2010 Chevrolet Silverado
By Dave Boe
A Silverado lining for Chevrolet
No vehicle feels quite as all-American as the full-size, body-on-frame pickup truck. The United States ranks as the number one market on the planet for the versatile, light-duty (also referenced as half-ton or 1500) work horse. Who's second in the world? Interestingly; Thailand in Southeast Asia.
Chevrolet's full-size Silverado continues its long streak as the best-selling vehicle at the slimmed down General Motors. With more than 316,000 units sold in the U.S. during 2009, Silverado ranked as the third best-selling vehicle behind Ford's F-150 pickup and the Toyota Camry sedan. Since pickups generally pack more built-in profits, Silverado's importance to GM's bottom line can't be understated.
Although sometimes falling short in interior eye-appeal or exterior muscle when compared to domestic rivals, the rugged Silverado let's its performance, top-tier engine selections and comfort do the talking. New half-ton competitors from oversees manufacturers have recently arrived, but other than Texas-built Toyota Tundra, none come close to delivering the brand loyalty of the Silverado, F-150 or Dodge Ram.
Silverado received a major revamp in 2007 while F-150 and Ram got redone in 2009. At the 2010 Chicago Auto Show in February, Chevrolet premiered the 2011 heavy duty Silverado (2500) sporting new exhaust brake system and throwback exterior styling. Expect a major revamp of the light duty Silverado 1500 in the next couple of years.
Silverado sports an array of engines, cabins and bed lengths to mix and match in 2010. Rear-drive comes standard while two all-wheel systems are offered. Choose from regular cabs (one seating row), crew cabs (with two full-size rear doors) or extended cabs (half-sized rear-side doors with interior side frame handles). Crew and extended cabs come with two seating rows. Trim levels include the no frills Work Truck, LS, LT and LTZ trims. Three different cargo bed lengths are offered: Five-foot, eight inches; six-foot, six inches or an extra long eight-footer.
All three of Silverado's 2010 V-8 engines are capable of running on E85 fuel or any gasoline-ethanol mixture up to 85 percent ethanol. The sun-yellow gas cap reminds drivers of the "Flex Fuel" option. Keep in mind the more gasoline used in the mixture, the better the fuel economy as ethanol's lower energy content results in approximately 20 percent less mileage per gallon than regular pump, 87-octane gasoline. The sole V-6 (4.3-liter, 195 horsepower) requires a regular gasoline diet. Regular 87-octane will suffice in the V-8s except in the 6.2-liter V-8 where premium petro is recommended. In addition, Silverado offers a gas-electric two-mode hybrid crew cab teaming a powerful 6.0-liter V-8 and a 300-volt nickel-metal hydride energy storage system (no plug in required).
New in 2010 is a fuel-saving hydramatic six-speed automatic transmission available on regular and extended cab models of the 5.3-liter V-8 (joining the crew cab edition). Also, all Silverado 1500s now feature standard side curtain air bags and seat mounted side air bags. Another safety nuance standard across the line are four-wheel anti-lock brakes and Stabilitrak, GM's electronic stability control system helping the vehicle pull out of turns in a more controlled fashion.
Pricing starts about $21,000 for a rear-drive, regular cab V-6. Our tester, an extended cab, four-wheel drive LT trim with the highly recommended 5.3-liter, 315 horsepower V-8 started at $32,275. With options, the bottom line added up to $37,775 with $995 destination charge. In addition to the Flex-Fuel feature, the smooth and powerful 5.3-liter V-8 includes Active Fuel Management, GM's name for cylinder deactivation which seamlessly shuts down half the cylinders at highway speeds; an example of technology made simple that saves fuel. With this engine, expect 15 miles per gallon city and 21 mpg highway in either two-wheel or four-wheel drive, the best highway fuel mileage of the four Silverado engines including the six cylinder. The 5.3-liter V-8 is the only 2010 Silverado engine with cylinder deactivation. According to EPA estimates, Silverado achieves best-in-class fuel economy.
Standard suspension includes a coil over shock in front and two-stage, multi-leaf spring in the rear. Optional are a heavy-duty trailering suspension, high-performance suspension and off-road suspension package. Maximum towing capacity on rightly equipped models is 10,700 pounds.
Two different four-wheel drive transfer cases are available. Our tester featured the electronic, Autotrac system with dashboard dial. Some models include a floor-mounted, manual shifter. Both have 4-low gear for mud or slow off-road needs.
Inside, the busy instrument cluster includes two center circular gauges with two smaller ones flanking each side. The traditional straight across, horizontal dashboard has the center portion slightly skewed towards the driver. One handy feature is the dual glove box with two independent regions. Both front doors have dual molded cup holders and a large grab bar for opening and closing. The large interior handle is down low on the door while power windows and mirror controls reside on the horizontal arm rest. The high seating position provides excellent road visibility and crew cab windows help minimize blind spots. Keep in mind, it takes a big step to get from ground level into the seats.
Large side mirrors are adequate, but our tester would benefit from added convex section along the bottom for better side perception and integrated turn signal indicators. While optional in some editions, Chevy should make these simple, inexpensive yet effective safety nuances standard across the board during the next-generation makeover.
Satellite radio comes standard in most trims save for the basic, Work Truck trim. Three months of XM subscription is complementary, after which a monthly subscription is offered. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is optional in up level LTZ trim.
The steering wheel is home to cruise control buttons on the left and redundant radio controls to the right (in most editions). The tilt and telescoping steering wheel is manually operated. A wide arm rest/storage bin resides between the front seats with a dual partitioned interior under its flip top. Towards the front are three more cup holders. If three folks need to occupy row one, this flat-topped bin folds up to form a backrest. The rear bench seat, split 40/60 folds up against back cushions opening up additional floor storage.
Outside, thick strap-like door handles operate easily even when hands sport thick gloves. The look is classic without striving for too much flash. Square headlight housing flanks Chevy's horizontal bar grille separating a honeycomb pattern with gold bow tie icon front and center. Squared wheel wells are a nice touch. Side molding on the lower doors do double duty as scratch guards. The raised hood includes thin streak indents gradually fading as they jet forward.
One aspect setting Silverado apart from the pickup pack is GM's OnStar in-vehicle communication system, standard on all trims except for Work Truck. Simply press a blue icon found on the rear-view mirror frame to connect with a real live person, not a robotic tutorial. Request directions or a location to the nearest fueling station or what ever immediate need comes to mind. The first year of OnStar service is free after which a monthly subscription kicks is needed to continue.
If tight turning radiuses are paramount on your list, Silverado gets strictly an average grade. The brake pedal includes a goodly amount of play so expect a little foot travel. The interior cabin provides a surprisingly quiet ride with comfortable seats. The smooth-shifting 5.3-liter V-8 provides plenty of spirited acceleration at lower and passing speeds along the 355 Tollway. Our tester included optional off-road suspension ($275) providing a firmer, slightly bumper ride on smooth pavement than others. As with all full-size pickups, expect body lean during turning maneuvers. Standard power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering helps this hefty vehicle act as if it's a thousand pounds lighter. The build is solid and the price is competitive with import and domestic rivals.
The 2010 Silverado 1500 ranked as a top pick in Consumer Report magazine's annual auto survey. Silverado and its automotive pickup twin, the GMC Sierra are assembled in Flint Mich., Fort Wayne, Ind. and Silao, Mexico. Chevy loyalists seeking a smaller frame price can check out the mid-size Colorado pickup. Silverado's transferable powertrain warranty is good for five years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) with no deductable; more coverage than most rivals.