The Chevy Silverado is designed to offer a smooth ride and confident handling while delivering superior capability and power. Silverado was last redesigned for 2007. As with all full-size pickups, the Silverado is available in a wide range of sizes, engines, and capabilities, so it's of primary importance to analyze your needs and then select the model that best serves those needs.
The base engine is a 4.3-liter V6 (195 hp/260 lb-ft of torque) with a four-speed automatic, offered only on Regular Cabs and 2WD Extended Cab models with the standard bed. The 4.8-liter V8 (302 hp/305 lb-ft of torque) and four-speed automatic are standard on Crew Cab and 4WD Extended Cab models with the standard bed, and on many LT models.
The 5.3-liter V8 (315 hp/338 lb-ft of torque, or 326 hp/348 lb-ft of torque on E85), with active fuel management that shuts off cylinders to save fuel, and iron or aluminum block, is standard on most LTZ models and is matched with a six-speed automatic.
The top engine is a 6.2-liter V8 (403 hp/417 lb-ft of torque) available on Extended Cab and Crew Cab models; it uses the six-speed automatic. (Silverado HD models are covered in a separate New Car Test Drive review.)
XFE (Xtra Fuel Economy) models use a 5.3-liter V8, six-speed automatic and cruising-biased axle ratio of 3.08:1 to increase EPA ratings. XFE versions feature aerodynamic upgrades in the form of a soft bed cover and extended front air dam, plus aluminum wheels (including the spare) and lower front suspension arms, locking rear differential, and low rolling resistance tires. A trailering package is standard so XFE models can tow up to 7,000 pounds.
The Hybrid, available only in the Crew Cab body style, uses a 6.0-liter V8 (332 hp/367 lb-ft of torque), battery pack, and four-speed automatic with two electric motors in it. EPA ratings are 21/22 mpg. Tow ratings are available to 6100 pounds, and maximum payload is in the 1,400-pound range.
For 2011, Silverado gets few changes. The OnStar has been upgraded to 9.0, there have been enhancements to reduce wind noise, and there are a few new color choices.
The 2011 Chevy Silverado is available in four trim levels: WT, LS, LT, and LTZ. Packages often upgrade amenities without upgrading engines or body styles.
Silverado WT ($20,850) is a basic work truck that comes with a driver information center, AM/FM/XM stereo, 40/20/40 split-bench, vinyl-covered front seat, dual glove boxes, two auxiliary power outlets, tire pressure monitoring system, OnStar and a four-speed automatic transmission. The LS Crew Cab ($30,360) offers lots more in the way of features.
Silverado LT ($26,810 for Regular Cab, 2WD) adds a cloth-covered front seat with lockable storage under the seat, a CD player and MP3 compatibility, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and outside temperature displays, chrome front bumper and 17-inch styled steel wheels, and power folding and heated exterior mirrors. LT models can be upgraded with premium cloth front bucket seats with six-way power adjustment, dual-zone automatic temperature controls, audio controls mounted on the steering wheel, fog lamps, aluminum wheels, chromed bumper, and a spare tire lock.
Silverado LTZ ($35,280 for Extended Cab, 2WD) adds heavy-duty trailering equipment, an automatic locking rear differential, body-colored bumpers, reclining and heated leather front seats with 12-way power, an in-dash six-CD changer with Bose speakers, 18-inch wheels, turn signal indicators in the exterior rearview mirrors, and heated windshield washers.
Extended Cab and Crew Cab models have back seats and windows in the side doors that power down. The Crew Cab has four front-hinged doors, much like a sport utility vehicle. The Extended Cab has rear access doors hinged at the rear that open to 170 degrees to provide full access to the rear seating area. The Regular Cab can be outfitted with a standard bed (6-foot, 6-inch) or long bed (8-foot). The Extended Cab also offers a short (5-foot, 8-inch) bed. The short bed (5-foot, 8-inch) is the only bed available on the Crew Cab.
Five suspensions are available: Z83 is the standard setup designed for a smooth ride; Z85 is a little firmer for enhanced handling and towing; Z71 is for off-road driving and includes 18-inch wheels; Z60 is for maximum street performance and includes 20-inch wheels; NHT is for maximum towing capacity (bigger rear axle with locking differential, HD cooling, and so forth) and includes high-capacity rear springs as well as all-terrain tires.
Option prices vary by trim level and body style. Among them: A power sliding sunroof ($995), a power sliding rear window ($250), rear-seat entertainment system ($1,480), and AM/FM with navigation system ($2,250). Options on lesser models include the locking differential ($325) and various levels of towing packages.
Safety features on all Silverado models include dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, tire-pressure monitoring system, side-curtain airbags, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology.