By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
The three best-selling vehicles in the U.S., year-to-date (September 2015), are trucks. The Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram trucks are by far the big guns of the auto industry far ahead of all the top selling cars like Camry, Corolla, Accord and Altima.
Of the truck trio, the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado is the best preforming, with sales up 15.4 percent from a year earlier, compared to advances of 1.3 percent for Ford and 3.4 percent for Ram.
There?s good reason for the new Chevy?s great performance — it?s a really good truck, and that?s not just our opinion, it was named the North American Truck of the Year for 2014. The Silverado was all-new from the ground up in the 2014 model year with a design language that has strong ties to the styling of the larger Chevrolet Heavy Duty trucks.
As a whole, the changes came followed a fairly strict interpretation of the American pickup, with little of the gimmickry like turbochargers, aluminum bodies or diesel engines used by the other truck makers. In short, General Motors held to the standard truck formula, and American truck buyers seemed to like that.
For 2015 Chevrolet planners 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. 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 ? okay, that?s probably not part of standard truck formula.
There are some other changes to improve trailering and spray-on bedliner is now available on all models. Cosmetically there are some of the usual annual changes which we always assume are thrown in make it easier for salespeople or fans to more easily identify the model year.
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 nine colors, six trim levels, five body styles, three cab sizes, two bed lengths, with three engines and the list goes on and on.
We had an opportunity to spend a week in one of the entry-level models recently, the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LS Double Cab with standard box and rear-wheel drive.
The LS model we drove is the second lowest of the trim levels, right above the WT (Work Truck) which is designed exactly for what the name says. While it might be the entry level truck, the LS is not a stripped model. The list of standard features is extensive including nearly everything power, keyless entry, locking tailgate, heated outside mirrors, cruise control, air conditioning, and much more. There are lots of the important tech features, too, like stability control, hill start assist, daytime running lights and OnStar with the new Wi-Fi, too.
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.
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. The EPA lists the 5.3-liter engine with fuel economy of 16 mpg city, 23, mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. We averaged 18.6 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 11,900 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.
The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 comes in a broad spectrum of choices and prices with the 2WD WT starting at $28,910, including the destination charge and going to as high as $52,030 for the High Country 4WD. Adding most of the options and the High Country moves into the $60,000 range.
The Silverado LS is nicely appointed and includes the appointments, ride quality and comfort to make it very enjoyable to drive or ride in. Shear bulk makes it uncomfortable for running through mountain curves but it actually handles the corners nicely, considering that it sits so high off the road. And it?s nice to know that you can haul or pull something if you want, and think how popular you?ll be in your new Chevy Silverado when a friend, neighbor or family member needs to haul something.