Chevrolet has recently treated its full-size Silverado 1500 pickup to a somewhat conservative redesign that's full of subtle but substantive changes. Flashy bits like turbocharged engines and air suspensions aren't part of the package, but a quieter, cushier interior, improved power and fuel economy, and a number of useful technology features make the new Silverado a smart choice for a broad spectrum of pickup buyers.
Buyers who need a more capable version of the Silverado should look at the Heavy Duty model.
For the latest model year, the Silverado gains an eight-speed transmission, available OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, new trailering mirrors and an upgraded infotainment system.
When viewing the Silverado from the rear or the side, one could be forgiven for mistaking it for the last-generation model - relatively little has evolved in terms of the squared-off fender flares and boxy taillights. The front end is more distinctly new due to a taller hood, larger grille and stacked headlights inspired by the handsome 1980s-era Silverado.
Look beyond the largely familiar styling, and the Silverado's clever new details begin to reveal themselves. Steps mounted in the rear bumper along with reworked stake holes make it easy to climb into the bed, while an easy open/close option allows the tailgate to be accessed using just a pair of fingers.
Beneath the exterior lies more newness - a stiffened frame, a retuned suspension and a new electric power steering system. Thanks to these revisions, the Silverado possesses a better-controlled, more comfortable ride along with more predictable handling than before.
The Silverado is offered with a choice of three new engines, all of which blend an old-school pushrod design with modern technologies like direct injection, variable valve timing and a cylinder deactivation system.
The base powerplant is a 4.3-liter V6 that produces 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque. That torque figure is tops among naturally-aspirated pickup six-cylinders, making the 4.3-liter a good fit for fuel efficiency-focused buyers who also need to do some light towing from time to time.
A 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque is optional for those who need more motor to get the job done, while the range-topping mill is a Corvette-derived 6.2-liter V8 that churns out 420 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque.
A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on the 4.3-liter and 5.3-liter engines, while the 6.2-liter V8 is available with a Hydra-Matric eight-speed automatic. Both rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations are available.
Fuel economy for the 4.3-liter Silverado checks in at 18/24 city/highway with RWD and 17/22 when fitted with 4WD.
The 5.3-liter model is rated at 16/23 mpg with RWD, while 4WD variants fare one mpg worse on the open road. Chevrolet is quick to point out that those numbers give its pickup a slight efficiency advantage over the Ford F-150's 3.5-liter twin-turbo "EcoBoost" V6.
Finally, the 6.2-liter truck is good for 15/21 mpg with RWD and 14/20 mpg with 4WD.
The Inside Story
In place of the old Silverado's two available dashboard designs is a single setup that features vastly more upscale materials and oversized, user-friendly HVAC and sound system controls along with a 4.2-inch display or 8.0-inch touchscreen depending on trim level.
All Silverados except the base model are equipped with Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, which integrates entertainment and navigation functions (when equipped), and also offers access to smartphone-based apps like Pandora radio and Stitcher radio.
The system can be controlled through dashboard knobs, steering wheel buttons or the eight-inch touchscreen, and there's also a voice recognition system for hands-free calls, destination entering, song selection and more. Its "natural language" functioning can recognize a staggering number of phrases - effectively eliminating the need for the clunky and cumbersome memorized commands.
A number of key revisions ensure that the cabin is sufficiently quiet for even whispered voice commands. These include triple-sealed doors, acoustic-laminated glass, lined front wheel wheels and smaller exterior mirrors, while shear-style body mounts help to quell noise and mellow out the ride.
Bodystyles, Capabilities and Trims
Buyers can spec the Silverado with regular cab, double cab or crew cab bodystyles. The regular cab features two doors, while the double cab features two small front-hinged doors that replace the rear-hinged units in last year's extended cab model. The crew cab boasts full-size rear doors with expanded rear cabin space.
Three box lengths are available: 8' (regular cab), 6'6" (regular cab, double cab, crew cab) and 5'8" (crew cab).
When properly equipped, towing capacity ranges from a maximum of 7,200 lbs. with the 4.3-liter V6, 11,400 lbs. with the 5.3-liter V8 and 12,000 lbs. for the 6.2-liter V8.
Seven different trim levels are available - 1WT, 2LT, LT, LT Z71, LTZ, LTZ Z71 and High Country. Depending on which is selected, the Silverado can be equipped as a vinyl-floored, no-frills work truck, a tech-packed, leather-upholstered luxury machine, or nearly anything between those two extremes.
Off-roaders, take note: the rough-and-tumble Z71 configuration is now a separate trim level rather than a package. It includes a specially tuned suspension with monotube Rancho shocks, hill descent control, front recovery hooks, a transfer case shield, unique wheels and tires, and an automatic rear locking differential.
Silverado High Country
A new trim level aimed at the most upscale pickups the competition has to offer, the range-topping High Country High Country stands out from regular Silverado models with a bespoke chrome grille that features horizontal slats, halogen project headlights and body-colored bumpers. Twenty-inch wheels, High Country emblems on the front doors and on the tail gate and chrome trim all around the truck finish off the look.
On the inside, the High Country boasts leather-upholstered front bucket seats that are both heated and cooled as well as a premium audio system made by Bose.
The list of options includes a sunroof, navigation, a rear-seat entertainment package, adjustable pedals, a heated steering wheel and a chrome rear bumper with integrated steps.
All Silverado models are equipped with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a tire pressure monitoring system and traction and stability control systems.
Several new optional safety features are also available. A lane departure warning system alerts the driver should the Silverado begin to drift into an adjacent lane, and a forward collision alert system provides a warning if it detects an imminent collision with a vehicle or object up ahead. Notably, warnings can be conveyed via audible alarms or, more subtly, by a vibrating driver's seat.
Aside from its mechanical twin, the GMC Sierra 1500, the Silverado 1500's main competitors are the Ford F-150, the Toyota Tundra and the Ram 1500.
The F-150's main selling point is a variety of strong engine options - including the popular Ecoboost 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. The Tundra brings a reputation for reliability to the table, while the Ram 1500 impresses with a refined ride and a well-trimmed interior.