2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Crew CabPosted on February 12th, 2016
Light-duty pickup truck ready for off-road adventure
By Nina Russin
If you need a pickup truck with towing, hauling and off-road capability capability but don’t want to be stuck with poor fuel economy, the Chevrolet Silverado with available Ecotec 5.3-liter engine should be on the short list. The 355-horsepower V-8 block delivers up to 383 pound-feet of peak torque: enough to tow up to 10,800 pounds when equipped with the optional trailering package.
Average fuel economy is 17 miles-per-gallon thanks to a cylinder cutoff feature when engine loads are low. An eight-speed automatic transmission provides large overdrive gears, extending gas mileage to 21 mpg on the highway.
Base price for the four-wheel drive test truck is $47,700, excluding the $1,195 destination charge. Options include 20-inch alloy rims, chrome running boards, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a center console with wireless phone charging and USB ports, trailer brakes, all-terrain tires and a set of moveable upper tie-down cleats, bringing the final MSRP to $52,585.
Buyers who use their trucks as mobile offices are on the increase: one of the reasons the full-size pickup segment continues to see solid sales in a post-2008 economy.
Keeping the needs of business owners in mind, the Silverado functions as a mobile office, beginning with capacious storage throughout the cabin. The storage bin in the center console can easily accommodate a small laptop or tablet, with two 115-volt charge points at the base of the instrument panel. A double glovebox is a locking storage area for valuables.
The crew cab has ample room for four adults (five in a pinch) with good access and egress to both rows. In addition to the optional running boards, grab bars on the B-pillars make it easier to climb in back. The running boards extend to the cargo bed for loading up the back.
The 60/40 split rear seats can fold flat to add interior storage for larger items.
Optional heated and ventilated front seats keep front row occupants comfortable in temperature extremes. I always appreciate them heading out to the trailhead on a cold winter morning; ditto for the heated steering wheel.
A rotary knob to the left of the steering wheel enables the driver to shift between two and four-wheel drive. An information display in the gauge cluster includes fuel economy, driving range and tire pressures.
I found the rearview camera display in the center cluster easy to see in bright sunlight and after dark. LED headlamps project a brighter beam than halogen with less drain on the battery.
Test drive in Phoenix
I spent the past week driving the Silverado around the Phoenix, Chandler and Scottsdale metropolitan areas as well as a section of the Gila River Indian Community south of town. The Silverado crew cab is a huge truck: the wheelbase is 153 inches and overall length about 240 inches (20 feet) when equipped with the full-size cargo bed. The truck barely fit within the confines of my driveway when I pulled within an inch of the garage door: something for buyers with limited parking space to consider.
The power driver’s seat is easy to adjust, with ample lower lumbar support. I was able to position the seat high enough for a clear forward view. When the driver shifts into reverse, the rearview camera does a good job of displaying the area to the back. I did notice some large blind spots to the sides because of the truck’s thick B-pillars. The driver’s side mirror has a convex insert, but a blind spot monitoring system would be helpful for negotiating dense traffic.
The 5.3-liter engine has ample horsepower and torque for good acceleration off the line and in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. Transitions between eight and four-cylinder modes are completely invisible to the driver. In addition to enhancing fuel economy the feature also extends driving range.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is well mated to the engine, progressing smoothly through the gears. A rack-and-pinion power steering system has good on-center response. Due to its long wheelbase, the truck’s turning circle is quite large. Don’t expect to be able to perform U-turns unless you’re on a very wide suburban road.
The suspension consists of an independent coil-over-shock setup in front. Monotube shocks, exclusive to the Z71 model, can handle the rigors of off-road trails. A solid rear axle makes the truck better suited for towing without having a significant impact on ride comfort. Skid plates protect the underside of the chassis from rocks and roots on the trails. Minimum ground clearance is 8-1/2 inches: plenty for off-road driving or moderate amounts of snow.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Silverado in firm, linear fashion.
The Chevrolet Silverado comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill start assist, stability control with trailer sway control and hill start assist, daytime running lamps and OnStar. For those who haven’t used OnStar, it’s an invaluable feature, not only because of the emergency notification feature in the event of a collision but turn-by-turn directions as well.
The adventure-ready Silverado is on display at Chevrolet dealerships nationwide.
Like: A versatile full-size pickup truck with seating for up to five passengers and true off-road capability. With its good fuel economy, connectivity features, towing and hauling capability, the Silverado easily functions as both a work truck and family car.
Dislike: Thick B pillars limit over-the-shoulder visibility.
Model: Silverado 1500 Z71 4WD LTZ Crew Cab
Base price: $47,700
As tested: $52,585
Horsepower: 355 Hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 383 lbs.-ft. @ 4100 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 15/21 mpg city/highway2016, Luxury Offroad 2016, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Chevrolet, performance, pricing, standard safety