Posh pickup trucks are becoming common. Around 30 percent of half-tons sold nowadays leave dealer lots for more than $40,000.
|1. Standard is a 5.3-liter V8 with 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, but a 6.2L is available with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.
2. High Country trucks are fitted with Halogen projector headlamps, body-colored front and rear bumpers, 20-inch chrome wheels, chrome body side moldings and chrome door handles and mirrors.
3. The Silverado 6.2L offers an industry best, non-SAE rated 12,000 lbs. of towing capacity when properly equipped.
4. Pricing starts at $45,100.
The market for bare bones work trucks still exists, but customers are demanding more luxury, more amenities and more comfort from their pickups. It stands in stark contrast to the days when trucks were simple tools, men were men and pulling something that weighed 12,000 lbs with a half-ton was a dream you kept to yourself.
New for the 2014 model year, Chevrolet is entering the world of luxury pickups with the Silverado High Country, specifically targeting Ford's King Ranch and Ram's Laramie Long Horn, both of which offer a Southwestern (read: cowboy) themed interior.
Before we get into powertrains, let's talk about how this truck feels on the inside. The High Country builds on the LTZ trim line, offering a leather wrapped steering wheel, seats, shift knob and just about every surface in the truck. Also fitted is a 4.2-inch screen in the info cluster along with an eight-inch touchscreen running Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system in the center stack.
The High Country's innards offer a convenient setup. Large, rubber-wrapped toggle switches located at the bottom of the stack control internal systems including the hill-decent control feature. The trailer brake controller and the all-wheel drive select knob have both been moved to optimize ergonomics. In the case of those two, they are located up high just to the left of the steering wheel; a great spot for easy access.
Unfortunately, the High Country doesn't offer the same amount of panache as the competitors. Essentially, this truck is an LTZ-trimmed Silverado finished in saddle-brown leather. Details in Ram's Long-Horn trucks are nothing short of stunning. Small inlays in the doors, graphics on the gauges and rich-feeling leather all outpace the High Country. Ford’s King Ranch follows suit with intricate stitching and some of the nicest leather surfaces found in a truck today.
High Country trimmed Silverados are missing those details and it shows. The leather is hard to the touch and doesn’t compare to seat skins in either the Ram or the Ford products.
Also, and this is largely a personal preference, the King Ranch and Long Horn offer a leather aroma that fills the interior and lets your olfactory senses know that you’re about to slide into something luxurious every time you open the door. The Silverado's leather, however, is identical to the materials used in the non-High Country trucks and smells like nothing. A great western themed truck should make the driver feel like a born-and-raised Texan, and the High Country feels more contrived that natural.
All said, the High Country is still nice inside. It’s well laid out with a functional interior that offers a premium feel akin to something from Cadillac. But it still isn’t equipped to compete with the other Western-themed pickups on the market.
Thankfully, it isn't only the inside that gets a revamp. Unique “High Country” badging along with a unique three-bar chrome grille, halogen projector headlamps and body-color front and rear bumpers are also part of the package. High Country Silverados ride on 20-inch chrome wheels, accented by chrome body side moldings, door handles and mirrors. The new look of the 2014 Silverado is already handsome and the High Country extras are pleasantly complimentary to that.
As promised, let's get into power trains. Chevy skips the V6 to offer either a 5.3-liter V8 good for 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, or a 6.2-liter V8 putting out a segment-best 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.
When the trucks launched in the summer of 2013, the top-tier 6.2-liter was not available, but customers can now order the larger engine. And it is a beast. With all that torque, this motor commands weight, even when paired to a 3.43 rear end like our test unit was.
There’s a mean streak in the exhaust note, too. Flooring the gas pedal unleashes one of the nicest roars coming from any half-ton today.
Compared to other manufacturers, General Motors errs on the side of fuel efficiency, offering only up to a 3.73:1 rear axle. For perspective, Toyota pairs its top tier engine with a 4.30:1, while Ford and Ram will sell you a 4.10:1 rear end.
Running unladen around the hills of Texas, the 6.2-liter returned an average of about 14.5 MPG, not a terrible number considering all that power. Official ratings are 15 MPG in the city and 21 on the highway for two-wheel drive models.
Usually, with fuel economy that’s this good (relatively speaking of course), low-end torque suffers. But with a 6.2-liter V8 and 460 lb-ft of twist under your right foot, there’s no deficit to notice.
The Tundra is the only other half-ton that feels almost on par with this engine when it comes to hauling, but the Toyota doesn't hold a candle to this truck when fuel usage is taken into account.
Properly equipped Silverados are rated at a class-leading 12,000 lbs. of towing capability. Of course that is a number contrived by Chevrolet, and does not live up to the SAE J2807 standard. Truth be told, putting 12,000 lbs behind any half-ton will create an uncomfortable feeling of the tail wagging the dog, because the engine isn’t the issue at that point. It is still a half-ton frame with half-ton components.
We were given the chance to pull 7,500 lbs. around a hilly area and the 6.2 responded to the task with zeal. We would wager that up to about 10,000 lbs, this truck would still hold on to most of its confidence. And this opinion comes from a 3.43:1 outfitted truck, so bumping up the 3.73 would no doubt provide a noticeable boost in pulling power.
On to price, the Silverado High Country has an MSRP of $45,100, which makes it slightly more expensive than competing products. Ford's King Ranch F-150 carries a base MSRP of $43,920, while Ram's Laramie Long Horn carries a base MSRP of $44,785. That’s all a little disappointing considering the less attractive interior.
Plus, if you want the 6.2 you’ll have to toss more money down, with that model starting at $47,680 before destination.
Based on its own merits, the interior of the High Country is attractive, useful and comfortable, though it lacks the interior wow factor of its competitors. Combined with the 6.2-liter V8, this truck is still a great overall package, delivering some of the best fuel economy in the segment, a handsome exterior and plenty of torque to own almost anything you can hitch it to.