a draw.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado

For the repeat Silverado buyer, there’s no decision – this is the one to get. For the lifestyle driver who’s wondering whether to pick up one of these or that boring SUV – go on, get trucking!

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 5.3 V8 Crew Cab

Specs
Price: AED140k (est)
Engine: 5.3-litre V8, 355bhp @ 5600rpm, 383lb ft @ 4100pm
Performance: 0-100kph 8.2s (Est), top speed n/a
Transmission: Six-speed auto, selectable four-wheel drive
Weight: 2359kg

 

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