2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Expert Review:Autoblog
Click on the photo above to view high-res shots of the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado
Last year, we had the opportunity to spend some time in the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and were rather pleased with that vehicle's vastly improved interior and driving dynamics. With the Silverado now riding on a similar-yet-different version of the GMT900 platform, will the same traits win us over, or has the General's mainstream pickup truck gone too soft? To find out, we recently spent some time in the decked-out LTZ trim level of Chevy's half-ton hauler.
The 2007 Silverado represents the first major update to GM's trucks since 1999, and one could argue that it's the most thorough revamp since the 1988 introduction of the GMT400 architecture. Fully-boxed frame rails are fabricated through a hydroforming process and joined together with more crossmembers (two of them being of the tubular variety) than the outgoing version to provide a platform that is significantly stiffer in torsion and bending. Up front, the coil-over springs and forged lower aluminum control arms are shared with the Silverado's SUV brethren, as is the rack-and pinion steering configuration, but in the rear a properly truck-like leaf spring configuration is utilized to locate the solid rear axle.
As major as the structural changes may be, most eyes will be drawn first to the exterior styling. Here, the laid-back windshield of the Tahoe is carried over, but little else. Breaking with a long-held GM tradition, the Silverado now carries sheetmetal that is almost totally unique, with vertically-stacked headlamp elements, heavily flared front fenders, and the largest Bowtie badge that we've ever seen on a Chevrolet. We were a bit slow to warm up to the new styling at first (as is the case with just about any truck redesign), but it's starting to grow on us. We'll reserve final judgment on the shape of the new sheetmetal, but what isn't subject to debate is the fit and finish. The stiffer chassis means less relative movement between body panels during extreme use, and GM has seized the opportunity to tighten up the panel gaps. Nearly every exterior component shows remarkable attention to detail, and the result is a truck that's assembled like a fine piece of furniture.
The new box is deeper than that of its predecessor, but not so much that reaching into it from alongside the truck is problematic. We also appreciated the load-assist torsion bars in the tailgate, which make closure a one-handed operation. The large exterior mirrors are welcome in a pickup truck, but unfortunately, the generally rectangular shape is broken up by a cut-off lower inside corner. That's the portion of the mirror that provides the best view into a truck's blind spot, and in its absence, it's much too easy to lose sight of a car that's hanging back a half car length in the next lane. The front bumper didn't hang as perilously low as that on the Tahoe, but prospective Rod Hall wannabes should still take a cautious approach to venturing from the pavement. This mattered little, given that our test vehicle wore Goodyear Eagle LS all-season tires on 20" aluminum wheels and therefore was ill-suited for any dirty entertainment.
Inside the Silverado, the theme of quality materials and tight assembly tolerances is cranked up another notch or two. Our decked-out sample carried the "luxury-inspired" interior treatment, with two bucket seats separated by a large console and wide center stack. Thankfully, the gears are selected via a column-mounted lever and not a silly (for a truck) floor shifter. The XM-equipped nav/radio combo features a simple, intuitive interface that can be controlled via the touchscreen, well-placed steering wheel buttons, or voice. In our opinion, it's one of the industry's best. Six large and easily readable gauges are backed up by the informative Driver Information Center. Rear-seat passengers get their own entertainment system (replete with wireless headphones) and a set of HVAC controls. The second row offers plenty of room for adults, and wouldn't be a terrible place to sit during a cross-country trip.
The low beltline and dashboard give a sedan-like feel to the driving position, and we suspect that's exactly what many prospective buyers want from a half-ton pickup truck. We'd personally prefer a set of bucket seats that provide more support than the average Lazy Boy, but the Silverado's units felt more like an overstuffed arm chair than a proper automotive seating surface. Larger drivers might feel a bit cramped by the driver's compartment, which dimensionally doesn't seem to be small but is given a bit of a tight feel by the design of the console and lower dash. The switchgear, however, feels wonderful, the leather feels like quality stuff, and even the hard plastic surfaces make a favorable impression with their matte finish and finely-textured grain. Overall, it's easily the best interior available in a full-size truck. If there is a fault to be found, it's that many of the controls are totally unsuited to manipulation while wearing work gloves or the like; if that is an issue, GM offers up the "pure pickup" interior in lower trim levels.
Under the hood lies a E85-burning Displacement-on-Demand version of GM's GenIV pushrod V8 architecture that displaces 5.3L and produces a healthy 315 HP. The DoD functionality makes itself known on occasion, as the exhaust here is a bit throatier than that of the Tahoe and thus produces a slightly odd note during V4 operation. Otherwise, the engine produces smooth power without annoyance, and an objective observer shouldn't be concerned in the least by the placement of the camshaft or the number of valves per cylinder.
We wish that we could say the same about the Hydra-Matic transmission, but frankly, a mere four forward gear ratios means that the rev-happy engine is frequently left hanging somewhere away from the meat of the powerband. It's not that the transmission is unwilling to shift - it does what it can with its limited resources - but the net effect is that the engine sometimes seems a bit overwhelmed by this vehicle's 5,400 lbs of curb weight. For now, buyers must opt for the GMC Sierra Denali or step up to GM's HD line to get a six speed, and that just doesn't seem right. Drawing far fewer complaints was the Autotrac 4WD system, which offers up 2WD, 4WD Auto, 4WD HI, and 4WD LO modes, and worked superbly in every condition that we encountered during our test.
The ride and handling of the Silverado frankly defies comparison to other half-ton pickups, and is perhaps best compared to that of a large performance sedan. Large bumps result in a single well-damped thud, and smaller road irregularities are filtered out well before reaching the cabin. The steering and brake feel are stunningly good; a comparison to GM's prior efforts defies this author's vocabulary. We hope that GM finds a way to blend this voodoo into every product it builds. With pitch and roll kept under control, spirited driving is neither encouraged nor discouraged by this truck; it won't inspire backroad antics, but it also doesn't object to dispatching a curvy entrance ramp or engaging in emergency maneuvers. There is a quiet, understated confidence to the Silverado's dynamic behavior that should be very pleasing to those who find themselves intimidated by older pickup trucks. Those that accidentally exceed the limits will encounter the StabiliTrak system, which intervenes to bring the vehicle back under control with minimal drama.
The tow rating of our particular tester isn't class-leading, but the 7,500 lb limit is reasonable for most occasional towing tasks (select the 4.10 rear gears if you want to put another thousand pounds out back, and check the box for the 6.0L VortecMAX for up to 10,500 lbs of towing capacity). A payload of 2,010 is also nothing to be ashamed of, and most hauling jobs will be constrained by the 5'9" bed. Rest assured that the capabilities of this truck have not be compromised by its comfort.
Observed fuel economy over the time we spent with the vehicle was 15.4 MPG, with a 50/50 blend of suburban and expressway driving. That's about 2 MPG less than we pulled down during our test of the Tahoe with similar driving conditions, and we lack a readily-available explanation for this discrepancy.
With all of that being said, we still need to answer a simple question - is this the best half-ton pickup truck available on the market? Considering the needs of most buyers, we think that the answer to that is "yes". The exceptional drivetrain of the Toyota Tundra makes this conclusion a bit more difficult to reach than it would have been a few short months ago, but our take on this is that the less intimidating size and feel of the Silverado, paired up with the superior payload rating, is more important to the average truck buyer than superior dragstrip performance.
New Car Test Drive
The all-new next-generation pickups are here.
The all-new Chevy Silverado is here. Completely redesigned, the new Silverado is built on a stiffer chassis. Also very important, the 2007 Silverado features an all-new interior that can be outfitted for work or pleasure.
The new Silverado is designed to continue its reputation among owners as the 'strongest, most dependable and longest lasting truck on the road.'
The new styling is bold yet still conservative when compared with the latest pickups from Dodge, Nissan, Toyota and Ford. While the sheet metal is all new, the main reason the new Silverado looks bolder is that it's three inches wider in front and an inch wider in the rear than the outgoing generation. (The older-generation trucks will continue to be sold as the 2007 Silverado Classic. This review covers the new trucks.)
The new Silverado is, of course, available in a range of body styles with a wide variety of engines, drive trains and suspensions designed to meet every need.
We found the LTZ crew cab with the Z85 suspension offers a nice ride, soaking up vibration on gravel desert roads and offer sure-footed handling on winding paved mountain roads. The popular 5.3-liter V8 delivers good power for passing on two-lanes.
The 2007 Chevy Silverado is available in several trim levels: WT, LT and LTZ, plus an LS version in standard cab, extended cab and crew cab body styles.
The WT ($17,860) is a basic work truck that comes with a driver information center, AM/FM stereo, 40/20/40 split-bench and vinyl-covered front seat, dual glove boxes, two auxiliary power outlets, tire pressure monitoring system, one year on OnStar service and a four-speed automatic transmission.
The LT ($23,510) adds a cloth-covered front seat with lockable storage under the seat, a CD player and MP3 compatibility, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and outside temperature displays, 17-inch chrome-styled steel wheels and power folding and heated exterior mirrors. The more upscale version of the LT comes with premium cloth front bucket seats with six-way power adjustment, dual-zone automatic temperature controls, audio controls mounted on the steering wheel, fog lamps, aluminum wheels, chromed bumper, and a spare tire lock.
The LTZ ($31,205) adds heavy-duty trailering equipment, an automatic locking rear differential, body-colored bumpers, reclining and heated leather front seats with 12-way power, an in-dash six-CD changer with Bose speakers, turn signal indicators in the exterior rearview mirrors and heated windshield washers.
Engines include a 195-hp 4.3-liter V6 engine; a 295-hp 4.8-liter V8; a 315-hp 3.5-liter V8 in gasoline or flexfuel (gasoline and E85 ethanol) versions; and a 367-hp 6.0-liter V8. Naturally, not all engines
Extended cab and crew cab models have back seats and windows in the side doors that power down. The crew cab has four front-hinged doors, much like a sport utility vehicle. The extended cab has rear access doors that are hinged at the rear but that open to 170 degrees to provide full access to the rear seating area.
The standard cab can be outfitted with a standard (6-foot, 6-inch) or long (8-foot) beds. The extended cab also offers a short (5-foot, 8-inch) bed, which is the only bed available on the crew cab.
Cab configuration has a significant influence on base pricing. For example, the most popular version of the Silverado, the LT, starts at $23,510 as a regular cab, at $24,345 as an extended cab and at $27,305 as a crew cab.
Two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are available in all three body styles, with 4WD costing some $2,000 more than 2WD.
Five suspension setups are available: Z83 is the standard suspension and is designed for a smooth ride; Z85 is a little stiffer for enhanced handling and towing; Z71 is for off-road driving and includes 18-inch wheels; Z60 is for maximum street performance and includes 20-inch wheels; NHT is for maximum towing capacity and includes high-capacity rear springs as well as off-road tires.
Safety features on all new Silverado models dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring system. Options include driver and front-seat side-impact air bags, side-curtain airbags, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology, Autotrack active transfer case, Ultrasonic rear parking assist, OnStar.
Option prices vary by trim level and body style. Among them: a cargo management rail system for the truck bed ($175), a power sliding sunroof ($795), 20-inch wheels ($1,295), a power sliding rear window ($200), rear-seat entertainment system ($1,955), navigation system ($2,250), rear-locking differential ($395), StabiliTrak electronic stability control ($425). Accessories such as step rails and chrome exterior trim are available from Chevy Truck dealers.
Note that until production of the all-new 2007 model ramps up, dealers will continue to sell the former version as the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado Classic. This is the previous-generation version and should not be confused with the vehicle covered in this report.
The 2007 Chevy Silverado may not have the aggressive styling of the Dodge Ram or Nissan Titan or even the Toyota Tundra or Ford F-150, but its upright design may be considered both bold and appealing to its faithful customers, and they buy hundreds of thousands of Silverados each year.
The new design gives the 2007 Chevy Silverado a taller and stronger appearance than the previous generation. Indeed, the new Silverado should look stronger because it's some three inches wider in front and an inch wider in the rear.
However, a more raked windshield (raked at 57 degrees) and careful aerodynamic and body-building engineering make the truck both quieter on the inside and more fuel efficient. GM boasts that the Silverado and GMC Sierra are the first full-size trucks to offer both 300 horsepower and 20 miles per gallon on the highway.
The large, gold Chevy bowtie badge is set against a wide, three-bar chrome grille. The grille is flanked by stacked headlamps sporting the latest reflector-optics. The front bumper incorporates rectangular fog lamps.
The hood has a wide power dome. Bulging front fenders wrap over the front wheels and incorporate the headlamps within their forward sweep. Likewise, the rear quarter panels are punctuated by large faired wheel wells.
The rear view of the truck features stacked tail lamps on either side of a tall tailgate that has a sculpted center section that mimics and inverts the shape of the fender flares.
Built on what General Motors calls its GMT900 platform, the Silverado shares much of its underpinnings with the Tahoe SUV, though the pickup truck gets a unique rear frame section that is 245 percent stiffer. Overall, compared to the former GMT800 truck, the frame is 234 percent stiffer torsionally, 62 percent more resistant to bending and 136 percent stiffer laterally. All of this allows such things as reducing the gap between the truck bed and passenger compartment and between fenders and bumpers. It also enhances aerodynamics and fuel efficiency and allows suspension components to provide improved ride and handling characteristics.
The front suspension has switched from torsion bars to coil-over shock absorbers and the rack-and-pinion steering gear is mounted to the engine cross member frame to provide enhanced control and feedback. The truck also has a new rear axle design with shocks absorbers mounted outboard and more upright for better dynamic control.
The Silverado WT and LT come with what Chevy calls the pure pickup truck interior while the LTZ features a more luxurious interior.
The pure pickup interior is more driver oriented, includes two glove boxes in the dashboard, one of them just about the right size to hold a pair of work gloves and a few small items, and a 40/20/40-split front bench seat with the center section of the seat back folding down to form a wide arm rest with lots of storage capacity. This interior also features larger switchgear controls and interior door handles designed to be easily manipulated even while wearing bulky work gloves.
The more luxury-oriented interior includes bucket seats with a permanent center console with 20 liters of storage capacity. The center stack also puts ventilation and audio controls within easy site and reach of the front seat passenger. This version has a single glove box in the dash.
Extended cabs feature stadium-style seating with an elevated view for those sitting in the second row. Both the extended cab and crew cab versions offer plenty of rear legroom. The rear seat bottoms can be easily be folded up to provide more room on the floor for cargo. Rear seats are split 60/40 so one side can be folded up for cargo while the other is used for seating.
Chevy says the interior of the new Sierra is 20 percent quieter than its predecessor, thanks to enhanced insulation materials, much like those used in the company's sport utility vehicles, and to aerodynamic improvements that reduce wind noise.
We've driven two versions of the all-new 2007 Chevy Silverado on paved and gravel roads in the desert west and north of Phoenix. We drove an LTZ crew cab with the 5.3-liter V8, four-wheel drive, and the Z85 suspension. Later we got into the more upscale version of the LT with an extended cab and standard bed, same V8 engine and same Z85 suspension. The LTZ had the luxury-inspired interior while the LT had the pure pickup interior, though with optional bucket seats.
The suspension did a nice job of providing stability and also soaking up the rough surface of the gravel road, even in areas which featured a surface you might better call rocky than graveled. But it also was sure-footed and the V8 provided more than sufficient power on winding two-lane roads that climbed from the desert into the mountains.
The Silverado can be equipped for a towing capacity of as much as 10,500 pounds, and that's for the light-duty version. The heavy-duty Silverado models will be coming to market early in calendar year 2007.
The Chevy Silverado is redesigned for 2007, featuring a new frame, new styling, new interiors, new suspension and a new anti-lock braking system. The new Silverado offers a nice ride and taut handling.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Larry Edsall drove the new Silverado on the desert roads north and west of Phoenix.
Chevy Silverado WT; LT; LTZ.
Pontiac, Michigan; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Oshawa, Ontario; and Silao, Mexico.
Options As Tested
Safety package ($715) includes side and curtain airbags; EZ-Lift tailgate ($95); locking rear differential ($325).
Chevy Silverado LTZ crew cab 4x4 ($38,090).
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