Used 1997 Chevrolet C/K 1500 Series Extended Cab Review
General Motors' best-selling vehicles, as truck loyalists know full well, are the full-size pickups: half-, 3/4, and one-tonners with a reputation as reliable workhorses. Ford's similar-sized F-Series grabs the higher sales totals each year, but faithful Chevrolet buyers are seldom swayed. The pickup that feels right at home to a Chevy fan tends to send prickles up the spine of a Ford fan, and vice versa. Each is likely to declare the other's truck to be harder riding or anemic in acceleration, even if an impartial observer discerns little difference between the two.
This year's big news is the addition of a passenger airbag on all models under 8,600 lbs. GVWR. Those of you carting children in rear-facing safety seats need not worry how you'll load the kiddies into the 1997 C/K. A switch disables the passenger airbag when desirable. Also new this year is Electronic Variable Orifice steering, which reduces low-speed steering effort. Automatic transmissions receive refinements that result in smoother shifts and improved efficiency. The heavy-duty manual transmission offers better shift feel, reduced noise, and quicker response.
Three new paint colors are offered for 1997. The optional third door for extended cab models will be more widely available this year. In November, Chevrolet made the third door a required option on all shortbed extended cab C/K 1500 models. K1500 models benefit from a tighter turning radius, which should improve off-road maneuvering. An alternative fuel version of the Vortec 5700 V-8 is newly available, but to get it consumers must order a C2500 Regular Cab Longbed equipped with 8,600 lb. GVWR, a 3.73 rear axle ratio, and an automatic transmission.
Four-wheel anti-lock braking is standard fare, and models under 8,600 lbs. GVWR have an airbag installed in the steering wheel hub. Correctly fitted, a C/K pickup can tow as much as 10,000 pounds. Long-life engine components extend service intervals up to 100,000 miles on some items. For luxury-oriented truckers, a C/K can be trimmed in leather when the top Silverado trim package is specified.
When selecting a full-size Chevy truck, you have to face the usual bewildering selection of models, which vary by wheelbase, cargo-bed size, cab design, and Sportside or Fleetside bed styling. Don't stop yet: you also have to choose from five engine sizes (including two diesels), and decide whether you want two- or four-wheel drive. Then, you still have the dizzying single-option list to ponder.
We get tired just thinking about all those possibilities, but they come with the territory when you're heading into big-pickup range. Truck customers don't want the same hauler that everybody else is buying--they want one tailored to their own specific needs. Chevrolet provides these customers with myriad possibilities to create that special, one-of-a-kind truck.
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This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.