2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country: First Drive

High Country 1 II

Finding the sweet spot between rugged capability and smooth luxury is difficult enough in a car, where there are relatively few configurations and options to choose from. Throw that task into the light-duty pickup truck arena and it is compounded more than 100 times because of all the build complexity. So when Chevrolet finally decided to get into the highly lucrative luxury trim package game for its pickups — 30 percent of all half-tons have at least a $40,000 price tag, and the percentage of crew cab models is about double that — the biggest challenge for the engineers was not to make it too soft or too stiffly sprung.

We recently had the chance to get behind the wheel of several fully outfitted 2014 High Country Silverados for a drive event through the Hill Country back roads outside Austin, Texas. Here's what we thought.

The package itself is a good first step for Chevy, which clearly doesn't understand how much latitude (and altitude) it had in creating its first upper-level trim package (Chevy calls it "premium" and "rugged luxury"). The saddle leather is unique to the trim package and offers a strong smell of bovine; it is quite soft and smooth to the touch. The truck's Western flair makes sense, especially in Texas — it puts Chevy on the same playing field as Ford's King Ranch, Ram's Laramie Longhorn and Toyota's 1794 Edition. Still, Ford and Ram seem to do a better job of reaching a little further than Chevy.

The High Country package gets just about every option available with the exception of a big engine choice and a push-button sunroof. Of course, there are dozens of options like wheels, sidesteps and bed covers that can be ordered from the dealer for a more personalized feel.

High Country int II

Base High Country Silverados start at $45,100 (including destination) for two-wheel-drive models with the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8. Upgrading to the new 6.2-liter V-8 will cost $1,995 for the big bump to the class-leading 420 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque. All High Country models will run 3.42:1 axle gears and offer a maximum tow rating of 9,800 pounds when equipped with the bigger V-8.

Because the High Country will exclusively use the Z60 suspension package, the truck rides smoothly with just a touch of wallow. As a result, the NHT maximum tow package, which has stiffer rear springs, a bigger axle and different shock tuning, will not be available, so there is no way to get the maximum 12,000-pounds-rated capability from this trim package. That said, we had the chance to tow several different types of flatbed trailers, campers and boats (ranging in weight from 5,000 to approximately 8,000 pounds), and we found that the 6.2-liter V-8 with the relatively tall 3.42:1 gears had no trouble pulling the loads. Each of our trailers had well-set-up weight-distributing hitches with the proper amount of tongue weight. You can credit the 4.03:1 1st gear and a fast-learning Tow/Haul algorithm for the truck's comfort and ease when towing loads this big. Our test units didn't have towing mirrors, but we were assured they will be ready for ordering by the time these trucks hit dealers — within the next several weeks.

The longest load of the group, a 24-foot camper trailer, did give our test truck some trouble when traveling over uneven paved roads, putting us into an occasional "porpoising" motion where we needed to touch the trailer brakes just for an instant to help settle our pickup down. Generally speaking, the 6.2-liter offers a satisfying rumble when you get into the throttle. Even when towing a heavy load, we found cylinder deactivation kicking in as we cruised over flat ground and down hills.

It's worth noting how much effort GM engineers put into making the interior quiet. They included a good amount of insulation and sound-deadening material throughout the floor, roof and firewall, but they also included a Bose noise cancellation system (part of the standard sound system) with every Silverado equipped with the 6.2-liter V-8. This was the only way to deal with the resonant harmonics the exhaust note produces when switching to four cylinders. From the inside, there was no difference in tone or sound level that we could detect, but we were told if you are outside as the vehicle passes, you can hear the truck switch into cylinder deactivation mode.

High Country gauges II

The Chevy High Country gauge cluster falls short when comparing it to GMC's Sierra Denali. We really like the fact that when clicked into Tow/Haul mode, the Sierra 1500 Denali calls up a unique set of gauge displays and readouts. Both trucks have the capability for a good amount of customization, depending on the information the driver wants to prioritize, but the Denali seems to have the cleanest solution to getting the proper info to the driver so he/she can keep an eye on all right displays.

We don't think the Chevy High Country will be the runaway hit several GM marketing experts are hoping it will be, but it does give GM a presence in an important part of the market where it previously had a huge hole. And it gives GM room to move even more upscale at a later date if needed.

