SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 25,895 Price As Tested $ 27,840 Engine Type OHV 16-valve 4.8 Liter V8 w/SFI* Engine Size 292 cid/4800 cc Horsepower 255 @ 5200 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 285 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 143.5"/78.5"/227.6" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3900 pounds Fuel Capacity 25 gallons Tires (F/R) 245/75R16-109S Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/four-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/three-door Domestic Content 85 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 15/18/16 0-60 MPH 10.8 seconds Payload 1712 pounds Towing Capacity 8500 pounds * Sequential fuel injection
(Bob Hagin loves full-sized pickups like the newest Chevy Silverado because they're easy to get into. Matt Hagin likes the Silverado LS Extended Cab/Short Box because it's nearly a sedan with a big trunk.)
BOB - Most auto makers change the body styles on their cars every year or so, Matt, but it's different when it comes to altering their pickup trucks. The full-sized Chevrolet pickup was pretty much the same from 1988 until this year and now after a decade, Chevrolet designers have come up with a completely new under-the-skin design for this Silverado 4X4. It's reported that 1200 GM designers and engineers had input into the machine. To me, it seems hard to make such startling innovations in a pickup, since they all use an engine in the front with a live axle in back supported by leaf springs.
MATT - There are lots of things that are new about this '99 Silverado, Dad. While the basic 4.6 liter V6 and the humongous 6.5 liter turbocharged diesel are holdovers in the 1500 lineup, there are three new V8s that range from 4.8 to 6.0 liters. They don't have anything in common with the old 350 "small-block" that was the mainstay of the Chevy truck line for as long as I can remember. The unit that will no doubt be the most popular is the midsized 5.3 liter engine that puts out 270 horses and 315 pound-feet of torque. They all use the modern GM engine technology in the block design, but the company has stayed with two-valves per cylinder with pushrods and rocker arms. The cylinder heads on the two smaller V8s are aluminum alloy but the 6.0 liter unit has cast iron heads. These are considered more long-lasting for commercial use, according to the Chevrolet promotional kit we got.
BOB - The Chevy Silverado trucks have a slug of differences in their chassis and drivelines, too, Matt. The engineers made much of the fact that all the crossmembers on the ladder frame are tubular and are formed by a process that utilizes a fluid sealed into the raw tubes at high pressure and then bent to fit, but I really didn't understand the operation very well. Personally, I was more impressed with the technique they used to make the three-piece frame. The front and rear sections are used on all models but there are three different midsections when the length of the truck to be produced varies. I also liked the fact that anti-lock brakes are standard and that disc brakes are now used in the rear. Other "trick" items are an electronically-controlled hydraulic pressure proportioning system between the front and rear brakes that minimizes the chance of rear-brake lockup when the load is light.
MATT - There's some other neat stuff, too, Dad. While a five-speed stick-shift is standard, the four-speed automatic has a manual switch that allows the driver to extend the time the transmission stays in a lower gear if the truck is pulling a trailer or packing a heavy load in the bed. It also has a limp-home system that cuts out alternating cylinders if the cooling system runs dry. With the 4X4 versions, the automatic four-wheel-drive system is pretty slick. When the computer senses that one of the wheels is slipping, it automatically engages four-wheel drive and splits the torque favoring the wheels that have the best grip. So on snow or ice, there's no guesswork involved.
BOB - There's really nothing flashy about this three-door Silverado styling and its new sheetmetal can best be described as evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The interior of the new version of the extended cab is considerably different, however, and is more car-like than ever. The new methods used to manufacture the chassis has added a little more than four inches to the rear seat and it's now almost comfortable for an adult to sit back there - as long as it doesn't involve a cross-country trip. Sixteen-inch tires are standard equipment and our test rig wore a set of optional cast aluminum wheels.
MATT - Chevy won't get around to putting a forth door in the Silverado for a couple of years, but I don't think that Chevy truck buyers will care. The personal pickup is the best-selling new "car" in America, and brand loyalty is the among highest in the industry.
BOB - I guess that leaves us Studebaker pickup fans out in the cold.