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."