Towing Frenzy - 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 LT Crew Long-Term Road Test
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2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 LT Crew Long-Term Road Test

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2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: Towing Frenzy

October 16, 2013

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Things happen in threes, they say. But: (1) which things are those, (2) what happens to them, and (3) who are they?

For the purposes of this 2014 Chevrolet Silverado update the answers are: cars, towing and, well, I still don't know who they are, but they got the three part right.

In the space of ten days I found myself needing to tow three cars on one-way trips from point A to various points B. Our 2014 Chevrolet Silverado was the easy choice because it had a hitch and more than enough capacity for the job.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

The first car was my 1990 Mazda Miata showroom stock racecar, the first Miata to ever receive a competition logbook and the first to ever win a race. Point A was my garage and Point B was Mazda headquarters.

This was once the white car in the 1990 Miata brochure. Since then it has only been raced, never been titled and has been in my hands since mid-1989, a point in time that predated my employment in the automotive industry. It has less than 7,000 miles on its odometer, only driven on weekends, as they say.

In many ways this car (and others I raced back in the day) is the reason I'm sitting here writing this. The "Hobbies" part of my resume was where I was able to knit my mechanical engineering experience with my participation in SCCA racing events to land my first automotive engineering gig.

A few years back I tore down and restored the car to its first-season configuration in time for Miata 20th anniversary activities. After that it went back into my garage where it gathered a few fresh cobwebs. There's nothing sadder than an obsolete racecar.

I hitched it behind our Chevy Silverado because the 25th anniversary of the Miata is just around the corner. Mazda HQ has a collection of significant cars in its basement and they wanted to add this one to it, and I was looking to open up space in my garage. I'm sure I'll see it again.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

The next car to be towed was a 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV. It had just attempted my 105.5-mile "One Lap of Orange County" mileage test loop and was bound for our Santa Monica parking garage where it would be refilled at our metered charge station.

This was not, however, the EV equivalent of the walk of shame. The Spark has a rated range of 82 miles, but it made it around the loop, technically, if not physically.

For safety, I routinely pull over and stop when the range meter gets down to 2 miles. This avoids the dreaded and harrowing intersection stall. It also ensures there'll be enough juice to pilot the test car on and off the trailer under its own power. Why push when you can drive? We're lazy like that.

So the Spark EV's Point A, the spot where the meter clicked down to 2 miles, was just around the corner barely 0.9 miles shy of the finish line. The trip meter read 104.6 miles when I brought in the Silverado at its empty U-haul.

I added those 2 miles back in, so the Spark EV received a score of 106.6 miles. It gets credit for completing the course with 1.1 miles to spare.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

The Silverado's final towing chore was the 2013 Fiat 500e, another EV I piloted around Orange County on my 105.5-mile test loop.

The Fiat 500e has a rated range of 87 miles, but it made it back to the start outright with 4 miles left in the battery. But I wasn't entirely sure it would work out this way in the last few miles, so I had the Silverado tail me like a Pilot fish all the way home. Final score: 109.5 miles.

None of these tow-jobs was a challenge for our 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup. Our crew cab 4x2 has the 5.3-liter V8 and a 3.42 rear axle, a combination that gives it a 15,000-lb GCWR and an alleged maximum tow rating of 9,800 pounds.

I say "alleged" for many reasons. GM marketing refuses to adopt the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) tow rating procedure that their own engineering staff helped devise. Also, our crew cab 4x2 weighs 164 pounds more than the listed curb weight because of options. I weigh 60 pounds more than the assumed 150-lb flyweight driver. And I was carrying a full-grown passenger instead of empty seats.

With these factors included our Chevy had a true tow rating of 9,400 pounds.

Still, the Fiat 500e was the heaviest car of the three, and it only weighed 2,949 pounds. U-haul's Web site says their Auto Transport trailer weighs 2,210 pounds, so the maximum towed weight our Chevy had to pull was 5,159 pounds. In other words, our Silverado had over 4,200 pounds of tow capacity in reserve.

Piece of cake, as they say. And this time the they is us.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,377 miles

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