There was a time, not long ago, that V6 engines in pickup trucks only appealed to fleet buyers and folks who had no plans to haul anything more than a couple of pieces of lumber and an empty case of beer. The capability that most truck buyers needed simply wasn’t there. Now, things have changed.
|1. The all new 4.3L V6 in the Silverado makes 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque, the most torque in the V6 truck market.
2. The Silverado is also available with a 5.3L V8 and a 6.2L V8, which all feature direct injection, cylinder deactivation and variable valve timing.
3. Fuel economy for the V6 Silverado comes in at 18/24 mpg city/highway for 2WD models and 17/22 for 4WD vehicles.
4. The base price for Silverado is $24,585, but a V8 is just $895 away.
Public awareness of fuel economy has never been greater, and with new corporate average fuel economy standards coming into play, automakers are being forced into building V6-powered pickups that are legitimate hard-working trucks with decent tow ratings, in an attempt to suit even the most fuel-frugal buyer’s demand.
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is such a truck, making more power than any of its six-shooter predecessors, and also making the most torque of any other V6 half-ton on sale today, save Ford’s turbocharged V6 and Ram’s V6 diesel. This 4.3-liter power plant makes 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque and is an all-new V6 engine, despite it carrying over the same displacement as the previous Silverado V6.
SAVING FUEL, YET DELIVERNG POWER
It features General Motor’s EcoTec3 technology that consists of variable valve timing, direct injection and cylinder deactivation. The EPA pegs the truck at 18 MPG in the city, 24 MPG on the highway and 20 MPG combined when equipped with two-wheel drive, while four-wheel drive versions are said to return 17 MPG city, 22 MPG on the highway and 19 MPG combined. In our real world testing, the truck returned an admirable 18 MPG while doing mostly city driving.
While the EcoTec3 technology is constantly at work, the cylinder deactivation system is the only one that is noticeable to the driver thanks to an indicator in between the tachometer and speedometer. The transition between V6 and V4 mode is seamless, and you would never know it was working if the screen wasn’t there. Now, the V6 truck isn’t quite as willing to kick off its cylinders as the V8 trucks, but two less cylinders is a lot less to work with.
Paired with the 3.42 rear-axle ratio as our tester was, the V6 Silverado lays down a fair amount of torque, though the need for improved fuel economy is likely driving Chevy’s decision to only offer up to a 3.42 rear axle with the V6. Towing capacities for the V6 truck max out at 7,200 lbs on the rear hitch, though loading it to that point with the 3.42 is surely going to make the V6 breathe hard.
For the weekend warrior, this V6 truck will work wonders towing around a 4,000 lb boat, jet ski or ATV, but sticking a full 7,000 behind the truck is approaching V8 territory. If you do need to tow 7,000 lbs regularly, the V8 is the way to go. Not that this small engine can’t handle the weight, but the confidence level fades.
REFINED TRUCK MEANS BUSINESS
Engine aside, the new Chevy has added one a key element that the previous generation of GM pickups simply didn’t have: refinement. Improved aerodynamics, new inlaid doors, hydraulic chassis mounts and the addition of an interior that is actually enjoyable makes this the quietest, smoothest Silverado ever.
A combination of an optional touchscreen, knobs and toggle switches make up the controls, which are ergonomically laid out making operation of all systems simple. Special mention goes to the trailer brake controller which has been relocated to just beside the steering wheel on the left hand side, a piece of real estate that hasn’t been used all that well in most trucks. Now, even in an emergency situation, the trailer brake controller is quickly within reach.
Storage and connectivity are also given special attention, to make this interior not only nice on the eyes, but functional for families and business men. The center console now has file hangers, a cell phone storage spot, and even a place meant for a table or folded laptop computer. Anyone who used the old Silverado as a mobile office will surely feel as though they have upgraded from the cramped cubicle to the corner office when they step foot in this new cabin. Up to 5 USB ports, three 12V plug-ins and one 120V three-prong plug can be had in the interior, making this Silverado easy to turn into a power source for a laptop, cell phone, tablet and iPod, all at the same time.
Usability on the exterior has been improved as well, with the addition of in-bed LED lights, a spring loaded bed and two bed steps which are incorporated in the bumper; a clever solution for loading and unloading cargo out of this pickup truck bed.
V8 AN AFFORDABLE UPGRADE
The base price for Silverado is $24,585, which nets a simple, bare bones 1WT trim. One of the few things working hard against the V6-powered Silverado, is the $895 charge it costs to bump up to the 5.3-liter V8. While it may be the brand’s most capable V6 ever, for someone who works their truck day in and day out, the V8 is still the way to go.
Strong dynamics and, most importantly, a revised interior that takes no carry over from the previous Silverado make this truck a strong contender in the segment. Chevy didn’t opt for anything groundbreaking such as turbo engines or diesel in this new Silverado, instead sticking pretty close to the old truck in terms of styling, and even in engine displacements (nostalgia, I’m told, is one of the main reasons why the displacements haven’t changed in over a decade.)
Surely this V6 will still be the most popular choice for fleet buyers looking to save fuel and provide workers with a solid pickup, though now it is also a more legitimate option for the customer who occasionally has something to tow, but doesn’t want to constantly get stung at the gas station because of it.
Photographed on location with the permission of the Parks Canada Agency, at Gros Morne National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Newfoundland and Labrador.