By Derek Price
CNHI News Service
You would think the novelty of driving a new truck would wear off eventually, but that doesn't happen for me.
Every time I drive a pickup, I'm blown away by just how far these machines have evolved.
When I was a young child, my idea of pickups was molded by my grandpa's old, white, rickety truck that was barely one step removed from a bulldozer on the automotive ladder. No A/C. No power windows. No automatic transmission. No nothin'.
It did its job beautifully, though, surviving a brutal life as a logging-industry workhorse in the thick pine forests of East Texas and eventually outlasting my grandpa. It took him on hunting trips and got his grandkids to the zoo faithfully to the end.
Fast-forward to today, and pickups have become so refined, comfortable and quiet that it's hard to believe they're related to pickups of the past.
The all-new Chevrolet Silverado is the perfect example. Not only is it more truck-like than ever before — with the requisite boost in towing and payload capacity that comes with each new generation of pickups — but it's also the quietest truck I've ever driven.
In fact, a few weeks ago I had the chance to drive the new Silverado back-to-back with its competitors from Ram, Ford and Toyota, and it was the Chevy that had the quietest, most refined driving feel of them all.
That should come as no surprise, since the Chevy has the newest design. It's been completely re-engineered from hood to hitch, as the Chevy reps like to say, and a big focus of the redesign was on making it as comfortable on the highway as a car.
Road and wind noise are both drastically reduced thanks to extra sound insulation, triple-sealed doors and aerodynamic refinements that make the Silverado more slippery through the air.
A lot of improvements were aimed at making it a better work truck, too, like movable cargo tie-downs, LED lighting in the cargo area and steps carved into the rear bumper corners that make it easier to climb up into the bed.
Still, what makes the Silverado stand out is its carefully refined driving feel, something even noticeable on my task-oriented test truck.
The Silverado that Chevy brought me wasn't the fancy-pants High Country edition with embroidered seats and Cadillac-like gadgets, but instead it was more of a working man's truck with the Z71 off-road suspension package, four-wheel drive and rubber floor mats.
Even with that setup, it's still the quietest pickup I've ever driven. I like the fact that Chevy quieted down all the versions of this new truck, not just the high-end, super-expensive ones.
It can drive as comfortably as a car, but it can still work in the pine forests if need be. And that, to me, is remarkable.
Derek Price is an independent automotive columnist. Reach him at email@example.com.