Chevy Truck introduced an all-new line of Silverado pickups for 2007 and we love them. They just may be the best pickups on the market today.
At the same time, GM continued to churn out the old version, calling it the Silverado Classic. That's what you're looking at here. The 2007 Silverado Classic is exactly the same truck as the 2006 Silverado, which was essentially the same as the 2005, 2004, and 2003 models.
These previous-generation trucks are sold on the basis of price. The 2007 Silverado Classic models retail for about $2,000 less than the newer generation models. And that's not counting rebates and incentives.
The newer generation Silverado is vastly superior to the outgoing Classic by every measure and it will almost certainly hold its value better.
Still, the Silverado Classic is a solid truck. It certainly beats a used truck. It may be the most truck you can get for the money. And it's an especially good deal if you're buying it for someone else, such as an employee, to drive.
It rides well and handles well. It's quick and it's comfortable. Boxed and hydroformed frame rails give it a strong, rigid platform, like a rock, as its ads used to say. Heated leather seats, XM Satellite Radio and other options make long days spent in a Silverado Classic comfortable. And anyone who values a low load height should compare a two-wheel-drive Silverado Classic to the other full-size pickups; lifting heavy equipment into the back of high-riding trucks is hard on the back.
Chevrolet Silverado Classic 1500 2WD SWB Reg Cab ($15,840); 2WD SWB Ext Cab ($21,465); LS 2WD LWB Ext Cab ($25,915); LT 2WD LWB Ext Cab ($27,135); LS 4WD SWB Ext Cab ($27,250); LT 4WD LWB Ext Cab ($29,580); SS ($33,280); LT 4WD Crew Cab ($31,465)
One of Silverado Classic's most distinctive features are the way its headlights angle down at the top, like the determined eyebrows of a Marine drill sergeant. A large band runs across the middle of the grille punctuated in the middle by a big, gold Chevy bow tie. All of this seemed smoothly integrated into the front end, at least until we saw how much more smoothly the new Silverado was put together. The Classic's flared engine hood and squared-off wheel openings continue its aggressive theme down the sides of the truck. In the rear are bulging taillamps that maintain the Chevrolet family look yet uniquely identify the Silverado Classic.
Silverado Classic's large door openings make getting in and out easier, and the door handles are big and easy to grab. Extended cabs come standard with four doors, though the rear doors open in the reverse direction and not as wide as we would like. Optional puddle lamps mounted beneath the big side mirrors light the ground along the sides of the truck, handy in the city as much as in the woods. Mirrors with redundant turn signal indicators are also available, warning drivers alongside or in your blind spot that you are moving over. Heavy-duty models have running lights on the roof, tailgate, and leading and trailing edges of their bulging rear fenders. They add visibility for improved safety. Plus they look neat.
Silverado Classic's bed features built-in tie-down brackets near the four corners. Indentations stamped into the inner bed walls can hold boards to form bulkhead dividers or a second floor for two-tier loading. The Silverado's load floor is 31.6 inches above the ground on 2WD models, and 33.7 inches with 4WD. That's relatively low, and low is good when loading heavy cargo. Standard-box beds are 78.7 inches long; long boxes are 97.6 inches long. Both are 64.8 inches wide at the floor. The Crew Cab's short box is 69.2 inches long and 60.2 inches wide at the floor. All three measure 50 inches wide between the wheel housings.
The back seat in Extended Cab models offers more room and comfort than expected. We wouldn't want to ride across the state back there, but three adults can fit and be reasonably comfortable for a short trip. The rear-seat bottom folds up to provide space for cargo, but it's still in the way when trying to carry a lot of stuff, and the floor is not flat. The entire rear seat assembly can be removed with a wrench and lifted out through the door when cargo capacity is more important than passenger space.
Crew Cabs offer roomy rear seats and additional interior cargo space. The back seats in Crew Cab models are very comfortable, similar to the rear seats in a Suburban or Tahoe. The rear seats can be flipped down, like those in a Suburban, to provide a big, secure cargo area.
Optional bucket seats are more comfortable and adjust every which way. We like both the premium cloth and the optional leather. The bucket seats are separated by a deep center console that holds lots of stuff. The top of the lid features a nice rubber-lined indention handy for small items, though it would be even better if the rubber was an insert that could be removed for cleaning. The top of the console is angled forward, which seems unfortunate because clipboards and other items placed there tend to slide off. A big coat hook makes picking up the dry cleaning easier.
The instrument panel features a large speedometer and tachometer. Smaller gauges to the right display oil pressure, water temperature, fuel quantity, and battery charge. HD models with the Heavy-Duty Trailering Package come with a transmission temperature gauge on the left. All use highly legible white-on-black graphics. Headlamps and taillamps turn on automatically when it gets dark. A Driver Information Center, located in the instrument panel cluster, provides various bits of information, including an available engine-hour meter.
