What's New for 2008
Coming off a redesign last year, the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado is unchanged other than the addition of satellite radio as standard equipment and an optional integrated trailer brake controller.
The 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is pretty much the quintessential modern full-size pickup. It's able to do all the truck stuff you see in the TV ads -- manly tree-stump-pullin' and the like -- while simultaneously being comfortable and upscale enough for daily family use. Heck, you can probably make a family outing of stump-pullin' if you like.
Followers of the half-ton Silverado know that this wasn't always the case, however. Only last year did the Silverado receive significant upgrades. Compared to earlier models, the latest redesigned truck has a much improved interior, higher-quality materials and tighter build quality. There's also new styling, a more rugged frame and redesigned steering and suspension components for better handling response and ride comfort. Topping things off is the adoption of the latest safety technologies like stability control and side curtain airbags.
Via a variety of road tests over the past year, we've found that the redesign has made a big difference. Of the current batch of half-ton full-size trucks, which includes the Dodge Ram, the Ford F-150, the Nissan Titan and the Toyota Tundra, the 2008 Chevy Silverado (as well as its GMC Sierra twin) ranks at or near the top. The Tundra has an advantage in terms of maximum power and the Titan's been a longtime favorite of ours. In a recent comparison test, we ranked the Silverado 2nd in this group. But a lot of the decision process will come down to personal preference, and shoppers not beholden to a brand should consider and compare all three.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is a half-ton full-size pickup truck. There are three body styles available: standard cab, extended cab and crew cab. Standard cabs can be had with either a standard bed (6-foot, 6-inch) or long bed (8-foot). Extended cabs can have a short (5-foot, 8-inch), standard or long bed. In the interest of maneuverability, crew cabs come only with the short bed.
Regular cabs can be had in base Work or midlevel LT trims, while the extended and crew cabs are also available in the plush LTZ trim. There's also an LS trim for crew cabs only. The Work trim comes with the basics, including air-conditioning (extended and crew cab versions), a trip computer, OnStar telematics, vinyl seating, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, a CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary audio jack, satellite radio and tilt steering wheel.
The LT trim actually consists of two subsets: 1LT and 2LT. The 1LT (and the mostly similar LS) build on the Work trim with cruise control, cloth seating (with adjustable driver lumbar), full power accessories, keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Opting for the 2LT nets you alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control (in extended and crew cabs), front bucket seats and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The top-shelf LTZ has all of the previous equipment plus rain-sensing wipers (with heated washer fluid), a Bose audio system with six-disc CD changer, leather seating, remote engine start, an exclusive dash design with wood/metallic accents, 12-way power and heated front seats and rear audio controls.
Notable available options include a variety of towing packages, the Z71 Off-Road Package (skid plates, off-road suspension and locking rear differential), 20-inch wheels, upgraded audio systems, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, heated power-folding outside mirrors, a sunroof, a power-sliding rear window, a cargo management system and rear park assist. There is also an optional "EZ Lift" tailgate that requires only about half the effort (compared to the standard tailgate) to open and close.
Powertrains and Performance
There are four different engines available for the 2008 Chevy Silverado 1500. Work trucks have a 4.3-liter V6 (195 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque) as standard. This can be upgraded to a 4.8-liter V8 (295 hp, 305 lb-ft) or a 5.3-liter V8 (315 hp, 338 lb-ft). The LT trims will have one of the two V8s as standard, while the LTZ has the 5.3-liter engine as standard. Optional on select models is a 6.0-liter V8 that makes 367 hp and 375 lb-ft. It typically comes as part of the Max Trailering Package. With that package, the Silverado can tow up to 10,500 pounds.
A four-speed automatic transmission with a tow/haul mode is standard on all Silverado pickups. Buyers have a choice of either rear- or four-wheel drive. The Work and LS trims with 4WD have a traditional floor-mounted selector for the transfer case. All other 4WD trims have Autotrac, which features an automatic setting that shifts into 4WD when wheel slippage is detected. Though fuel economy for the 5.3-liter V8 4WD is hardly impressive (the 2008 EPA estimate is 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway), it ranks as the most efficient V8 available in a mainstream full-size truck.
Antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum) are standard, with an all-disc setup available via the Max Trailering Package. A stability control system with roll-mitigating technology is standard on crew cabs and optional on extended cabs. Side curtain airbags and adjustable pedals are optional on most models. In government crash tests, the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado earned a top five-star rating for protection of front occupants in head-on collisions.
Interior Design and Special Features
Tight build quality, an attractive dash design and comfortable front seating combine with sound ergonomics to make the Silverado's interior enjoyable on long road trips. The rear seat in crew cab models is also quite comfortable, and the seat cushions can be folded upwards for a nearly flat load floor. Interior storage is adequate, but some might take issue with the cupholders (too small) or the organization of the center console box. Silverado LTZ trims feature a unique dash and door panel treatment with lustrous wood grain and metallic accents.
The 2008 Chevrolet Silverado's steering feel is much improved over the previous model thanks to a new rack-and-pinion design. There's no longer a massive dead spot on-center and the power assist feels about right for a truck. The vehicle's turning circle is a little larger than most other trucks, however. On long trips, the supple suspension and quiet cabin come into play to make the truck a pleasing companion. Acceleration is certainly acceptable with either the 4.8- or 5.3-liter V8. The optional 6.0-liter V8 can get the Silverado to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, though the new 381-hp Tundra has certainly raised the bar for full-size truck performance.