- Hybrid's class-leading mileage
- Seemingly endless configurations
- workhorse, even in high-end trim
- Smooth ride and crisp handling
- Big payload and towing numbers
- No factory bedliner
- Doesn't look as rugged as it is
- Price creep
The 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Silverado Hybrid honor their work-truck roots, but know how to play up to rich folk.
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.
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.