New Car/Review

1997 Chevrolet K1500 Silverado

by Nick Hromiak


SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide


ENGINE:            5.7-liter V-8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 255hp@4600 rpm/330lb-ft@2800 rpm
TRANSMISSION:      Four-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY:      13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, 12.8 mpg test
WHEELBASE:         155.5in.
OVERALL LENGTH:    236.6 in.
OVERALL WIDTH:     76.8 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT:    73.2 in.
CURB WEIGHT:       4544 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY:     34 gallons
PAYLOAD:           1656 LBS.
TIRES:             P205/75R-15
INSTRUMENTATION:   Speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, 
                   water temperature, oil pressure, 
                   battery voltage, digital clock.
EQUIPMENT:         Power windows, power door locks, 
                   power mirrors, cruise control, air conditioner, 
                   AM-FM sterio radio with cassette, anti-lock braking, 
                   dual air bags.
STICKER PRICE:     $30,345

According to industry analysts, one in every four vehicles sold in 1996 were trucks. In fact, trucks are number one sellers in 23 of 50 states.

For Chevrolet, their C/K pickups are the best-selling vehicle that GM makes. In '95, this line alone outsold the entire Nissan car division in the U. S. It even outsold dodge car, Chrysler-Plymouth and Mazda...even the combined total of Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti and Acura. Now that's pretty impressive.

Perhaps some of the reasons for this surge in popularity, despite the fact that 30,000 farmers are disappearing yearly (a large market area), is the introduction of third doors into extended cabs, versatility, car-like comforts and car-like pricing.

I can only believe Chevy had something to do with this truck craze. It seems, upon introduction of thier third door last model year, the buying public took notice. Families saw it as a second car with room for kids and pets, while others saw it as a versatile utility vehicle that, with 4WD, could get them through the elements.

For '97, Chevy has not changed their line significantly, but has added a few noteworthy items. For one, a passenger-side air bag with key-operated deactivation is offered with the latter likely becoming standard as a result of recent fatal accidents to children and small-statured adults.

Also new is an improved HVAC system, tighter turning radius for 4WD models, a more responsive electronically controlled variable assist power steering, improved automatic and manual transmissions, a quieter and more efficient cooling fan, three new exterior colors and a natural gas-powered 5.7-liter V-8 engine.

The K1500 4WD test truck came equipped with the optional 5.7-liter V-8 Vortec engine that produces 255 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque at a low 2800 rpm. Coupled to an optional four-speed automatic transmission, this powerplant is probably the norm for those who want good performance and pulling power (6,200 lb GWV rating) at fairly decent fuel economy (13/17 mpg). Chevy also offers a standard 200 hp V-6, 230 hp Vortec V-8, 290 hp 7.4-liter Vortec big block V-8 (for heavy-duty trailer pulling) and two versions (180/190 hp) of their powerful 6.5-liter turbo diesel.

The interior of our test truck was very car-like. High-backed leather surfaced bucket seats complete with folding armrests comprise the for section, while an aft folding bench offers marginally comfortable accommodations. A two-hour ride back there would not be a terrible experience, though.

But the best feature is the third access door that allows easy entry into the extended cab. Chevy placed it on the passenger side as opposed to the driver's side, believing it would be used more for passengers than equipment. If you prefer the door to be on the driver's side, check out Chevy's S-10 extended cab pickup.

The ironic situation with the third door is that once you have it you wonder how you ever did without it. It's a tremendous convenience.

With bountiful car-like amenities, the K1500 rode and handled exceptionally well for a truck. Even before reading about it in Chev's press kit, I noticed a tighter steering radius as well as lighter steering at low speeds. The latter is due to Chevy's enhanced Electronic Variable Orifice (EVO) that improves steering ease at low speeds (e.g. parking) while reverting to normal levels at higher speeds. And this was with larg P245/75R16 tires.

And while it may seem insignificant, Chevy now has single key entry and ignition--a feature long coming.

Without listing all the options, and there are many, the 4WD K1500 tested listed for $30,345 after a base of $20,826. That's $9,519 in options that includes major items like electronic shift 4WD, locking rear end, 5.7-liter engine, bedliner, trailering equipment and Silverado decor package (a long list in itself). I told you this baby was loaded.

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