2000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
2000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Now it really is like a rock.
Silverado, the new Chevrolet pickup truck design, is a great achievement, better than the old truck in every respect. It rides better, it handles better, it stops quicker, it's faster and more powerful, and it's more comfortable. The Silverado ranks as one of the most luxurious pickup trucks we've ever driven. Chevy's new-generation pickup has caught up with Ford and Dodge: It finally offers an optional four-door cab design in addition to the previous two- and three-door cab designs.
Where Dodge and Ford broke new ground in truck design with their Ram and F-150 pickups, Chevrolet has chosen a conservative design for its Silverado.
Chevrolet customers are so happy with their trucks and so loyal to the brand that they don't mind if the new trucks look similar to the old ones. They realize that underneath its conservative looks is a great truck that has almost nothing in common with the old one.
Like all full-size pickups, Silverado comes in two- and four-wheel-drive versions, in 1500, 2500 and 3500 weight ranges, in short-and-long-bed bodies, with fendered (Fleetside) and nonfendered (Sportside) beds, two-, three, or four-door cabs in base, LS and LT trim levels. There are three V8 engines and one V6 to choose from with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic.
Wheel flares are now available for 1500 series 4X4 models, a tonneau cover is available for all models, and the two smallest V8 engines have more power for 2000.
Additional new stuff for 2000 includes self-dimming rearview mirrors that include an outside temperature gauge and a compass. LS and LT models include new programmable door locks that allow the driver to customize locking and unlocking features for their own family's tastes.
The 2000 Chevrolet Silverado is built on a frame that is the stiffest and lightest truck frame General Motors has ever built. The front frame rails are hydroformed, a process that uses high-pressure hydraulics to shape steel. Tubular crossmembers and roll-formed mid-rails increase rigidity further. This stiff structure enhances handling and ride quality immensely, while improving crashworthiness.
Three V8 engines are available, in 4.8-, 5.3- and 6.0-liter displacements. All three are based on the new GM small-block architecture that was introduced on the Corvette two years ago and shared with the Camaro and Firebird last year. A 4.3-liter V6 is still available and comes with a number of improvements, but the V8s will be sold in much higher volumes.
A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard in the base truck, but most opt for the 4L60 and 4L65 4-speed automatics with a new delayed-upshift feature for towing; they are excellent automatics.
There's a new aluminum short- and long-arm front suspension, with coil springs on two-wheel-drive models and torsion bars on four-wheel-drive models. Brakes are large, heavy-duty discs on all four corners, and ABS is standard on all models.
As with the exterior design, the Silverado interior reflects traditional Chevrolet thinking. The doors and door openings are now the largest in the industry, while the cab is the roomiest.
The instrument package looks like a cross between what is found in the new Corvette and what was used in the previous C/K trucks. It comprises a large speedometer and tachometer flanked by four smaller gauges. All use pleasant graphics in white on black.
The sound system control panel is located above the climate controls. The climate control system uses a rotary dial layout that works perfectly. There are three 12-volt outlets at the bottom center of the dashboard for radar detectors, cellular telephones, laptop computers, and other accessories.
Our test truck was an LT Extended Cab. The front seats were equipped with optional heaters. The doors lock automatically as soon as you pull away, but this feature can be de-programmed at the dealership. The LT package comes with a lockable floor console large enough to hold a picnic lunch for a family of four; it comes with a reversible, removable cup holder tray and a storage nook in front of the lid. Air conditioning outlets and a set of drop-down cup holders are built in for rear-seat passengers. A compass is incorporated into the LT model's overhead console, along with three storage areas for sunglasses, garage door opener, and small items. The door trim is a nice combination of vinyl panels and dotted velour that is soft and warm to the touch.
We were pleasantly surprised when we climbed through the third door of the extended-cab Silverado and into the back seat, which has been redesigned and remounted for far greater room and comfort. When cargo capacity is more important than hauling passengers, the entire rear seat assembly can be removed through the side door with a wrench.
About the only thing we didn't like was the design of the interior door handles, which operate in an up-and-in arc and felt loose whenever we used them. We'd prefer more resistance and a more positive feel.
We loved every mile we put on the Silverado LT. It drives like a luxury car and is supremely smooth and quiet. That smooth, quiet, unified feel is largely due to the new chassis, which offers a 23-percent increase in stiffness. New mounting and isolation hardware reduces noise and vibration. A cast magnesium beam behind the instrument panel and a lateral steel beam between the magnesium beam and the right side of the dash further reinforce the stiff body. Squeaks and rattles have been eliminated. This is one strong truck, and its strength lets the suspension soak up and manage all the bumps and ruts and tar strips so well that its overall ride behavior is near-luxury. A long, 143-inch wheelbase improves the ride further and enhances high-speed stability.
A massive four-spoke steering wheel connects to a new rack-and-pinion steering system (recirculating ball on 4X4 models). The steering has a fairly wide dead spot in the center when cruising, which Chevrolet says is designed to minimize steering corrections on the highway. The steering feels a bit too light, but we found it tracks beautifully and handles well on pavement, loose dirt, deep dirt and off-road.
Although the 4.8-liter small-block V8 is the most popular engine for this truck, our Silverado LT had the optional 5.3-liter (324 cubic-inch) engine, rated at 285 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque; those figures represent an increase of 15 horsepower and 10 foot-pounds over last year's version of this engine. That's enough torque to smoke the rear tires at will. This engine has a fat torque curve, which makes it useful for light towing and hauling, but it's also a lot of fun for commuting and touring. The new engine is a much better small-block than before, and we recommend the 5.3-liter over the smaller 4.8-liter version, which also got a 15 horsepower increase for 2000, to 270 horsepower.
Brakes have been improved substantially over the previous model and it's a welcome improvement. The four-wheel disc brakes are huge and powerful and come standard with ABS. Braking force comes into play only an inch into the pedal travel, a welcome improvement over the mushy pedal on the previous pickup. A new feature called Dynamic Rear Proportioning improves stability under heavy braking whether the truck is loaded or empty. Chevrolet promises huge improvements in fade resistance, pad life and heat dissipation; we worked the brakes on our truck very hard and experienced no fade.
The Chevrolet Silverado is by far the best among the newest generation of full-size pickups from the Big Three Detroit manufacturers. And it is the newest design. The Silverado LT we drove is the smoothest, quietest, most civilized, best equipped, and most enjoyable pickup truck we've driven in many years.
If you're shopping for pickup truck this year that you'll still want to be driving in 2008, check out this Silverado. It may not offer distinctive styling, but it has the soul of a soldier and the endurance of a cowboy.
2WD Fleetside Base Shortbox Regular Cab ($15,355); 2WD Fleetside Base Shortbox Extended Cab ($19,729); 2WD Fleetside LS Shortbox Extended Cab ($22,351); 2WD Fleetside LT Longbox Extended Cab ($28,410); 4WD Fleetside LS Shortbox Regular Cab ($22,701); 4WD LT Longbox Extended Cab ($31,620); 2WD Fleetside LT Extended Cab 2500 ($29,560).
Options As Tested
Fleetside LT Short Box Extended Cab ($28,110).
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