By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
We’ve had a chance to drive a couple different versions of the Chevrolet Silverado truck lately – the most recent the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado LT Crew Cab. It’s almost like driving a full-size sedan except that you sit up higher with a commanding view of the road, have the capacity to haul big loads and it’s a tighter fit in the garage – if it fits at all.
Driving the Silverado for a week actually made us better understand the appeal of the full-size, Chevy Crew Cab truck and actually trucks in general. We’re still more car people, though, with an occasional flirtation with some of the new crossovers.
The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado LT was all-new in 2014 and right out of the factory it was named the “North American Truck of the Year.” The Silverado was all-new from the ground up with a design language that has strong ties to the styling of the larger Chevrolet Heavy Duty trucks. In 2015, Chevrolet engineers tweaked the Silverado a little more adding a new eight-speed Hydra-Matic transmission to go with the larger 6.2-liter V-8 engine offering.
Now for 2016 they’ve made even more improvements including a redesigned grille and front end elements along with a sculpted hood and LED signature lighting. The top two models, the LTZ and the High Country even get LED headlights. and standard LED taillights.
Other available new equipment on various 2016 models are a remote locking tailgate, eight-speed automatic transmission for the smaller V-8 engine and power-articulating assist steps.
The full size trucks are the most customizable of all the vehicles sold in the U.S., offering a large number of trim levels, two- and four-wheel drive, different bed lengths, engines, transmission and hundreds of other ways to tailor the buyers every desire.
The Silverado, for example, comes in 10 colors, six trim levels, five body styles, three cab sizes, two bed lengths, with three engines and the list goes on and on.
Silverado trim levels start with a model called the WT or Work Truck. As the name indicates it is designed for function, more than frill, nevertheless, the WT still includes a long list of standard features like air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and all the safety equipment including HID headlights, StabiliTrak stability control with Proactive Roll Avoidance and Hill Start Assist.
The rest of the lineup in order from least expensive is the LS, Silverado Custom, LT, LTZ and High Country, each with a higher feature and creature comfort level than the previous.
Three EcoTec3 engines are offered in the Silverado; they include a 285-hp 4.3-liter V-6; a 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8 and 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8. (Not all engines are available in every trim level.) The two smaller engines are mated with the Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission, while the 6.2-liter V-8 get the new GM-developed eight-speed Hydra-Matic 8L90, which is approximately the same size and weight as the six-speed. For 2016 the eight-speed is available with the 5.3-liter V-8 on some models.
Chevrolet says the 420-hp V-8 is the most powerful engine offered in a light-duty pickup. The two V-8 engines turn respectable 0 to 60 mph acceleration figures, according to buff magazine tests. The 5.3-liter V-8 we drove makes the run in 6.9 seconds and the big 6.2 does it in 5.7 seconds which seems especially quick for a truck that weights more than 2.5 tons. All the engines have direct injection and active fuel management which automatically deactivates half the cylinders during low load situations like coasting or cruising on flat roads. The EPA lists the 5.3-liter engine with fuel economy of 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. We averaged 17.5 mpg during our week of mostly local driving.
A big part of the appeal of full-size trucks is the ability to be able to tow things, and the Silverado can tow a lot. The double cab Silverado with 2WD has a towing capacity of 5,600 pounds and the range goes all the way up to 12,000 pounds for the double cab with the 6.2-liter engine and the Max Towing Capacity package. That’s enough for a pretty big boat or travel trailer; still someone who is doing lots of towing would be better served by one of the Chevy Heavy Duty trucks.
To be successful in the market today, a vehicle needs a good communications system and the one in the Silverado is impressive. It is enhanced with more features and a desirable new connectivity — OnStar with 4G LTE and built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. It allows passengers to connect their smart devices seamlessly to the Silverado’s Internet service. For 2016, both the seven- and eight-inch color touch screens have faster processors which improved performance and include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. There is also a wireless phone charging system built into all models equipped with front bucket seats.
Other nice touches on the 2016 Silverado’s with the Enhanced Driver Assist Package are IntelliBeam (automatic high/low beam assistance) and Lane Keep Assist to help keep the vehicle in the lane using subtle steering adjustments.
The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 comes in a broad spectrum of choices and prices with the 2WD WT starting at $29,285, including the destination charge, and going to as high as $55,505 for the High Country 4WD. With most of the options added the High Country model moves into the $60,000 range. For more information on the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado go to www.chevrolet.com on the Internet.