2003 Chevy Silverado 1500 Review
2003 Chevy Silverado 1500 Review
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Used Silverado 1500 for sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Roomy extended-cab models, strong V8 engines, innovative features.
- Cheap interior materials, questionable build quality.
The Silverado gets a makeover this year that includes a new front fascia and revised side moldings and taillights. Top-of-the-line models get power-folding heated mirrors with puddle lamps and turn signal indicators. On the inside, the Silverado is the first full-size pickup to offer a Bose stereo system and XM Satellite Radio. The instrument panel and center console have been redesigned, and Chevrolet has added new seats, a more comprehensive driver information center and a dual-zone climate control system. For increased safety, Silverados now feature a standard front-passenger-sensing system and dual-stage airbags. On the hardware side, all 4.3-liter V6-equipped Silverados and California-emission V8s are now ULEV-certified, while electronic throttle control is now standard on all V8 engines. The Autotrac four-wheel-drive system has been modified for less intrusiveness at low speeds, and the brake system received upgrades that provide better pedal feel and improved overall performance.
Powerful drivetrains, a revamped new look and unique options make the Silverado a pickup worth considering, but Fords new F-150 has it beat when it comes to interior design and overall refinement.
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Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4dr Extended Cab SS AWD SB (6.0L 8cyl 4A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $4.10 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Silverado 1500 SS
Avg. Large Truck
Introduction: Chevrolet's modern fullsize 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 some of the most powerful drivetrains available anywhere. A perennial competitor to the fullsize 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. Last year, however, combined sales of the two trucks outdid the F Series.
Often first to market with unique innovations, the 2003 Silverado continues that tradition with the expanded availability of the Quadrasteer four-wheel steering system and XM satellite radio capability. 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. The Vortec V8 engines are known for their neck-snapping power and surprisingly good mileage when driven with a soft foot. Combine this with new styling on the outside and additional features on the inside, and the Silverado presents a compelling package for anyone in the market for a well-rounded fullsize pickup.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: Two cab styles are available in three different trim levels. Regular cabs can be outfitted with Base or LS trim, while extended cabs come in Base, LS or LT. Base Silverados are configured as to be used as work trucks, while the mid-grade LS trim is the most popular. It includes upgrades like cloth upholstery, power windows and locks, cruise control, a CD player, remote keyless entry and chrome exterior trim. LT trucks add aluminum wheels, leather upholstery, the OnStar communications system and premium audio. Unique to the Silverado in the big pickup market is the availability of a lightweight composite "Protec" cargo box on extended-cab 4X4s with the Z71 option. Also available is the Quadrasteer four-wheel steering system, which gives the Silverado unmatched stability while towing, as well as a significantly reduced turning circle.
Powertrains and Performance: Several engine choices are available for the Silverado, ranging from a 200-hp 4.3-liter V6 to a 285-hp 5.3-liter V8. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on regular cabs. Optional on that model (standard on extended cabs) is a four-speed automatic, which features a tow-haul mode that improves shifting performance under heavy loads. The maximum towing capacity with the 5.3-liter V8 is 8,400 pounds (8,600 pounds on Quadrasteer-equipped models). Four-wheel drive is available on all models, although only LS and LT trim levels can be ordered with the optional Autotrac push-button transfer case. Safety: For 2003, the GMC has added dual-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger along with a passenger-seat sensor system. The 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 ABS brakes as standard equipment. The Silverado received a rating of "Marginal" (third lowest out of four possible rankings) in the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety offset crash test. 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. Material quality is unimpressive, and the build quality even less so. The cabin is roomy, particularly on extended cab models. Standard rear doors on the extended cab make entry and exit to the rear bench seat easy, and if front passengers are willing to sacrifice a bit of legroom, the back of the extended cab is quite comfortable. The Silverado is also the first fullsize pickup to offer an optional Bose audio system and XM Satellite Radio.
Driving Impressions: The Silverado is comfortable enough to be a daily driver, yet it's still powerful enough to use as a dedicated work truck. Acceleration is swift, especially with either of the Vortec V8s, and the automatic transmission shifts with authority. The steering feels vague on center, but it's light and precise enough for easy maneuvering. Four-wheel disc brakes deliver plenty of power, but can be skittish on loose surfaces. 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.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4 out of 5 stars
Purchased mine with 10 years and 132K on the clock
4dr Extended Cab LS 4WD SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A)
I'm the 2nd owner of a well kept 2003 Silverado LS 4WD with the Z71 package. Aesthetically for a 12 year old truck this one has held up exceptionally with the paint still being super glossy. The powertrain is still rock solid especially the engine. All of the electrical components work and I've only had to change out the starter in the two years I've owned it. I did have a total … flush and replacement of all the fluids (transmission, power steering, brakes, antifreeze, transfer case, front and rear differentials) when I purchased the vehicle. I highly recommend you do this with any 4WD you purchase used with over 100K on the clock. I've only replaced the starter and had the instrument cluster serviced (stepper motors replaced and LED lights changed to blue - $75 fix). I'm very proud to own this truck because it was obviously taken care of by the previous owner. I have a couple of gripes ... the transmission is clunky shifting from 1st to 2nd and also 2nd to 3rd. Also when driving at 45 mph and at 65 mph the extended cab and crew cab versions of the Silverado (also GMC's version the Sierra) transfer vibration through the cabin. Both the shift and vibration issues are simply design flaws. GM recommends you place 300 to 500 pounds directly in the middle of the truck bed to stop the vibration (but who is going to do that). So you can't fix the vibration issue ... but I plan on replacing the tranny with a rebuilt and hardened version of the 4L60E automatic that will address the hard shifting. Fortunately you can find these transmissions relatively cheap with the biggest issue being able to find a good mechanic to install it without it costing too much. Overall for a pickup I purchased with 132K on the odometer I am extremely happy and I've only had light maintenance done so far. The 4.8L V8 doesn't leak oil and parts are cheap because there are millions of Silverados and Sierras on the road. I plan on keeping this truck a minimum of five to ten more years. *** UPDATE *** This is my weekend vehicle and have had it nearly 3 years now. I've only driven it 10,000 miles and the brakes just died on me. I'm just finding out that the brake hard lines are made of inferior metal. Fortunately when the pedal went to the floor I was on a remote road with no other cars around. $1200 to replace all of the defective lines with non corrosive copper / nickel lines. Thank goodness I have a quality mechanic because I've heard horror stories about $3000 fixes at the dealership. I'm still keeping the truck and my mechanic says this isn't just a GM issue. He says most older pickups / large SUV's brake lines have failures and he sees this quite often at his shop.
