Sunday, April 08, 2007

Chevrolet offers 40 styles of Silverado

April 7, 2007
2007 Chevrolet Silverado
Weekend Drive
Chevrolet offers 40 styles of Silverado
By Richard Williamson / Scripps Howard News Service

If you don't like multiple choice questions, don't shop for a truck.

After you've narrowed the field to a brand of full-size pickup, the selection of dimensions, capacity, price and power can seem nearly endless.

Chevrolet offers 40 styles of Silverado in a huge price range of $17,860 to $34,895. Major variables include cab size, box proportions and rear-wheel or 4-wheel-drive. A light hybrid version is even available in some states.

And that's just for the half-ton Silverado 1500. Heavier duty 2500 and 3500 three-quarter ton and one-ton versions have their own permutations.

Options are also multitudinous. A Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LT2 that I drove for a week came with six major option packages and sundry incidentals, lifting the price from a $31,840 base to $37,370 after the $900 destination charge and a $675 discount.

For cargo, check the box you most prefer: the short one at 5-foot-8 inches; the standard 6-foot-6 incher; and the long 8 footer.

Built on a new full-size truck platform that includes the sibling GMC Sierra, the 2007 Silverado features a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. The track is about 3 inches wider in front and 1 inch wider in the rear.

Chevrolet claims a top towing capacity of 10,500 pounds and a maximum payload of 2,160 pounds, depending on how the truck is configured.

If you don't feel you've been offered enough choices, Chevy provides five suspension systems for different needs: Z83 for general use;

Z85 for better trailer towing; Z71 for off-road demands; Z60 for best street performance; and NHT for maximum towing capacity.

Oh, yeah, engines. There are seven of them, starting with the 4.3 liter, 195-horsepower V6 and rising to the 6-liter, 367-horsepower V8.

Between them are versions of 4.8-liter and 5.3-liter V8s, some of which run on alternative E85 fuel.

With pump prices wreaking havoc on the full-size truck market, GM is pitching improved fuel economy in the new Silverados. The 5.3-liter V8 in the review truck got 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway for an estimated annual fuel cost of $2,210. That's not the kind of fuel economy that will win kudos from Friends of the Earth, but for a 5,061-pound truck, it's not bad.

In terms of performance, the 5.3-liter V8 provided strong responses, operating through a four-speed automatic transmission. On one freeway entrance ramp, the Silverado was able to scoot briskly into the merge lane ahead of a semi that didn't seem to be slowing down.

While the 315 horsepower is healthy, the 338 foot-pounds of torque is where the Silverado earns its credibility as a cargo hauler.

Since trucks no longer serve as work vehicles exclusively, they often must qualify as family transporters and luxury vehicles for a night on the town. Certainly, the new Silverado qualifies, especially with its load of options.

Three interior trim levels, WT, LT and LTZ offer varying levels of luxury.

The instrument panel in the LTZ trim level is 5 inches lower and farther forward than the previous model's. The WT and LT trim feature an instrument panel that is 3.5 inches lower and farther forward.

WT and LT trim features larger controls and door handles that are easier to use with gloves. A large-capacity, double glove box is built into the instrument panel. Cloth seats are standard on WT and LT models, but leather seating is available on LT trim, along with a six-way, power-adjustable driver seat.

A lockable in-seat storage bin is built into a new 40/20/40-split bench and is large enough to store a laptop computer. The bin also comes with a 12-volt power outlet.

LTZ models have a larger center console and other special trim. A heated, 12-way, power-adjustable leather driver seat is standard, along with a six-disc CD/MP3-capable audio system, Bose speaker system and heated windshield washer system.

Crew cab LTZ models add rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers, a rear-seat audio system and large glove box. LTZ interior color schemes include Ebony, Dark Titanium/Light Titanium and Ebony/Light Cashmere combinations.

GM improved the rear seats for crew cab and extended cab models with more supportive cushion material, firmer support and better seat back angles.

Extended cabs offer more legroom.

Crew cabs come with stadium-style rear seats with a 60/40-split design and folding center armrest. The seats can be folded up to add cargo space individually or together.

Designers improved access to the rear seats and cargo area with doors that swing out to 170-degree angles. A power sliding rear window is available on extend cab and crew cab configurations with LT and LTZ trim levels.

While the Silverado and GMC Sierra are essentially fraternal twins, the Sierra is considered slightly more luxurious. So, you might want to take a look at that model.

Or is that one choice too many?

Richard Williamson writes about automobiles for Scripps Howard News Service.

Details: Chevrolet Silverado

What's new: All new platform for 2007 model, wider stance, improved access, improved fuel economy
Pluses: Range of sizes, capacities, power, prices; comfort; capacity
Minuses: Fuel economy, maneuverability
Bottom line: Benchmark for 2007, but Toyota Tundra is close behind

© Copyright 2007 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.


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