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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chevrolet Silverado 1500

The Chevrolet Silverado is one of the top-selling pickup trucks in America, and it's the work horse of General Motors' truck lineup, offered in all kinds of trim, body styles, and bed lengths, with a wide choice of powertrains. Set to be renewed for the 2014 model year, the Silverado is a near-twin for the GMC Sierra--and it competes head to head with it, as well as with the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, and the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.

The Silverado has been on sale since 1999, when GM gave the name to its C/K pickup trucks developed under the code name GMT800. In that first generation, the Silverado carried on with the rugged look and capability that GM's trucks used to battle the Ford F-150, their sales arch rival. From the 1999 to the 2006 model year, the Silverado was sold in hundreds of configurations--nearly all of them powered by a V-8 engine, teamed to a four-speed automatic transmission. A five-speed automatic came late in life, as did GM's first hybrid--which in this case, was a very "mild" hybrid which simply stored some recouped energy to charge electrical systems, including a power point in its pickup bed.

In 2007, GM introduced the first of the "GMT900" trucks were put into production--accelerated as GM hoped strong sales would lift it back into profitability. While that didn't quite pan out, the GMT900s were an instant success, and were well-reviewed for their more upscale styling, rich interiors and improved drivetrains. This second-generation Silverado 1500 is still on sale today, with minor changes over its product life thus far.

It remains one of the best full-size trucks for its seemingly endless variety of configurations: three body styles offer seating up to six, in front of a bed that comes in short or long variants. The Silverado also offers a plainer and a quite nice interior design; a choice of four gas engines, or a Hybrid model; and rear- or four-wheel drive. The most powerful 403-hp V-8 Silverado drinks fuel at the rate of 12/19 mpg, but the Hybrid edition earns an estimated EPA rating of 20/23 mpg. Towing tops out at more than 10,700 pounds, and while the Silverado's rear seats can seem a little too vertical, the interior's as comfortable as the competitors, save for TheCarConnection's favorite full-size pickup truck, the Dodge Ram. Features range from a trailer-sway mode in the stability control system, to dealer-installed wireless internet access.

Changes were minimal going into 2012 and 2013. Powertrain Grade Braking--to improve stability on hills, when towing--was included for 2013 in all models with the six-speed automatic.

The Silverado shares its running gear with many vehicles across the GM brands. The Silverado, Avalanche, Suburban, and Tahoe all are related, as are the heavy-duty versions of the Silverado and Suburban. GMC's Sierra, Suburban, and Yukon are almost identical; the Cadillac Escalade lineup borrows its mechanicals from the same architecture. There's also the now-defunct HUMMER H2, a more distant cousin of these so-called "GMT900" trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

For 2014, the Chevy Silverado will be extensively refreshed, and fitted with a new generation of GM V-6 and V-8 engines, all with a common architecture, direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable valve timing. Gas mileage, power, and torque are all improved.

Inside the new Silverado trucks get several active-safety features, in addition to available MyLink connectivity with natural-language voice commands, a Pandora app, Bluetooth streaming audio, and an eight-inch touch screen. Extended cab models get new front-hinged rear doors, while Crew Cab models have larger doors and easier entry. Added cargo features include a new cargo-bed step, LED bed lighting, and a damped tailgate.

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