Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
April 25, 2012
My name is William Maley and I love pickups trucks. I’m not sure why I love them. I don’t work on a farm or a construction site, tow an RV, carry an ATV, or anything else you do with a pickup.
Maybe it’s their large size, brooding V8 engines, and the ability go anywhere and do pretty much anything. Or maybe it’s due to me riding in many pickups as a child. Something about them just makes me smile.
So I was excited when a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Crew Cab was dropped off for a weeklong evaluation. Despite being the second oldest full-size truck on sale, it was the second best selling truck in 2011. I had two questions that I would hopefully have answers to: Would my love continue for the pickup truck? And, how would I feel about the Silverado after a week.
Onward to the exterior
It’s hard to believe that the Silverado is going into its sixth model year if you only judge it on the exterior. The front end carries Chevrolet’s trademark dual grills surrounded by either chrome bars or as on our test truck, bars in the truck’s Victory Red color. Flanking on either side of the grill are large, square headlights. The hood protrudes in two places where the driver and passenger sit.
The side profile features flared out front and back fenders, helping give the Silverado an aggressive look. Also, the optional door rails add both a touch of class and make it easier to get in and out. Otherwise, cover up the side lettering on the front doors and could you tell me whether it’s a Silverado or a GMC Sierra?
As for the back, the chrome plated bumper features bumps for the rear parking sensors. The truck bed on this Silverado happens to be shortest, measuring at 5-feet 8-inches. This means you have to play Tetris when loading certain objects into the bed, as I learned over Easter when loading some new bedroom furniture. Luckily, all of the furniture boxes got into the bed, thanks to skills I had learned from playing a Tetris.
How did the Silverado fare in the interior department?
One place where you can tell interior is six years old is the dash. While the trim for the LTZ model is from the Suburban/Tahoe SUVs, it uses hard plastics that are very cheesy looking. I would forgive it if it was around $30,000, but when the price is pushing $48,000, you expect better materials to be used.
Then, there is the optional Navigation system. I do give GM props for updating the system software this year, bringing it somewhat in line with the current software used in the Cruze and other models. Plus, the system provides the ability to split radio information and navigation on the same screen. But, using the two rows of small buttons on either side of the screen to help move to different functions and control the system is a big pain in the butt. As for touch, the system responds quickly. As for the sound, the standard Bose system belted out very a good quality sound.
GM deserves credit for the comfortable front seats. This being the range topping Silverado, they’re heated and power adjustable, plus the driver gets two memory settings.
Back seat passengers will approve the comfortable seats as well and the large amount of head and legroom. Also, the bottom part of back seat will folds up, expanding interior cargo room.
On to the Ride & Drive
Ride & Drive
The Silverado Crew Cab comes with three V8 engine options: 4.8L, FlexFuel 5.3L, and 6.2L. Also, the Crew Cab comes in a Hybrid configuation. The hybrid uses a 6.0L V8 and two electric motors hooked up to a 300 volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack. This particular Silverado Crew Cab was equipped with the 5.3L, which is rated at 315 horsepower and 335 lb-ft of torque. Fill the tank with E85 and and the computer will grant you additional power rising to 326 horsepower and 348 ft-lb of torque. The 5.3L is hooked to a six-speed automatic.
Despite the roughly 5,400 curb weight, the powertrain makes it a non-existent problem. Power comes on strong and can be delivered at any speed. The six-speed transmission delivered smooth and unobtrusive shifts. Sadly, I didn’t get to test the towing capacity of the Silverado Crew Cab, but did test the payload. As I mentioned earlier in this review, I had some bedroom furniture sitting in the bed. The Silverado handled it with ease, feeling like there was nothing sitting in the bed.
Fuel economy for the 5.3L stands at 15 City/21 Highway. Fill up with E85 and the fuel economy drops to 11 City/16 Highway. Average for the week was 15 MPG in mostly city driving. Not surprising at the least, although I would bet the cylinder-deactivation and six-speed transmission played a role into the average I got.
As for driving the Silverado around, it was a challenge for me for the first day or so. The tall ride height and long hood played with my depth perception and caused to me think I was steering the S.S. Silverado. Once I got over those feelings, I began to notice the good and bad.
The Silverado’s steering is very heavy, but it feels very direct. A good thing to have when you the bed is filled with cargo or towing a trailer. Plus, when driving on the highway, the steering was dead straight.
The ride is a mixed bag. Driving on smooth surfaces, the Silverado’s suspension provided a very comfortable ride. On rougher surfaces, the Silverado feels like its transmitting every single bump on the road. There are two causes for that; the optional 20-inch wheels and stiff rear springs to help with carrying large loads.
At the end of the week, I had the answers. For the first question, the answer was yes, I still have a love for the truck. But, I revised my expectations because of the challenges I had to get over before being comfortable with driving the Silverado.
As for the second question about the Silverado itself, I have a mixed opinion on it. On one hand, the Silverado’s modern looking exterior, comfortable interior, and powertrain combo make it a tough truck to beat.
However, one thing the Silverado cannot beat is its age. Compared to Ford F-150 and the refreshed Ram 1500, the Silverado begins to fade. The interior, while simplistic in design, uses lower quality materials that are a big negative in 2012. Also, the ride quality could be improved when driving over rough surfaces
The Silverado is a very good and a very competent truck. But being a competent truck doesn’t get you far in the cut-throat world of pickup trucks.
5.3L V8 and Six-speed automatic
Disclaimer: General Motors provided the Silverado, Insurance, and one tank of Gas
Year - 2012
Make - Chevrolet
Model - Silverado
Trim - 1500 LTZ Crew Cab 4WD
Engine - 5.3L V8
Driveline - Four Wheel Drive, Six Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM - 315 @ 6300
Torque @ RPM - 335 @ 3800
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/21/17
Curb Weight - 5410 lbs
Location of Manufacture - Silao, Mexico
Base Price - $42,440.00
As Tested Price - $48,419.00 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)