Silverado High Country: Posh Pickup

By Sue Mead, December 7th, 2013

Chevrolet is full of surprises these days. Not long ago, Chevy was better known for the big Suburban than it was the Volt, a revolutionary extended range gas-electric car. And now, Chevy gives us a new posh pickup that packs everyday luxury into a highly capable full-sized truck. Welcome to the world of the Silverado High Country.

Make no mistake, the all-new 2014 Silverado High Country isn't the Volt -- it's no hybrid in 4x4 clothing, and its strength is measured more in horses than in miles-per-gallon, although its fuel economy is impressive. The uplevel High Country trim signals Chevrolet's continued efforts to reach niche buyers within established pickup-purchasing audiences who want more than just utility.

Many want a premium truck and luxury-appointed comfort, plus all the bells and whistles of modern technology -- preferably with a big towing capacity. Until now, pickup buyers had only the GMC uplevel models to select from within the GM stable.

Chevy couldn't ignore the fact that the $40,000-plus segment of the pickup market is booming and now represents at least one-third of trucks purchased. A High Country spokesperson says Chevy's first premium truck is "like a finely crafted saddle or pair of custom-fitted boots, and embodies rugged luxury -- craftsmanship, authenticity and functionality."

The Chevrolet Silverado High Country starts at $45,100 (including destination) for the 2WD versions equipped with the standard 5.3-liter V8 engine; 4WD is optional. Towing capacity is 9,800 pounds. Outside, the Silverado High Country is brawny and broad, with wide shoulders; tall, squared-off wheel wells; and a thick, low-hanging front air dam. It wears attractive High Country badging. The chrome grille is defined by multiple horizontal bars and stacked twin rectangular halogen headlamps that wrap around both sides. Chrome body side moldings adorn the sides, as well as the door handles and mirrors.

Standard wheels are special 20-inch chrome with P275/55R20 all-season tires, and the front and rear bumpers are body-colored. Large foglamps are integrated into the front body-colored bumpers; there are also body-colored bumpers at the rear, where there are the clever and functional Chevy CornerStep rear bumpers. High Country pickups come with either a 5-foot, 8-inch bed or 6-foot, 6-inch version.

Under the hood, the standard engine is a 5.3L V-8 making 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque; fuel economy is best in its class, according to Chevy, at 23 mpg highway on 2WD models, and closer to 22 mpg highway for 4WD versions.

Optional is a 6.2L V-8 engine, which pounds out 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque; it achieves 15 mpg city for 2WD versions and 14 mpg city for 4WD. Both engines feature direct injection, variable valve timing, and Active Fuel Management that allows the engines to switch from eight cylinders to four to save fuel.

Both V-8 engines are matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with auto grade braking to reduce brake wear on steep down hills and for towing and there are also new and larger rear axles. Electric power steering is standard, as is a locking rear differential with a 3:42 ratio. A trailering package with trailer sway control that works with GM's StabiliTrak, a frame-mounted hitch, seven-pin and four-pin connectors also comes standard.

We drove the new Silverado High Country in Texas, the largest truck market in the world. From the outside, it is subtly attractive and not showy, with an interior that mimics the same character. Notable are the quietness of the cabin, the well-weighted steering that carved corners on winding roads with precision, and a suspension that keeps riders planted and at ease in well-bolstered seats.

The model we drove was powered by the larger 6.2L V-8, giving plenty of power on tap, matched to GM's smooth-shifting six-speed transmission. We also towed small and large loads and found the High Country's towing ability will please buyers that have small tractors and medium-sized boats to haul.

The 2014 Chevy Silverado High Country comes in one model as part of the all-new Silverado 1500 lineup. The truck is equipped with standard leather seats, Chevy MyLink connectivity with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, front and rear parking cameras and heated/cooled front seats.

Specifications

Base price $47,380
Curb weight 5,370 lbs.
Displacement 6.2-liter
Epa mileage rating 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 26 gal.
Horsepower (net) 420 at 5600 rpm
Motor type EcoTec3 V-8 w/DI
Overall length 230 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 460 at 4100 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5/6-passenger 4WD half-ton pickup
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