Full 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Chevrolet Silverado sees just a minor shuffling of equipment.
The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is something of an enigma. Last revised back in 2007, this Chevy goes up against recently redesigned trucks from Ford and Ram. Nevertheless, the Silverado remains fully competitive, even as it, too, is about to be redesigned.
In important aspects of performance such as ride comfort, towing capacity and options and features, the Silverado 1500 remains competitive in every way. Regular updates, useful utility packages and rugged styling -- not to mention the truck's traditional emphasis on a smooth, quiet ride and comfortable seating -- have also contributed to keeping the current Silverado in the game.
There are a few caveats, however. The aging 195-horsepower V6 struggles to motivate such a heavy vehicle and is easily outclassed by more powerful and efficient V6s offered by its competition. The Work Truck trim level is still notably dull compared to the more inviting interiors seen in base models of the Ram and Toyota trucks. Lastly, a large turning radius hampers maneuverability, something that becomes apparent in any parking lot.
Savvy shoppers will note that the Ford F-150 boasts more available high-tech features, while the Toyota Tundra is roomier in its crew cab trim. This Ram 1500 is our favorite of the bunch thanks to its top-notch interior, new features and smooth highway ride. Yet because it does so much right and so little wrong, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 remains a solid choice and deserves attention when you're shopping for just the right combination of features and performance in this very competitive segment.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is a full-size pickup offered in a variety of cab/cargo-bed configurations in both two- and four-wheel drive. Body styles include regular cab, extended cab and crew cab. Regular and extended cabs are available with either a 6.5-foot standard bed or an 8-foot long bed. Crew cabs are mated to only a 5-foot-8 short bed. Regular cabs are limited to the base Work Truck and midlevel LT trims, while the extended and crew cabs come in LS, LT and the range-topping LTZ trim.
The Work trim (or WT) is limited to the bare necessities, which include air-conditioning (extended- and crew-cab versions), a trip computer, a tilt steering wheel, OnStar telematics, vinyl seating, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat and a four-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack. The LS adds full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, a CD player, satellite radio and adjustable lumbar support for the driver.
The LT trim includes premium cloth seating, a lockable compartment with a power outlet built into the center cushion of the split front seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The LTZ piles on 20-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control (in extended and crew cabs), an exclusive dash design with wood and metallic accents, leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable heated front bucket seats, driver-seat memory settings, Bluetooth, remote engine start and a Bose audio system with a six-disc CD changer, a USB/iPod interface and rear audio controls.
Many of the features on the upper trim levels are offered on the lower ones as options. Other popular options (depending on the trim level and configuration) include various towing packages, the Z71 Off-Road package (skid plates, off-road suspension, 18-inch wheels and body-colored front end), 18- and 20-inch wheels, a sunroof, heated power-folding outside mirrors, an EZ-Lift tailgate, a power-sliding rear window, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, upgraded audio systems, a rear-seat entertainment system, a navigation system and ventilated front seats.
A number of thematic packages are available as well (depending on the trim level). The All-Star package includes the 5.3-liter V8, a locking rear differential, a towing package, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, audio upgrades (CD player, iPod/USB interface and auxiliary jack), six-way power driver seat and the EZ-Lift tailgate. There is also the XFE (extra fuel economy) trim variant for the two-wheel-drive 5.3-liter V8 crew cab that features aerodynamic enhancements and lightweight aluminum components that improve fuel economy.
Powertrains and Performance
Chevy offers four engines in the 2013 Silverado, including three V8s.
The standard 4.3-liter V6 produces 195 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque. LS trim buyers may upgrade to a 4.8-liter V8 rated at 302 hp and 305 lb-ft, or a 5.3-liter V8 that's good for 315 hp and 335 lb-ft. The biggest engine is a 6.2-liter V8 cranking out 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of peak torque. The LT trim, depending on body style, will have one of the two smaller V8s as standard, while the 5.3-liter is standard on the LTZ. The 6.2-liter is available as an option on select models.
A four-speed automatic transmission with a tow-haul mode is standard on Silverado pickups with the base V6 and 4.8-liter V8. The 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8s utilize a six-speed automatic. In a recent Edmunds test, a Silverado with a 6.2-liter V8 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, which is very quick for a full-size pickup. 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 (optional on the Work and LS), which features an automatic setting that shifts into 4WD when wheel slippage is detected.
EPA fuel economy estimates range from 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 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.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, OnStar, electronic stability control and traction control. Front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags are also standard. Four-wheel disc brakes are available as part of the Max Trailering package. In Edmunds brake testing, a Silverado crew cab with four-wheel disc brakes stopped from 60 mph in a short 120 feet.
In government crash tests, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 received an overall score of four stars (out of five). It earned four stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, a Silverado crew cab earned a top score of "Good" for frontal-offset crash protection and a second-best score of "Acceptable" in side-impact testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The base model won't excite the senses but it meets the needs of work-only owners who want durability and don't have to worry about hosing out the mud, if needed. Comfort features along with fit and finish improve greatly when moving up to the more popular and upscale trim levels.
The navigation system offers an easily read display and quick response times. The heated and ventilated bucket seats are offered only on the LTZ trim level, but otherwise it's easy to get in a comfortable driving position with the available power-adjustable pedals. Crew cab models feature comfortable rear 60/40-split bench seats with flip-up seat cushions that provide a nearly flat load floor. Interior storage is merely adequate, with small cupholders and haphazard center console organization.
Overall, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is pleasant to drive. It features light yet reasonably precise steering and a relatively supple suspension. The latter keeps the body under control without any drama and provides as comfortable a ride as can be expected from a full-size truck. One downside is the wide turning circle, which doesn't help the broad-shouldered truck maneuver in a downtown parking garage.
The base V6 doesn't provide the power needed for hauling a heavy load, although the 4.8-liter V8 picks up the pace a little. The 5.3-liter V8 feels brawny, while the 6.2-liter V8 turns the Silverado into a veritable muscle truck. The smaller engines are still saddled with an outdated four-speed automatic that doesn't contribute much to either low-end grunt or fuel economy. But the six-speed automatic transmission that comes standard with the two bigger V8s does an admirable job of keeping power on tap and features a well-calibrated tow-haul mode and cruise-grade braking.