Truck Review: ORX Puts The New 2014 GM Lineup To The Test


We’ve been anxiously awaiting the all-new 2014 Chevy Silverado and its upscale stablemate, the 2104 GMC Sierra. Despite a few changes over the past couple of years, the Silverado and Sierra had grown long in the tooth.

New trucks from Ford and Ram, laden with whiz-bang engine and suspension technology, as well as improved fuel economy, had left GM’s trucks in the dust in these important areas. But as we were soon to find out, GM is back in the highly competitive truck wars, and the new GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado are ready for a fight!


What’s New?

The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevy Silverado 1500 are available in several configurations. They come in two-or four-wheel drive, with regular, double cab (this new name replaces the “extended cab” moniker) and crew cab versions. You can order one of three box sizes (5.8-, 6.6- or 8-foot beds); and choose between several trim levels.

Renovated from the ground up, they get boldly refreshed exteriors; redesigned interiors with upgraded materials, more elbow and foot room, and new infotainment/navigation features. The trucks also get a posse of new technologies that aid in on-road and off-road driving, and a collection of new safety features.

Three new power trains are available, including a 4.3-liter V-6, 5.3-liter V-8 and 6.2-liter V-8 that use aluminum blocks and heads offering more power to give you more command at the wheel, improve fuel economy and have better towing and hauling capability. All three also offer standard direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management. V-8 models use new, larger 9.5- and 9.76-inch rear axles with the strength to accommodate the engines’ higher output.

Three new Ecotech engines are available in the 2014 Sierra and Silverado pickups. These include a 4.3-liter V-6 (left), 5.3-liter V-8 (center) and 6.2-liter V-8 (right), all offering cylinder deactivation in light load and idle situations to help increase fuel mileage.

The all-new V-6 delivers 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque and was purpose-built for the 1500 series of pickups, rather than being adapted from a GM passenger vehicle already in the stable. The real buzz about the V-6 engine is it shuts down to four-cylinder operation when driven at moderate speeds, with a light tip-in on the throttle or when not under heavy load. 

Available in Work Truck, LS, LT and LTZ, the new Silverado also has a Z71 off-road model. The Z71 includes monotube Rancho shocks, front tow hooks, a transfer case skid plate and unique 18- or 20-inch all-terrain tires. The Z71 package, which is available on LT and LTZ models, also includes Hill Descent Control, interior badging and sport trim, as well as an automatic locking rear differential.

The GMC Sierra offers unique trim and features to distinguish it from its Chevy brother, but Chevy unveiled a new special edition “High Country.” The first “premium” truck in Silverado’s lineup comes with unique “western-inspired,” glam’ detailing on the outside as well as in the cabin, appointed with saddle leather, heated and cooled seats, and a variety of amenities such as a Bose sound system.

The Wrapping

A more boxy, angular and aggressive style is exhibited by the new trucks than ever before. The more steeply raked windshield serves a dual purpose; improved fuel economy and reduced wind noise. It’s also larger and nearly the height of GM’s current heavy-duty models. A full-width bumper and dual power-dome hood are fronted by headlamps that might seem a tad small relative to the overall proportions of the front end.

Integrated roof and tailgate spoilers, along with recessed sides and inlaid or recessed doors with triple seals, combine to improve exterior airflow and reduce noise in the cabin. GM designers say the new trucks are the quietest in the segment. Exterior changes and innovations of note include front-hinged rear doors on double cab models that make it easier for rear passengers to get in and out.

The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab offers a stylish cut, projector-style LED headlamps, a grille with the massive and distinct GMC lettering, and power-adjustable, heated side mirrors featuring built-in turn signals.

A corner step on the rear bumper is a great solution for reaching over the tailgate to grab something in the bed, or to simply climb into the back end; the steps pair with grips on the side of the bed. The redesigned rear gate is easy-to-lift and damped for easy dropping. Available tie-downs are thoughtful as are rail-mounted LED lights and a power lift gate.

Standard on entry-level models are 17-inch wheels, but sizes up to 22 inches are available. These come standard on the Chevy Z71 4WD trim, which also gets underbody armor.

Inside The Cabin

Interiors are larger and have been thoroughly renovated to give a more comfortable, stylish ride, and offer higher-quality materials. The Chevy offers an upright instrument panel and center stack with a 4.2-inch information screen, big knobs and controls that are easy to see, reach and manipulate–even with work gloves on. Standard upholstery is a high-wear, easy-clean cloth. Heated seats are optional with cloth, and come standard with upgraded leather trim.


Sierra (pictured) and Silverado offer MyLink, a column-mounted shifter with tap-up/tap-down manual-mode transmission shifting and tow-haul functions built into the lever, and easily readable gauges. To the left of the steering wheel and up high is the available trailer brake control. Door, window, mirror and seat controls are all easily accessed in one location next to the door handle.

Both Sierra and Silverado offer the MyLink infotainment/telematics/voice recognition system. The traditional column shifter, with tap-up/tap-down and tow-haul functions integrated into the lever, which we found easy-to-use and economical in terms of cockpit real estate, has been retained.

Similarly, the available integrated trailer brake control is mounted high and to the left of the steering wheel, where it’s more naturally accessible. Available power points include a 110-volt socket, up to five USB ports for multiple devices, an SD card insert and four 12-volt power outlets.

