Expectations of trucks have never been higher than they are today. Thirty years ago, as long as a truck could haul a payload and tow a trailer without overheating or breaking down, nobody much cared that it had a vinyl bench seat, AM radio, crank windows, and manual door locks. Today, the expectations of capability and reliability are still there, but you can now add expectations of comfort for the whole family, competitive fuel economy, and integration with your mobile gizmos. Welcome to the new normal. The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 Double Cab 4x4 is General Motors' answer to what today's truck shopper expects.

If you're hauling people more often than cargo, you might want to step up to the full crew cab, as the double cab's rear seat accommodations are definitely on the snug side for adults. The front-hinged doors make it look like a crew cab at first glance, but in parking a crew cab and double cab side by side, the differences in cab size and room are readily apparent.

Aside from possibly cab configuration, the rest of our test truck is right in the sweet spot of the truck market, with the volume powertrain and popular LTZ trim and Z71 appearance and suspension package. Getting back to consumer expectations of device integration, capability and fuel economy, the Z71 fares well, with myriad USB ports and wireless pairing possibilities with the new MyLink system, a nearly 1-ton payload, a towing capacity of 9600-11,200 pounds, and a EPA rating of 16 city, and 22 highway.

New, But Familiar

Facilitating that careful balance of efficiency and capability is the new L83 5.3-liter direct-injected V-8. It may share displacement and basic configuration with last year's model, but that's about the extent of it. Its output of 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque put it head to head with Ford's 5.0 DOHC V-8, and close to the vaunted EcoBoost V-6. The engine may not serve up the EcoBoost's wave of turbocharged torque when the pedal goes down, but loaded or unloaded, the power is plenty to get the job done, and for those who are lukewarm on the EcoBoost's flat V-6 blat, the L83 delivers a satisfyingly throaty traditional V-8 baritone. For now, the capable mid-range mill is paired with GM's familiar six-speed 6L80 automatic. Although down two cogs from Ram's eight-speed, the transmission seems well matched to the engine's output and power delivery.

Sweet Serenity

Listening to the small-block sing under the whip may bring a smile to your face now and then, but the rest of the time, you just want some peace and quiet, and this is unequivocally the one area where the new GM trucks excel. Strategic use of acoustic foam, triple-sealed doors, and multiple other incremental steps make these some of the quietest new trucks on the market. GM was also successful at giving the interiors a premium feel whether you opt for the lower-level or the high-spec trim. Our LTZ-spec Z71 certainly didn't lack for features, including front seat heating and cooling with driver-side memory, as well as the aforementioned electronic connectivity options. If you must go bigger and better, there is the High Country model, but we thought our tester was plush enough.

Raising the Bar, or Just Clearing It?

The 2014 GM trucks are a solid execution of a proven formula, and the improvements in refinement, capability, power, and fuel economy are all noteworthy and significant. But are they enough to be the class standard-setters? Ram already has eight-speed transmissions on the market, and is about to introduce the 1/2-ton segment's first diesel in more than 25 years. An all-new F-150 is less than a year away from showrooms, and you can bet Dearborn isn't playing for second place. We would not discourage anyone from considering or buying one of GM's 2014s, and if you're a GM loyalist, your decision's probably already made.


2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71
BASE PRICE $43,885
PRICE AS TESTED $49,720
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck
ENGINE 5.3L/355-hp/383-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5549 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 143.5 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 230.0 x 80.0 x 73.9 in
0-60 MPH 7.1 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.5 sec @ 90.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 127 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.74 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 16/22 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 211/153 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 1.06 lb/mile