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Whether you know trucks or not, the Chevrolet Silverado is likely a familiar vehicle; in a huge swath of variations, it's the tool of choice for those who need to get things done. From sport trucks to hybrids, and up off-road rigs and heavy-duty models, the Silverado 1500 still stacks up well against rivals—no matter what the priority.
The only exception might be styling; with no significant changes to its exterior or interior—save a few minor touches—since the 2007 model year, when this generation made its debut—the 2012 Chevrolet. It still looks like it means business (or pleasure, to truck folks), but with the introduction of a refreshed Ram 1500 lineup this year, the Silverado is now by far the most dated design of the Big Three trucks.
For 2013 there are no major changes to the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 lineup; it still takes on the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and the closely related GMC Sierra 1500. Just as before, there's no lack of models and build combinations. Chevy's full-size trucks come in a form to suit nearly every possible kind of truck user, from boot-wearing Texas hipsters to tie-wearing urban commercial architects—and everything in between. Shoppers can opt into one of three body styles, and one of two interior designs; from among four gas engines and two automatic transmissions, or one gas-electric drivetrain; and from bed lengths ranging from the smallest 5'-8" bed on Crew Cabs and Hybrids, to the 6-6" bed on all versions save for the Hybrid, to the 8' bed offered on all versions except the Hybrid.
The powertrains offered in the Silverado are still competitive—except for the base 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6, which we'd only recommend to fleet buyers. At the base level if you want a V-8 is the flex-fuel, 302-hp 4.8-liter; it's perfectly adequate but comes with a four-speed automatic transmission. A flex-fuel 5.3-liter V-8 with 315 hp comes in more mainstream versions, and it's outfitted with fuel-saving cylinder deactivation in some models; and at the top of the range, a 6.2-liter, 403-hp, flex-fuel V-8 in the Silverado LTZ. The 5.3-liter is our choice of the gas-only Silverados: it has ample power for almost every need, and comes with only a slight gas-mileage penalty over the basic V-6.
Although the Silverado Hybrid has not been a top seller by any means, GM is continuing to offer it, and its 20-mpg city, 23 highway EPA ratings actually make them smart picks. The Silverado Hybrid is quite different from the other Silverado models, thanks to a two-mode hybrid powertrain that pairs an aluminum-alloy 6.0-liter V-8 with cylinder deactivation and variable valve timing, to an electrically variable transmission (EVT) with four fixed-ratio gears and two electric motor/generators, as well as a nickel-metal-hydride 300-volt battery pack. All together, these pieces combine to produce 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Despite its extra heft, the Silverado Hybrid can tow 6,100 pounds with 2WD, or 5,900 pounds with automatic dual-range four-wheel drive, and it performs about as well as 5.3-liter standard versions—although steering isn't quite as responsive.
The lavish, upgraded cabin materials of the 2013 Dodge Ram trucks are going to be tough to beat, but the Silverado's cabin does well with the fundamentals. Front space is ample, and though the bucket seats could be more supportive for longer trips, we'd still opt for them over the flat front bench for personal use. On Crew Cab Silverados, the rear seat is placed high, stadium-style, and is split 60/40 so it can be folded down for more carrying space, but the rear seatback is nearly vertical, making it uncomfortable for longer trips. Build quality is tight, and in general the interior is hushed and refined.
A flexible set of models, features, and options, as well as powertrains and body styles is still at the root of the Silverado's appeal. Somehow it's a model that not only appeals to work-truck buyers but also those seeking a luxurious commuter device or long-distance towing rig. GM's OnStar telematics system comes standard, and offers navigation assistance or emergency services (by subscription, after a year), while cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity are not on the standard-feature list.