CORNWALL, N.Y. — It was more than I had ever intended to do in my semi-retired life.
Heavy boxes, at least 50 of them, mostly books and journals, had to be moved from our oldest daughter’s apartment in New York City to her house here. It was one of those secretly planned jobs between mother and daughter that happened to coincide “when Daddy has a truck.”
Daddy had a truck, a full-size pickup, arguably one of the best in the fiercely competitive pickup-truck business — the Chevrolet Silverado Z71 LTZ crew cab, largely reworked for 2014.
I love trucks. And I fear them. Trucks mean work, the kind of brutal physical labor I went to a liberal arts college and graduate school to avoid.
Surely enough, as soon as the Chevrolet Silverado showed up, an extensive spouse-daughter work order appeared. Topping the list was moving those boxes, which collectively weighed 925 pounds. The Silverado helped make a difficult job easier, beginning with the sprayed-on, rubberized liner in its standard 5.75-foot-long cargo bed.
At the moment, according to Chevrolet’s current price list, that sprayed-on liner is a $385 option. But corporate rumor has it that General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent, is planning to make the bed liner standard equipment. That would be a good move, highly recommended here.
No pickup truck worthy of the name should be without that liner, which protects cargo as well as painted loading surfaces—the latter usually scratched, dented and gouged in unprotected pickup cargo beds. In this instance, the sprayed-on liner also helped to make shoving those boxes into the cargo bed a heck of a lot easier.
What couldn’t fit into the bed easily fit into the rear cabin of the four-door crew cab, largely thanks to rear seats that folded snugly, flatly against the back cabin wall, creating several cubic feet of extra cargo space.
After all of the loading was done, I wanted to rest, and so did my wife, Mary Anne, who also did much heavy lifting in this endeavor. We found refuge in the well-appointed cabin of the Silverado Z71 LTZ, a space more luxurious than any pickup cabin has a right to be, with stitched leather surfaces, seats cushioned with what Chevrolet designers call “dual-density foam,” and an interior so quiet we could hear one another breathing as the road trip from Manhattan got underway.
Which brings up an aside: This column has been a staunch advocate of government (federal, state and local) reinvestment in roads and bridges. It is a desperately needed expenditure, as the 50-mile drive here from Manhattan demonstrates. Ruffles, ridges, potholes, crumbling bridges — it’s a mess, one that would have rocked and rolled us crazily had it not been for the improved Silverado chassis — boxed front frame, larger axles, coil-over-shock front suspension, and new body mounts to absorb the up-and-down-movement shocks of rolling along super-rough roads.
The Silverado Z71 LTZ handled its box-carting mission so well, including hauling the load up steep Mine Hill road here (1,500 feet above sea level), we were tempted to drive it back to New York City just to fool around. But that would have been foolish.
I can think of no full-size pickup that fits well in the city as a regular commuter. The Silverado Z71 LTZ stretches 19 feet 2 inches long and stands 6 feet 2 inches tall. That’s a lot of urban real estate for a vehicle, which is why most garages here charge extra for pickup trucks and similar conveyances.
But I can think of no better motorized partner for a hauling-and-towing job than something like the Chevrolet Silverado Z71 LTZ crew-cab pickup. The phrase “something like” is a deliberate attempt to hedge my bets because nearly all pickup trucks, regardless of manufacturer, are so much better than they once were.
The new Chevrolet Silverado is representative. If you aren’t hauling much, you can get it with a new 4.3-liter V-6 (285 horsepower, 305 pound-feet of torque), available in late fall 2013, that can put in a good day’s work and still deliver close to 30-miles-per-gallon fuel efficiency on the road.
This column’s subject vehicle came with the more popular 5.3-liter gasoline V-8 (355 horsepower, 383 pound-feet of torque). Yet, although delightfully more powerful, it is also reasonably fuel-efficient thanks to selective-cylinder use — it uses all eight when needed but just four for lighter loads. It has a government fuel-economy rating of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway.
Lastly, for the kind of real labor that I hope never to do, there will be GM’s new 6.2-liter V-8, which the company also plans to release in the fall. Horsepower and other salient numbers for the 6.2-liter V-8 are still pending.