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New Silverado Work Truck

Chevrolet is committed to providing a pickup truck specific for police use. In 2005, they were the first of the automakers to provide the Michigan State Police with a pickup to evaluate during their annual vehicle tests. They selected the ¾-ton, (2500 HD) Crew Cab in 4x4 as the basis for their police truck.

Powered by the 6.6L diesel V8 and equipped with one of the high-lift Military off-road packages, this police prototype was a bit of overkill. However, it proved one point. Chevrolet knows what the police really need is a ½-ton work truck with a few deletes and a few options.


Redesigned Silverado

“Re-engineered from hood to hitch” is what Chevrolet says about the new Silverado. In fact, it is newer than it looks, starting with three brand-new engines. While the Silverado is not available with a Special Service Vehicle package, the new truck is important for two reasons.

First, Chevy is again strongly considering such a package. Second, the 2014 Silverado gives us clues to the totally new 2015 Tahoe, which will finally be available as a 4x4 Police Package in addition to the RWD Police Package and the 4x4 Special Service Package.


New, Direct Injection Engines

For 2014, the Silverado gets three all-new truck engines: 4.3L V6, 5.3L V8 and 6.2L V8. The engine displacement for the new engines is the same as the old engines; however, the three new engines are totally different. All these engines are overhead valve, pushrod truck engines designed for maximum torque at lower rpms as opposed to high rpm-oriented, car-based overhead cam engines.

Each new engine has the latest three gasoline engine combustion technologies, hence the name EcoTec3. These are Variable Valve Timing, Direct Injection and Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation). Both Variable Valve Timing and Direct Injection increase overall torque, flatten the torque curve, and lower the rpm at which peak torque occurs.

For example, the 355 hp 5.3L V8 produces the same torque at 2000 rpm as a similar, competitive V8 without these tech advances has at 3250 rpm. Torque is more important than horsepower when it comes to fuel economy. The more usable torque in the normal rpm range, the more often cylinder deactivation can occur. The more frequent the cylinder deactivation, the better the actual fuel economy. More torque allows cylinder deactivation under a wider variety of normal driving conditions.

The new 285 hp, 4.3L V6 is standard on most Silverado trucks, including the Crew Cab. The new 355 hp, 5.3L V8 and new 420 hp, 6.2L V8 are optional. Do not even think about getting the 4.3L V6 for any kind of police use. In a 4x4 Crew Cab, it just doesn’t have the power. All Silverado pickups use a 6-speed automatic trans. All three engines are E85-capable, flex-fuel certified.

Cylinder deactivation technology uses oil pressure to deactivate hydraulic lifters on selected cylinders. Deactivating the valves closes the cylinders and saves fuel. Under light loads and steady throttle, the V8 engine becomes a V4 engine. When more power and torque is needed, the system activates (opens) the shutoff cylinders in less than 20 milliseconds. The transition back and forth between deactivated and activated is imperceptible to the driver.


New Interior

On the interior, the Silverado has a new instrument panel, new seat contours and fabrics, new center console design, and new interior trim. From the inside, the 2014 Silverado is definitely a new truck.

Both the cloth covering over the seats and the inner foam inside the seats are completely new. The new layers of different kinds of foam are designed for the subjective balance between initial comfort and day-long support. The high-wear fabric underwent a more objective test in its development: a simulated driver slid in and out of the vehicle across the seat covering and engineers checked for “linting” and “pilling” that could lead to premature wear. 

The new seats have a low-medium bolster on the seat bottoms and medium-high seat back bolster. Even with a full duty belt, the seats were very comfortable. The 1WT trim level uses manual adjustments for legroom, tilt and lumbar. The interior has optional four upfitting switches that can be wired to the battery or the ignition key. These can be used to control any aftermarket device.


Wider Rear Doors

From the outside, the logic was don’t mess with the truck that has the highest residual value of any ½-ton. With one exception, only the slightest styling and sheetmetal changes were made. That exception was a big one—the doors. For 2014, the B-pillars on the Crew Cab were moved forward a few inches to make a 4-inch wider entry/exit gap for the rear passengers. The front doors are a bit shorter in width and the rear doors are a bit wider.

However, the biggest door change was to the Extended Cab—now called the Double Cab. Instead of the rear doors being hinged at the rear and closing under the front door, the rear doors are now hinged at the front and close like the Crew Cab. The addition of the B-pillar to the Double Cab (there was none on the Extended Cab) makes the cab stronger, quieter and more crash-safe.


Simple Step, Controlled Tailgate

For the first time, the Silverado 1500 Crew Cab comes with a longer 6-foot, 6-inch box, while the 5-foot, 8-inch box remains standard. The turning circle, curb to curb, of the 2WD and the 4x4 Crew Cab is the same. On the shorter box, it is 47.2 feet compared to 48.5 feet for the longer box.

The box has four, integrated cargo tie-downs built into the corners. Upper tie-down hooks are available, each with a rating of 250 pounds. These can be located in several locations around the upper bed rails. Four hooks are part of the optional package, while additional hooks are available as parts from the local Chevy dealer.

A subtle but ingeniously simple change for the Silverado is a Corner Step formed right into the rear bumper and hand-holds (grip pocket) built into the bed rail protectors. This extremely useful solution results in a very functional, no-moving-parts step up to the bed. The new Silverado also has under rail LED light—nice feature!

The new Silverado has an EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate, which was one of the first things noticed by most of the officers and deputies who also drove the test truck. An internal torsion bar greatly reduces the effort to raise the tailgate. A rotary damper allows for a controlled and more gradual lowering of the tailgate.

