With a refresh for 2016, Chevy’s Silverado 1500 is coming into its own.
What’s not to like about a top-of-the-line crew cab pickup that rocks fragrant cowhide, wireless phone charging and a remote locking tailgate? And we won’t fault anyone for being bedazzled by LED projector headlights, fog lamps and taillights.
They are but a few of the standard goodies piled on to the 2016 Silverado High Country, Chevy’s ultimate half-ton pickup.
The current generation Chevy half-ton pickup line debuted in 2014 with major changes in body, powertrains and suspensions. The trucks were quieter, more powerful, more fuel efficient and hospitable. The 2016 Silverado has been refreshed with new front-end treatments, including grilles, and added or upgraded infotainment and safety features.
The Silverado 1500 is once again offered with regular, double and crew cabs. Boxes come in either 5 ft. 8 in. (short), 6 ft. 6 in. (standard) or 8 ft. (long). (The 8-footer is only available with regular cabs while double cabs are all standards.) Any Silverado is available in four-wheel-drive. But the decision tree is far from over. There are five trim levels, starting with the least expensive WT (think “work truck”) and progressing through LS, LT, LTZ and, finally, the High Country. The LT and LTZ each have two sub-trim levels.
Buyers have a choice of either a 285-horsepower 4.3-liter V6, 5.3 V8 that produces 355 horsepower, or the 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. The V6 comes with 6-speed automatic. The 5.3 V8 is coupled to either a 6- or 8-speed auto, depending on trim level. The 6.2s are teamed exclusively with the 8-speed.
The Silverado’s price range is as vast as the buyers’ needs and budgets. For example, a basic WT regular cab with standard 6-6 box and 285-horsepower 4.3-liter V6, six-speed automatic and rear-wheel-drive starts at $27,095. A Silverado double cab 2WD with 5.3-liter stickers at $35,346. The priciest configuration is the 6.2 V8 4WD High Country with standard bed: $55,810. (These numbers are MSRPs before any other options or $1,195 destination. Local incentives can knock more than $2,000 off the manufacturer’s sticker.)
Crew cabs are popular for their commodious sedan-like cabins and versatility. The Silverado workload capabilities start with payload, rated from 1,710 lbs. to 1,840 lbs., depending on configuration.
The Silverado 2WD crew cab’s standard maximum towing capacities (using the ball hitch) range from 5,400 lbs. with 4.3-liter V6, 6-6 box and 3.23 axle to 9,400 lbs. with the 5.3-liter V8, 5-8 bed and 3.42 axle ratio.
The tow ratings for the 4WD crew cab Silverado range from 7,000 lbs. with the 4.3-liter and 3.42 gear, to 9,100 lbs. for 5.3-liter and 3.42 (either box) and the 6.2-liter V8 with 3.23 axle ratio.
For specialized applications, Chevrolet’s available “max trailering” package take the Silverado 1500 lineup’s payload ratings up to 2,160 lbs. and trailering rises to as much as 12,000 lbs. The tow package includes 9.76-inch rear axle (standard with the 6.2-liter engine), heavy-duty rear springs, specific shock absorbers, improved cooling and an integrated trailer brake controller.
Chevy stresses that the max trailering setup isn’t for everyone, as ride comfort and real-world fuel economy will suffer. (The axle ratios jump to 3.42 or 3.73, depending on configuration.)
The High Country showcases Chevy’s latest technology, including an infotainment system centered on an 8-inch touch screen, HD radio, Bose audio and integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, apps that can make the car an extension of the driver’s smartphone. Complementing that capability is OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot. The Silverado’s onboard Wi-Fi hub, included as a three-month trial subscription, can support up to seven mobile devices.
Safety and security advances abound as well this year. For example, the Silverado High Country’s rear camera is standard. The devices will be on virtually all new cars and light-duty trucks by mid-2018 due to federal mandate. The High Country also throws in a remote locking tailgate, which is damped for easy lowering and lifting. Five years of basic OnStar allows owners to remotely start and lock (or unlock) their pickup as well as trigger the horn and lights.
Our tester had the High Country premium package ($995), which adds forward-collision alert, lane-keep assist and safety alert driver’s seat (which, I might add, is very effective), heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals and trailer brake controller.
The 4WD pickup also is available with nifty automatic powered step-rails that made getting into the truck considerably easier. (Although it could be argued that if you’re not comfortable with a 22-inch step-in height you should consider another, less lofty, vehicle.)
We put our week with the Silverado High Country to good use, loading it with home improvement hardware (that can easily be adapted for a man cave) and stuffing the cargo box with the springtime mulch. More important, all that time behind the wheel rammed home the fact that as nice as the 2016’s new bits and pieces and cosmetic fluffing are, a lot of credit must be paid to the engineers who toiled to get the tuning and algorithms sorted out – the 6.2 and eight-speed trans make a perfect marriage now, moving the big pickup out effortlessly and shifting seamlessly.
The V6 or 5.3-liter V8 will do the job for many users – especially if axle ratios are carefully selected. But in our book, the 6.2-liter V8 is $2,695 well spent, especially since the excellent eight-speed auto and 3.23 axle are included. The torque-happy 376-cu.-in. engine gives the Silverado a dual personality. Rationalize it as a workhorse but we’ll bet you’ll come to appreciate its muscle-car spirit.
We should point out that if you’d rather not spend close to 60K on a “big-block” crew cab Silverado or prefer something other than saddle-colored leather, with careful – and restrained – ordering, you can spec out a short-bed Silverado LTZ for about $47,000, before incentives and/or price negotiations.
We’d take ours black – like our mulch.
2016 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 1500 HIGH COUNTRY 4WD
TYPE: Full-size pickup
BASE PRICE: $53,315
AS TESTED, INCLUDING DESTINATION: $60,485
MAJOR OPTIONS: 6.2-liter V8, $2,495; power articulating assist steps, $995; power sunroof, $995
DRIVETRAIN: 6.2-liter V8; 8-speed auto; 4WD
HORSEPOWER AND TORQUE: 420 hp at 5,600 rpm; 460 lb.-ft. at 4,100
FUEL: gas, 91 octane recommended but not required; 26-gallon tank
EPA ESTIMATED MPG: 15 city / 21 highway
CURB WEIGHT: 5,524 lbs.
SAFETY: NHTSA, overall five stars; IIHS, moderate front overlap “good”