We're not amazed any more that the upper-level trim packages are getting more popular with a certain segment of truck buyers. And the fact that those buyers seem to be coming back to pickup trucks shouldn't surprise anyone, least of all GM product planners. It's worth noting, though, that GMC will continue to build the Denali brand and could even do something more with its GMC Sierra All-Terrain Package as well. Regardless, this is a good, yet cautious, first step into this arena for Chevy, and our hope is that it will get more aggressive with pricing and content packaging, technology and new features in the future.

For the most recent High Country press release and specifications, click here.

Silverado engine II

Bed load II

Bed tiedowns II

Rear fenders II

High Country rear II

 

Comments

"for Chevy, which clearly doesn't understand how much latitude (and altitude) it had in creating its first upper-level trim package"

Mark, are you saying that with regards to where they are allowed to go in relation to the GMC Denali packages?

I love the proposing comment when towing that little 24ft trailer, one day people will realize if want to tow a camper get a HD, otherwise leave the 1/2 tons for grocery shopping.

That dash is very ugly BTW, I am starting to like the exterior look minus the square wells

Nice truck love the 6.2 engine.

Just not digging those funky rims! Those must suck to clean!

Its about time they made the truck so you can see the hood and not the wipers. Guess I a just am old fart stuck in his old ways.

@Leo: I think you may be right there. Ford has its Platinum package, and Ram the Laramie Limited for those who want a luxury, but not the Western motif. I always thought that those were also meant to compete with the GMC Denali. So under my understanding of luxury trims, Chevy can't really go any higher without horning in on Denali's territory. And would they really want to, anyway?

Regarding the towing mirrors: I had assumed that since we didn't see any more than the standard mirrors with the 2014's introduction earlier this year, that there would be all-new towing mirrors coming with the introduction of the 2015 HD's. Now I see that they're going to use the same mirrors they've been using since, like, 2003...so why couldn't they have included them on the 2014's?

@Nitro: We pulled a 27' travel trailer with our '06 F-150 for many years, and had no problems with it. It's all a matter of expectations vs. reality. We've never thought of our half-tons as being able to pull the world and everything in it. (We've got our '08 F-350 V10 for that!)

@Len: People who have luxury trucks _usually_ don't have to clean them, since the chance of them actually getting dirty is pretty low.

If there was no mid-range, highs or lows, it must have had a Bose. Looks like from the dash that 20mpg is achievable with the 6.2, that's pretty good. Still wouldn't take one over a diesel.

@Nitro, it was "porpoising" not "proposing."

Hmmm only $1,995 to upgrade to the 6.2L. That is not bad. If I were a Chevy owner I would definitely have to go with the 6.2L. The 5.3L just doesn't have enough power for me after owning an Ecoboost especially a tuned Ecoboost. Don't get mad GM owners, I say thing about the 5.0L and the Hemi. They are decent, but don't have enough low end pull for my expectations anymore.

@nitro

It's all about suspension packages. I can't speak for GM's hd suspension package, but I can for Ford's. You get more springs on the leaf springs and a 7 lug axle which gives you a paylod of over 2,000 lbs in a 4x4 SCrew cab. That back end bounce is non existent in 10,000 lb loads. The ordinary three inch wide leaf springs do amazingly well versus the competition which are smaller. I don't know the size of the leaf springs on the new GM's, but I know previous the model were only 2 inch wide leaf springs which sucked for towing or hauling heavy verus the Ford's beefier suspension.

I agree that chevrolet wont get more luxurious untill the gmc denali steps down. We can clearly see wich of the gm twins sells more trucks. and it makes sense to put all the efford in the chevy trucks. and get rid of gmc at once.

Whats the point of the 6.2 if you cant get the beefed up shocks and rear end in the truck?
I like the pointing out of weight distribution hitch perfectly setup. what trailer you pull has a lot to do with getting the maximum tow rating from the truck. I tow a 7000lb 30" aluminum enclosed and it puts 1400lbs on the rear axle with a weigh distribution hitch. I don't think the trucks have the payload to accommodate that once you factor in driver, passenger and full tank of gas and fluids of the truck. Im guessing the rear axle and tires could be your limiting factor.

I wonder how this compares to GMC Sierra SLT as far as luxury and options and price? it looks like a cheaper option to get the same features found in GMC lineup.

I agree that chevrolet wont get more luxurious untill the gmc denali steps down. We can clearly see wich of the gm twins sells more trucks. and it makes sense to put all the efford in the chevy trucks. and get rid of gmc at once.

@karl, I agree. They really hurt Chevrolet's image and sales by doing this. They just make Ford and Dodge more appealing. Just offer the Denali package on the Silverado and be done with it. Chevrolet buyers and dealers alike can't be too happy with GM right now.

