Agreat deal has changed in the last seven years, especially in the truck market. The current-generation Silverado was a competent, fresh-faced truck when it was introduced back in '07, but the competition has grown significantly since then, and the venerable Chevy has ended up aging less than gracefully. Fortunately, however, GM's engineers have not been sitting idly by during this process. They've been hard at work developing a new platform that they hope will take the market by storm. The new 2014 Silverado was officially unveiled last December, but no one outside GM has had a chance to get behind the wheel and see the changes firsthand—until now.

To check out the new truck, we flew out to San Antonio, Texas, where GM had several new models prepped and ready to roll. We hopped in our tester, a burgundy LTZ Crew Cab, and spent the day at Knibbe Ranch testing it both on- and off-road. After putting the truck through the wringer, we quickly realized the changes are much more than cosmetic. Firstly, at the heart of the truck is an all-new EcoTec3 5.3L V-8, and thanks to modern tech like direct injection and continuously variable valve timing, it cranks out a respectable 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. That's 40 hp and 48 lb-ft more than the previous 5.3L, and you can certainly feel the added power behind the wheel. The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly, and a new constantly variable electronic power steering system keeps steering feel firm and precise, even over rough terrain. Speaking of rough terrain, we muscled a 4WD Z71 model through several miles of streams, rocky inclines, and steep descents, and it performed admirably throughout. The new hill descent feature also works surprisingly well, and if left on, it will automatically kick in when needed.

Stepping into our Crew Cab, power-adjustable heated and cooled seats are wrapped in higher-quality leather for a luxurious feel. An 8-inch MyLink touchscreen display on the dash shows navigation, weather, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and front and rear parking camera output, while a second 4.2-inch color screen in the gauge cluster shows additional statistics. Storage space was also a priority, and there are clever cubbies throughout the interior, including a handy cell phone stand with several USB ports. Triple-sealed redesigned doors also do a surprisingly good job of reducing road and wind noise, and they make cruising on the highway more comfortable. Overall, this remodel has finally brought GM's interior design into the modern age.

Although we admittedly weren't big fans of the new exterior styling when it was unveiled, it's starting to grow on us. The "fist-in-the-wind" frontend styling, as GM's designers refer to it, is reminiscent of the '88-'98 C/K mixed with the imposing bulk of a '07-'13 HD. The GM team tells us they wanted to give the Silverado an aggressive look, and that sometimes that can be controversial, but they're confident in the new styling direction. Small touches like the integrated bumper steps are helpful when loading and unloading the bed, and we found ourselves using them more than we would have expected. And, love them or hate them, the signature square wheel wells are here to stay. In fact, they're slightly more square this time around.

We went into this test hesitant about the new Silverado's changes, but after a full day behind the wheel, we can tell you the truck has been dramatically improved. The aging Chevy has received the shot in the arm it needed, and is ready to take on the competition full-force once more. Now, we just need to get our hands on a 6.2L model and test how much smoke the tires will produce—it's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ
Base Price: $31,715
Price as Tested: $47,700

Engine
Type: EcoTec3 5.3L V-8
Displacement: 325 ci
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Horsepower: 355 hp @ 5600rpm
Torque: 383 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
Recommended Fuel: 87 octane

Drivetrain
Layout: Front engine, RWD
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Brakes: Four-wheel Duralife alloy disc
Wheels: Optional 20-inch chrome
Tires: P275/55R20 Goodyear Eagle LS-2 all-season