Like its rivals, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 offers a broad range of body styles, powertrains and trim levels. This kind of flexibility makes the half-ton Silverado pickup just as adept at weekday family shuttling as it is at home improvement hauling or weekend toy towing. And while the truck still wears its blue-collar work roots well, you can spiff up the Silverado to near-luxury levels with bucket seats, high-grade leather, flashy wheels, high-tech features and, of course, a rumbling V8.
Older Silverados deserve praise for their durability, but criticism for bland cabins of dodgy quality and assembly are well-earned. Today's edition, however, displays much-improved fit and finish, with richer materials and precise fitment replacing yesterday's hard panels and uneven gaps. There are other compelling full-size truck choices, of course. Choosing one often boils down to price, incentives, feature sets and brand loyalty. But regardless of whether it takes the kids to school, takes the boat to the river, or both, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 remains a top pick.
Current Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is full-size pickup available in three cab styles: two-door regular cab, four-door extended (Double) cab and the crew cab. The regular cab seats three and and can pair with a 6.5-foot-long standard bed or an 8-foot-long bed. The extended cab seats up to six and comes only with the standard bed. The crew cab adds full-size rear doors and pairs with the standard bed or a shorter 5-foot-8-inch bed. All cab and cargo configurations can be ordered with two- or four-wheel-drive.
Depending on combination, available trim levels include Work Truck (WT), LS, LT, LTZ, Custom, High Country and Z71.
Standard on all but the LTZ and High Country trims is a 4.3-liter V6 (285 horsepower, 305 pound-feet of torque) matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. LTZ and High Country trims instead get a 5.3-liter V8 (355 hp, 383 lb-ft) and, depending on configuration, an eight-speed automatic transmission. This V8 is also available for lower trims, but only with the six-speed auto. LTZ and High Country trims can also upgrade to a beefy 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lb-ft) and eight-speed automatic.
As its name suggests, the Work Truck is a basic, blue-collar trim level that comes with 17-inch wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, vinyl upholstery and floor coverings, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, and USB and auxiliary audio ports. Cloth upholstery is optional and cab configuration changes some standard equipment (crew- and extended-cab models, for example, also get power windows and a six-speaker audio system). An upgraded media system that includes smartphone integration, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Chevy's MyLink interface, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection, and a 7-inch touchscreen is also available.
The LS adds stainless steel finish wheels, chrome bumpers and grille, and an upgraded audio system. The Custom is similar, but has unique exterior trim, 20-inch wheels, and front tow hooks. LT trims add an EZ Lift and Lower tailgate, alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, and an 8-inch touchscreen with HD and satellite radio. LTZ models throw on more chrome, 18-inch wheels, a locking rear differential, the 5.3-liter V8, and a host of other premium touches.
The luxury-oriented High Country includes a unique grille, 20-inch chrome wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a spray-in bedliner, navigation, ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging and a seven-speaker Bose audio system. The Z71 boasts an off-road-ready suspension and other heavy-duty components. Dozens of stand-alone and packaged options are available depending on configuration, including a rear-seat Blu-Ray entertainment system, driver assistance features, a navigation system and multiple towing packages.
In reviews of the current Chevrolet Silverado 1500, we've praised its quick acceleration and strong towing and hauling ability when equipped with the V8 engines. This is fairly standard duty for a full-size truck, but the interior comfort, ride comfort, cabin quality and technology offerings with which it now fulfills that duty is particularly impressive, especially compared to Silverado's previous generations.
Towing capacity exceeds 11,000 pounds with the 5.3-liter V8 or a staggering 12,000 pounds with the 6.2-liter V8. The attractive 8-inch touchscreen with smartphone integration and functionality also makes the workhorse Silverado a tech-connected package as well.
That said, the Silverado's ride quality isn't as smooth as its main Ram rival, for example, and it's unfortunate that the eight-speed automatic transmission is only available with a V8 at the upper trim levels. These are legitimate gripes that buyers want to consider, but there's no denying that the Silverado remains a top pick among full-size trucks.
Used Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Models
The current Chevrolet Silverado 1500 debuted for the 2014 model year. Stronger and more powerful engines, upgraded interiors, and new tech features were just a few improvements compared to models from the previous generation.