Dual-zone climate controls are standard. The manually controlled system that comes on base models is a good, straightforward design. Manual sliders are used to adjust the temperature The available electronic climate controls are better, featuring two large knobs for driver and passenger. A large LED displays the mode and fan settings. It's a well-engineered system that's sophisticated yet easy to operate.
The stereo systems feature digital controls with large knobs for volume and tuning. It's a good setup, more attractive and more sophisticated than some earlier systems, but just as easy to use. XM Satellite Radio is a great addition for people who want minimal blab interrupting their music, or who like to listen to 24-hour news or sports channels like NPR, CNN or ESPN. Satellite radio also means you can drive across the U.S. without ever having to switch from your favorite stations.
The latest generation of OnStar (called Gen 6) is designed for improved hands-free operation, thanks to more intuitive dialing and improved voice recognition. OnStar is the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services in the United States and Canada. Using the GPS satellite network and wireless technology, OnStar features core safety services and Personal Calling that allows drivers to make and receive hands-free, voice-activated phone calls.
The Silverado Classic rides more smoothly than the Dodge Ram. We drove a Silverado Classic 1500 2WD LS Extended Cab that rode very smoothly. Its long, 143-inch wheelbase contributed to the ride (and enhanced high-speed stability).
The Silverado Classic handles well on dry pavement, loose dirt, deep dirt, and off-road. It tracks straight at speed on dry pavement and it's stable on wet pavement. It holds its line when the rear wheels spin under acceleration, even when coming out of a low-speed turn on wet pavement. Steering is responsive and offers the right amount of feedback; there is a dead spot in the center when cruising, however, which Chevrolet says is designed to minimize steering corrections on the highway. Rack-and-pinion steering is used on Silverado Classic 1500's with 2WD. Four-wheel-drive and heavy-duty models use recirculating-ball steering.
The optional Ride Control Suspension is designed to enhance control when pulling a trailer. Press the Ride Control button when the truck is empty and the system firms up the shock damping, which reduces bouncing somewhat, although at the expense of increased harshness. When towing, Ride Control helps reduce the tendency of the truck to pogo as the trailer goes over bumps. It can also be used for better suspension control when driving off-road.
Four different engines are available for Chevy's light-duty pickups, so it's helpful to study power ratings, payload ratings, tow ratings, fuel-economy, pricing, and other data to choose the best engine for your needs. People talk about horsepower, but torque ratings better reflect how the truck will perform.
The V6 model is best for light-duty work when price and fuel economy are paramount; it also meets Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle, or ULEV, standards. But the two most popular engines are small-block V8s. The 4.8-liter V8 (294 cubic inches), which GM calls the Vortec 4800, is popular in base models and delivers 295 pound-feet of torque. It offers plenty of performance unless you're towing, hauling heavy loads, or driving at altitude; and it could definitely use more juice when trying to accelerate up hills.
The 5.3-liter Vortec 5300 V8 (327 cubic inches) generates 335 pound-feet of torque, enough grunt for all but the most demanding applications. It's the engine we prefer. It only rates 10 horsepower more than the 4800, but offers a lot more torque, over a broader range of speed. The 5.3-liter's fat torque curve is useful for light towing and hauling, but also makes the Silverado more fun to drive when commuting or out and about. Fuel economy is about the same.
All of these Vortec small-block V8s are based on the SB2 architecture introduced on the Corvette and extended to the Camaro and Firebird in 1999. Since 2003, they have featured Electronic Throttle Control for more precise, consistent throttle operation; new oxygen sensors offer improved reliability and reduced emissions during warm-up. All of Chevy's Vortec engines come with 100,000-mile platinum-tip spark plugs, sequential fuel injection, and 150,000-mile anti-freeze.
Larger engines are available for heavy-duty Silverados. The big Vortec 6000 6.0-liter V8, standard on 1500HD, 2500HD and 3500 models, delivers 360 pound-feet for pulling big, heavy trailers. A 330-horsepower, 8.1-liter V8 is available for heavy-duty models, as well as a 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V8, which now produces 360 horsep
Reprieved for one final season, the Chevy Silverado Classic offers a lower-cost alternative to buyers interested in the bottom line. Roomy cabins, comfortable seats, a comfortable ride, and powerful engines make the Silverado a great work truck. The Hybrid option promises lower operating costs under certain conditions. A well-equipped LT Crew Cab can serve as a reasonable alternative to a family-size SUV.
NewCarTestDrive.com editor Mitch McCullough is based in Los Angeles.