2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 20, 2009

The 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Silverado Hybrid honor their work-truck roots, but know how to play up to rich folk.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the latest version of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and the recently added Hybrid edition to bring you their expert opinions on its performance, styling, and features. Editors have compared the Silverado to other full-size trucks and compiled a companion full review that gives you a comprehensive look at other opinions from around the Web.

From work truck to luxury hauling appliance, the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Silverado Hybrid suit a lot of truck buyers. It's a perennial best-seller, and even in these days of frugality, the Silverado is a good choice for truck buyers who don't need to splurge, but may want to. Like the tough competition, the Silverado is available in a seemingly endless variety of configurations; buyers can choose from two interior designs, four gas engines, one gas-electric drivetrain, two automatic transmissions, one two-mode hybrid transmission, and three cab styles. With its great payload and towing capabilities, the Silverado is versatile enough to serve the needs of Midwest farmers and suburban hipsters alike. It competes with the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan, but even more closely with the Dodge Ram, the Ford F-150, and the similar GMC Sierra. (TheCarConnection.com does not review the heavy-duty Silverado 2500, 3500, or 4500.)

Back in 2007, GM completely renovated the Chevy Silverado to great effect. The body design was simplified and cleaned up, and a larger bowtie grille was fitted to the front end. It's still a good-looking truck, though it's not as distinctive as the Dodge Ram-or as controversial as the Toyota Tundra or the Nissan Titan. The look is aging well, and this year there are no cosmetic changes save for some revised door-panel trim. In the cabin, the Silverado wears two styles; "pure pickup" versions have a high dash with low-gloss black plastic and no center console for three-across seating. Upscale LTZ versions get a wide console, bands of wood grain trim, and metallic-painted pieces that look far richer and more appealing. It's almost carlike compared to the more upright design on base versions, which also get larger door handles and controls to make operation easier for big hands with gloves. Both interiors share large, clearly marked gauges and soft blue backlighting, a meaty steering wheel, and humongous cup holders tucked either into the dash or the fold-down armrest, or molded into the console.

Powertrain performance and hauling capability are where the Silverado lineup shines. It's one of the easiest full-size pickups to drive, with more communicative steering than other trucks and a wide range of refined, responsive engines. The engine lineup includes a 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 in the stripped-down base truck; a flex-fuel, 302-hp 4.8-liter V-8; a flex-fuel 5.3-liter V-8 with 315 hp and cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy in XFE models; and a 6.2-liter, 403-hp, flex-fuel V-8 in top-line LTZ Silverados. The base V-6 and base V-8 are teamed with a four-speed automatic; all other versions have a six-speed automatic that shifts very smoothly, helps achieve better fuel economy, and cuts down on noise. The Silverado gets from 15/22 mpg in the XFE to 12/19 mpg in top versions. The 5.3-liter is TheCarConnection.com editors' pick, as it has plenty of power for most needs without much lower fuel economy than the base V-6. The lineup also is offered with either rear- or four-wheel drive-with a single-range transfer case this year, while dual-range 4WD is now an option-or on top versions, electronically controlled four-wheel drive. The most capable Silverado can tow 10,700 pounds with an available package, leaving it just 600 pounds shy of the most rugged Ford F-150.

Review continues below

The Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid is a vastly different beast. Its advanced two-mode hybrid powertrain starts with an all-aluminum 6.0-liter V-8 featuring variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, to which GM adds an electrically variable transmission (EVT) with two electric motor/generators and four fixed-ratio gears, as well as a 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. In all, the hybrid system is rated at 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque, which pushes EPA fuel economy to 21/22 mpg for two-wheel-drive models, and 20/20 mpg with 4WD.
Performance feels like that of the 5.3-liter V-8 engine, except for the almost absurd smoothness and quietness as the Silverado runs up to 27 mph on battery power alone. The Silverado Hybrid's brakes are powerful and recapture energy to charge the batteries; even saddled with more weight, the Hybrid tows 6,100 pounds with 2WD, or 5,900 pounds with automatic dual-range four-wheel drive.

In either the Silverado 1500 or the Silverado Hybrid, there's ample space and comfortable seats across the front. Either a bench or bucket seats are fitted; with the bucket seats comes a center console with an agreeably styled dash, big gauges, and big controls that can be operated when wearing gloves. Buyers can choose a regular cab with almost no room behind the front seats, an Extended Cab with space for tools and gear, or a Crew Cab for three-across adult seating. The stadium-style rear seat on Crew Cabs has a 60/40-split design and can be folded up for more cargo space. For extra versatility, either section of the split seat can be stowed independently, allowing room for both cargo and a rear-seat passenger, and the rear access doors on extended-cab models open 170 degrees. The Hybrid's much the same as the standard Crew Cab; the backseat is compromised a bit since the battery pack is stored under the second-row bench. Seat comfort isn't affected, but the underseat storage is consumed by batteries. Across the Silverado 1500 / Hybrid lineup, bed sizes range from 5'8" on Crew Cabs and Hybrids; 6'6" on all versions except the Hybrid; and 8' on all versions except the Hybrid.

Safety ratings for the 2010 Silverado 1500 and Hybrid are good, thanks to a five-star rating from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for front-impact protection. The agency has not completed side-impact tests. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has tested both angles and rates the Silverado as "good" for front-impact protection and "acceptable" for side-impact protection, which is aided by newly standard side and curtain airbags across the Silverado 1500 lineup. Other standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, OnStar, and tire pressure monitors. A rearview camera is available, as are power-adjustable pedals.

At a base price of about $21,000, the 2010 Chevy Silverado 1500 can be ordered in very basic work-truck form, with only an AM/FM radio that can even be deleted, vinyl seats, roll-up windows, and manual door locks. At the other extreme, the Silverado can be fitted with a huge variety of options, including Bluetooth connectivity; XM and NavTraffic; OnStar with navigation; a DVD navigation system; leather upholstery; a power sunroof; a power sliding rear window; and all sorts of cargo tools and snap-ons to make the bed work harder. Silverado Hybrid pickups start from about $39,000 and come equipped in a simpler cloth-seat version with dual-zone climate control; remote keyless entry; and steering-wheel audio controls. There's also a $48,000 leather-lined edition with Bluetooth, DVD navigation, and a high-end audio system with XM NavTraffic. USB connectivity has been added to most Silverado audio systems for 2010.

7

2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Styling

The 2010 Chevy Silverado pleases nearly everyone by offering two different interiors, but overall styling remains safe and a little plain.

The Silverado is a handsome truck, with a little less obvious flair than the full-sizers from Toyota, Nissan, and Dodge.

Back in 2007, GM completely renovated the Chevy Silverado to great effect. The body design was simplified and cleaned up, and a larger bowtie grille was fitted to the front end, which incorporates "vertically-stacked headlamp elements, heavily flared front fenders, and the largest Bowtie badge that we've ever seen on a Chevrolet," according to Autoblog. It's still a good-looking truck, though it's not as distinctive as the Dodge Ram-or as controversial as the Toyota Tundra or the Nissan Titan. It's also quite similar to its corporate cousin, the GMC Sierra: "To our eye, the GMC looks stockier and brawnier than in the past, the Chevy perhaps a bit sleeker and aerodynamic," says Four Wheeler. The look is aging well, and this year there are no cosmetic changes save for some revised door-panel trim. Hybrid trucks have only minor differences; Car and Driver states the Silverado Hybrid is "available only in crew-cab body style in the Pure Pickup trim level." The Detroit News points out the "strong front end with big grille shows off Silverado's power without hindering its capabilities."

In the cabin, the Silverado wears two looks; "pure pickup" versions have a high dash with low-gloss black plastic and no center console, for three-across seating. Upscale LTZ versions get a wide console, bands of wood grain trim, and metallic-painted pieces that look far richer and more appealing. It's almost carlike compared to the more upright design on base versions, which also get larger door handles and controls to make operation easier for big hands with gloves. Both interiors share large, clearly marked gauges and soft blue backlighting, a meaty steering wheel, and humongous cup holders tucked either into the dash or the fold-down armrest or molded into the console. ConsumerGuide sums up the difference: "The Pure Pickup interior places radio and climate controls high on the dashboard, just out of easy reach. The available luxury interior mimics that of Chevy's Tahoe and Suburban large SUVs, with controls mounted lower but in easy reach."

8

2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Performance

The 2010 Chevrolet Silverado has more accomplished handling that most other trucks, and ride quality is particularly good.

Powertrain performance and hauling capability are where the Silverado lineup shines.

It's one of the easiest full-size pickups to drive, with more communicative steering than other trucks and a wide range of refined, responsive engines. The engine lineup includes a 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 in the stripped-down base truck; a flex-fuel, 302-hp 4.8-liter V-8; a flex-fuel 5.3-liter V-8 with 315 hp and cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy in XFE models; and a 6.2-liter, 403-hp, flex-fuel V-8 in top-line LTZ Silverados. The 5.3-liter is TheCarConnection.com editors' pick, as it has plenty of power for most needs without much lower fuel economy than the base V-6. Jalopnik dubs it a "rev-happy engine," a description you won't often find for trucks.

The base V-6 and base V-8 are teamed with a four-speed automatic; all other versions have a six-speed automatic that shifts very smoothly, helps achieve better fuel economy, and cuts down on noise. The Silverado gets from 15/22 mpg in the XFE to 12/19 mpg in top versions.

The lineup also is offered with either rear- or four-wheel drive-with a single-range transfer case this year, while dual-range 4WD is now an option-or on top versions, electronically controlled four-wheel drive. The most capable Silverado can tow 10,700 pounds with an available towing package, just 600 pounds shy of the most rugged Ford F-150. It does it all with uncanny steering and ride for a big truck; Motor Trend reports it "takes a set as flat as any modified tuner truck we've driven," and it has "the smoothest road feel and most confident turn-in of any full-size pickup." Autoblog proclaims that the Silverado's "steering and brake feel defies comparison to other half-ton pickups," and adds, "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." ConsumerGuide finds the comfort-oriented Z85 suspension "compliant and fairly comfortable, with less reverberation over bumps than in most pickups," while the Z60 and off-road-oriented Z71 calibrations produce a stiffer ride. However, Edmunds finds the braking performance of their truck, which weighs almost 5,500 pounds unloaded, a bit unimpressive.

The Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid is a vastly different beast. Its advanced two-mode hybrid powertrain starts with an all-aluminum 6.0-liter V-8 featuring variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, to which GM adds an electrically variable transmission (EVT) with two electric motor/generators and four fixed-ratio gears, as well as a 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. In all, the hybrid system is rated at 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque, which pushes EPA fuel economy to 21/22 mpg for two-wheel-drive models, and 20/20 mpg with 4WD. Performance feels like that of the 5.3-liter V-8 engine-ConsumerGuide mentions that the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid "accelerates from a stop and passes much like a conventional model, but a faint surge is felt and heard when it shifts between full electric and gasoline operation"-except for the almost absurd smoothness and quietness as the Silverado runs up to 27 mph on battery power alone. "You can get it up to 30 mph without burning a drop of gas," the Detroit News points out. Autoblog contends "the electric power steering felt surprisingly normal, with just the right weighting for a vehicle carrying this much mass." Ride quality is quite good in the Silverado Hybrid; ConsumerGuide calls it "compliant and fairly comfortable, with less reverberation over bumps than in most pickups," and MotherProof reports the same, deeming it "sturdy but much less bumpy" than expected.

The Silverado Hybrid's brakes are powerful and recapture energy to charge the batteries, and even saddled with more weight, the Hybrid tows 6,100 pounds with 2WD, or 5,900 pounds with automatic dual-range four-wheel drive. The Detroit News adds, "the bed can handle just more than 1,400 pounds."

7

2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Comfort & Quality

Good interior room and build quality give the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado a better reputation-now, it just needs better front seats.

In either Silverado 1500 or the Silverado Hybrid, there's ample space and comfortable seats across the front.

Either a bench or bucket seats are fitted; with the bucket seats comes a center console with an agreeably styled dash, big gauges, and big controls that can be operated when wearing gloves. MotherProof reviewers are "surprised by the level of comfort in the interior." Buyers can choose a regular cab with almost no room behind the front seats, an Extended Cab with space for tools and gear, or a Crew Cab for three-across adult seating. ConsumerGuide says up front, "the seats are comfortable if somewhat lacking in side support." The Detroit News agrees, finding that the "bucket seats could use additional bolstering," but overall they love that the interior is "well laid out with lots of room for a hunting party." Autoblog dislikes the LTZ's buckets seat, too; they "felt more like an overstuffed arm chair than a proper automotive seating surface." ConsumerGuide reviewers note that "the bucket seats come with a roomy console bin," while the "bench seat is available with a flip-down center armrest that doubles as a large storage bin." The Detroit News also appreciates the "nice use of dead space to create cubbies on the dash," which are perfect for storing items like cell phones and other small objects. It also reports "the control switches can handle a firm grip and big hands," so "they can be turned while wearing work gloves."

The stadium-style rear seat on Crew Cabs has a 60/40-split design and can be folded up for more cargo space, enabled by the flat load floor. Jalopnik calls the flat loading floor "one of the coolest features on the truck." For extra versatility, either section of the split seat can be stowed independently, allowing room for both cargo and a rear-seat passenger, and the rear access doors on extended-cab models open 170 degrees. ConsumerGuide notes of the Crew Cab body style, "With front bucket seats, the center console restricts toe space for the center rear-seat passenger." TheCarConnection.com's editors also point out that the Crew Cab backseat sits more upright than in some other trucks and are less comfortable over long trips as a result.

The Hybrid's interior and seating are much the same as the standard Crew Cab; the backseat is compromised a bit since the battery pack is stored under the second-row bench. Seat comfort isn't affected, but batteries consume some of its utility. Automobile notes "the space available for cargo in the back of the crew cab is diminished by the battery pack," which runs the entire width of the truck under the rear bench.

Across the Silverado 1500 / Hybrid lineup, bed sizes range from 5'8" on Crew Cabs and Hybrids; 6'6" on all versions except the Hybrid; and 8' on all versions except the Hybrid. Autoblog notes the Silverado has a deep cargo box and torsion bars in the tailgate that allow it to be closed with one arm. Car and Driver points out that the Silverado's interior storage spaces lack organizing dividers, though, and aren't as innovative as those of competitors. (The work-oriented Pure Pickup interior has separate upper and lower glove boxes, while the luxury version featured in the LTZ only has the lower one.)

GM's efforts to improve the quality perceptions of its big trucks have paid off, according to reviewers from around the Web. "Nearly every exterior component shows remarkable attention to detail," comments Autoblog, "and the result is a truck that's assembled like a fine piece of furniture." ConsumerGuide says even the Pure Pickup interior and the materials used in it "don't look bargain basement." Jalopnik sums it up well: "There's still plenty of cheap n' flimsy to go around, but new fabrics and plastics and a deft designer's touch make the cab feel less institutional and more familial." ConsumerGuide points out that rear-seat passengers aren't left out either, as the "rear bench is comfortable and supportive," while the available "headroom is generous." Edmunds considers noise at highway speeds "minimal," and finds interior sound levels at 70 mph are lower than those in an Audi A6 sedan. Motor Trend cites the attention to tighter seals, smaller door gaps, and increased sound deadening and attests that "wind noise is almost eliminated." The Detroit News asserts the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid in particular is "extremely quiet at all speeds," while ConsumerGuide states that the "Hybrid is nearly silent at ignition and at rest," and aside from a "subtle electrical whirring noise" during acceleration, "most other noise sources are well squelched."

8

2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Safety

The 2010 Chevrolet Silverado scores well on crash tests; TheCarConnection.com advises shoppers to take GM up on the optional rearview camera, for safety's sake.

Safety ratings for the 2010 Silverado 1500 and Hybrid are good, thanks to a five-star rating from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for front-impact protection. The agency has not completed side-impact tests. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has tested both angles and rates the Silverado as "good" for front-impact protection and "acceptable" for side-impact protection, which is aided by newly standard side and curtain airbags across the Silverado 1500 lineup.

Other standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, OnStar, and tire pressure monitors. The Detroit News reports that the Silverado Hybrid gets a "full complement of airbags, electronic stability control, and OnStar." A rearview camera is available, as are power-adjustable pedals. MotherProof is pleased to note the Hybrid's standard "adjustable pedals," which reviewers "really appreciated."

Visibility is a critical safety system in pickups, which sit higher than other vehicles in traffic and have a less complete view of smaller vehicles in other lanes. ConsumerGuide says "visibility is generally good," on the Silverado 1500, "though wide rear pillars partially block the view to the back corners." Autobytel says big mirrors help: "With mirrors properly adjusted, small cars stand little chance of getting lost from view when merging, and the tall rear window affords a good look at what's going on behind you." However, Car and Driver criticizes the "cheesy mirrors," which occupy space in the driver's peripheral vision.

8

2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Features

Basic work editions of the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado cut to the truck chase, but luxury versions pile on the equipment to SUV standards.

At a base price of about $21,000, the 2010 Chevy Silverado 1500 can be ordered in very basic work-truck form, with only an AM/FM radio that can even be deleted, vinyl seats, roll-up windows, and manual door locks.

At the other extreme, the Silverado can be fitted with a huge variety of options, including Bluetooth connectivity; XM and NavTraffic; OnStar with navigation; a DVD navigation system; leather upholstery; a power sunroof; a power sliding rear window; and all sorts of cargo liners, carpets, covers, tools, and snap-ons to make the bed work harder. As Autoblog observes, you'll find "sticker prices for versions fitted with leather seating surfaces, a sunroof and navigation systems creeping over $45K."

The 2010 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid includes "all of the features a pickup owner expects," according to the Detroit News. Silverado Hybrid pickups start from about $39,000 and come equipped in a simpler cloth-seat version with dual-zone climate control; remote keyless entry; and steering-wheel audio controls. There's also a $48,000 leather-lined edition with Bluetooth, DVD navigation, and a high-end audio system with XM NavTraffic. Automobile reports the "premium trim package adds leather trim, power front bucket seat adjusters, a center console, a Bose sound system with navigation, a hard bed cover, and several minor convenience items."

USB connectivity has been added to most Silverado audio systems for 2010.

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