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GM trucks set gold standard for gas mileage, towing, looks

| Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 9:07 p.m.

It's hard not to feel like a possum about to go SPLAT! when you stand in front of the grille of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado. The full-size pickup has that kind of visual impact.

Plenty of competing pickups will share the flat possum's pain once shoppers compare them to General Motors' full-size pickups, the Silverado and GMC Sierra.

The pickups beat the competitors' fuel economy and towing capacity while offering limo-size four-door crew cabs trimmed with ritzy materials.

The pickups offer a dizzying range of models, wheelbases, drivetrains, cab configurations, bed sizes and towing capacities.

Silverados are similar to but generally have less standard equipment than the corresponding Sierra model.

The top-selling model will be the crew cab, which features four regular-size doors and a spacious passenger compartment. Crew cab prices start at $31,715.

The Silverado's 5.3-liter V-8 — the latest in a line of engines that goes back to the original Small Block V8 — delivers plenty of power, using direct fuel injection and cylinder deactivation to boost fuel economy.

The Silverado's spacious interior is comfortable and trimmed in materials that look and feel terrific. It's a hardworking pickup, but with comfort and sophisticated features that could challenge many high-end sedans.

Oddly, the tilt and telescoping steering column uses two levers for the two adjustments. It's an inefficient combination and harder to use than those on competing trucks.

I was surprised that such a well-equipped truck lacked blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts. Both would come in very handy with a big vehicle in traffic and when backing out of a parking space.

I'm disappointed that GM still relies on relatively minor differences in lights and exterior trim to visually differentiate the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The trucks' sheet metal is virtually identical.

Despite that, the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra's features, capability and fuel economy establish them as the pickups to beat.

Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press auto critic. He can be reached at mmphelan@freepress.com.

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