WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. -- On the Targhee Pass Highway high in the Rocky Mountains of Montana we're strapped in the contoured driver's seat, gripping a padded steering wheel and putting our right foot down to muster substantial V8 muscle from a new generational issue of the Silverado 1500 half-ton truck from Chevrolet.
Silverado 2014 scores a tip-to-tail remake based on a new platform from General Motors and the truck comes with options for three new forceful yet fuel-thrifty engines, different cab configurations designed with more personal space and more comfort features, and loads of sophisticated electronic controls to make the big rig easy and safe to drive.
Full-size Silverado 1500 for 2014 offers multiple trim grades: Silverado WT (Work Truck), Silverado LT, Silverado LTZ, new Silverado High Country deluxe edition and the rugged Silverado Z71 off-road package.
There are three different cab styles: Regular Cab (two doors and a bench or buckets), Double Cab (bench or buckets in front of a back bench with two new front-hinged rear doors tucked behind the front-hinged front doors), and Crew Cab (a generous 4-door cab with front buckets or bench and a back bench broad enough to host three large-body adults.
There are three different lengths for the rear truck bed: Short Box (69.3 inches), Standard Box (78.9 inches) and Long Box (97.8 inches).
There are multiple suspension setups and a choice of rear-wheel 2-wheel-drive (2WD) traction or 4-wheel-drive (4WD) with the 4WD transfer case adding a floor-mounted shifter or the electronic Autotrac rotary dial control.
Silverado 2014 serves up three new EcoTec3 powertrains: 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and 6.2-liter V8.
Architecture for the 2014 Silverado 1500 starts with fully boxed frame rails stretching the length of the vehicle for a rock-solid and rigid foundation using high-strength steel and hydroforming to provide more strength and rigidity with less weight.
Revamped cab structures integrate high-strength steel in both A and B pillars as well as roof rails and rocker panels, while ultra-high-strength steel segments show up in rocker panels to add more protection for offset collisions.
Silverado employs lightweight aluminum for some suspension components to boost rigidity and pare pounds, while new lightweight alloy wheels wear low-rolling-resistance tires to suppress cabin noise and vibration.
Brakes install a disc at every wheel -- ventilated front and rear -- with Duralife brake rotors and linkage to a 4-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with GM's StabiliTrak electronic skid controls.
A rack and pinion steering system gets electric power assistance, which contributes to powertrain fuel efficiency.
The exterior design appears more aerodynamic with smooth lines and, due to aluminum applications for body and engine parts as well as the aluminum hood, Silverado trucks weigh less than previous models, which translates to economy for fuel consumption.
EcoTec3 powertrains with lightweight aluminum blocks and heads include FlexFuel versions which burn regular unleaded 87-octane gasoline or E85-ethanol. All powertrains feature GM's Active Fuel Management (AFM) technology which cuts by half the number of cylinders engaged in the combustion process when boosted power is not needed in order to conserve fuel.
The 4.3-liter V6 generates 285 hp at 5300 rpm and torque of 305 lb-ft at 3900 rpm.
The 5.3-liter V8 makes 355 hp at 5600 rpm with 383 lb-ft of torque at 4100 rpm.
The 6.2-liter V8, optional for Silverado 1LZ and 2LZ trims, produces 420 hp at 5600 rpm with 450 lb-ft of torque at 4100 rpm.
Each EcoTec3 engine links to GM's electronically controlled Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed automatic transmission.
EPA fuel economy tests for Silverado outfitted with the 5.3-liter V8 total to 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for 2WD issues and 16/22 mpg (city/highway) for 4WD versions.
Silverado models rigged with the Z71 off-road package stock Rancho brand monotube shocks, underbody shields and recovery hooks (on 4WD editions), electronic hill descent control, Z71 gauge cluster, Z71 door sill plates, special front grille with Z71 badge and unique lower front bumper.
The new Silverado High Country edition loads up on chrome with a unique front grille and 20-inch polished-aluminum wheels, the cabin upholstered in saddle brown leather that's piped and perforated, genuine wood trim, heated and cooled front seats, front/rear park assist controls and a deluxe Bose audio system.
Chevrolet constructs the 2014 Silverado 1500 truck in a wide MSRP spectrum starting at $23,600 for Silverado WT1 Regular Cab 2WD.