Chevrolet's Flagship Pickup Continues to Sell
The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado offers full-size pickup truck buyers a lineup of vehicles that can accomplish almost any task laid before them. Like most trucks in its class, the Silverado can be had in trim levels ranging from barebones to opulent, making it a viable option for buyers looking for anything from a stripped-down work vehicle on up to a well-equipped daily driver. The availability of a hybrid model as well as heavy-duty editions of the Silverado further completes Chevrolet's truck lineup.
Let's take a look at 10 things you should know about the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado.
Photos courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado starts out with a 4.3-liter V-6 engine under the hood that is good for 195 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for this unit comes in at 15-mpg in city driving and 20-mpg highway. Moving up to the available 4.8-liter V-8 improves output considerably to 302 horses and 305 lb-ft of torque while dropping fuel mileage by only 1-mpg for each respective measure. A four-speed automatic transmission handles the gear shifting duties for each of these engines.
Two additional V-8 power plants can be had under the hood of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, each mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A 5.3-liter motor that produces 315 horsepower and 335 lb-ft of torque is optional on most trims and standard on the top of the line LTZ model. Its fuel consumption actually improves on the V-6's highway rating (21-mpg) while matching it around town. For drivers more concerned with peak power (403) and torque (417 lb-ft) rather than mileage, an optional 6.2-liter engine offers both in spades.
Chevrolet pioneered the concept of a battery-powered full-size pickup, and the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid remains the most fuel efficient full-size truck on the market. The Silverado Hybrid makes use of a "two-mode" gasoline / electric system that combines a 6.0-liter V-8 with a pair of electric motors that together generate in the neighborhood of 379 horsepower.
The key to the system's operation is its ability to juggle the use of the gasoline or electric motors separately at low speeds, as well as tap into all three when it comes time to haul a heavy load. This translates into fuel mileage of 20-mpg in city driving and 23-mpg on the highway - which leads the full-size pickup truck segment - without giving up any real world capability.
The full frame design of the Chevrolet Silverado combined with its available V-8 power help to make it a great choice for a wide range of different towing or hauling tasks. When properly equipped, the Silverado 1500 can handle just under 2,000 lbs of cargo in its truck bed, and it is also cleared to tow 10,700 lbs.
A number of features assist the Silverado in achieving these lofty ratings. The truck can be had with an automatic locking rear differential that prevents wheel spin when towing a trailer across wet or snowy terrain and a tow/haul transmission feature reprograms the vehicle's shift points to reduce the number of gear changes made while hauling.
If you have a serious job to do, then the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and 3500 HD pickups should be on your shortlist. These work-oriented pickups have available gasoline and diesel drivetrains as well as reinforced steel frames, special suspension setups and the availability of dual rear wheels to help spread out a heavy trailer load.
While the vehicle's 6.0-liter gasoline-powered V-8 generates 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, the real star of the HD show is the available 397 horsepower, 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V-8. Capable of generating 765 lb-ft of torque and running through a specially designed Allison six-speed automatic transmission, when found in the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD this engine allows for a maximum tow rating of 21,700 lbs and a payload capacity of 6,635 lbs.
Fans of the Chevrolet Silverado HD might have noticed some changes to the drivetrains listed in the previous section. Better power from the vehicle's turbodiesel engine isn't the only thing that's new about the Silverado HD - the vehicle's Allison transmission also offers a new exhaust brake system that helps to slow down heavily laden trucks without heating up the brake pads.
Trailer sway control and hill start assist are also available on single rear wheel HD models to help improve load stability and reduce wear on driveline components. Rounding out the list of upgrades to the Silverado HD is an auto grade-braking feature that downshifts the transmission while rolling down hill in order to take advantage of engine braking and maintain a steady speed.
pickup trucks have long been a popular choice for off-road enthusiasts, and the Chevrolet Silverado is no exception. In addition to its rugged available four-wheel drive system, the Silverado can be ordered with the Z71 Off-Road Package which prepares the truck for the rigors of trail riding. A specialized suspension system that includes twin-tube high pressure shock absorbers is installed underneath the vehicle's chassis, and an automatic locking rear differential is also provided - along with a skid plate package that protects the most delicate areas of the Chevrolet Silverado's undercarriage. A Z71 Appearance Package can also be had that dresses up the exterior of the truck with larger wheels and identifying graphics.
For some pickup owners, their truck serves as a mobile office, and what's an office without Internet connectivity? Chevrolet Wi-Fi by Autonet Mobile is available for installation as an option on the Chevrolet Silverado, and this feature not only provides Internet access within the truck itself but also acts as a wireless "hotspot" for anyone within a 150-foot range. The 3G-router technology that Chevrolet Wi-Fi is based on provides broadband-level download speeds and requires a monthly subscription fee. Corporations can also take advantage of special fleet subscriptions that can save money for Silverado buyers outfitting their entire organization with Internet access.
It's a lot easier to use a pickup truck as a daily driver if you can count being able to haul around more than just one or two passengers. In addition to the Regular Cab entry-level models, the Chevrolet Silverado also comes with the option of either an Extended Cab or Crew Cab body style. Both of these can seat an additional three passengers across a rear bench that folds up to provide additional interior storage space.
The primary difference between the Extended and Crew Cab editions of the Silverado has to do with access to the back seat. Extended Cabs feature a rear-hinged door that opens up the entire side of the truck to allow for entry and exit to the passenger compartment, while the Crew Cab offers an extra set of full-size rear doors on both sides of the pickup.
Continuing its seemingly endless configurability, the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado can be had with not one, not two, but three different bed lengths. These cargo areas measure approximately five feet, six inches; six feet, six inches; or eight feet in length, with a total width of 62.4 inches.
Not every bed is available with all three body styles, however, as Chevrolet has decided to limit the overall length of the truck in the interests of maneuverability. This means that while Regular and Extended Cab trucks have access to both six and a half-foot and eight-foot boxes, the Crew Cab has to make do with the smallest box of the three.
While Chevrolet largely leaves the luxury truck market to its corporate cousin GMC (by way of the Sierra Denali pickup), the Chevrolet Silverado LTZ is still a very comfortable truck. This top tier edition of the Silverado provides equipment such as heated leather seats (with 12-way power adjustments), dual-zone automatic climate control, wood trim on the dash, a Bose stereo system and Bluetooth integration.
A number of upscale options can be added to the LTZ, including a DVD entertainment system for rear passengers, a sunroof, power folding outside mirrors that are also heated, and a rear parking assistance system.