As with its rivals, today's Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is available with a wide variety of body styles, powertrains and trim levels. Thanks to this flexibility, the half-ton Silverado pickup is just as adept at serving as the weekday family car as it is at transporting home-improvement supplies or towing a boat on the weekends. And if one wants something sporty, there are always the SS versions that come complete with a rumbling V8, bucket seats and flashy wheels.
Older versions of the Silverado 1500 pickup have been praised for their strong work ethic but soundly criticized for their bland, often overly plastic-endowed cabins. The latest version, however, exhibits greatly improved fit and finish. Where there was once an abundance of lackluster design, hard plastic and uneven panel gaps there are now richly grained upholstery, softer materials and precise fitments. Of course, there are other more recently redesigned choices in the full-size pickup truck market, but the half-ton Chevrolet Silverado remains a solid pick no matter what it's used for.
Current Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The Chevrolet Silverado half-ton pickup truck is available in three body styles (regular-, extended- and crew cab) and trim levels ranging from no-frills "Work Truck" to plush LTZ. The most popular trims are the midlevel LS and LT, which provide most features people want as standard, including air-conditioning, full power accessories and a CD player. Notable options include a variety of towing packages, the Z71 Off-Road Package and a navigation system.
Powertrain choices encompass everything from a frugal 4.3-liter 195-horsepower V6 to a muscular 6.2-liter V8 with 403 hp. Most Chevy Silverados, however, will be fitted with either a 295-hp 4.8-liter V8 or a 315-hp 5.3-liter V8. A four-speed automatic transmission with a tow and haul mode is standard on Silverado pickups with the base V6 and 4.8-liter V8. Silverados with the 5.3-liter or 6.2-liter V8 have a six-speed automatic. As expected, one may choose either rear- or four-wheel drive.
Calling cards of the Silverado include strong performance, a refined and quiet ride (even with the heavy-duty towing package) and a comfortable cabin that's admittedly looking a little old compared to newer competitors. A few other downsides we've noted in reviews include minor interior ergonomic issues, an unimpressive base V6 and the hesitant response of the four-speed automatic transmission while downshifting. GM's excellent six-speed automatic, however, is hard to fault with its smooth, on-point performance.
Used Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Models
Although Chevrolet has produced a pickup truck since 1918, the truck never received a formal name until 1999 at which point it was dubbed the Silverado. ("Silverado" was formerly the name of a trim level that dated back to the 1970s.)
The present-generation Silverado debuted for 2007 and is largely the same as the current Silverado, with the exception of the 6.2-liter V8 and six-speed automatic transmission that were both introduced for 2009. That six-speed was optional that year for the 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8s, but became standard for 2010.
The previous Silverado 1500 was produced from 1999-2006. Underneath the handsome styling, a family of new V8s debuted, ranging in size from 4.8 to 6.0 liters. They offered output running from 255 hp with the smallest 4.8-liter to 345 hp from the high-output 6.0-liter V8 in the Silverado SS. A base V6 was also available, but as expected, most Chevy Silverados came fitted with one of the V8s. (Buyers looking at the heavy-duty series Silverado 2500HD and 3500 of this generation could also get a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 or an 8.1-liter gasoline V8.) A unique four-wheel-steering option (called QuadraSteer), came on line about midway through this generation and cut the truck's turning circle down to 37.4 feet -- around 10 feet less than a typical full-size pickup. Unfortunately, QuadraSteer was discontinued for '06, as buyers were put off by the high cost of this option.
Consumers more interested in function than flash should be happy with a half-ton Silverado from this era. The truck offered plenty of performance and work capacity, but was hampered by a dated cabin design fraught with cheap materials and below average fit and finish.
The previous generation of Chevrolet Silverado pickups ran from 1988-'98, and were simply known by their number nomenclature — 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (3/4-ton) and 3500 (1-ton). Standard cab and extended cab body styles were offered, as was a crew cab, though the latter was actually from the previous 1981-'87 generation. Although six-cylinder and diesel V8s were offered, chances are strong that most Chevy trucks from these years will have either a 5.0- or 5.7-liter V8 mated to a four-speed automatic. In keeping with tradition, one could choose either rear-wheel drive (indicated by a "C", e.g. "C1500") or four-wheel drive (indicated by a "K"). Trim levels for these C/K1500 trucks include the base Cheyenne, midlevel Scottsdale and top-line Silverado. Strengths of these trucks include strong, durable powertrains, while weaknesses center on sketchy build quality and materials within the cabin.
Read the most recent 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Chevrolet Silverado 1500 page.