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The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Silverado Hybrid are full-size trucks, seemingly built to suit every possible type of truck user. 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 bed sizes ranging from 5'8" on Crew Cabs and Hybrids; 6'6" on all versions except the Hybrid; and 8' on all versions except the Hybrid. With its great payload and towing capabilities, the Silverado is versatile enough to serve the needs of Midwest farmers, urban construction crews, and suburban hipsters alike.
The Chevy Silverado pleases nearly everyone by offering two different interiors, but overall styling remains safe and a little plain—plus, the Silverado's design is now one of the oldest among full-size trucks, with a little less obvious flair than the full-sizers from Toyota, Nissan, and Dodge. The Silverado basically carries on with the same well-done body style GM introduced in 2007. With a simplified, cleaned-up, and larger bowtie grille, it's still a. It's still a good-looking truck, 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.
Inside, the Silverado and its GMC Sierra sibling are unique among pickups in that they offer two different instrument panel styles. The "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—and mimics that of Chevy's Tahoe and Suburban large SUVs. 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.
While rivals are getting closer—especially Ford, with its all-new powertrain lineup on the 2011 F-150—the 2011 Silverado still offers one of the strongest V-8 powertrain lineups in the market. The lineup still includes a 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 in the stripped-down base truck, but the rest of the V-8 lineup feels thoroughly up-to-date. There's 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 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.
Besides having some of the best straight-line performance and hauling capability in this class (up to 10,700 pounds), the Silverado is definitely 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 Silverado Hybrid has a sophisticated two-mode hybrid powertrain combining 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 20 mpg city, 23 highway. 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.
The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado definitely isn't behind the curve with respect to its interior or appointments. In either the Silverado 1500 or the Silverado Hybrid, there's ample space in front, though the seats could be more comfortable and supportive for longer trips. 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. 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. And throughout the Silverado lineup, the cabin is unexpectedly hushed and refined, thanks to increased sound deadening and tight build quality. Wind noise has been further reduced for 2011.
If you're one who has trouble making a choice, the vast array of build combinations and available features in the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 might seem a little overwhelming. The Silverado comes in everything from basic work-truck form, priced in the low twenties, up to fully leather-lined luxury-loaded Hybrid versions that approach $50k. Most Silverado audio systems now include USB connectivity, and for 2011, the Silverado's OnStar system has been updated to version 9.0, now including automatic crash response, crisis assist, and stolen vehicle slowdown, with a one-year subscription to the Safe and Sound plan.
- Seemingly endless build configurations
- Hybrid's class-leading mileage
- A true workhorse, even in luxury trim
- Ride and handling
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- Inferior front seats
- No factory bedliner
- Doesn't look as rugged as it is