2007 Chevrolet Silverado
Bigger, plusher, more fuel efficient
GM's full-size truck engineers and designers knew they had their work cut out for them. Ford's latest F-150 had raised the bar for interior refinement and chassis dynamics, and Dodge's Ram for cabin roominess and performance. Then came Nissan with a tough-as-nails full-size Titan, and Toyota was soon to follow with an outstanding new Tundra.
"Our mission was clearly to be the best in specific attributes that are critical to a pickup truck buyer," says Silverado Vehicle Line Director Mike Tulumellow. "That evolved into six main pillars: exterior styling, interior styling, the depth and breadth of the portfolio, exceptional driving experience, our commitment to safety and security and unique features and options."
For starters, the 2007 Chevy Silverado's new fully boxed frame is much stiffer than before, enabling the development engineers to tune it for both smoother ride and more athletic handling. Its precise rack and pinion steering is big-time better, its braking feel is hugely improved, its new front suspension is a highly tunable coil-over-shock design, and its tracks are wider (three inches in front and one in back) for much-improved road-holding and stability.
The new look is crisp, clean, broad-shouldered and powerful. The big Chevy signature grille, bumpers, front fenders, vertically stacked reflector-optics headlamps, power-dome hood, tail lamps, box design and flared rear fenders are all unique to Silverado, not shared with GMC's Sierra. The "fast" 57-degree sloped windshield highlights the substantially sleeker shape and attention to detail that—along with GM's cylinder deactivating Active Fuel Management (AFM)—provide class-leading EPA fuel economy. Three cab styles (regular, extended and crew), three trim levels (WT, LT and LTZ), three bed lengths and three wheel sizes (17, 18 and 20-in.) are offered, and there's a handsome LS optional exterior package.
Uniquely in the class, Silverado offers two completely different interiors: a bench-seat, column-shift "pure pickup" cabin in WT (work truck) and LT models and a bucket-seat, big-console luxury interior (shared with Chevy's top-of-the-line Tahoe SUV) in LTZs. Both offer a large double glovebox and ample storage capacity, including a huge console box in the LTZ and a laptop-size lockable bin in the pure pickup's 40/20/40 bench seat's center section. Both available new instrument panels are pushed down and forward for better visibility, making the spacious cabin feel even roomier than it is. Door pulls are large grab-handles designed for easy use with gloves, as are all major controls.
Powertrain and Chassis
Engine choices extend from a 195-hp 4.3-liter V-6 through a half-dozen Gen IV small-block V-8s. The V-8 range is bounded by a 295-hp 4.8-liter iron-block workhorse on one end and a 367-horse aluminum-block 6.0-liter on the other. Equipped with AFM, which disables four of its eight cylinders to save fuel at light loads, this muscular motor is available on LT and LTZ extended- and crew-cabs with a maximum trailering package that provides class-leading (2,160 lb.) payload and (10,500 lb.) tow capacity. In between is a quartet of 315-hp 5.3-liter AFM V-8s—two iron and two aluminum, depending on application—of which one each is E85 FlexFuel-capable. All are mated to electronically-controlled (but ratio-challenged until new six-speed automatics are available) Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmissions.
Five specifically tuned suspensions offer a selection of ride, surface and load-carrying capabilities: Z83 (monotube front and twin-tube rear shocks tuned for smooth, solid ride), Z85 (monotube shocks front and rear for enhanced handling and trailer towing), Z71 (front and rear monotube shocks for enhanced off-road capability), Z60 (maximum street performance with available 20-inch wheels) and NHT (maximum towing capacity with monotube rear shocks, heavy duty rear springs and off-road tires on 17-inch wheels). High-capacity brakes with four-channel ABS are standard, and GM's Stabilitrak electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation technology is standard on crew cabs and available on extended cab models.
Rear passengers in extended- and crew-cab models will appreciate more supportive seats with improved seatback angles and (in the former) added legroom. A new stadium-style 60/40 split rear seat—both sections of which can be folded up easily with one hand to provide a flat cargo floor—is standard in crew cabs, optional in extended cabs. Perhaps the best rear-cabin features are rear doors that open 170 degrees, nearly flat against the bed, for easy access and rear power windows that lower completely into them.
Unique features include an "EZ-lift" locking tailgate with torque rod assistance, a power sliding rear window on extended and crew cabs and heated windshield washer fluid. Highly appealing options are segment-exclusive remote vehicle-starting, Autotrac active 4WD transfer case, an large-screen rear DVD entertainment system and Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist.
In addition to dual-stage front air bags, passive safety systems include segment exclusive seatbelt pretensioners that activate during a rear crash and (available in LT and LTZ models) roof-mounted side curtain air bags. Another potentially lifesaving feature is GM's latest generation OnStar communications system with Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN), available turn-by-turn navigation capability and a one-year free subscription.
Driving this new Silverado, we were greatly impressed by its vastly improved steering and brakes, its surprisingly smooth ride, its solid, almost agile handling and its well-crafted, luxurious, quiet cabin. We are convinced that it (and GMC's Sierra) have raised the pickup bar again, and that Ford, Dodge, Nissan, even Toyota will be benchmarking it next time around. (www.chevrolet.com)
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