2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country review: High-trim Chevy Silverado is a 'Cowboy Cadillac'
The High Country is one of the highest trim levels available on the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Sitting parallel with the more sporty Z71, the more luxurious High Country is, in the words of CNET's parking attendant, sort of a Cowboy Cadillac.
The Cowboy Cadillac
Outside, the High Country features a unique chrome grille, a body-color matched front bumper and 20-inch chrome wheels. The headlamps are upgraded to halogen projectors, and foglights are standard. Out back, the bed has been upgraded with corner steps, hidden black tie downs, and an EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate that opens slowly (rather than just crashing down) and can be closed with one hand.
It features premium, perforated "saddle leather" seats with heated and cooled front buckets that also boast 12-way power-adjustment. The cabin tech is upgraded, which we'll discuss in a bit, and the suspension and amenities have been tweaked for better driver and passenger comfort.
Our pickup truck wasn't equipped with a sunroof (though one is available on the Silverado as a $995 option), so I was momentarily confused to find a window slider on the roof console. Flicking it, I was please to see that the motorized rear glass could be opened from the driver's seat. This is good, because there's no way that I was reaching over the great distance that affords rear passengers of this crew cab some considerable leg and foot room.
Truck tech featuring MyLink and OnStar
Though not standard for the entire Silverado 1500 line, the 8-inch Chevrolet MyLink audio system is the standard infotainment system for the line-topping High Country trim level.
Via this large central touch screen, users have access to HD Radio radio tuning, Sirius XM satellite radio, a single slot CD/MP3 player, and a 3.5mm analog auxiliary input. Digital media inputs include a whopping five USB ports (no, that's not a typo) on the dashboard and in the center console and a single SD card slot. There's also Bluetooth for hands-free calling, audio streaming, and full Pandora radio app control when paired with a compatible smartphone. (Interestingly, Stitcher app control seems to be missing from this version of MyLink, despite being present on other contemporary Chevy models.)
There are also at least three 12V and one 110V outlet scattered around the cabin for charging your devices on the go.
Whatever the audio source, it reaches the driver's ears via the High Country's standard Bose Premium audio system. Audio quality is good, but not amazing. The 7-speaker system features a subwoofer and uses active noise cancellation to somewhat mitigates the rumble of the 6.2L V-8 engine, but aside being competently clear and sufficiently loud, nothing about this system really stood out to me -- which is fine.
Our tester wasn't equipped with the optional 3D navigation system, but that omission doesn't exactly handicap its ability to get you from point alpha to bravo, thanks to Chevrolet's inclusion of a GPS-enabled flavor of OnStar as a standard feature and a six-month trial of the OnStar service. The combination of MyLink and OnStar gives the 2014 Silverado High Country an impressive set of standard features.
You can tap the "On" button located on the Silverado's rearview mirror to ask the concierge to find a destination or address. The service will then beam the directions to your truck over OnStar's data connection. Now, you'll be able follow the directions as displayed on the 8-inch center screen or the small color display in the instrument cluster.
OnStar navigation is pretty rudimentary -- you don't get a displayed map of the route, just the turns displayed in sequence -- but it gets the job done. It will handle simple rerouting, should you stray from the course. But, it may need to reconnect to the OnStar server to download new instructions should you get too far from the preset path.
The presence of OnStar also enables remote diagnostics, emergency services, stolen vehicle recovery, and hands-free calling at its various levels of service.
If you're like me and don't want to talk to a person to start every trip to the nearest Krispy Kreme, there's another control option in the OnStar RemoteLink smartphone app. Using the app for Android, iOS, Blackberry, or Windows Phone (how's that for cross-platform?), you can search for destinations and send them to the OnStar turn-by-turn navigation system. The app also gives access to the rest of OnStar's functionalities, most useful are the remote engine start and stop, door lock and unlock, and light and horn flasher without having to speak with an operator.
If you don't want to rely on OnStar for directions, the same 3D Navigation system that we've seen offered on other Chevrolet and GM vehicles is available at an additional cost of $795. It also ties into the OnStar systems and can receive destinations from an OnStar concierge or the RemoteLink app.
A $950 High Country Premium package adds a heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, and a trailer brake controller, not to mention rolling in the Driver Alert Package, which we'll get to in a bit.
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Bottom-buzzing safety tech
The High Country comes standard with Front and Rear Park Assist, an array of sonar sensors on the front and rear bumpers of the truck that notify the driver when approaching obstructions. It also features a rear camera that outputs to the large 8-inch dashboard display when reversing. The camera's feed features a dynamic distance and trajectory overlay that twists with the steering wheel to estimate the truck's reversing course and warning icon overlays that integrate with the Park Assist sensor.
