East Coast Rollercoaster: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado

We just spent two days in Gros Morne Park, Newfoundland testing the new Chevrolet Silverado. It makes up 25% of Chevrolet’s sales. Plus Canadians are buying more pickups than ever. So it’s crucial they get redesigns right.

They knocked it out of the park.

It’s got a meaner look up front, a sensible built-in step on the back, and lots of smart details in between. Beneath the hood, you select a V6 or V8 EcoTec3 engine. Direct injected, each comes with active fuel management and continuously variable transmission (kept quiet with noise-cancelling tech and cleverly placed baffling). We mostly drove 5.3L V8s, which deliver 355hp and massive torque.

There were three trimlines: WT, LT and LTZ. Luxurious as the LTZ is, you won’t feel cheap for choosing the WT. The designers simply space the fewer standard buttons out instead of leaving blank spots. Bingo!

Without increasing the overall size, they’ve enlarged the cab. High-strength steel in important areas reduced mass. That, plus smarter aerodynamics, mean better fuel economy.

The V8’s published stats are 8.7 L/100k on the highway, though my driving partner and I didn’t achieve anywhere near that on either day. But that’s because of how hard we pushed it.

That hearty engine creeps up on you. Several times the speedometer surprised us, showing speeds nearly a third faster than we’d expected. The shocks are great, although western Newfoundland’s roads are superb compared to sweat city.

The best part was the off-roading experience.

They set up special tests to challenge the Silverado’s trucking credentials. However, after off-roading we forewent the towing test altogether, to re-drive their trail.

4km-ish, it was gravel road, then muddy trail, then cut bush on a severe decline to, ultimately, a precipitous 50m mound of sharp scree.

We sprayed water 5m in all directions, courtesy of the 100km speeds attained, despite hillocks, bends and deep puddles in the mud. The balanced steering inspired confidence. The responsive brakes lacked that sluggish big truck feel. Speaking of confidence, Hill Descent floated us gently down the deadly slope without touching the brake.

It was better than any rollercoaster.

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Though a co-owner and former editor of DailyXY, Steven Bochenek is actually an advertising writer who does some journalism on the side. In 2011 he was accepted into the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His other interests include playing music, long-distance running, skiing and writing in the third person.

Photographs courtesy of the author.

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