The Silverado is a nameplate that goes back generations. People’s grandfathers and their grandfathers drove these pick up trucks while working the land. They are every worker’s friend and seem to always be there. Over the years, as we have evolved, so has the Silverado. The pickup of yore were smaller and less powerful, not to mention much less luxurious. Though things have changed, the underlying characteristics that makes the Silverado, the character has not.
In 2007 the Silverado went under the knife for a major refresh. In the first commercials Chevrolet had a clay Malibu and then showed designers reshaping the vehicle into the new Silverado. This was to try and tie the sharp styling of these two vehicles together and connect the Chevrolet brand. Without question, the outside of this truck is sharp. The front has the headlights stacked vertically and the hood has two small power bulges on the sides. The fender flares are over-sized and shaped nicely, though the side of the truck, specifically the cab is plain and rather slab sided. The windshield has a steeper rake then the previous generation Silverado and the panel gaps are tightened up. This all leads to better aerodynamics. Overall, the look is sharp on the exterior, though I would like to see more done with the cab styling.
The current Silverado rides on the GMT900 platform, a truck chassis adapted from the current Tahoe and Suburban. The frame is fully boxed and that helps not only the payload and towing specs, but also the ride. Engineers commented at the launch of the 2007 Silverado about how they wanted to keep high capacities but strived to hit a good mix for ride and handling, both when the truck was under load and when it was empty. It rides nice all the same.
I formed strong opinions about my experience with the truck and little things struck me. For instance, the Silverado I had was an extended cab. The rear half doors swung open on unique hinges a full 180 degrees. This is not only impressive but also quite handy. The truck also was equipped with the Z71 package which among other things, on the interior gave a unique gauge cluster background which resembled carbon fiber. I personally liked the gauge cluster in the Silverado. I found it easy to read and had all the necessary gauges a truck owner using his vehicle might need. I found the leather seats to be very comfortable and the leather seemed to be good quality. The sound system was the base unit and sounded decent at best. It got muddy with the lows, while not the worst system I would definitely opt for the upgraded unit. The USB port was hidden in what you would assume to be a power outlet but it was easy to reach and quickly connected with my iPhone using a little white cable. The biggest down fall of the interior, and this is a huge downfall, is the plastics. The entire dash is made of hard plastic that does not even look that great. The door panels are all cheap plastic except for the touch points. While this used to be fine in the pick up segment the competition (Ram and Ford F150) have all upgraded their interior cabin material significantly recently and that makes the Silverado look dated. All was not lost for I did like the electronic climate control interface. Though the gauge cluster, terrific 180 degree extended cab doors and electronic climate control interface cannot fully make up for the cheap interior plastics.
The 5.3L V8 in this Silverado pumped out 315 hp and 335 ft-lb pushed to the rear wheels though it had four wheel drive. A six speed automatic handled the power and was programmed quite well. It seemed to be in the correct gear and never seemed lazy. The mileage is rated at 15/21 which is definitely competitive and right along the lines of other full size pick ups. I averaged 14.8 throughout the week. The way this particular Silverado was equipped it was rated to tow a maximum of 10,400 lbs and the maximum payload is rated at 1714 lbs. Neither of these numbers was I able to confirm as I did not have a Bobcat lying around to tow. Though I can only assume it would tow a boat or trailer quite easily.
The Silverado I had was a 1500 4WD extended cab LT. With many packages tacked on this LT was not stripped. The optional packages included the interior plus package, exterior plus package, power pack plus package, off road suspension package, Z71 appearance package and the 40/20/40 split bench seat. Among these packages features such as the dual automatic climate control, Bluetooth, chrome exterior bits, remote start, and much more were added. The total sticker price rang up to $37,775. The package I wanted to take a moment to focus on was the power pack plus package. This upgraded the engine to the LTZ trim levels 5.3L V8 with active fuel management. That engine gives a few more horsepower and ft-lb but the real addition is the six speed automatic ditching the four speed transmission. I am a bit shocked this engine is not the standard V8 and transmission combination on the Silverado line. What is the exact reason for offering the 4.8L V8 and four speed automatic transmission on the base LT models. Make with the standard six speed transmissions already.
The reality is simple when it comes to the three American made trucks, you are not going to buy a bad truck. Really, I know you are about to blast me and that is because everyone has an opinion on this topic. The reality of it is these trucks are all very capable when it comes to working hard they are worlds nicer, stronger and more power then they used to be. At the end of the day would I recommend a Silverado to someone? Absolutely. Now ask me if it would be my first choice and I would say no. I really do like the Silverado but I would have to be honest and say both the new F150 and Ram 1500 are more competitive in their own rights. The interiors have been heavily upgraded and the innovative features are endless. The Silverado is not a bad truck, it simply is not currently the best truck. A complete refresh is coming around the 2013-2014 time frame (possibly sooner) and we shall see how the chips fall at that point.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors