What's New for 2006
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500HD is virtually unchanged other than having a new design for the optional towing/camping exterior mirrors and slightly freshened front-end styling. The Quadrasteer four-wheel steering system has also been dropped from the options list for 2006.
Chevrolet's modern full-size pickup has been around in one form or another since the early '60s. Now into its sixth generation, the Silverado, as it's now called, boasts classic styling and a wide variety of body styles and drivetrain options. A perennial competitor to the full-size offerings from Ford and Dodge, Chevrolet typically finishes a close second in sales, mostly due to the fact that it shares customers with the almost identically equipped GMC Sierra. Typically, combined sales of the two trucks outdo the F-Series. Often first to market with unique innovations, Chevy trucks also offer the OnStar communications system that provides the convenience of 24-hour on-call assistance for everything from tow truck calls to dinner reservations.
Combine this with a wide variety of cabin amenities, and the Silverado presents a compelling package, especially for those who do a lot of towing and hauling. With a class-leading tow rating of 10,300 pounds, the Silverado 1500HD is the way to go if you need all-out towing capability in a light-duty pickup. In fact, the HD is a nice compromise; the work capabilities of the truck are close to those of the 2500-series pickups, and the day-in and day-out livability is just as good as a regular 1500. Sealing the deal is a standard 6.0-liter V8 that's just as strong as the competition's best.
The Silverado is really starting to show its age, however, compared to the newer full-size offerings from Dodge, Ford and Nissan. The F-150 trumps the Silverado in terms of ride comfort, and the Ram and Titan boast superior overall refinement, not to mention excellent V8s of their own (though neither can match the 1500HD's tow rating). And all three surpass the Silverado when it comes to interior design. Unless towing capacity is your primary reason for buying a Silverado 1500HD, we would encourage you to try out the competition before you buy.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Silverado 1500HD comes in the crew cab body style only, and is available in three trim levels: LT1, LT2 and LT3. Intended as a truck for recreational use rather than hard-core work duty, the crew cab configuration provides a spacious passenger cabin without the harsh ride typical of most workhorse crew cabs. Well-equipped LT1 models include cruise control, keyless entry, an AM/FM/CD stereo, dual-zone manual air conditioning and a driver message center that monitors multiple vehicle systems. The LT2 adds automatic climate control, a power driver seat and Bose audio. The LT3 includes dual 10-way power leather seats, a six-disc CD changer and alloy wheels.
Powertrains and Performance
Under the hood is a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 300 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. Handling the shifting needs of the 6.0-liter V8 is a heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission. With overdrive and a tow-haul mode that adjusts shift points for better performance under load, this transmission-engine combo allows the 1500HD to tow up to 10,400 pounds. Larger four-wheel disc brakes borrowed from the three-quarter-ton lineup assure that you'll be able to haul the load down to speed as quickly as the burly V8 engine gets it going.
Chevy's dual-stage airbags deploy with varying levels of force depending on the crash severity, while the passenger sensor will deactivate the passenger-side airbag if it detects the presence of a child. All Silverados include four-wheel antilock brakes as standard equipment. In IIHS frontal offset crash testing, the Silverado earned a "Marginal" rating (the second lowest on a scale of four).
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, Silverado buyers will find a logically laid-out interior, with an easy-to-use dual-zone climate control system and clear, uncluttered gauges. Materials quality is unimpressive, and build quality, though improved over the last few years, is still behind the competition. The large cabin offers room for six passengers, and the four-door configuration makes getting in and out much easier than most extended-cab trucks. The Silverado also offers an optional Bose audio system and XM Satellite Radio, as well as a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
Despite its hefty tow rating, the 1500HD is still comfortable enough to be a daily driver. The big V8 provides swift acceleration and the heavy-duty automatic transmission shifts with authority. The steering feels vague on center, but it's light and precise enough for easy maneuvering. A combination of torsion bars up front and leaf springs in the rear give the Silverado a comfortable, if not refined, ride in most situations.