@karl- yep. These western packages do nothing for me. Give me the Platinum style Denali trim in my Silverado. What a letdown. I don't get why these guys essentially force you to go to a whole different truck brand and a whole different dealer just to get a good interior package in your truck. Ford, Toyota and Ram don't do this.

OK, this is the first time I wrote on this blog because I am really getting sick of the Chevy truck guys saying that GM needs to get rid of GMC. As a long time GMC owner, I do not want GM to get rid of the GMC line. It offers a different avenue for which to like GM trucks. I personnaly like the looks of the GMC better and I know the new trucks are quit the same on the inside. I would always purchase the GMC over the Chevy. If they did not offer GMC I would look elsewhere. GMC and Chevy are marketed to two different type of people and since the RD money is spent on one platform and shared with two different brands I don't see the problem here. There is a lot of history in the GMC brand. Let us not throw if away to please the Chevy owners. Please think of others before you post your negative GMC comments.

Thanks for your time.

If they would just remove/modify that tacky High Country badging, this truck would be half decent. I'm going to be interested in seeing what an LTZ with the 6.2 will be priced at compared to this High Country? Is all that you get with the High Country the Western leather interior, painted bumpers, and different grille? I'm not sure that's worth the $$? If I were a Ford fan, I would much rather have the Platinum or Limited over the King Ranch, and I'm as Texan as you get.

What's with the running boards becoming standard equipment with most of the option packages? I hate them and I don't like the fact that GM is bunching them into the Convenience packages for a hefty price!! What the hell GM??? Running boards are for old people and they take away from the sportiness of a truck. Another way for GM to make their $$ on these things even though a lot of people don't want them but want the other options in that package. Stupid!!

I think Chevrolet needs a Denali option package of their own like Ford's Platinum. I like that Ford has moved past the bling bling Chrome grilles and gone to a toned down grille. GM is about 5 years behind Ford in that respect and still thinks that the bling bling look of the over done Chrome is still "in." Wrong!! I understand that just getting this High Country is a big deal for GM and they're "testing the waters" but that's just an excuse. Ford and Ram have already proven that customers want luxury items and exclusive features, and they're willing to pay for it. GM is slow to react and never the leader in that arena. It's just disappointing because GM could be so much more and better with the right decision makers. Yes, GM, I'm available and would love to come work for your truck division. Contact me, please! :)

Is there a gallery that we can look at of these trucks? I'd like to see what they look like in different colors and wheel combinations. I wish someone would have told me that you guys were here in my backyard. Those pics were taken on Lake Travis, about 5 minutes from my house! So all of GM was in Austin, GMC Denali and these High Country models, and I never saw them around town? Hmmm, that sucks. :)

@All1

I was speaking from my own experience on that, Chevy silverado, towing a 3klb bassboat, bad brakes and reaer end issues, 09 ram 5.7l hemi, tranny light would come on towing my 6k dry camper, never found an issues, but always had it looked at, ended up being high tranny temps, only when driving for over 5 hours. Bought a 2012 ford expedition, with air bags(limited edition, 10K towing capacity), 5.4L, thing swayed so badly, and rode terrible towing same camper above, now am currently looking at ram, ford and GMC 2500 dieslels, gave up on the half tons. I will never buy another as long as I am camping with a trailer

I'm just not a fan of that design at all. The exterior is bland, the interior is horrible looking.

Chevy needs to put the black fender trim on there trucks. It just a small detail but I think it give a more rugged yet upscale look.

Gm just need to redesign this pickup inside to make. Different to the Denali.......country is not just a name you add on a driver seat ....

If I were a designer at GM, I'd scrap the GMC Sierra Denali (or anything GMC) in favor of a Platinum-grade Chevrolet Silverado trim package with chrome and standard 6.2L V8, all-wheel drive, more mini-billet grille, HID headlamps, LED tail lamps, premium leather upholstery, more stylish wheels, a spray-on Rhino bed liner, moonroof, power running boards, optional chrome (not BLACK) towing mirrors, all the luxury stuff you'd find in an Escalade and more, AND I'd call it the (Five-Star) General trim. It has to be top-of-the-line, no trim higher than that.

@Liam

Well good thing you aren't.

Porpoising is the result of uneven pavement and yes it does happen to one ton trucks also. It even does it to 30,000 pound motor homes. Believe me I know, I have driven over 1.5 million miles over the last ten years moving trailers and motor homes for a living.

Hoopie: You missed the part that it is in the High Country that you can not get the NHT package, it said right in the story the H/C package come only with the Z-60 high performance package, and the NHT is not available on the HIgh Country, bt if you get LTZ at least for now you can get the NHT package with the 6.2 and bigger rear axle and springs and 12,000 towing.

So its a luxury trom yet no spray in bed liner...

Just another Gm

I saw these in person, and honestly the previous model look externally is better.

Interior reminds me of ford and ram but with a chinese quality look to it.

This interior looks good. I hope that their isn't cow heads or spurs stitched into the leather. It looks "country" but not over the top. I'd like to see a "Platinum" trim level model too but as others have pointed out, that is the Denali's domain.

I was looking at some interior pictures and better pictures of the overall truck and the High Country logo is almost the same as the GMC Sierra "All Terrain" logo.

That strikes me as extremely lame and for many is a thumb in the eye to those who think Chevy should be on par with Sierra.
Wow - borrow a GMC badge for their high end Chevy truck.

@Liam

HID headlamps and LED tailamps are overplayes. All they do is allow a manufacturer to slap some on and call it luxury. Those full-width LED tailights on the Dodge Charger are extremely bright and they hurt your eyes and blurr your vision. If you're ever at a light behind one you'll know what I mean.

And chrome tow mirrors? Are you serious, that would look stupid.

Sandman: That was exactly my point. Why buy a high country with a 6.2 if you cant get the max trailer (NHT) package with it? The 6.2 isn't offering any more towing capacity. It seems the 6.2 is wasted in the high country edition other than a faster 0-60 time. Better off buying a GMC SLT or Chevy LTZ and getting the 6.2 and NHT with options.
The 5.3 with NHT package towes more than the 6.2 in the highcountry. That's just foolish marketing to me.

@Matthew, Two different types of people? Funny, Ford and Ram And Toyota And Nissan don't seem to need 2 truck lines to accomplish the same thing. GMC ruins Chevrolet and that's a fact. Chevrolet doesn't get nicer trim options all because of GMC and Chevrolet also doesn't get different front treatments like Ford all because of GMC. It's damaging our image and turning our customers away. We sell 50k vehicles all day long and yet aren't allowed by GM to sell what our customers are asking us for. The Denali line should have been for Chevrolet and GMC should have gone back to making school buses in the 90's or better yet Closed. Screw GMC. We are sick and tired of dealing with them. Another blunder by our Government. GovtMoCo.

@Chris,Liam, I agree. Why Chevrolet doesn't have it's own platinum is incomprehensible. It should either have a Denali or better yet something higher. It is Chevrolet after all. I mean they're the company of the Corvette and Bel Air. I never thought much of GMC's. They were always just rebadged Chevy's for Pontiac dealers to sell.

Hoopie; It all depends on how you want the truck to ride, nice and smooth, or stuffer and have a heavier tow/haul capacity. Me? I might just give up on my idea of a new reg cab truck as this new 6.2 engine would get nearly the same mileage as my 5.3 in my 2011 Ext cab 4x4 Z-71, I was thinking about a reg cab sporty truck, as I have always owned a reg cab truck and would like a new one to replace the F-150 I am now stuck with that has had the Ecc-Boost blow two head gaskets on, and because of CARFAX I can not get a decent re-sale on, no more Fords for me, next truck is a new Chevy or Ram, my 2001 has been fine, with NO problems and I have a lot of miles on it! buy if I can get a good resale on that? I can see a new Chevy being my next truck! but I would get a LT with the NHT package as I have a travel trailer I pull a lot, and have no problem now with the 5.3, but extra power would be nice! and my cousin with his tundra will not be able to out-accelerate a new 6.2 like he can with the 5.3, AND I will still get better mpg than his truck does!

The whole Chevrolet/GMC trim thing is a joke. GM gave GM trucks a Denali to somehow make it different and give it a reason to exist. This was however before Ford came into play. And now Dodge and the rest with their high end trims. Chevrolet suffers defeat as a result just as Mark pointed out here. GMC is just ruining the Chevrolet brand and that's a fact.

Does GM really think cowboys don't drive GMC's? Does GM really think all Chevrolet drivers are cowboys and want cowboy trims? LOL!! Give me a break. Either give Both trims to Both trucks or just get down to 1 truck already and quit being the butt of jokes. This is ridiculous and always has been. I too view Chevrolet's as the real deal. GMC's were a stupid grille swap on all of their trucks and suv's for decades. You pop the hood and they all had Chevy engines.

