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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
far more entertaining on the tarmac than you'd think
the Chevy’s dynamic report card was generally pretty good
Car and Driver
[Hybrid's] grabby, regenerative brakes are just too hypersensitive
[Hybrid's] sprint from zero to 60 mph takes a leisurely 9.2 seconds, a time that we suspect even the Silverado crew cab's base 4.8-liter V8 could match
powerful enough to move the truck up to 30 m.p.h. on electricity alone if the driver has a light foot on the accelerator and level ground underneath
New York Times
There's no surprise that V-8 versions of the Chevrolet Silverado are the top sellers; we think that most buyers will be most satisfied with these larger engines, as they're stronger for towing or hauling while returning gas mileage that's about as good in light, real-world driving as with the base V-6.
Rival Ford now has the edge over Chevy against the GM models' most affordable base engines. Fleet and work-truck shoppers might opt for the 4.3-liter V-6 with 195 horsepower and hooked up to a four-speed automatic. These trucks end up with a utilitarian feel and are only adequate in performance—with the combination sacrificing a lot of refinement compared to the V-8s. The next step up, the flex-fuel-capable, 302-hp 4.8-liter V-8, is also coupled to a four-speed automatic; it's a strong combination, yet there's more of a sacrifice in fuel economy. .
The flex-fuel-capable, 5.3-liter V-8 is our pick for most personal truck buyers. With 315 hp and cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy in XFE models, with a six-speed automatic (that now for 2013 includes Powertrain Grade Braking, to help increase safety downhill with heavy loads), it's a responsive, relatively economical setup; plus it has great off-the-line acceleration and a brash exhaust note. In top-of-the-line Silverado LTZ models, you can get a stronger 6.2-liter, 403-hp, flex-fuel V-8, but we tend to think that it's not worth the extra thirst for most buyers' needs.
The Silverado Hybrid remains part of the lineup, and even though it's been a slow seller we think it's worth a look for green-minded business owners—and discounts might apply at the dealership level to bring the cost down. It has a sophisticated, quiet 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. Performance is about as good as that of the 5.3-liter V-8, with the setup making 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. EPA fuel economy for the combo reaches an excellent 20 mpg city, 23 highway.
Rear- or four-wheel drive versions of the Silverado remain available throughout the lineup. A single-range transfer case applies to base models, while pricier models get a dual-range 4WD or, on top models, electronically controlled four-wheel drive. Properly equipped, a long-bed, rear-drive, V-8 Silverado can tow up to 10,700 pounds. Even saddled with more weight, the Hybrid tows 6,100 pounds with 2WD, or 5,900 pounds with automatic dual-range four-wheel drive.
What doesn't transfer as well to spec panels is that the Silverado trucks, for the most part, are some of the easiest full-size trucks to drive, with more communicative steering and good maneuverability—feeling a little smaller than the Ram or F-150, even if it isn't. Our only complaint otherwise is that the electric power steering for the Hybrid isn't tuned quite as well as that of the rest of the lineup.
The 2013 Silverado 1500 is no longer a standout for its powertrains, but its handling remains a virtue.