Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Pickup Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Pickup Overview

Body
A Fresh Face for a Solid Body

For 2003, the Chevrolet Silverado gets a new face and some 40 new upgrades including a few new options that no rival can match. The Silverado series continues to be offered in half ton (1500), three-quarter ton (2500) and one ton (3500) versions. In addition, the 1500 and 2500 crew cabs offer a heavy-duty model with a more powerful standard engine and a beefed-up transmission and cooling systems. A dramatic new front end gives the Silverado a more aggressive look, and brings the truck in line with the current styling of the Avalanche, Express and TrailBlazer. Gone are the soft, rounded edges, replaced by larger front headlamps and raked, angular lines; the treatment is augmented by a bold new grille and chrome bumpers.

Besides a new look, Chevrolet has increased the content level of the Silverado, including the addition of GM's Quadrasteer four-wheel steering system to the 1500 HD short-bed. This system—also available on the 1500 extended-cab short-bed trucks—uses all four wheels to steer which vastly improves the Silverado's turning radius and makes it easier to maneuver when towing long trailers. The Quadrasteer system also improves the Silverado's stability and handling characteristics, most noticeably during freeway driving.

Trim levels remain unchanged from last year and you can still choose either a regular or extended cab, long or short bed and fleetside or sportside box configuration. There are four engine choices, including three different V8 engines and one V6. All models offer the availability of four-wheel drive and trim levels—base, LS and LT—range from basic to black tie. Late in the model year, Chevrolet will reintroduce the performance-oriented Silverado SS to the line. The new SS will be powered by a high-output 6.0-liter V8 producing 345 horsepower and will come standard with full-time all-wheel drive. The SS will also be lowered by 2 inches and will feature 20-inch rims and performance tires.

Power for the base truck comes from a competent 4.3-liter V6 engine rated at 200 horsepower. In everyday driving and for light chores, this engine works just fine in the big Silverado and returns an EPA highway fuel rating of 23 miles per gallon (with the manual transmission.) For most other applications, the Silverado is at its best when equipped with one of the Vortec V8s.

The Vortec series, beginning with the 4800, represents an outstanding example of how a big V8 engine should be built. Even though its basic design is somewhat dated (it does not have an overhead cam, for example) the Vortec 4800 still manages to pump out 275 horsepower, offers excellent acceleration and is nearly silent when operating. And considering the Silverado's brick-like aerodynamics, the 4800 still manages to attain surprisingly decent fuel mileage. GM's electronic four-speed transmission gets the credit for keeping the rpm low when running at cruising speed, further decreasing the amount of fuel the engine consumes. If you need even more power, the Vortec 5300 offers 285 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque; the massive Vortec 6000 is rated at 300 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque.

Inside, Chevrolet has further refined the Silverado's interior to include more creature comforts not usually associated with pickup trucks. New this year is a Bose audio system and XM satellite radio; Crew Cab models offer a Panasonic DVD-based entertainment system with flip down screen for the rear-seat passengers. You'll find the interior of the Silverado to be both tasteful and comfortable, with wide, flat seats that are soft yet supportive and a new center console design on LT models. The dash design places most of the controls squarely within the driver's reach; for the most part, they are clearly marked and easy to find, even at night. New this year is a dual-zone automatic climate control system to keep both you and your passengers comfortable. You will appreciate the small center horn and four spoke design of the steering wheel once you drive the Silverado; not only is it easy to find a comfortable place to rest your hands, but its open design allows the driver an unobstructed view of the dashboard switches and gauges.

On the Silverado extended cab, a rear-facing second door opens out to allow easy access and egress of passengers and cargo. When both front and rear doors are fully opened the entire cab is exposed, with no pillars or seatbelt straps to hinder loading (the front shoulder belts are built into the sides of the front seat.) Rear seat passengers have ample legroom, though the bench seat is a bit on the short side when it comes to thigh support. We give Chevrolet a big thumbs-up for placing two rear-seat headrests in front of the glass rear window, a feature that protects the head and neck of the rear seat occupants in the event of an accident. When it comes to safety, the Silverado is at the head of its class. This year, the standard front airbags feature a passenger-side dual-level bag that can deploy with less force if sensors in the seat detect a child is sitting there; the Silverado also features a passenger-side airbag cutoff switch.

On the open road, you'll find the Silverado's steering is light, with modest feedback to the driver; the brakes, on the other hand, get excellent marks with excellent pedal feel that is rock solid. It should be noted that different wheel and tire packages will affect the way the Silverado feels on the road, so you may want to test drive something that will mirror your final choice.

Base models are aggressively priced yet nicely equipped. The base 1500 comes standard with a V6 engine, automatic transmission, daytime running lights, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, driver's message center and swing-out quarter windows on extended cab models. The LS and LT add even more comfort and convenience items, but also increase in price exponentially. Chevy also offers a long list of options and upgrades, including matching hard and soft tonneau covers for the bed, bedliners and tie-down accessories and tubular side-step rails.

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