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GM redesigns the Silverado

As pickup truck sales dominate the North American automobile market, GM doesn’t intend to let the Silverado fall behind the pack when it comes to style and engineering. A major redesign gives the truck a new, sleeker styling, new power options and a host of other updates and options.

“Creating the new Silverado while maintaining its heritage was a challenge, but I am confident that we struck the right balance,” said Kevin O’Donnell, manager for the Silverado exterior design. “The 2104 Silverado will definitely stand out, in terms of both appearance and improved aerodynamic performance.”

New exterior design

Chevy calls the Silverado’s new exterior design “a refined, modern aesthetic.” The new styling incorporates a twin-port grille, full-width bumper and “dual power dome” hood. Those new styling cues are carried through to sculpted body sides and incorporated fender flares.

The new front end is engineered to improve sealing for more efficient cooling, while the roof and tailgate spoiler were shaped in the wind tunnel to smooth airflow over the truck for reduced drag. New inlaid doors, which fit into recesses in the bodyside, reduce wind noise for a quieter cab.

But engineers went even further to make the truck aerodynamic. There will be a seal between the cab and box. Shields on the chassis smooth under-vehicle air flow, and deflectors guide air around the rear tires.

The box will be available in three lengths: 5’8″, 6’6″ and 8′. Crew cab models add the 6’6″ box as a new option as an alternative to the shorter one. Extended cab models come with 6’6″ boxes and regular cab models are available with 6’6″ or 8′ boxes.

Interior makeover

Inside the cab, the Silverado gets a total makeover there, too. Most models include a 4.2-inch colour Driver Information Centre to display vehicle and “infotainment” data. The traditional column shifter, with tap-up and tap-down along with tow-haul functions integrated into the lever is carried over, because it clears space in the console and is easy to operate, even with heavy work gloves. Similarly, the available integrated trailer brake control is mounted high and to the left of the steering wheel, where the driver can more naturally reach for it.

“Changes to the exterior of the 2014 Silverado can be described as evolutionary, but the updates to the interior are dramatic,” said Helen Emsley, Silverado design director. “The meticulous attention to detail and the steps we took to ensure optimal driver and passenger comfort and convenience, are reflected in the fact that the new interiors rated off the charts in customer clinics.”

Structurally the Silverado sees major changes. Major components in the frame are now made from high-strength steel and hydroformed. All that makes it more rigid but reduces its mass. The cab uses more high-strength steel as well.

The mounts that isolate the cab from frame have a major impact on both noise and vibration in the passenger compartment. All Silverado models get shear-style mounts, which isolate both up-and-down and side-to-side movements, and extended- and crew-cab models get additional hydraulic mounts to provide further isolation. The result is a truck that feels much quieter, more refined and more solid than previous models, according to GM.

Under the hood

Under the hood, Silverados offer a choice of three new EcoTec3 engines with aluminum heads and blocks: a 4.3-litre V-6 and two V-8s, a 5.3 and a 6.2. All feature direct injection, cylinder deactivation that allows them to operate in four-cylinder mode, and continuously variable valve timing. GM claims those features can optimize power, torque and efficiency across a broad range of operating conditions.

“Not only did we work to improve the horsepower, torque and EPA fuel economy estimates of all three EcoTec3 engines, but we worked hard to improve real-world efficiency as well, especially when towing and hauling,” said Jordan Lee, Small Block chief engineer and program manager. “We look forward to journalists and other third parties having the opportunity to test our trucks head-to-head with the competition in real world conditions.”

The EcoTec3 engines all mate to six-speed automatic transmissions that include Auto Grade Braking, which downshifts on downgrades to help reduce brake wear.

Suspension, steering and brakes get an upgrade, too. On the front, a coil-over-shock system that is 30 per cent stiffer improves handling. On the rear axle, two-stage leaf springs provide a balance between providing a smooth ride and the ability to haul a decent load.

New, all-electric, variable-assist power steering improves overall vehicle handling and reduces steering effort at low speeds. Because there is no engine-driven pump, electric power steering also reduces fuel consumption and eliminates the maintenance associated with hydraulic power steering.

Four-wheel disc brakes with Duralife rotors are standard. They feature a hardened and strengthened surface that resists rusting, potentially doubling the life of the rotors and improving vehicle appearance. The brake pedal feel has been improved as well.

When it comes to high-tech wizardry, 2014 Silverados will offer several new features in that department as well. Lane Departure Warning alerts the driver if the vehicle starts to drift into another lane. And there is Forward Collision Alert, which monitors the space in front of the vehicle via a camera, and warns the driver if he or she is getting too close to the vehicle ahead.

GM is also bringing back the Z71 off-road option. Along with a limited-slip rear differential, that option package includes Hill Descent Control. Engaged by the driver using a button on the instrument panel, it uses the anti-lock braking system to enable a smooth and controlled descent in rough terrain. †

About the author

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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