For this installment, our Mechanic Next Door explores one of the most stylish trucks on the block, the Chevy Silverado
Pickup trucks aren’t just for work anymore, and haven’t been for some time. That’s not to say they’re no longer being used for work – because they’re just as popular on the jobsite as ever. In modern pickups, however, drivers can be just as comfortable and stylish rolling up to valet parking wearing a black tie as they can pulling in to the jobsite in a hard hat, safety vest and steel toes.
This delicate balance of work and play, of style versus function, convenience or necessity is clearly evident in one of America’s best-selling trucks – the Chevy Silverado 1500.
First introduced in 1998 for the ’99 model year, the Chevy Silverado was a follow up to Chevy trucks’ successful C/K pickup line and built on GM’s long success with pickup trucks – dating back to its first model in 1930. 1998 wasn’t the Silverado name’s debut, however, as it had made an appearance previously. Chevy used Silverado as a trim line name for both its Suburban and C/K pickup truck models from ’75 through ’99.
The Silverado is now enjoying its third generation, and still building and improving on the success of generations one and two, which ran from 1999 – 2006 and 2007 – 2013, respectively. The 2015 model is hauling some exciting new additions, without losing many of the features responsible for Silverado’s nearly universal appeal.
Bragging rights are always a good place to begin, and the “firsts” or “mosts” that Chevy lays claim to with the new 2015 Silverado include:
• the most fuel-efficient gas V8 pickup truck ever (with the 5.3-liter engine)
• the most powerful engine available in a half-ton pickup
• the first truck to include 4G LTE WiFi connectivity
Because it’s a truck, size matters, and Chevy’s able to make its “most powerful engine” claim thanks to the 6.2-liter V-8 option churning out 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque for a towing capacity of 12,000 pounds. Yeah, that’s six tons. If that’s too beefy for some drivers’ tastes, other available options include a 5.3-liter V-8 producing 355 HP and 383 lb.-ft. of torque or the base engine – a 4.3 liter V-6 with 285 HP and 305 lb.-ft. torque. Paired with these powerplants is a six-speed automatic transmission.
The mid-range 5.3-liter version is the engine that enables Chevy to make the “most fuel-efficient V-8” claim, delivering 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
A big change that catches Chevy Silverado up with its competitors is the addition of the High Country trim line, which is now the top level available on the Silverado and places it in a similar class with other truck manufacturers’ trim lines, including F150’s King Ranch, Ram’s Laramie and GMC Sierra’s Denali (which as most truck aficionados know is a twin to Silverado, at least mechanically.)
Pickups, whether they’re four-wheel drive or not, are getting taller, in part due to increased wheel sizes (which, by the way, are available in 17’s, 18’s and 20’s on the new Silverado). Drivers, however, aren’t experiencing a corresponding increase in body height, which makes Chevy’s addition of its CornerStep rear bumper a big convenience factor whether trying to grab something out of the bed or simply fasten a tonneau. And an available spray-in bedliner eliminates the need to secure this work in the aftermarket, protects the bed, and reduces the annoyance factor that comes with things sliding and banging around back there.
Up front, there are three available cab configurations – a regular two-door cab, a double cab featuring four forward-opening doors, and a crew cab. The double cab is available only with the standard six-and-a-half-foot bed (which still makes for a nearly 20-foot long vehicle) while the crew cabs come with either the standard or short (5.8 ft.) box and the regular cab is available with either a long bed at eight feet or the standard box.
In the safety department, Silverado is the first pickup to receive the 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score for Safety – the highest ranking – since NHTSA changed the program requirements in 2011. Helping deliver on that safety promise is a rear-vision camera, forward collision avoidance system, lane departure warning, six airbags, daytime running lights, ABS, and a “safety alert driver’s seat” that vibrates when an alert is generated by Silverado’s crash-avoidance systems.
All of this power, convenience, safety and style come with a price, however, and that price doesn’t look too painful when one considers that Chevy’s MSRP is $26,105 for a base model. Add on some “must-haves” however – including four-wheel drive and that High Country trim package – and tire kickers find themselves staring down a price of more than $54,000 the way that reviewers from Car and Driver did.
Because it’s been around for so long and there are still so many on the road, Silverado parts for repairs are readily available. At the same time, there are almost as many accessories for customizing a Silverado as there are color and option choices available on new ones.
And as a final thought, who can forget the song that has become synonymous with the Silverado, and all Chevy Trucks for that matter? Yes, Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock,” used in Chevy commercials for more than a decade – and guaranteed to be in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.
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