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2014 Chevrolet Silverado tops Corvette in importance to GM

With truck sales generally on the rise, a

With truck sales generally on the rise, a new Chevrolet Silverado couldn't come at a better time -- especially when it's full of new tricks. Credit: General Motors

While Chevrolet's jaw-dropping 2014 Corvette Stingray has dominated the automotive headlines this spring - and with good reason - Chevrolet has a much more important new 2014 model hitting the streets: the new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup truck.

Sure, the Corvette is Chevrolet's halo car and leading attention-getter. But the Silverado makes it rain dollars for parent company General Motors. Through the first three months of 2013, Chevrolet sold a whopping 116,649 Silverados to just 2,931 Corvettes. During that period, Corvette sales were flat versus the same time in 2012, but sales of the Silverado were up a solid 22 percent.

In fact, to give some idea of the importance of the big Chevy pickup, for the first three months of the year, one in every four Chevrolet vehicles sold in the United States was a Silverado.

And Chevrolet is counting on the all-new truck to deliver even better numbers going forward.

Billed as "new from hood to hitch," the 2014 Silverado offers a number of significant improvements and upgrades, including its powerplants. The light-duty Silverado 1500 will offer a choice of three all-new engines from what General Motors terms the EcoTec3 family. The 4.3-liter V6 produces 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque, while the 5.3-liter V8 makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.

GM specs place the V6's towing capacity at 7,200 pounds, with the 5.3-liter able to tow 11,500 pounds. Fuel economy for the 5.3-liter two-wheel-drive model is pegged at 16 mpg in the city and 23 highway with the 4x4 models down only a touch from that. V6 mileage estimates haven't been announced yet.

Later this year, a 6.2-liter engine will become available, although specs for it have not been released. Interestingly, the largest of the three engines is based on the same powerplant in the new Corvette, but is specifically tuned for truck use.

In terms of functionality, for the first time Chevrolet will offer a six-foot, six-inch pickup box in addition to the standard five-foot, eight-inch box. All Silverados ride on revised front and rear suspensions, with cabs that are stronger and quieter than before. The cabin doors are inlaid from the surrounding metal to help reduce cockpit noise.

GM has made a concerted push to upgrade its interiors, and the Silverado benefits from a total redesign here to go with the new exterior and mechanical bits.

Chevrolet's "MyLink" communications systems is available and there are multiple power outlets and USB ports on some models, as well as an available SD card slot and eight-inch color touch screen. That's all well and good, but this is a truck and people will buy it for their needs, regardless of frills and gadgets.

The Silverado crew cab (four-door) with the 5.3-liter V8 was due to hit dealer showrooms in late May and carries a base MSRP of $32,710, which includes a $995 destination charge. That's the same price as the 2013 model it replaces.

Later this summer, the regular-cab and a new double-cab model will join the Silverado lineup, with prices to come. The V6 engine also will become available in the summer.

With the market for high-end trucks exploding, later this year, Chevrolet will offer up a "High Country" model that will be even fancier than the LTZ, which is the previous top-of-the-line model that will continue into 2014 as well.

All told, there will be a whopping seven Silverado 1500 trim levels. Higher-line models will be available with what Chevrolet promises to be segment-exclusive safety features, including Forward Collision Alert (an alarm sounds when approaching much slower traffic), Lane Departure Warning (the truck lets you know when you're drifting) and Front and Rear Park Assist (chimes that let you know when close is too close).

To sweeten the deal even more, all 2014 Silverado 1500 buyers will also receive a standard scheduled maintenance program for two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.

So while Chevrolet may have brought sexy back for 2014 with the new Corvette, it's also pushing the envelope on a vehicle that many workers rely on day in and day out to help them earn a living. And from the looks of it, Chevy has done a good job doing it.

KEEP ON TRUCKIN': Carroll Shelby is no longer with us, but the demand for his vehicles is still sky-high. Shelby American said strong demand is causing the company to increase production of its 575-horsepower Shelby Raptor from a planned 100 units all the way up to 500. The Shelby Raptor costs $62,620, or $17,995 more than the stock model. 

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