Even anti-Chevy guys have to give this one its due
IntroductionChevrolet Silverado – Review: Chevy truck fans, take a minute to thank Ford, Dodge, Nissan, and yes, even Toyota. Seriously. If not for those brands, and more specifically the competition they bring to the table, we might never have seen a truck as impressive as the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado. No, it's not perfect – the lack of a six-speed automatic transmission and factory-installed bedliner prove that – but it's 100 percent better than the model it replaces, and even those without feverish domestic truck brand loyalty can legitimately claim that Chevy is ready for the best from the rest. Thank the stiff structure, attractive styling, and competent underpinnings for that. Now, if the well-equipped price could only be made more affordable…
With a sticker price of $45,424 (including a $900 destination charge), our four-wheel-drive 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LTZ was far from your basic pickup. Instead, it was trimmed out with all the goods you'd expect to find on a luxury car, including a touch-screen navigation system, a fold-down rear entertainment system, power-adjustable leather seats, and a Bose premium sound system. The dark blue metallic truck you see on these pages also featured a rear parking assist system, side-curtain airbags, 20-inch alloy wheels, a power sliding rear window, and XM satellite radio. To get a full test, we got in plenty of on- and off-road driving, with a final wrap up at the Hungry Valley recreational area north of Los Angeles.
In this day and age of monster V8s and mountain-moving diesels, the Silverado LTZ's 315-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 may seem a bit timid. That is, until you stomp on the go pedal and roughly 5,400 pounds move out with surprising ease. As one might guess, that overall equation doesn't add up to neck-snapping speed, but the truck most certainly feels quick, and 338 lb.-ft. of torque leads to some flustered faces when lights turn green. The flipside is that we only averaged 13.9 mpg during a week that included equal parts off-road climbing, highway cruising, and city crawling. The four-speed automatic transmission, with sometimes abrupt shifts, was fine around town but consistently took too long to downshift as we climbed California's Tejon Pass.
GM engineers have done an admirable job of refining the Silverado's driving demeanor. With pavement under the 20-inch wheels, the rack-and-pinion steering offers some semblance of responsiveness, and the ride is controlled provided you're not traveling along a bumpy highway like Los Angeles's 405 in a Silverado decked out with the heavy-duty trailering equipment package. Do that, and the stiff rear end will bounce you silly. Hit the dirt and the electronic four-wheel-drive system makes for quick and grippy traction, even with street-biased Goodyear Eagle LS-2 rubber, though the long wheelbase makes it easy to get high-centered. On the plus side, the steering wheel stays steady and straight even when inching over uneven boulders or ruts.
Despite its size and ride height, seeing out of the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado is surprisingly easy. That's due in part to the large side mirrors, but the expansive greenhouse and fairly narrow rear pillars do their part, too. With mirrors properly adjusted, small cars stand little chance of getting lost from view when merging, and the tall rear window affords a good look at what's going on behind you; small outboard headrests have no ill effects on visibility. Off-road, one's perspective changes, and that long hood, which is actually raised in the center, makes it very difficult to see where you're going when cresting hills. On more than one occasion, we were forced to stick our heads out the side window for guidance.Fun to Drive
For those who like to feel as though they're the king of the road, love the power and rumble of a V8-powered pickup, and can balance the feeling of Chevy-driving American pride with a resources-be-damned 13.9 mpg, then yeah, this brute of a truck is a jolly good time. And for you guys out there, we are now convinced – ladies go for dudes in trucks (or our egos grow to the point where we think they do). Adding to the fun is the fact that GM's new generation of full-sizers are comfortable, capable on- and off-road, and are structurally stronger than the models they replace.
To use an increasingly popular term, the Chevy Silverado's front seats are uber comfortable. Not only are they large and thickly padded, they prove supportive after several hours of driving (or sitting in traffic) and our LTZ, in particular, offered 12 power adjustments for the driver, as well as a three-setting heat function. Adjustable pedals are a nice addition, though the accelerator is set too far back from the brake pedal, which makes for a tiring transition in stop-and-go situations. Back on the plus side, there's a wide and padded center armrest, slightly padded door sills and armrests, a tilting leather-wrapped steering wheel, and generous amounts of head, leg, and shoulder room.
Four-door pickups have come a long way over the years, but rear seat passengers still have to put up with their share of sacrifice. The Silverado Crew Cab features doors that open wide for improved entry, but without running boards it's hard to get in; grab handles offset this a bit. Leg room is at a premium, with hard front seatbacks brushing against one's knees, and foot room is compromised by narrow and intrusive front seat floor brackets. Outboard seats are soft, but the backrests are too upright, a common problem in many extended and crew cab trucks. The center seat position offers limited leg and foot room, and the folded armrest doesn't make for the most comfortable backrest.
Trucks are commonly described as rugged, useful, and brawny, though they're seldom tied to the term quiet. The 2007 Chevrolet Silverado does little to break from that norm thanks to strong doses of wind, tire, and engine noise. Despite all of the luxury features on the LTZ, including our tester's heated leather seats and navigation system, the Silverado does not provide a cabin suitable for a serene cool-down after a difficult work day. The V8's rumble is heard at all times, which to us is a bonus, but it might grow tiresome for others. Same goes for the excessive wind noise around the front windows, and the road noise that sings even on smooth surfaces.
A $45,000 pickup, and four-wheel-drive no less, without a spray-in bedliner, or a flimsy plastic liner at least? Not from the factory, which means you'll have to fork over whatever the dealer's charging. The painted bed was already scratched from limited use. On a work truck, that's to be expected, but who wants to mar the finish on an LTZ they just paid more than forty-five large for? However it's lined or unlined, the box is wide with small wheelhouses that eat away little cargo space. Indents provide a spot for laying 2x4's widthwise, and thus create a two-level bed; grooves are also provided to set some 2x6s widthwise. The tailgate is relatively light, but lacks the spring-loaded mechanism found on the new Tundra.
Call it a 20-footer, because if you get closer than that the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado's build quality issues become apparent. Among them are the misaligned hood and tailgate, the difference in gaps on the left side doors versus the right, the front fenders that bow out just a bit where they meet the front doors, and the grille that isn't even. Inside, things are better but not perfect. Problems included loose rear pillar covers, a driver seatback panel that had separated, visible casting on the glovebox door, a lower console cover that was unattached, and plastic bits behind the rear seat that were holding on for dear life.
Overall, the materials used to build the 2007 Silverado's interior demonstrate a marked improvement over those in the previous generation truck. That being said, there's still room for improvement. Thumbs up for the thick leather used on the seats, the leather-wrapped steering wheel, the mesh headliner with matching material on the visors and a matching pattern on the A-pillar covers, and the rubberized window sill surfaces. We also give praise for that fact that most of the hard plastics feel solid and durable. Failing to win us over is the hard plastic atop the dash and around the center cluster. With those few added soft-touch surfaces, there wouldn't be much left to complain about.
It says something when the new Silverado's styling gets approval from one of our in-house truck aficionados, one who hasn't looked favorably at Chevy truck design since about the mid ‘90s (two generations back). The blocky look adds a square, rugged silhouette to one of mid-America's favorite bowtie models, and the expansive chrome grille somehow escapes being over the top. Simple red taillights with small reverse lamps loosely mimic the design used in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, albeit on a bigger scale. Optional 20-inch alloy wheels, however, would have been hard to find back in the days of ABBA. Inside, Chevy offers a basic truck or more upscale dash layout – our LTZ had the latter, which really served to dress things up.
