The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is the smoothest-riding, most carlike of the full-size, light-duty pickups, and it boasts a wide range of configurations, powertrains and trim.
The current-generation Silverado was introduced as a 2014 model, which brought better fuel economy, nicer interiors, and the latest technology. 2015 and 2016 models brought minor updates, highlighted by slightly revised styling for 2016.
2016 Silverado 1500 models have one headlight on each side in place of the pair of stacked headlights on 2014-2015 models. The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 also gets distinctive new grille designs for each trim level, a more sculpted hood, new LED parking lights, and new headlights (HIDs with LED signature on WT, LS, LT; LEDs with LED signature on LTZ and High Country).
An 8-speed automatic transmission is available for more models than previously, including the 2016 Silverado High Country and LTZ with the 5.3-liter engine. Chevrolet MyLink offers improved performance plus Apple CarPlay capability for 2016, with 8-inch touchscreens on upper models, 7-inch touchscreens standard. New features available on 2016 Silverado 1500 models include a remote locking tailgate, power-articulating assist steps, Android Auto capability, wireless phone charging, high-beam assist, and Lane Keep Assist.
Silverado 1500 competes with Ram 1500, Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan, and GMC Sierra 1500. Silverado and Sierra differ mainly in appearance and trim. Silverado looks sportier and more adventurous, Sierra looks classier and more conservative.
With their large engines and steel bodies and structure, the GM pickups are more traditional than the Ford F-150, built with extensive use of aluminum and small, turbo engines.
The Silverado boasts a refined, comfortable interior, boatloads of technology, and the aforementioned smooth ride. Its boxy styling complements that of the 2500 HD versions.
Three engines, called EcoTec3, are available: The 4.3-liter V6 is rated at 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque and comes with a 6-speed automatic. The 5.3-liter V8 is rated 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, with a 6-speed automatic standard and an 8-speed automatic on upper models. The 6.2-liter V8 is rated 420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque, and comes with the 8-speed. Though traditional in size, these engines are all-aluminum, with the latest in direct injection and variable valve timing.
The 8-speed features a wider ratio spread than that of the 6-speed: The 8-speed has a numerically higher first gear to help when starting off with a trailer or a heavy load, and it has a numerically lower rear axle ratios, which reduce engine rpm at highway speeds. EPA-estimated fuel economy doesn’t improve, but being able to go lower and higher, with more choices in between, is theoretically better in the real world.
Best fuel economy is the 4.3-liter V6 with an EPA-rated 18/24 mpg City/Highway. The 5.3-liter V8 is rated 16/23 mpg with the 6-speed automatic, 16/22 with the 8 speed. The 6.2-liter rates 15/21 mpg.
A Silverado 1500 with the 6.2-liter offers up to 12,000 pounds of towing capacity, though we’d recommend a Silverado 2500 for trailers anywhere close to that weight.
Trailer sway control, an integrated trailer brake controller, hill start assist, and, of course, rearview cameras make towing trailers easier. Stabilitrak electronic stability control and an automatic locking rear differential improve handling stability when driving an empty truck in the rain.
Silverado floors seem lower than those of most of the other trucks, so getting in and out of a Silverado often seems easier and lifting heavy sacks of feed into the bed is easier.
2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 models come in Regular Cab, Double Cab, and Crew Cab versions, with a choice of bed lengths. Powertrains: 4.3-liter V6 with 6-speed automatic, 5.3-liter V8 with 6- or 8-speed automatic, 6.2-liter V8 with 8-speed automatic. Four-wheel drive (4WD) and rear-wheel drive (2WD) are available.
Silverado 1500 has square lines and high shoulders, rendering a conservative but imposing appearance. Riding at the same height as that of the heavy-duty Silverado 2500, its dual-dome hood looks way up there when standing alongside the truck.
Whether the new front-styling treatment with redesigned grille for 2016 is more attractive is debatable, but it looks a little different and therefore fresher. The grille drops down in the middle, but the overall effect is that the front looks more linear. Upper models sport more bright trim.
Crew Cabs have large rear doors that make getting in and out easier, with enough space to comfortably swing feet through. Double Cab extended-cab models use doors that hinge normally, and they offer usable space for rear passengers.
The pickup beds come in the traditional 8-foot length, along with short-bed 5-foot, 8-inch and 6-foot, 6-inch lengths. Slots cut into the corners of the rear bumper make stepping up to grab something out of the bed easier, a great idea carried forward from the original Avalanche.
The Silverado interior is nicely trimmed, with soft-touch material used in the places you’re likely to touch. Large knobs make it easy to control basic functions at a glance, even when wearing gloves.
Noise levels are comparable to those in SUVs.
Top of the line is the Silverado High Country, with special leather and wood used in the interior, along with more features.
The Chevrolet Silverado interiors seem nicer and more comfortable than those found in the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.
By pickup truck standards, the Chevy Silverado boasts a nice, smooth ride. Handling is relatively responsive, again for a full-size pickup. Ride quality is noticeably more refined when compared with previous-generation Silverado models, or any full-size pickup from more than a couple of years ago.
Electric steering and four-wheel disc brakes designed for durability are standard equipment.
The 4.3-liter V6 runs smoothly, benefitting from a balance shaft. We used it to tow a camping trailer that weighed about 4700 pounds, and found no difficulty merging into fast traffic or powering up tall grades.
The 5.3-liter V8 is the most popular choice, rating 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, and we found it delivers quick acceleration performance. Maximum rated towing capability with this engine is 11,500 pounds, though a Silverado 2500 would work better for a trailer that heavy.
The 6.2-liter V8 is the most powerful choice, with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A Silverado High Country with the 6.2-liter is rated to tow up to 12,000 pounds. Beyond 10,000, however, we would start thinking about a Silverado 2500 for its superior stability and tongue-weight capacity.
Cylinder deactivation is used by all three engines, which can run on just four cylinders when cruising or slowing down for improved fuel economy. These are all-aluminum engines for lighter weight, and feature the latest in continuously variable valve timing and direct injection.
We have found both the 6-speed and the 8-speed automatics to be smooth operators. Fuel economy has not been shown to be better with the 8-speed, but we would still prefer it for the added flexibility, assuming it proves reliable.
Chevy Silverado is arguably the classic pickup, with straightforward styling, a smooth ride, and traditional-style engines. The V6 is fuel efficient and a good choice, the big 6.2-liter V8 is powerful for stronger towing, but most buyers will likely settle for the 5.3-liter V8 for its all-around capability.