2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Review

2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 - Setting the bar.

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The cut-throat competition among the pickup manufacturers has never been so heated. At a time when consumers, who once embraced the domestic pickup in unfathomable numbers, may be finding some interest in fledgling import brands, Chevy, Ford and Dodge are trying to batten down the hatches on their market share.

Luckily for the folks at General Motors, the makers of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, whose two pickups' sales numbers together make up the top of the mountain, a timely redesign in 2007 means their newest and best pickup versions are doing battle when the battle is at it fiercest.

I recently had a chance to test the Silverado 1500 Crew Cab with LT2 option package. With the exception of a couple tweaks on the dash instrumentation, the 2008 is the same as the 2007 redesign. Good thing about that is -- last year's model was outstanding.

Personally, the Crew Cab is the only way to go if you really anticipate having passengers with any regularity. Whether you deem your pickup a work truck or merely a way to get around town, passengers will appreciate the Crew Cab's larger doors and easier step-up into the full-size rear bench seat.

Silverados also come in Regular and Extended versions with 5-, 6- and 8-foot bed lengths. Regular cabs seat three on a bench; Extended Cabs have rear-hinged back doors that do not operate independently of the front doors; Crew Cab features full back doors and seats six adults.

Exterior styling is what you would expect from a pickup with the heritage Chevy has developed. A big, aggressive front grille dominates the approach while an attractive, yet aggressive; headlight assembly is notable from the front and side. Large wheel wells offer an off-road "hauler" appeal while the rear beds are functional and rugged. (But mostly functional.)

The Silverado tester had the venerable 5.3-liter V-8 that delivered good acceleration and a smooth shifting four-speed automatic transmission that was more than up to any task I ran it through. The standard Tow/Haul mode will make specific adjustments per the towing weight that give low-end power and more control to the driver.

Fuel economy is becoming a big deal for all vehicles, even those, like the full-size pickups, that really got a pass years ago. The 5.3-liter engine does have the capability on some options to run on E85 alt fuel. My tester recommended regular-grade fuel. Average fuel mileage is about the same as the rest of the apples in this full-size cart (about 15.6 mpg).

For a work truck, fuel mileage can be a pretty irrelevant number given the varying loads and passenger weight variations, not to mention sitting for extended hours with the truck running on job sites. Nonetheless, do look for a hybrid variation in the near future.

Perhaps, if all work trucks had the Crew Cab configuration and the LT2 package like my tester did, there would be less work getting done. The interior of the Silverado is as quiet a cabin as you will find on the market. In the city or on the highway, the cabin was filled with but a whisper of wind and an occasional whirl of tire.

Comfortable interior spaces await adults in the Crew Cab of the Silverado. Legroom and headroom is excellent for front and rear passengers. I was appreciative of the adjustable driver pedals as it allows you to raise the seat just that much higher and have that much better a view of the road ahead.

The plastics in the interior design are probably the biggest reminder you are in a pickup. They are working grade plastic though my LT2 did a nice job of dressing things up enough to feel cozy. Instrumentation on the dash is clean and easy to see. The radio and dash-mounted controls are a full arm's reach away from the driver, as is the optional navigation screen, but my tester had the most used controls also mounted on the steering wheel.

Pickups are all about the ability to go off-road and to haul things. Having said that, the beds reflect what their owners see as their needs. Oftentimes, there really is no need, many will never leave the pavement or ever feel a tow strap or a tool chest in the back bed. In the same spirit, interior cargo space is flexible in all variations. My model had the rear seat flipping up to allow full rear floor access. Front seat storage came in the shape of a big fold-down armrest.

Overall, Silverado is a great-looking pickup with plenty of configurations and a wonderful interior that is comfortable and functional without being too pampering. The 5-3-liter with four-speed transmission, base priced at $18,425, is a great source of power fitting most driver needs.


John Stein

John Stein grew up in an extended family that valued the art of going fast. Spending plenty of weekends at U.S. 30 Drag Strip and Sante Fe Speedway, he fondly remembers the screaming machines and the flying mud that made those long-gone racing havens such special memories. With plenty of late nights spent ‘tinkering’ with cars throughout high school, he never anticipated his interest cars and his love for writing might find a common ground. After graduating from Eastern Illinois University in 1988, John started writing for the weekly Southtown Economist. So, when the Economist went to a daily in 1994, and needed an auto editor, John took the proverbial steering wheel. Featured weekly in the Sun-Times and its 17 suburban publications, as well as ELITE Magazine, John balances being the Automotive Editor for Sun-Time Media with being a husband and dad in Plainfield, Illinois.