Chevy Silverado 1500 — An attractive pickup

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Most new-car shoppers know the best time to get the best price is near the end of a model year when dealers are clearing their lots in anticipation of the changeover. Clearance sales yield savings, and that's especially true when it comes to high-priced pickup trucks where it's not unusual to get new wheels for 10 grand or more off sticker price. And the bargains might even be greater when a new iteration of the pickup is on the way.

Take Chevrolet, for example. An all-new 2019 Silverado will hit the streets later this year, the first complete remake since the 2014 edition. As good as the new truck will be, the current 2018 Silverado — which has received continual updates over the past five years — offers a host of amenities, is loaded with up-to-date technology, sports an attractive cabin, and a rearview camera and seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard across the lineup. And Chevy's eAssist package, which includes an engine stop-start system for improved fuel economy, is now available.

What makes the Silverado 1500 — as well as other full-sized pickups — so popular is their versatility and nearly infinite configurations. The Silverado 1500 comes in regular cab, double cab and crew cab body styles — all offered with 4-wheel drive — with 5-foot-8 and 6-foot-6 bed lengths. The regular cab can be outfitted with an 8-foot box. There are five trim levels — WT (work truck), LS, LT, LTZ and the luxury High Country. A Z71 off-road package can be added to LT and LTZ models.

There are three engine configurations — a 4.3-liter V6 generating 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The workhorse engine — and our recommended pick for a good combination of power, towing capability and gas mileage — is the 5.3-liter V-8 making 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque mated to an 8-speed automatic. For the most available grunt, Chevrolet offers its 6.2-liter V-8 mated to the 8-speed and producing a prodigious 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, for an additional $2,495.

For comparison purposes, the 5.3-liter has been rated in the mid-six-second range in 0-to-60 runs, while at the same time has the ability to tow up to 11,100 pounds. That should cover virtually any weekend toy or large travel trailer.

Our Silverado LTZ crew cab test truck with the Z71 package exhibited excellent road manners with well-weighted power steering. It proved easy to drive and maneuver. And the 5.3-liter engine provided ample, smooth performance on road and in mild off-road driving. Brakes were firm and consistent.

The Silverado is amazingly quiet. Road and wind noise have been commendably muted making the pickup one of the quietest in the industry. The cabin solitude gives the truck a feeling of refinement that it previously lacked.

Inside, Chevrolet uses quality upholstery, dash and door panel materials, features an eight-inch touchscreen display with Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment interface, provides clear and easy-to-read gauges, and 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. All controls, Chevrolet says, can be operated with gloved hands.

Our upper end LTZ trim came with numerous upscale features including chrome exterior trim, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED fog lamps and taillights, a heavy-duty locking rear differential, front tow hooks, a seven-pin wiring harness connector, a trailer hitch, remote engine start, a security system, power-folding mirrors with puddle lamps, auto-dimming driver and rearview mirrors, a power-sliding rear window with defogger, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 110-volt power outlet, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power driver and passenger front seats with heating and two-way power lumbar adjustment, and driver-seat memory settings for a price of $50,485 including a $1,295 destination charge.

Adding in the Z71 off-road package — featuring 18-inch wheels and off-road-oriented hardware such as special shock absorbers, a heavy-duty air cleaner, hill descent control, underbody shields, recovery hooks, and a few unique exterior and interior styling tweaks — and a special Centennial Edition package, as well as a handful of other options, brought the bottom line to $58,635.

For those buyers who want the 5.3-liter engine and the crew cab format but don't want to lay out that kind of cash, it can be purchased in LT trim starting at around $43,000. And remember — as the year wears on there will be big savings on the 2018 Silverado.

Base price (crew cab): $39,630; as driven, $58,635
Engine: 3.5-liter V-8
Horsepower: 355 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 383 pound-feet @ 4,100 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: four wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 153 inches
Length: 239.6 inches
Curb weight: 5,299 pounds
Turning circle: 48.6 feet
Towing capacity: 11,100 pounds
Fuel capacity: 26 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 15 city, 20 highway, 17 combined
Also consider: Ram 1500, Ford F-150, Nissan Titan

The good
• Quick acceleration with V-8
• Quiet interior at highway speed
• Up-to-date technology
• Large rear-seat passenger space

The Bad
• Highway ride a bit stiffer than competitors

The Ugly
• Myriad of options can run up price