4.88 out of 5 stars
I love this truck!
4dr Extended Cab Rwd SB (4.3L 6cyl 4A)
At 170,000 miles now, this truck runs like new. The 4.8 motor has plenty of power, and still gets upwards of 22mpg - although it doesn't do as well in town driving (maybe 14-15 mpg). But compared to other full size trucks, that don't get as good mpg, and some have less power, this truck can't be beat.
4.13 out of 5 stars
2003 Z71 2DR
2dr Regular Cab LS 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl 5M)
Have had this 2003 Z71 2-dr since new. It currently has 134,000 miles. No complaints about reliability with just basic maintenance. Original tires only lasted about 40,000 miles. Replacements have lasted about 80,000 so far. Only parts that have broken on me are two rear U-joints,water pump seal seeps, and the battery died after 7 years. Clunking noise from steering column is a … little annoying, but apparently common for this model. Under-body rust is a problem even though I regularly wash the underside of the truck. 4x4 system has been rock solid in snow, ice, mud, you name it. Tows/hauls with no problems although trailer brakes highly recommended for heavy loads/high speeds.
3.88 out of 5 stars
2003 Silverado Ext Cab 4.3L
4dr Extended Cab Rwd SB (4.3L 6cyl 4A)
4000 miles and minor problems. Both rear windows and seals have been replaced due to poor design with wind noise. Vibration/buzz in the gas pedal is being worked. I know there is a TSB from GM on this. Fun truck that is smooth and plenty of power from the reliable 4.3L. Wife likes the room and the feel of a truck in the city.
2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab Features & Specs
- Base MSRP
- MPG & Fuel
- 14 City / 19 Hwy / 16 Combined
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 26 gal. capacity
- 6 seats
- Type: rear wheel drive
- Transmission: 4-speed automatic
- V6 cylinder
- Horsepower: 200 hp @ 4600 rpm
- Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm
- Base Engine Size: 4.3 L
- Base Engine Type: Gas
- Towing & Hauling
- Max Towing Capacity: 8,100 lbs.
- Max Payload Capacity: 1,645 lbs.
- Basic Warranty
- 3 yr./ 36000 mi.
- Length: 227.7 in. / Height: 71.2 in.
- Bed Length: 6'7”
- Overall Width without Mirrors: 78.5 in.
- Curb Weight: 4555 lbs.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Side Impact TestNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintPoor
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestMarginal
More about the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Used 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Overview
The Used 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is offered in the following submodels: Silverado 1500 Regular Cab, Silverado 1500 Extended Cab, Silverado 1500 SS. Available styles include 4dr Extended Cab SS AWD SB (6.0L 8cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab LS Rwd LB (5.3L 8cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab LS 4WD LB (5.3L 8cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab LS Rwd SB (4.3L 6cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab LT 4WD SB (5.3L 8cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab Rwd LB (5.3L 8cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab LT 4WD LB (5.3L 8cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab LS 4WD SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), 2dr Regular Cab Rwd LB (4.3L 6cyl 5M), 2dr Regular Cab LS 4WD LB (4.3L 6cyl 5M), 2dr Regular Cab Rwd SB (4.3L 6cyl 5M), 4dr Extended Cab 4WD LB (5.3L 8cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab Rwd SB (4.3L 6cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), 2dr Regular Cab LS 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl 5M), 2dr Regular Cab LS Rwd LB (4.3L 6cyl 5M), 2dr Regular Cab LS Rwd SB (4.3L 6cyl 5M), 4dr Extended Cab LT Rwd SB (5.3L 8cyl 4A), 4dr Extended Cab LT Rwd LB (5.3L 8cyl 4A), 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl 5M), and 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (4.3L 6cyl 5M). Pre-owned Chevrolet Silverado 1500 models are available with a 6.0 L-liter gas engine or a 5.3 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 345 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 comes with all wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and four wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic. The Used 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. powertrain warranty.
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Should I lease or buy a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.