Stereotyping. It’s an ugly habit of us humans, and as much as we show disdain when we see others engaging in this behavior, we’re all guilty of the same. A couple of weeks ago my family was sitting outside a four star restaurant in Florida waiting for our table. We got up for a minute to take a selfie of the three of us, my wife’s purse and bag still on the bench we had just gotten up from. In an instant, an impeccably dressed family of four descends upon our bench, with our belongings on it. I hear them talking to each other. They were French. My reaction? I thought to myself “Typical French arrogant bastards. They think they are so much better than us.”
That was not very nice of me. I personally do not know any French people. I just buy into the stereotype. To flip that around, I often hear ‘Oh, typical American’, which usually means lazy and stupid, or a myriad of things. It’s never meant as a compliment. And if you judge Americans by what cars we buy, well, the numbers tell a story. Of the top ten best selling vehicles in America in 2013, three of them were full-size pick-up trucks. So, yes, we are as a nation, collectively in love with the pick-up truck.
It’s almost strange that in the five years I have been reviewing cars for The Garage, this is only the second pick up truck I have ever had. The trunk in question is the all-new 2014 Chevy Silverado. The competition is cut-throat for full-size trucks, and with its F-150, Ford has owned the sales crown for years, with Chevy’s Silverado coming in at second place. The highlights for the new Silverado are a lighter curb weight, new base V-6 engine, and an improved interior. The aesthetics of the Silverado definitely look up to date, but this is first and foremost a vehicle designed with utility in mind.
That said, our test truck was the new High Country model, which is essentially the top-end, luxury pick up truck from Chevy. Finished in a rich, classy Brownstone Metallic paint finish set off with tasteful chrome trim, unique front and rear fascias, chrome exhaust tips and 20″ polished alloy wheels, this was one upscale looking truck that would look right at home at South Fork Ranch from the famous TV show ‘Dallas’.
The cabin of the Silverado was a revelation. Granted, we had the top of the line High Country, but the amount of luxury features was astonishing, and easily rivals that of any contemporary Cadillac. Every possible creature comfort is on hand. For a truck, I never expected this level of refinement, so much so it was easy to forget I was driving a pick up truck and not a luxury car. The Silverado was exceptionally comfortable, and our High Country model featured gorgeous rich mocha leather seats with white piping.
I don’t normally get into the behind the scenes work here at The Garage, but with the Silverado, I feel it merits mentioning. It was right before Christmas, and I had a Cadillac SRX that I drove my family down to Lancaster County, PA to celebrate the holiday before heading back to our native Connecticut. With our loan schedule, I was to swap the SRX for the Silverado at GM’s press fleet office in northern New Jersey on our way home. The Caddy was filled with Christmas presents for my son, and I was petrified the gifts and our luggage would never fit into the Silverado.
It’s December 23rd, nearing 6:00pm, I’m navigating the Cadillac in a steady drizzle as I finally arrive at my destination where the Silverado awaits to take us home. To my amazement, the Silverado’s cabin swallowed up everything I had packed into the Cadillac, thanks in part to the flip and fold up 50/50 rear seat, which provided us a perfectly flat floor for our luggage and gifts. I was amazed. And I want to especially thank GM’s press fleet manager, Eric Dolis. It’s the night before Christmas Eve, and I’m sure he has a million things to do, but instead of just leaving the keys under the mat, he waits for us, and helps us move our luggage from the SRX to the Silverado.
Any respectable pick up truck needs the proper motivation to get the job done. Some research shows that the base V-6 engine for the old Silverado was somewhat lacking. For 2014, that seems to have been addressed. Base Silverados are now equipped with a new 4.3L V-6 rated at 285hp. Next step up is a 5.3L V-8, rated at 355hp. Finally, at the top end, and the engine fitted to our truck was a 6.2L V-8 rated at 420hp. All Silverado’s are paired to a six-speed automatic. Buyers have the option of rear or all-wheel drive. With the aero of a brick set upon a heavy, robust chassis, the Silverado with the 6.2L V-8 was plenty quick. This truck was an absolute joy to drive on the interstate, my family in complete comfort as we serenely cruised along at 80mph. With all-wheel drive, our Silverado gets an EPA rating of 14/20 MPG City/Highway, and I averaged about 15 MPG. The window sticker shows our Silverado can tow up to 7,200lbs, but properly equipped a Silverado can tow up to 12,000lbs. The Silverado is one big truck, and getting into a truck of this size in the rain, in the dark that you have no experience with as I enter I-287 to the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York is a little intimidating, but the Silverado was remarkably easy to manage in heavy traffic.
You can get yourself into a 4×2 Silverado with a standard cab for $25,575USD. For The Garage, we were treated to the High Country 4WD Crew Cab, with a starting price of $47,380. Standard equipment includes leather seats, power seats with memory, heated and cooled seats, dual zone auto climate control, rear vision camera, front and rear park assist, Bose audio, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth. Options on our test car included the 6.2L V-8, the High Country Premium Package (Lane Departure Warning, heated steering wheel. power adjustable pedals and trailer brake controller), chrome assist side steps, and LED lighting for the cargo box. Including destination, our Silverado rings in at a substantial $52,475. That is one pricey pick-up, but keep in mind this is a luxury truck.
Which brings me back to stereotypes. My Uncle Deane, and his son Andy are really the only two pick-up guys I know. Deane owns a Dodge Dakota, Andy has a GMC. I thought for sure my Silverado High Country would blow them away. Sure, they looked at it, and asked about the price. And the general reaction was, this truck is simply too nice, and too expensive for what they want a truck to do. I thought about my Grandfather who always had a truck, bare bones, no frills. And I am fairly certain if he were here today, he would dismiss the truck. It’s a Yankee mentality.
And that is why us American’s are not too easy to stereotype. Here in New England, we’re on the shore, room is tight, and pick up trucks are not the norm. You buy a truck because you need it. We’re tight on space. Gas costs a lot. I live in a private beach community where a Fiat Jolly would be more at home than our full-size Silverado, which barely fit in our driveway. Yet despite being a fish out of water, we all became quite fond of the Silverado. Bottom line? If J.R. Ewing were alive today, this would be his truck.