Sure, a pickup bed is great for hauling cargo, but with seating for five, the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ also needs to provide plenty of interior storage for the occupants' assorted belongings. Addressing that concern are long front door pockets, complete with their own beverage holders capable of accommodating a 20-oz. soda bottle, a deep center bin with two of its own removable cupholders, a spacious and lined center armrest, a lined glovebox, and even a few provisions for rear seat passengers. Those include four cupholders – two in the fold-down center armrest and two folding out from the bottom of the center console – and map pockets on the back of each front seat. Fold-up rear seats ensure large items remain safe from the elements.
Our Silverado LTZ test truck featured an optional touch-screen navigation system that was simple to use and view. Small, rubber-gripped dials serve to control volume and tuning, while smaller, clearly-labeled buttons take the operator directly to the navigation system, the radio, the seek function, and other oft-requested tasks. Steering wheel controls behind the right-side spokes are provided for volume and tuning. Our truck also included a rear DVD entertainment system with a fold-down screen, rear seat controls and input jacks, and a pair of wireless headphones. The screen is placed forward far enough to allow for clear viewing for the outboard passengers. For long trips, the $1,295 system may prove well worth the investment.
Since our test truck was an LTZ model, it included the upgraded dash that can be found on GM's SUVs. As such, the standard automatic, dual-zone climate control system lacks the traditional big dials, which are replaced with triangular buttons that control temperature, fan speed, and mode. Interestingly (and a bit odd), the heated mirror controls are bundled in with the main climate controls rather than with the mirror buttons on the door panel. However, the heated seat controls, comprised of three settings for the seat back or the seat back and seat bottom, are on the door panel. In any case, find the appropriate buttons and you'll be heated or cooled in no time.
Most of the Silverado LTZ's secondary buttons are just where you'd expect, but those that aren't have been so clearly labeled that you're sure to find them within a few seconds. As mentioned, the mirror controls, including a power fold feature that comes in handy when squeezing through tight trails, are on the door panel, as are power door lock and power window switches. An easy-entry power driver seat control, which slides the seat back for more room, is next to the door handle. Buttons for the power pedals are below the climate system, while the four-wheel-drive system uses a rubber-gripped dial on the left dash. A button overhead operates the power sliding rear window, which failed the one and only time we tried it.
Competition amongst full-size pickups isn't increasing in numbers, though the existing players are definitely upping their games. Among them are obviously the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra twins, which represent a monumental improvement over their predecessors. Yet right there with the duo from Detroit is Toyota and its totally overhauled and now officially full-size Tundra, boasting a variety of body styles, powertrains, and unique features. Contractors and weekend warriors are likely jumping for joy with the updated range of choices. Less fresh but still considerable alternatives include the Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, and Nissan Titan.
2nd Opinion – Chee
Chevrolet Silverado – Chee's Opinion:
So which is it...Tundra or Silverado? It's a tough choice, thanks to a stunning redesign of Chevy's bread and butter vehicle. In fact, it's almost as if the two have squared off in their own private tug of war, one defined by what truck buyers want most. In this corner, it's Chevy, with a vastly improved interior, a more civilized ride and improved power numbers. That truck goes up against the Tundra, which is built more for work boots and gloves. Think of it this way: the guy with the paychecks, he's driving the Chevy. The dude getting the work done, why, he's probably in a Tundra. Then there's the Ford guy – but he won't be around until 2009, so no worries there...
2nd Opinion – Wardlaw
Chevrolet Silverado – Wardlaw's Opinion:
Chevy's new Silverado is a damn fine truck. It's got one major flaw in my opinion, a complaint frequently registered about the previous model and one that in this new iteration impacts only the 1500-series trucks: Interior design. My gripe has nothing to do with materials. The visual and tactile improvements to the new Silverado are almost stunning. Rather, the control layout is all wrong. Sharing a dashboard and components with the Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, the Silverado's cabin is more like a car than a truck. That's gonna be a problem for people who use it more like a truck than a car. In this upscale LTZ with navigation, just try using the radio station presets while wearing work gloves. I dare ya.
Photos courtesy of Ron Perry