The base V6 engine catapulted from zero to hero, for example, and was made the standard engine on most trims. Where the previous version was a tepid, sub-200-hp corporate afterthought limited to basic work truck models, the new V6 felt capable and robust, especially with 305 lb-ft of torque. The two V8s got more power, too. A more robust chassis improved ride and handling and minimized shuddering on poor road surfaces without sacrificing the Silverado's traditional brawn.
Improvements to the interior are also impressive. Ingress and egress are streamlined in the extended cab (double cab), which comes with conventional crew-cab-style doors in place of the older reverse-opening rear doors. Materials quality is much improved, especially on lower trim models where substandard plastic panels are replaced with nicer surfaces and textures.
In 2015, a new eight-speed automatic appeared for the largest V8, and the 2WT trim level was renamed to LS. Revised front-end styling, new grille designs and LED lighting marked the 2016 models, along with improved cabin touchscreens, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, and new driver assistance features. The eight-speed transmission was also made available for the 5.3-liter V8.
The previous-generation Silverado 1500 spanned the 2007-2013 model years. It came in three cab styles (regular, extended and crew) with trim levels ranging from the no-frills Work Truck to the plush LTZ. Midlevel LS and LT trims proved most popular, offering air-conditioning, full power accessories and a CD player. Significant options included a variety of towing packages, the Z71 Off-Road package and a navigation system.
Powertrain choices encompassed a 4.3-liter V6 with 195 hp to a muscular 6.2-liter V8 with 403 hp, but most Silverados of this vintage came with either a 4.8-liter V8 (295-302 hp) or a 5.3-liter V8 (315 hp). A four-speed automatic transmission with a tow and haul mode was standard on Silverado pickups with the base V6 and 4.8-liter V8. The 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 received a six-speed automatic toward the end of this production run.
Calling cards of this Silverado generation included no-nonsense performance, a reasonably refined and quiet ride (even with the heavy-duty towing package) and a comfortable cabin. We noted some minor interior ergonomic issues as well as underwhelming V6 performance and a slow-shifting four-speed automatic transmission. The six-speed automatic, however, was excellent.
The 2007-2013 Silverado remained largely the same throughout its production run. The initial top-of-the-line engine was a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 367 hp; the 6.2-liter V8 didn't replace it until the 2009 model year. That same year, the six-speed automatic transmission was an option for the 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8s (it became standard with those engines for 2010).
The previous Silverado ran from 1999 to 2006. Although Chevrolet has produced a pickup truck since 1918, this generation marked the debut of Silverado as the big truck's formal name rather than the trim-level designation it had been since the 1970s. Underneath the handsome new styling, a fresh family of V8s debuted, ranging in size from 4.8 to 6.0 liters. They offered output ranging from 255 hp to 345 hp. A base V6 was also available, but as expected, most of these Chevy Silverados came fitted with one of the V8s.
Buyers looking at the heavy-duty series Silverado 2500HD and 3500 of this generation could also get a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 or an 8.1-liter gasoline V8. A unique four-wheel-steering option called Quadrasteer came online about midway through this generation and cut the truck's turning circle down to 37.4 feet — around 10 feet less than a typical full-size pickup. Quadrasteer was discontinued for 2006 as buyers shunned its high optional cost.
Buyers more interested in function than flash will find plenty to like about half-ton Silverados from this era. The truck offered plenty of performance and work capacity, even if hampered by dated cabin design, cheap materials and below-average fit and finish.
The previous generation of full-size Chevrolet pickups — the last of the so-called C/K line — ran from 1988 to 1998 and comprised three distinct versions: 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (3/4-ton) and 3500 (1-ton). Standard-cab and extended-cab body styles were offered, as was a crew cab, though the latter was actually from the previous 1981-1987 generation. Although six-cylinder and diesel V8s were offered, most Chevy trucks from these years will likely have either a 5.0- or 5.7-liter V8 mated to a four-speed automatic. In keeping with tradition, one could choose either rear-wheel drive (indicated by a "C"; e.g., C1500) or four-wheel drive (indicated by a "K"). Trim levels for these C/K trucks included the base Cheyenne, midlevel Scottsdale and top-line Silverado. The models are noted for strong, durable powertrains, although plagued by sketchy build quality and cheap cabin materials.