SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
Pickup trucks come in an amazing variety of configurations. This is not too surprising, as they are used for many different purposes by a wide variety of people. For ranchers, farmers, construction crews, utility companies, delivery services, and many private owners, the perfect vehicle for the job is a pickup truck. Pickups come in small, medium, large, and extra-large size, with regular, extended, or four-door crew cabs, a variety of bed lengths, and engines ranging from small, economical four-cylinders to heavy-duty turbodiesels and 500 cubic-inch gasoline V8s and V10s.
Chevrolet has the pickup field covered well, with the compact S-10, full-sized Silverado, and extra-large Silverado HD, all in a myriad of configurations and models. To fill a perceived gap in its line, it recently added the Silverado 1500 HD, which combines the half-ton (1500 model) body style with the sturdy three-quarter ton (2500) frame. It is the only 1500-series model available in true crew cab form.
The 1500 is the most civilized member of the Silverado lineup, with the sort of carlike smoothness and comfort appreciated by personal-use customers. In 1500 HD Crew Cab form, it is very equivalent to an SUV like Chevy's Suburban for comfort, but with even more room. No, it doesn't seat seven, only five, but the cargo box in back can hold far more than the cargo area in a `Burb, and messy "outdoors" cargo is not a problem. Really, though, what we have here is the king of personal-use towing vehicles, with, in LT trim, the comforts of a luxury car, interior space of a full-sized SUV, and a 10,000 lb-class towing ability. No compromises, everyone can ride in comfort, the week's gear fits in the back, and the boat or trailer will hardly be noticed.
APPEARANCE: Few vehicles exemplify the "form follows function" philosophy more than pickups. In the not-too-distant past, style wasn't even part of the pickup package. There is more style in the genre now, but the Chevrolet Silverado is still pretty conservative. It's a boxy design with slightly rounded edges and corners. Styling for styling's sake is limited to a bulging hood and dropped front fender line, and built-in flares over the wheel arches. The trademark egg-crate grille with a massive chromed crossbar featuring the bowtie logo marks it as a Chevy. Heavy-duty chromed metal bumpers are separate from the body. In crew cab form, even with the short cargo box, no one will call a Silverado short.
COMFORT: Not much doubt that "LT" stands for "Luxury Truck." Luxury amenities including filtration air conditioning, leather seating surfaces, heated power front bucket seats, power windows, mirrors, and locks with remote keyless entry, and the "OnStar" communications system are part of the package. The GM full-sized extended-cab pickups have a good amount of rear-seat room, and easy access with rear-hinged rear doors. But the real crew cab is in another class entirely. It offers plenty of space for five full-sized people, and the accessibility that can only come from four real, full-sized doors. If the Silverado LT's interior design is generic contemporary GM truck, that's no complaint. The design works, with good instrument and control placement and plenty of interior storage space. Seat comfort is at the luxury car level, and the rear bench is split 60/40 and flips and folds for a large interior storage space when necessary. Although the 1500 HD uses Chevy's short cargo box to keep length manageable, that box is still longer and holds far more than those of the new-breed SUV-with-a-cargo- box hybrids.
SAFETY: The Silverado 1500 HD has standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes, safety-cage cab construction, and energy- absorbing front and rear crush zones.
ROADABILITY: In ride quality, the Silverado is a very good modern pickup. On a smooth surface, it feels little different from a car, but the heavy solid rear axle makes its presence known over bumps. Still, rear suspension movement is controlled well, and very good shock damping ensures good passenger comfort and the ability to withstand the rigors of heavy hauling and towing. The 1500 HD crew cab's long wheelbase adds stability and ride comfort. It's not that much longer than a full-size SUV, and power steering and very good antilock four-wheel disc brakes mean that driver effort is no higher than in driving a regular passenger car. The "Autotrac" automatic four-wheel drive system is easy to use. Cabin noise levels are car-like, making the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 HD Crew Cab a pleasant vehicle in which to cover distance.
PERFORMANCE: With 300 horsepower at 4400 rpm and 360 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm, the Silverado 1500 HD's 6.0-liter V8 is considerably stronger than the old 5.7-liter engine - add 45 hp and 30 lb-ft. It is 55 lbs lighter than the 5.7, thanks in part to aluminum alloy heads, and breathes better because of intake and exhaust ports patterned after those found in the hottest version of the Corvette engine. It is designed for heavy hauling and trailering, and should help the Silverado 1500 HD fill the bill for customers not needing the extreme abilities but less car-like character of the regular 2500 Silverado or the 2500 and 3500 HD models. The four-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission is nearly as smooth in its shifting as a car transmission, and features a "tow-haul" mode for heavy-duty use. Even with the size and weight of the crew cab body, acceleration is not a problem, and towing capacity at 10,300 lbs., is not exactly weak.
CONCLUSIONS: What do you get when you cross a luxury car and a locomotive? A Chevrolet Silverado 1500 HD Crew Cab luxury pickup.
SPECIFICATIONS 2001 Chevrolet Silverado LT 1500 HD 4WD Crew Cab Pickup Base Price $ 35,107 Price As Tested $ 36,693 Engine Type pushrod overhead valve 16-valveV8 Engine Size 6.0 liters / 366 cu. in. Horsepower 300 @ 4400 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 360 @ 4000 rpm Transmission 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic Wheelbase / Length 153.0 in. / 237.2 in. Curb Weight 4800 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 16.0 Fuel Capacity 26 gal. Fuel Requirement 87 octane regular unleaded gasoline Tires LT245/75R16/E Firestone Steeltex Radial A Brakes, front/rear vented disc / vented disc Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone with torsion bars / solid axle with two-stage multileaf springs Ground Clearance 7.5 inches at the rear differential Drivetrain front engine, on-demand four-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed n/a 0 to 60 mph est 11 sec Towing capacity 10,300 lbs. Maximum payload 3100 lbs. OPTIONS AND CHARGES Locking rear differential $ 285 Tonneau cover $ 240 Trailering special equipment $ 190 Off-road skid plate package $ 95 LT245/75R16/E tires $ 56