In an age when truck sales continue to gather steam thanks to aluminum bodies and twin-turbo V6 engines, the Chevrolet Silverado is here to remind buyers that the heartbeat of America has a simplistic pace and that it’s still being powered by a truck that is built “like a rock.” With its forceful fascia, chrome accents, upgraded tech amenities and $35,985 starting price, the truck that redefined what an affordable V8 4×4 can do is back and better than ever.
While the version that we got a hold of was about as straightforward as it gets, there still was a lot to like in the simpler version of the Silverado. With its stripped-down, simplistic approach to function, our 1500 4WD LS double-cab week-long workhorse came equipped with quite a few additions, including a trailer package that had an auto locking rear differential and a custom package that boasted a sizable splash of extras. This special package added silver sprayed 20-inch wheels, all-season upgraded Continental tires, chrome door handles and side mirrors, special bumper pads, a bed liner, color keyed carpet, the addition of Chevy’s 5.3-liter V8 instead of a V6, and a 3.42 rear axle because towing stuff happens.
All together these added options bumped the sticker price up $3,730, which is not very much, considering the upgraded performance perks alone are worth well over that amount. But the boys over at GM are feeling a bit generous these days, and in a fantastic display of good will, a $1,700 discount slices this upgrade almost in half.
All together, this truck tops out at $39,210 after destination charges, comes with 4×4 capabilities in order to own any work site, and has a big honkin’ V8 in it that likes seeing a little abuse. But how does it stand up to its competition? (The last truck we got a hold of was the insane, off-road-ready Toyota Tundra TRD-PRO, which only cost a few grand more.)
At first glance, one must admit that this latest generation of GM truck is pretty sharp looking. It retains that iconic, boxy build that as a truck-oriented society we have come to love, and while it may not rock revolutionary styling (particularly in the rear), the newest variant has to be the sharpest one we’ve seen from Chevy in the past couple of decades. OK, all of the chrome is a bit overkill, but those blocky, Lego-ish eyes, the gaping honeycomb grille, and that four-door design are all well done additions, which starts this truck off on the right foot in our book. Plus, who doesn’t love a bumper-mounted rear cornerstep for getting into the bed of a truck?
After looking our Victory Red 4×4 over for a hot minute, it was time to dive inside. Much like its exterior, there are some noticeable upgrades here as well, along with a few classic mainstays. Sticking with a traditional truck feel is a double-sided sword sometimes, and while the version we got may not have been the most basic model, there was a feeling of minimalism to this thing.
Outside of a speed-oriented MID being notched between the tachometer and speedometer, the gauges retain a simplistic GM design that we all have grown to know. The seats are comfy enough for their intended purpose, there are plentiful cubbies in the door inserts, the 4WD shifter is cocked to one side (so there is tons of room next to it for added storage), and the ability to fold up the front seat’s center console for an additional passenger remains a traditional design that we are happy to see still in use. Couple that with solid visibility, rear windows that actually roll all of the way down, a 4.2-inch Chevy MyLink infotainment screen for multi-use like Pandora and navigation, USB ports, bluetooth, and mountains of headroom, and you’ve got a pretty well-equipped work truck that doesn’t look it at first glance.
Other noticeable likables were the rubber-wrapped control knobs, over-sized power windows and mirrors all around, 4G LTE WiFi, Sirius XM radio, responsive cruise control, and a CD/MP3 player because some of us are old school and don’t have the time to transfer everything over to the cloud.
The way this truck handles on the open road is what you would expect from a vehicle of this caliber. It’s 5.3-liter ECOTEC V8 is potent enough to warrant some wheel spin. The ride is a ruggedly predictable, dual-tube shock affair, and while the steering is electric in nature, the feel you get for the pavement is surprisingly predictable and far more planted than expected, which may have something to do with the upgraded tires our 1500 came equipped with.
Hitting the brakes involves calipers clamping down on discs all around, which provides balanced braking at any speed imaginable. After repeatedly coming to a swift stop, there was nary a sign of fade — overall, the Silverado has a well deserved five-star government safety rating, comes with traction control and stability assist, and has six airbags, with quite a few covering the back seat for frontal and side collisions.
Once the asphalt ended and a mountain of mud was all that could be seen, our Chevy got slapped into 4×4-mode and we took it for a quick spin in order to see how well it held up in some primordial ooze. While it may not have the ground clearance or tricked-out off-road suspension as the aforementioned TRD-PRO, the Silverado was able to both get us into and out of trouble without issue. The night prior, over four inches of rain had turned our proving grounds into a shin-deep pit of mud. While there were some areas that were avoided, with a separate set of rubber to ride on this truck would likely have dominated every inch of that quagmire.
So what don’t we like about the double cab version of Chevy’s Silverado? For starters, there are the cup holders (which are abundant) but undersized, so good luck fitting larger beverages or that Thermos of coffee upright in this truck. Other interior issues include the Econo van-like steering wheel (which oddly sits between well-stitched door panels), the under-sized MyLink screen, cramped rear leg room, and not having a back-up camera. These may not be deal breakers for some truck buyers, but in the interest of full disclosure, they are worth noting in order to keep this review as planted as possible.
But perhaps the largest fault with the double cab, V8 version of the Silverado is its price point, because for just a few grand more you could have a full-blown, ass-kicking Toyota Tundra TRD-PRO, which offers way more off-road prowess, a nastier V8, as well as a far more inviting cabin.
However, some people just need a simple work truck, and for those kinds of buyers there is a lot that is right-on with this Chevy. With its heated mirrors, smooth shifting, six-speed transmission, TPMS system, interior LED lighting, and 6.5-foot bed with two-tiered lay-out for the insertion of platforms for separation purposes, truck guys are going to be very pleased with what they find in the Silverado. Hell, the cylinder-deactivating, 355-horsepower V8 that puts down 383 pound-feet of torque and can haul up to 9,200 pounds is reason enough for us to want one. Make no mistake, this truck has the most fuel-efficient V8 in GM truck history and can run on as few as four cylinders at a time in order to give you 22 miles per gallon numbers on the highway. So be sure to opt for the V8 upgrade because with that $1,700 discount it is well worth the extra amount.
More from Autos Cheat Sheet:
- The 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec Gets Our Respect
- Why Classic Cars May Be a Better Bet Than the Stock Market
- Why Everyone is Putting Polyurethane on Their Cars
Want more great content like this? Sign up here to receive the best of Cheat Sheet delivered daily. No spam; just tailored content straight to your inbox.