The aforementioned Driver Alert Package further fleshes out the Silverado's safety tech, adding the camera-based Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert systems to the mix. Respectively, these systems let the driver know when the truck is unintentionally crossing into the next lane or approaching a lead vehicle too quickly.
Both of these systems, as well as the Front and Rear Park Assist, integrate with the Silverado's oddest safety feature: the Safety Alert Seat. This adds a pair of vibrating motors the driver's seat cushion to silently notify the driver that one of the safety alerts has been triggered. So, for example, if you start to drift over the right lane marker without signaling, the Safety Alert Seat will, ahem, buzz your right butt cheek. If you're approaching an obstruction on the left when reversing, it will, err, buzz your left butt cheek. And, if you're approaching the lead vehicle fast enough to trigger the Forward Collision Alert, it will buzz both cheeks while flashing a group of red LEDs at the base of the windshield. That'll grab your attention, for sure.
It's weird, but I really liked the Safety Alert Seat's haptic feedback -- no, not like that. By allowing me to turn off the beeps associated with lane departure and proximity sensors, the Silverado's cabin became much less annoying. I didn't have to worry about missing an alert because the stereo was too loud. Plus, the alerts are more discreet and only I was aware of them, which put my passengers' minds at ease.
The Silverado's safety tech system is fairly full featured, but there are a few notable omissions. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are not available, both features that would be extremely useful on such a large vehicle. Despite featuring a Forward Collision Alert system that can judge distance to a lead vehicle, the Silverado also doesn't feature adaptive cruise control. However, it does feature an array of towing and 4X4 features that can technically be counted as safety features, so it's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison with what we've come to expect from passenger cars.
A V-8 that sometimes isn't
The Silverado High Country comes standard with a 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 engine that makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. It uses direct injection and cylinder deactivation technology to achieve an EPA estimated 16 city mpg and 22 highway mpg in 4WD trim. It's also E85 Flex Fuel compatible -- though, depending on your opinion of E85, that may not be a selling point.
However, that's not the engine that our tester arrived with. For $1,995 more than the base price, the High Country is upgraded with a 6.2-liter version of the EcoTec3 V-8 that boasts 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It still uses direct injection and Chevrolet's Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation tech but doesn't seem to be Flex Fuel compatible. The EPA reckons this variant will get 14 city, 20 highway, and 17 combined mpg in its 4x4 configuration.
During my testing, I took it very easy when cruising on the highway to take maximum advantage of the EcoTec3's ability to drop from a V-8 to a V-4 configuration under light loads, halving its displacement and reducing its fuel use. However, I shared driving duties with CNET's video team, an occasionally lead-footed bunch. Between us, we were only able to average 13.6 mpg over the week, just below the EPA's guess for this truck.
Missing from the EcoTec3's bag of fuel saving tricks is an automatic stop-start option, which would shut the engine down when stopped to reduce fuel wasted to idling.
The engine is paired with a single-option, 6-speed automatic transmission that features a manual shift mode. In our 4WD model, torque then heads to a 2-speed 4WD transfer case where it is split between the two axles. Drivers can choose 2WD, Auto, 4WD, and 4WD Low settings for the 4x4 system.
In this configuration, with the High Country's towing upgrades, the Silverado is good to pull up to its 7,200 pound GVW rating.
Other options and pricing
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country 4WD starts at $47,380. Our truck also came equipped with $700 optional chrome side step rails and $60 worth of LED cargo box lighting. That's on top of the $1,995 for the larger engine and $1,345 High Country Premium package. Add the $995 destination charges to bring our example to a $52,475 as-tested price.
At that price, the Silverado High Country costs about what you'd pay for a similarly-equipped 2014 Cadillac XTS AWD, further reinforcing the Cowboy Cadillac metaphor. Both feature nearly the same level of excellent available cabin and safety tech (though the Chevy's got more than double the number of USB ports), which speaks volumes of the truck's level of appointment.
|2014 Chevrolet Silverado
|High Country Crew Cab 4WD
|6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8, 6-speed automatic, 4WD
|EPA fuel economy
|14 city, 20 highway, 17 combined mpg
|Observed fuel economy
|Standard OnStar turn-by-turn, optional 3D navigation
|Bluetooth phone support
|MP3 player support
|Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, 5 x USB connections with iPod compatibility, Bluetooth audio streaming
|Other digital audio
|SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio, SD card slot
|7-speaker Bose audio
|Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Alert, Front and Rear proximity sensors, rearview camera
|Price as tested