Frankly, while the Silverado was almost all new, it was the corner step, the controlled tailgate, and the numerous tie-downs that made the most buzz among the other truck-oriented officers who drove the test truck.


Wind Tunnel Tuned

The new Silverado underwent hundreds of hours of testing at GM’s Warren, Mich. wind tunnel. The goal was to both increase fuel economy and decrease wind noise. The new truck has about 5 percent better aerodynamics than the previous truck.

The biggest wind noise improvement was in the new inlaid doors, which fit into the body sides rather than wrapping over the roof. These doors also have triple rubber door seals, which reduce wind noise and turbulence.

The front air dam is now higher in the center and lower at the corners, which improves airflow under and around the bottom of the truck. The new air dam also improves the approach angle for challenging median crossings and off-road enforcement.

New tow hook seals prevent airflow through the tow hook openings. Trim levels without tow hooks now have a closeout panel covering the former exposed holes. A new splash shield under the truck improves airflow under the chassis. A new cab-to-box seal reduces the gap between the cab and the pickup box to reduce drag.

New rear tire deflectors on the box in front of the rear wheels direct air away from the wheels, reducing drag. A spoiler-like extension integrated into the top of the tailgate improves airflow over the truck. Even something as minor as tapered, hourglass-shaped taillights help the airflow around the rear of the truck. 


Electric Steering, New Brakes

The new Silverado has a new electric variable-assist power steering system. Electric-assisted steering reduces the load on the engine from the hydraulic pump and the maintenance issues with hydraulic hoses. The variable-boost steering reduces steering effort at lower speeds, and produces a firmer feel at higher speeds. The system is designed to improve overall handling and make a better on-center feel.

The new wheels are ½-inch wider than the previous model, which reduces tire flex for improved steering response and cornering. The front suspension has aluminum control arms and aluminum steering knuckles, saving weight. The new truck has a ½-inch wider rear track and new twin-tube shocks, both to dampen the rear leaf springs and improve stability. The truck also got larger stabilizer bars, enhanced jounce bumpers.

All Silverado 1500 models have four-wheel disc brakes and four-channel ABS. Importantly, the new trucks have larger, vented 13-inch front rotors and 13.6-inch rear rotors. On the 4x4 Silverado, StabiliTrak (electronic stability control) uses selective brake control and changes to the engine torque to match the speed of each wheel, as well as matching the torque across the front and rear axles.

Trailer Sway Control works with StabiliTrak to help control towed trailers. When the system senses trailer sway, it brakes the truck and/or reduces engine torque until the trailer sway is minimized. If a trailer with electric brakes is in use, the system also uses those brakes to control trailer sway.

Hill Start Assist is a system that automatically engages when the truck is on a grade of 5 percent or greater. Especially helpful when pulling a trailer, the system holds the brakes for 1.5 seconds after the brake pedal is released, or until the accelerator pedal is pressed, to prevent rollback.


Driving Impressions

The Silverado 4x4 Crew Cab with the 355 hp, 5.3L V8 hit 60 mph in 9.0 seconds. In direct comparison, the Ford F-150 SSV 5.0L V8 does it in 7.4 seconds while the RAM 1500 SSV 5.7L V8 does it in 7.0 seconds. The Silverado reached 98 mph in 21.0 seconds—the top speed of all 1WT and SSV pickups is limited to around 100 mph.

The handling from the Silverado 1WT is very different from the RAM 1500 SSV and the Ford F-150 SSV. Driving down the road, the Silverado 1WT had a definite float-and-bobble, a driving impression mentioned by a number of both truck-oriented and non-truck fellow officers. This doesn’t seem to be the spring rate (stiffness) of the front coils/rear leafs since the Silverado had plenty of ride stiffness (up and down bumps).

Instead, the subtle body roll (left to right) seemed to be not enough control from anti-sway stabilizer bars and shocks. The initial steering turn-in for a corner or turn produced significant body roll, enough to make left-right-left evasive maneuvers and left-right emergency lane changes challenging. Once the suspension was set, the Silverado had excellent steady-state cornering.

After spending two weeks in the Silverado 1WT, we have one recommendation for whatever turns out to be the Special Service Vehicle package—get some of the stiffer roll control components from the Max Trailering Package. This package includes an even larger diameter stabilizer bar and revised shock tuning for increased dampening. Hopefully the Silverado SSV will handle better than the Silverado 1WT and more like the Tahoe PPV.

We put over 1,000 miles of country patrol and calls for service on the Silverado 1WT. The EPA Estimates for the Silverado 5.3L V8 4x4 are 16 mpg City / 22 mpg Highway.

We averaged 16.7 mpg, which is exactly 2 mpg better than the SSV competition under exactly the same driving conditions.

The Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) was indeed active. The instrument panel displayed the “V4” icon as the truck decelerated, and traveled down an incline. Just lifting the throttle activated the V4 mode. While steady-state driving at speeds around 55 mph required the V8 mode, at 50 mph on cruise control the Silverado ran indefinitely in V4 mode. The new 5.3L V8 delivered on its promised increased fuel economy, while producing acceptable and adequate performance.

The Silverado 1500 is not yet available with the Special Service Vehicle (SSV) package. However, in law enforcement, we would call the prominent position of the Silverado 1500 1WT package in the 2014 Chevrolet Police and Municipal Vehicles brochure “a clue.” 

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Mar/Apr 2014

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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