Full 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Review
What's New for 2009
The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 gets a new V8 option (a 6.2-liter powerhouse with 403 horsepower), a new six-speed automatic transmission and a number of new options, including Bluetooth, XM traffic reporting and a back-up camera option that doesn't require the optional navigation system. Additionally, option packages are shuffled and an "XFE" (extra fuel economy) package for the crew cab debuts.
Back in "the good old days," the only folks who had pickup trucks were those who owned horses, trailers, boats or their own construction/home improvement business. Those workhorse rigs were typically bare-bones standard-cab models with a flat vinyl bench seat, manual windows and an AM radio with one speaker in the middle of the dash.
Now, however, folks demand a lot more from a truck than just the ability to do grunt work. As a result, we have seen full-size pickups morph into family vehicles, available as luxurious crew cabs sporting automatic climate control, CD changers and leather seating. And among this modern breed, the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 proudly stands as a smart choice, if this type of vehicle is truly what you need.
The previous generations of the Silverado were rightly criticized for their el-cheapo cabin ambiance, but that changed recently when General Motors finally realized that folks want attractive styling, high-quality materials and fine fit and finish in their trucks. Thanks to a full redesign a few years ago, the Chevrolet Silverado's interior is much improved, though it still lags behind the competition in a few areas.
The latest Silverado also has ruggedly handsome styling, much-improved driving dynamics and more safety features, the latter including stability control and side curtain airbags. This year's Silverado also has a newly optional six-speed automatic transmission, which is a welcome upgrade over the standard four-speed auto.
In the half-ton pickup truck class, competition is formidable. Our latest full-size truck comparison ranked the all-new Dodge Ram and Toyota Tundra above the Silverado, with the Ford F-150 a tick below. The results were incredibly close, so it's fair to say all are worthy choices. We encourage comparing all of these models to determine which one fits your needs the best.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 full-size pickup truck is available in three body styles: standard cab, extended cab and crew cab. Standard cabs can be had with either a standard bed (6-foot, 6-inch) or a 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 a tilting steering wheel. The LS adds full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control and adjustable lumbar support for the driver.
The LT trim adds upgraded audio speakers, premium cloth seating (with a lockable compartment and a power outlet built into the center cushion of the split front seat), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Opting for the LTZ gets you alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers (with heated washer fluid), dual-zone automatic climate control (in extended and crew cabs), an exclusive dash design with wood/metallic accents, leather upholstery, heated front bucket seats (with 12-way power adjustment), steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth, a Bose audio system (with a six-disc CD changer and rear audio controls) and remote engine start.
Notable options include a variety of towing packages, the Z71 Off-Road Package (skid plates, an off-road suspension and a locking rear differential), 18- and 20-inch wheels, upgraded audio systems, a navigation system with real-time traffic updates and a rearview camera, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, heated power-folding outside mirrors, a stand-alone rear back-up camera, a sunroof, a power-sliding rear window, a cargo management system and rear park assist. There is also the XFE (extra fuel economy) package for the two-wheel-drive crew cab that features a six-speed automatic transmission, aerodynamic enhancements and lightweight aluminum components that improve fuel economy. To ease loading and unloading the bed, one may opt for the "EZ Lift" tailgate that requires only about half the effort (compared to the standard tailgate) to open and close.
Powertrains and Performance
There are five different engines available for the 2009 Chevy Silverado 1500. Work trucks have a 4.3-liter V6 (195 hp, 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 trim, depending on body style, will have one of these two V8s as standard, while the LTZ has the 5.3-liter engine as standard.
Optional on select models are a 6.0-liter V8 (367 hp and 375 lb-ft) or a 6.2-liter V8 (403 hp and 417 lb-ft). A four-speed automatic transmission with a tow/haul mode is standard on all Silverado pickups. A six-speed automatic unit is available for all but the LS crew cab or models with the V6 and 4.8-liter V8. The XFE version of the crew cab features the 5.3-liter V8 matched to the six-speed automatic. Properly equipped, a Silverado 1500 can tow up to 10,700 pounds.
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.
Fuel economy estimates range from 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined for a crew-cab XFE down to 12/19/14 mpg for a 4WD Silverado 1500 fitted with the 6.2-liter V8.
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 V8-equipped trucks. Side curtain airbags and adjustable pedals are optional on most models.
In government crash tests, the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado earned top five-star ratings for its protection of all occupants in head-on and side-impact 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 upward 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 upscale dash and door panel treatment with lustrous wood grain and metallic accents.
The current Chevrolet Silverado's steering feel is much improved over older generations', which were plagued by a big on-center dead spot. The power assist feels about right for a truck, but the vehicle's turning circle is a little larger than that of most other trucks. On long trips, the supple suspension and quiet cabin come into play to make the Silverado a pleasing companion. Acceleration is certainly acceptable with either the 4.8- or 5.3-liter V8. The optional larger V8s and corresponding transmissions make the Silverado seriously quick for a full-size truck, and are more suited for those for whom massive hauling and trailering tasks are a part of life.