Chevrolet Silverado — Now with eight speeds

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

It was a magnet. Our 2015 Chevrolet 1500 Z71 4WD LTZ crew cab was drawing onlookers like a carnival barker inciting a crowd to step inside and see the amazing Asbestos Man swallow great gobs of fire. Surprised? Yes. After all, this was not the newest Ferrari or a Corvette Z-06.

It was a pickup truck. But apparently to these guys not just any pickup truck. This small gathering was made up of Chevy truck lovers and they loved the macho 2015 Chevy with its massive 6.2-liter V-8 and new-for-2015 eight-speed automatic transmission. We were so taken aback at the interest in the well-equipped Chevy that we didn't mind giving them a tour of the truck with its 20-inch polished chrome wheels, 20-inch all-terrain tires, special White Diamond Tricoat paint, argent grille mesh finish with chrome surround, body-colored front and rear bumpers, six-inch chrome assist steps, and silver and red Z71 badges on the doors.

Look inside we urged, see the nice leather seats, the eight-inch navigation and infotainment screen, notice the front seats are both heated and cooled, look at the keyfob that has remote start, and check out those speakers because they're part of a killer Bose audio system.

If you are a truck person and particularly if your leanings are toward Chevrolet, it would be hard not to like this pickup. And these guys all liked it — a lot. But wait, in the interest of full disclosure there is a downside. And that's the price. Base on this LTZ configuration is $47,005 including a rather hefty $1,195 destination charge. And even more to the point, the truck they were looking at with a few options took the bottom line to $57,405.

Maybe that won't be a deterrent. It apparently isn't a deterrent to a lot of people because the high-end pickups are going out the door at a steady pace. One of the men volunteered the fact that he was shopping for a top line High Country that starts at $51,265 for the 6.2-liter V-8. "I think I could live with this Z71 just like you're driving and save a few bucks," he offered.

Granted, we could get along just fine with the bread-and-butter 5.3-liter V-8 generating 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed automatic. But the 6.2.-liter churning out 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque mated to the new eight-speed is a another animal altogether. We were pleased with the truck's car-like feel that exhibited excellent road manners with well-weighted power steering, and was easy to drive and maneuver. It can tow up to 12,000 pounds properly equipped and it can take the nearly three-ton crew cab from 0-to-60 in a stunning 5.7 seconds.

Merging and passing? Not even a hint of a problem. And gas mileage? It’s okay for a big, high-powered pickup with EPA measurements of 15 city, 21 highway and 17 mpg combined in four-wheel drive.

The Silverado is amazingly quiet giving the truck a feeling of refinement that it previously lacked. And Chevrolet has upgraded the upholstery, dash and door panel materials, added an eight-inch touchscreen display with Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment interface, provided clear and easy-to-read gauges, and provided a myriad of plugs (in top trim models) including five USB ports, two 12-volt outlets, one 110-volt outlet, a cord management system for cellphones, and an SD card slot. Also included is a huge center bin that will accommodate a laptop computer.

Other than the new 6.2-liter V-8 and eight-speed shifter, the Silverado lineup hasn't changed much. Configurations are many with regular cab, extended cab and crew cab formats. Crew cabs have two bed choices — 5.75-foot and 6.5-foot. Trim levels are WT (work truck), LS, LT, and LTZ plus the luxury High Country and LTZ models can be outfitted with off-road packages.

The Silverado regular cab WT starts at $27,300 and the crew cab starts at $35,420. The standard LS crew cab begins at $37,280 including such standard features as power and heated outside mirrors, keyless entry, power windows, tilt-only steering wheel, chrome bumpers and grille, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, upgraded audio system with 4.2-inch display screen, and satellite radio. Standard safety includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control, side-curtain airbags, and OnStar with automatic crash notification and roadside assistance.

Options on our Z71 LTZ crew cab test truck included the 6.2-liter engine for $2,495, custom sport edition package for $2,000, power sunroof for $995 and the Bose audio system for $500.

Base price: $27,300; as driven, $57,405
Engine: 6.2-liter V-8
Horsepower: 420 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 460 @ 4,100 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: four-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 153 inches
Length: 239.6 inches
Curb weight: 5,434 pounds
Turning circle: 48.6 feet
Towing capacity: 10,900 pounds
Payload capacity: 2,210 pounds
Fuel capacity: 26 gallons (regular/flex fuel)
EPA rating: 21 highway, 15 city, 17 combined
0-60: 5.7 seconds (Motor Trend)
Also consider: Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra

The Good
• Powerful engine
• Comfortable, quiet interior
• Large number of configurations

The Bad
• Eight-speed only paired to 6.2-liter V-8

The Ugly
• Soaring prices for pickup trucks