Ah, the pickup truck: the workers of the auto industry. We say it often because it’s true. While the modern truck is loaded to the gills with high-tech gadgetry and near-luxury amenities, they are still the hardest working automobiles around.
So, when it comes to redesigning and launching a new version of a vehicle that’s built and bred to do a specific task (and has been doing that specific task for decades), it’s up to the engineers and designers to find a way to make that automobile different without taking away from its core values and abilities.
Well, Chevrolet managed to do that with their latest iteration of the Silverado 1500 pickup. While not the largest of the Silverado lineup, this pickup is highly capable, looks great, and can definitely get the job done.
The choices are endless…
The beauty (and perhaps even the beast) of any pickup is the customization that can be had with each model. There are so. Many. Options. Seriously, it’s mind-numbing looking at the endless spec sheets of towing/load package options, bed sizes, cab sizes, 4x2 vs. 4x4, etc. There is a lot to choose from. And for the novice (like me) it’s all a bit overwhelming. However, with a package like the Z71, it groups a few things together nicely that ensures I’d make the right choice (if ever I were to buy a truck, that is).
Basically, the Silverado Z71 is an off-road capable pickup that features monotube shocks (Rancho), hill descent control, an underbody skid plate package and a high capacity air cleaner. There are also Z71 decals on the side of the bed and in the front grille, which is also different from over Silverados in the lineup.
I adore the look of the Chevrolet Silverado. I think GM did a bang-up job with the redesign last year. They took the manliness the Silverado already had and dialed it up a few testosterone levels to what it is now. Squared off and angular, the front nose of the Chevy Silverado makes a serious statement on the road.
Pickup by nature
Inside, the 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500 lags a bit behind competition like the Ford F-150 (which you can read about in our latest comparison test between the two). While the interior isn’t bad, it’s not uber amazing either. It’s just truck-like, and with competitors like Ford and RAM stepping up their game and making their truck interiors all the more care-like and amenity-ladden, Chevy needs to step up their game.
Of course, the seats are super comfortable and large, and all knobs and switches are big enough and easy enough to manipulate with work gloves. Space in the back seat of the Crew Cab is also plentiful and my son could essentially have run laps back there had I let him (believe me, he asked… a lot).
What you’ll also notice in the comparison test is the difference in how the Chevy drives when compared to the Ford, and that’s (unfortunately) where the big GM brute falls a bit flat for me.
Big boy that drives that way
Here’s the thing; the Chevy Silverado 1500 is a big boy (nearly 600lbs heavier than the F-150), and its engine performance pays the price for that weight even when the vehicle is load-free.
What exactly is the engine doing all the work? It’s an EcoTec3 5.3L V8 that produces 355 horsepower (385 if you choose to put E85 fuel) and 383 lb-ft of torque (416 with E85). Power is controlled via a 6-speed automatic and is sent to the rear wheels unless you choose to fiddle with the drivetrain and change it to 4x4. Max payload is 1,850lbs and it can tow approximately 9,000lbs (in my particular tester’s set-up which hit just over the $50k mark).
So, what’s the issue there? Well, when I put my foot down on the throttle: nothing. The response is nearly non-existent. Like any hybrid model in ECO mode, it was like driving through molasses. It felt labored (even with absolutely nothing in the bed or trailering behind). If it already feels heavy and slow without anything to pull or carry, imagine a full load? Not good.
Simply carrying the weight of the Silverado on its own is enough of a workout for the V8 to get going, and it shows in the way the pickup responds. Of course, the V8 sounds great under heavy acceleration, but making a lot of noise is only a portion of the pickup game, and unfortunately the F-150 wins that round hands down.
Picking the right pickup
There’s no denying that the F-150 truly is the king of the pickup world, and it has been for quite a few decades now. That doesn’t mean the Chevy Silverado isn’t a good truck nor should it be ignored next to the Blue Oval’s offering.
In fact, the Silverado 1500 is a formidable opponent and a damn good option in the pickup realm. Highly capable and rugged in its looks, the Silverado is an excellent choice, as long as you’re not looking to get somewhere in a real hurry.