ON THE ROAD — As the pickup truck continues to evolve, consumers are speaking with their wallets and proving that the truck, whether it be an SUV, pickup or crossover, still rules the road.
In recent years, pickup trucks and SUVs have accounted for much of the growth of the auto industry in the U.S., according to Business Insider, and the Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup has been a part of the truck trifecta that has led U.S. auto sales for several years running.
Sam Armijo, sales manager of Larry H. Miller Chevrolet in Murray, said his dealership is a bit of an anomaly as their truck sales are only about 40 percent of their total. Most Chevy dealers experience the opposite.
And it’s no wonder that trucks have been so popular. They tend to rival all other cars on the road when it comes to onboard technology, creature comforts, four-wheel drive and the ability to tow whatever work demands of the tradesmen and weekend warriors.
Low gas prices have also certainly helped to fuel the consumer demand for trucks, and Silverado sales show no signs of slowing down. The Chevy Silverado 1500 Z71 is surprisingly quiet and refined, despite the rugged exterior, and is the perfect combination for those looking for both sophistication and strength.
Chevy is soon launching a new heavy-duty model and it will be interesting to see which direction the new styling may take the eventual 1500. For now, the Silverado is a flag bearer for the angled and dramatic styling that has represented most trucks of late.
The front end features a large, bold grill with a thick bumper and the truck seems massive from the front. This particular Z71 Off-Road model is all black, including the grill and bumper, with fog lights and chrome trim around the Chevy bowtie emblem.
Both front and rear fenders are wide and bold. The fenders and rakish hood give the appearance of three separate levels as you look from the fender over the center of the hood. A single indent moves rearward about two-thirds down the way of the four-door cab until it meets the rear fenders, which take up three-fourths of the truck bed.
Another Chevy bowtie emblem is displayed prominently on the remote locking tailgate, which features a subtle spoiler up top. Chevy’s now-trademark steps are also built into the corners of the rear bumper at each side, making entry into the lined truck bed simpler.
However, Silverado styling is aggressive and could prove dated as Ram and others go back to a more streamlined and subtle look.
The Silverado is all Chevy on the inside. The MyLink infotainment system is a good one and will look familiar to any General Motors car or truck owner. The instrument panel is made up mostly of analog gauges and has a feel similar to most GM models, including the Camaro and Malibu, while the blue and red colors will be familiar to any Chevy driver.
The center console and infotainment center, complete with climate controls, is massive and dominates the dash. Huge center vents and a row of 110V and standard power ports below the climate controls stand out. The center console includes a wireless charging pad for cellphones, though the pad is smaller in comparison to the phones most carry these days.
The leather clad seats are comfortable and supportive, the crew cab is expansive and easily seats five adults.
The interior materials are also good quality, though some metal-like plastics would be better quality if they were actually metal. There are few contrasts in materials and colors and the interior has a monochromatic feel similar to the exterior.
Automakers seem to often go overboard with interior design but the Silverado is refreshing in its simplicity, though could seem boring to some. A few more contrasting materials would lend a nice touch in a subtle way.
General Motor’s MyLink system is one of the best around and includes Apple Car Play and Android Auto. In addition to the entertainment and navigation options, GM offers drivers a plethora of safety and convenience settings that can be set via the 8-inch touchscreen, voice controls and steering wheel-accessed menus.
“Parents will appreciate the variety of settings that address safety, particularly with teen drivers," Armijo said.
Below the climate controls on the center cluster are settings for the adjustable pedal depth, traction control, parking assist and controlled hill descent. These physical buttons remember your choices so they won’t have to be reset each time you get into the truck.
Also included is the switch for Chevy’s lane departure system. Some automakers do a better job than others of making these systems unobtrusive. Chevy has done an amazing job and rarely does it seem the driver is fighting the vehicle on where to go.
Remote start is included and various settings exist for heating and cooling while the vehicle is waiting to be driven. Controls for the four-wheel drive system seemed somewhat out of place to the left of the steering wheel but shared space with controls for the trailer brake.
The Silverado was updated for 2016 with an 8-speed manual transmission that provides for better gas mileage and a very refined ride.
Truck loyalists may have mixed feelings about the Silverado. The easy handling is spookily impressive, whether it's a car or a truck, as is the silent ride.
The trade-off, of course, is that the Silverado lacks the loud exhaust note and firm ride that many truck owners desire. Despite being equipped with the stiffer Z71 Off-Road package, the Silverado performed well both around town and at highway speed. As a daily driver, this truck would be very difficult to match.
When taking the Silverado on a rough stretch of dirt road, the suddenly stiffer suspension seems to always find the sweet spot. The refinement the Silverado possesses on- and off- road is very impressive, though whether all truck buyers will appreciate that is another story.
At highway speeds, the 18-inch, black, aluminum Goodyear Wrangler tires create road noise that do provide some reminder you're driving a truck.
Braking and steering do provide one minor disappointment, however. While handling and ride quality are excellent, the Silverado can feel a bit lumbering at times. Steering response can seem sluggish and the brakes, while sufficient, don't exactly inspire confidence and the suppleness and refined feel of the Silverado would be better served with more precision.
As more and more drivers choose trucks for their daily driver, the Silverado leads the pack in terms of refined and quiet driving that won’t seem exhausting over the course of a work week. Some truck drivers, however, will feel out of place.
The exterior styling seems a bit dated for my taste but will call out to younger drivers longing for the aggressive and tough looking lines of a truck.
Chevy’s MyLink system is excellent and provides drivers with a degree of customization and safety settings that rival some luxury brands. The overall safety rating is five stars.
All in all, the Chevy Silverado is an excellent package that should provide a thrill for almost any truck buyer.
Vehicle Type: front engine, four-wheel drive, four door, five passenger pickup
Engine: pushrod 16 valve 5.3 liter V8 with aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 325 cubic inches, 5328 cc
Power: 355 HP, 383 pound to feet of torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift mode
Wheelbase: 143.5 inches
Curb Weight: 5,588 pounds
Performance: 0-60 MPH 7.2 seconds, 15.4 second quarter mile at 90 MPH
Fuel Mileage: EPA city/highway 15/21 MPG
Towing capacity: 2,130 pounds payload and 10,800 pounds towing
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain, roadside included
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