Silverado designers have done a great job with updated styling that also keeps a heritage Chevy look and feel. The modernized cockpit has good visibility and roominess; classy materials; ample and clever stowage; and new technologies that bring added convenience and safety. Our favorite take-away was definitely the quietness of the cabin, even when under power.

Driving Experience

We tried out a number of Silverado models and were impressed with the new trucks that have clearly come ready to battle the competition. We drove on highways and two-lane country roads, as well as on dirt roads and rougher, off-road terrain. We put the test rigs through the ringer and also towed trailers and hauled heavy loads to assess ride and drive character in severe-duty conditions.

We found plenty of power on tap in the V-6 and liked the stamina and power of the smaller V-8; we were impressed with the new transmission that delivered shifts on time and torque when needed. The new electric power assist rack and pinion steering is responsive and made even the biggest versions of the truck feel easily maneuverable, particularly when towing heavy loads and with a fully laden bed.


We also drove a GMC Sierra 1500 4×4 with a 5.3-liter V-8 that is rated by GM to put out 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque at the flywheel. The truck was a pleasure to drive off-road in a number of conditions we encountered, including graded dirt roads, sandy washes and gravel. It boasted smooth power that was easy to tap into and control. We were also able to get the GMC on our DynoJet dyno at Off Road Extreme headquarters, where it scored a best pull of 282 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. Check out our video review above for more for more details.

We ran the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 4x4 we drove on our DynoJet dyno.

We ran the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 4×4 test unit on our in-house DynoJet dyno.

Also of note was the hill descent system (found in the Sierra and Silverado), a great aid when creeping down hills off-road or in other traction-compromised settings. We loved the upgraded brakes (four-wheel discs with ABS and anti-rust rotors are standard, as is traction and stability control) and the smooth and confidence-inspiring pedal feel.

Distinctive Derivations

How do you tell the difference between the GMC Sierra and the Chevy Silverado, other than the obvious body styling and different badges? They really do have distinctions: The trucks are designed with unique exterior trim and interior materials, as well as features that come standard on the Sierra that are optional on Silverado.

We also drove the GMC Sierra 1500 4x4 equipped with the 5.3-liter V-8 and experienced a powerful off-road and on-road drive characterized by smooth shifting, and quick throttle response from idle throughout the rpm range. Our GMC tester came with 20-inch wheels and P275/55R20 tires.

For the Sierra pickup, designers gussied up the outside with different wheel arch moldings, body-color bumper caps on the base trim level; real aluminum interior trim; chrome bumpers on the base model, bright–work window belt trim moldings and four upper tie-downs in the bed. The buyer is different, too. They are less likely to get it dirty and more likely to tow something like a high-end travel trailer. Various trim levels get special adornments and a higher level of standard equipment.

Interior appointments in the GMC Sierra include remote start; heated and cooled leather front seats with 40/20/40 rear seat; heated steering wheel; power sliding rear window; power adjustable pedals; power sunroof; five USB ports along with BOSE audio Pandora, Bluetooth and IntelliLink connectivity and navigation with an 8-inch touchscreen; and a collection of safety and Driver Alert systems, such as rear view camera, front and rear park assist, lane departure warning, forward collision alert and safety alert seat.


The new body styling is more chiseled than previous models, but with integrated roof and tailgate spoilers to improve airflow. The rear bumper offers a notched-in corner step to help ease access up and into the cargo bed, especially handy if you are reaching over the tailgate to grab something.

Final Analysis

These two new light-duty pickup trucks are designed and built to face the competition head on with a broad choice of engines, especially in the case of the larger of the two V-8s, that can deliver power available to the driver quickly and easily from accelerator tip-in through the mid-range and on into the top of the torque curve. The transmissions operate smoothly, but are not sloppy and hold gears well in climbing or descent situations both on the highway and off.

While the suspensions are designed for carrying loads, they are not overly stiff and provide well-controlled damping when unloaded. Best of all, the interior creature comforts make them, even in the lower trims levels, a joy to spend time in, especially during those long road trips to the off-road recreation destinations we love to enjoy; and once there, these trucks can more than hold their own with any similarly equipped light-duty pickup truck on the market today.

Stay tuned as we look forward to getting more 2014-model 4x4s dirty right here on Off Road Xtreme.


About the author

Sue Mead

Sue Mead’s automotive career began as a freelancer for one of the premier off-road magazines in 1988, on the first team that included women as vehicle testers. Today, she travels the globe test-driving cars and trucks, and working as a photojournalist/feature writer for dozens of publications, specializing in 4WD and adventure stories. Her books include Monster Trucks and Tractors; Off Road Racing, Legends and Adventures; and Rock Crawling. She has been to 70 countries; competed in the Baja 1000; won the Open Production class at the 2011 Dakar Rally; and is an inductee into the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Read My Articles

Everything Off Road in your inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Off Road Xtreme, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Off Road Xtreme - The Off Road Magazine


We'll send you the most exciting Off Road articles, news, truck features, and videos every week.

Off Road Xtreme - The Off Road Magazine


We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Off Road Xtreme - The Off Road Magazine


Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

Diesel Army
Diesel Army
Street Muscle Mag
Hot Rods & Muscle Cars
Engine Labs
Engine Tech

Off Road Xtreme - The Off Road Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • dieselarmy Diesel Army
  • streetmusclemag Hot Rods & Muscle Cars
  • enginelabs Engine Tech

Off Road Xtreme - The Off Road Magazine


Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Off Road Xtreme - The Off Road Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.