It's beyond funny to watch their stupid commercials. Cowboy Girls driving Chevrolet's and GM's professional grade garbage makes me about want to puke. What, Silverado buyers don't want professional grade engineering with rolled steel beds??? I thought Chevrolet was the work truck? LOL. No Cowgirls want a Sierra? This is Classic Ridiculous and Pathetic GM at it's finest. These idiots at Ren Cen don't have a clue. Get ready for Government sponsored bankruptcy #2.

Piss on Government Motors. Let em die. I've seen exactly two new cars worth owning out of them post bankruptcy. The Impala and Enclave. Chevrolet was the only one of the bunch ever worth a damn anyway. That and the old Cadillac's. All of the Chevy trucks have been bastardized since the 90's. Just ugly as hell. They sell on low rate incentives, tons of cash on the hood and lastly the Bowtie emblem for the ultra loyal. The day the Silverado looks as good as the F-150 or Ram is the day Hell itself will have frozen over. These new ones look like bloated shoeboxes. The last ones looked like cartoon characters and before that was that china man look to match the Colorado. These guys are lost when it comes to design. It aint the Chevrolet I grew up on that's for damn sure. No class at all. If you want a truck to look like a bloated shoebox make it the GMC version, Not a Chevrolet. The trim thing is stupid too. Typical GM, limiting everything. I wouldn't invest a dime into this mess.

GM screwed Chevrolet a long long time ago. This is nothing new. Many are calling for a split between Chevrolet Motors and GM. If you want to invest when that happens, go with Chevrolet Motors. Nobody gives a crap about GM.

Another mess from Obummer and Coke Can Dan. This company needed Mulally. Get down to one brand and one company. GM in and of itself is dumb. Holdens (Chevrolets), Daewoos, Europe's Opel (Buicks), GMC's (Chevrolet's), Cadillac's (who the heck knows). An absolute mess. Yes, this was your tax dollars at work. What a joke. A rebadge of a rebadge of a rebadge. Unreal our lawmakers funded this crap. Nobody knows what the hell a GM is anyway except for GMC.


GM employees and followers live in their own bubble. Everything is GM to them. Not to the rest of the world unfortunately. Somebody seems to know that too otherwise they wouldn't try to fool the public with these fake brands and trims. This whole company is a forgery and has been forever since Al Sloan. It's just now we have the internet and the mask has been pulled off. Everybody knows now or is slowly learning. The joke has been on the consumer all along. In the end, GM gets what they deserve and I say good. At least when you buy a Ford you know you're getting a real Ford. Same with Toyota or Nissan. With a GM or one of it's fake brands, who knows what you're really getting. They are a sad and pathetic enterprise with no real soul. Just a corporation behind a mask of a dozen faces.

GOVTMOCO Sucks! WASTE of MY Taxpayer Dollars!!! NO Company NEEDS TWO Trucks! GovtMoCo=OBAMA FAILURE. I want PAID BACK for This MESS! Chevrolet was ENOUGH!!!

Well I think its a pretty truck but knowing me I'll just use it to give ride when I go run to the store an see someone walking.I don't get out much but its a real nice truck.

I guess I'll head over there in morning to the chevy place to see what one looks like.cause its a real pretty truck

Buy GM crew cabs Mexico needs the jobs. To hell with the people in this country.

great truck, hideous wheels!

If the grill didn't look so strange, If the wheel wells were not cut square, if the dash didn't look so hideous and if I didn't have to worry about a whole new batch of AFM engines and their troubles, I wouldn't have switched to Ram after 40 years as a GM driver.

Butt ugly, look at the wheels someone should be fired.

I always thought the reason there was a GMC division was for those dealers that sold the more upscale division vehicles (Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac, Oldsmobile).

Nowadays that doesn't make much sense. The place I bought my Chevy LTZ also sold GMC's. Buick may not offer a truck, but Cadillac does.

Finally, both divisions vehicles roll off the same lines, so essentially it is a marketing segmentation gimmick.

I do wish they went with HID lamps. You don't have to deal with broken filaments. My previous daily driver has them and I haven't touched them with it now closing in on 100k miles.

The LTZ is quiet. My friend calls it "Lexus quiet". I do an 80 mile commute and I've come to appreciate that and the 22 mpg that I'm getting with it. I want to do a road trip. I think I can get 24 to 25 with it (it's the 5.3L). Not too shabby.



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