I was on my way to lunch when I noticed a Blue Granite 2014 Silverado sitting outside a local Enterprise office. After lunch I stopped by and rented it for a day because I've been wanting to test drive this truck for a while and wanted to do so without bothering a salesman. I also wanted to really dig into it and see what I liked and find any faults it may have.
I got the truck with 22 miles on the odometer and a quarter of a tank of gas. My first impression as I sat behind the wheel was that this truck is huge. The hood is almost flat so you feel as if you are sunk into the middle of the truck, but it's an optical illusion as you are quite far from the ground. In fact, this truck is ridiculously tall for a half-ton two-wheel drive truck. You have to jump up into it and that wasn't the easiest task for some of the passengers I carried later in the day. I've never been a fan of running boards on a pickup, but if I were buying this truck I'd have to add the $700 option. I'm sure I'd need a ladder to put oil in the engine and that's just crazy. 15 years ago half-ton two-wheel drive trucks were much lower to the ground and nobody complained, so why is this truck so far off the ground? You could save fuel and have better handling if the things were 4" lower. I was able to use the standard rear bumper steps without issue though and I think that they are such a great little innovation that's cheap to implement and superior to Ford's complicated, expensive and optional manstep. I also have an issue with the width of the center console. Why does the center console need to be wider than me? My eensy lil' Sonic has a wider feeling seating area up front. This truck had the standard fold down console/seat unit with three across cupholders and internal USB, SD and 12V outlets, but the optional full floor console is even wider and almost unbearable for my wide ass.
I drove the truck around a bit and stopped at a gas station to see what my Sonic's normal fuel outlay of $40 would give me in the Silverado. By this time I had worked my way down to an eighth of a tank and $40 bumped it up to three-quarters of a tank. Unfortunately, the suburb driving and idling I did really ate up the gas. I did notice though that this truck stayed in V4 mode much more than I experienced with the 900s. You can maintain 70MPH and unless you hit an incline it will hold V4 mode saving gas. The gas pedal was an issue though. When I first put the truck in gear and hit the accelerator I thought I had screwed up and put it in neutral instead of drive because it wasn't doing anything, but I pushed harder and off she sped. It's hard to drive economically with such non-linear pedal feel. As for performance, the truck feels powerful enough but I can feel the torque management more than I can feel the actual torque. Steering and brakes are excellent, but the ride is harsher than that of an F-150. I guess that's the price you pay for a best-in-class payload of over one ton.
Inside I was happy with the ergonomics, materials and seat comfort, but let down by the unfinished infotainment system. The intentions were good but it doesn't come together or work as well as Ford's system. It looks like they benchmarked Ford with the gauge cluster and that's good, but there are things about it that don't work well, like browsing my iPhone's music library or changing favorite stations with the buttons on the back of the steering wheel. The 4.2" non-touch MyLink screen isn't bad, but the interface is. You have a Menu button and a knob as well as five buttons across the bottom of the screen. It's workable, but the 8" touch screen should be standard on LT models with their extra features like streaming Bluetooth and Pandora, which is another problem area. The one time it worked I had to confirm on my iPhone that I wanted to let the truck's Pandora app take over, this was after I had plugged the phone in and stowed it in the console. I couldn't get it to work after that, it just gave an error message despite me doing the same thing (as instructed my the manual) to initiate it. Another flaw is that after an outgoing call MyLink didn't return to the previous screen, it stayed on the call screen until I went to the home screen and selected Audio. Strangely, on an incoming call it works properly and returned to the Audio screen without my input. The voice command works nicely, but it's a bit slow for simply changing a radio station.
All in all, I like the new Silverado, especially it's handsome looks, and you can't argue with best-in-class capabilities, but I feel like Ford hits the target closer to the center. There are things I don't like about the F-150 though, so I'm not saying I'd buy the Ford, just that I think they do some things better. Dodge has one hell of a nice truck too in the Ram, but I'd need more time with a 2013 to tell you whether or not I'd buy one over a Silverado or F-150. I think if I were in the market I'd have to get me a Silverado LT Z71 4x4 loaded up with options, including the running boards. However, if I test drove a Ram Big Horn 4x4 with the 8-Speed I might could be swayed.