Editor's note: This review was written in March 2016 about the 2016 Silverado. The 2017 now offers low-speed automatic braking with forward collision warning, but little else of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2017, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.
With its latest update, the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado adds a few features on the inside and under the hood to keep the full-size, half-ton truck up to date in a constantly changing segment. For 2016, the Silverado's styling is mildly updated, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are added, and an optional eight-speed automatic transmission previously teamed only with the 6.2-liter V-8 now comes with the 5.3-liter V-8 on some trim levels. The base engine is a 4.3-liter V-6.
Silverado trim levels start with the Work Truck and progress to the LS, LT, LTZ and top-of-the-line High Country. Cab configurations include regular and extended (double) cabs as well as a crew cab with four full-size doors. Cargo box lengths are 6 feet 6 inches or 8 feet on regular cabs, 6 feet 6 inches on the double cab; and a choice of 5 feet 8 inches, or 6 feet 6 inches on the crew cab.
The Silverado's bulging fenders and bolder, in-your-face front-end styling for 2016 create one of the most aggressive appearances in the half-ton game. The 2016's new hood, made of aluminum, is designed more like a raised cowl-induction hood from a 1960s muscle car than anything you'd find on a pickup truck. From behind the wheel, the tall, carved hood makes you feel like you're driving a substantial piece of hardware.
The 2016's new look is more than just a makeover as Chevrolet added xenon high-intensity-discharge projector headlights and LED daytime running lights as standard equipment, while full-blown LED headlights are standard on LTZ and High Country trim levels.
Speaking of the most-expensive High Country trim level, that's the only one where you'll find power retractable running boards for an extra $995. Otherwise, fixed running boards are available in squared or round tubing forms on the WT, LS, LT and LTZ trims for $630 to $700 depending on the shape. Either way, they're a must-have feature for stepping into the towering Silverado without ripping your pants wide open.
Up until 2016, an eight-speed automatic transmission was teamed only with the more-powerful 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8, which proved an unbeatable combination stuffed in a Silverado during our 2015 Light-Duty V-8 Challenge. The related GMC Sierra took top spot in our 2016 Texas Truck Showdown: Max Towing tests in part because of how well the eight-speed harnessed the 6.2-liter's big power. Now the eight-speed joins the smaller, 355-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 for 2016 and makes a sizable impact on drivability. Don't get too excited, however, because the transmission is available with the 5.3-liter only on LTZ and High Country trim levels. To get the eight-speed, you'll need the Z71 off-road model like we tested where the transmission is grouped with Z71 equipment, or step up to the High Country where it's standard or equip an LTZ with the Max Trailering Package. All other 2016 Silverado 1500s with the 5.3-liter retain the six-speed automatic transmission.
Splurging for the Silverado LTZ with the 5.3-liter and eight-speed transmission is an easy decision if you need to haul a full box of payload and are torn between a six-speed trim level and the LTZ or High Country. With the eight-speed, the short 4.56 1st gear ratio combined with the standard 3.42 axle ratio gives the 2016 Silverado unbelievable pop from a standstill when loaded with 1,750 pounds of payload. The truck jumps away from a stoplight as if there's nothing in the bed. Every gear ratio through 6th is shorter (numerically higher) than in the six-speed transmission, while 7th and 8th are overdrive gears to keep engine speed low during highway cruising.
The combo's responsiveness when towing or empty is extremely respectable: Though there are eight gears, the Silverado always seems to pick the right one in normal drive mode and the Tow/Haul mode. The lightest touch of the accelerator at cruising speeds results in a downshift and immediate acceleration. Keep the accelerator pinned and the gears whizz by with little drop in engine speed between shifts. The eight-speed transmission seems to squeeze every last bit of usable horsepower and torque out of the little 5.3-liter.
Towing a 10,100-pound trailer with the Max Trailering Package ($925) stretches the acceleration capabilities of the 5.3-liter and eight-speed pretty thin, however, as noted by judges in our 2016 Texas Truck Showdown: Max Towing where the Silverado 5.3-liter faced competition from Ford, GMC, Ram and Toyota. It still put up decent acceleration times for being at a power and torque disadvantage from the rest of the field. It's worth noting the Silverado was lighter than the others except for the F-150. The max tow rating of that Silverado was 11,000 pounds.
For a non-performance pickup truck, the Silverado with the 6.2-liter can best be described as a rocket ship, hot rod, fast, stupid fast, etc. Even the Ford F-150 with a potent turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost can't match the acceleration or responsiveness of a 6.2-liter-equipped Silverado. We tested these two engines at the same time while collecting data for two previous Challenges, and the results back up that statement. An empty 6.2-liter Silverado crew cab ran zero-to-60 mph in 5.92 seconds, with the quarter-mile coming up in 14.3 seconds at 97.6 mph while an empty Ford 3.5-liter EcoBoost crew cab did 60 mph in 6.22 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 94.1 mph.
Fuel economy for the 5.3-liter and eight-speed is rated slightly worse than the six-speed in EPA estimates, probably because eight-speed trim levels include only the heavy crew-cab LTZ and High Country. Comparing fuel economy of rear-wheel-drive trucks, a 5.3-liter with the six-speed transmission is rated at 16/23/19 mpg city/highway/combined, a 5.3-liter with the eight-speed gets 16/22/18 mpg and the top-dog 6.2-liter with the eight-speed is 15/21/17 mpg — a marginal difference among the three. Ford has the Chevrolet licked in fuel economy with EPA ratings of 18/24/21 mpg with the midtier 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost falling between the 5.0-liter V-8's lackluster 14/20/16 mpg ratings and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost's 16/22/18 mpg ratings, which matches the Silverado's 5.3-liter and eight-speed but with a lot more kick, plus availability in trim levels other than the most expensive.
Our 5.3-liter LTZ with Z71 off-road equipment had an old-school trucklike ride, which is to say not very pleasant, with harsh suspension thwacks over big bumps and expansion joints. The Z71 comes with monotube shock absorbers, automatic locking rear differential, transfer case shielding and hill descent control; a locking rear differential is part of the Max Trailering Package. Ford's 2015 F-150 redesign raised the bar big time, with ride quality and maneuverability approaching crossover or SUV refinement. The Silverado mostly drives like a truck even without the Z71 suspension, albeit a very refined one, and I'm not sure that's a bad thing when combined with the truck's finely tuned steering, brake and accelerator responsiveness. The F-150 doesn't quite have that rough-and-tough trucklike attitude anymore, though it's definitely the more pleasant truck to drive in the city.
The Silverado's interior leans more toward utilitarian than flashy even though it has many of the same features as a Ram 1500 or Ford F-150, such as a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, power adjustable pedals and more. The top of the Silverado trim range doesn't have touches that scream high quality or luxury the way an F-150 Platinum or Ram Longhorn do, and that's notable when these trucks can easily crest the $50,000 mark — like our 5.3-liter LTZ crew cab's $52,585 retail price (includes destination fee).
Controls are all laid out nicely, especially the trailer brake controller that's out in the open within easy reach and not tucked away or hidden behind the steering wheel like in other half-tons. It's part of the Max Trailering Package or a stand-alone option for $275.
Front-seat comfort is great with the optional leather seats, providing a tall seating position and commanding view of the road. The standard side mirrors are small for the truck's size, so the truck feels even larger and less negotiable while changing lanes. Optional huge, retractable trailering mirrors fix the issue, providing a proper view, but the option also requires the Max Trailering Package as a prerequisite.
Backseat comfort isn't lacking in any of the full-size crew-cab trucks. The Silverado's is plenty comfortable with a good seating position and thigh support, though those looking for max room and a flat cargo floor should check out the limousine backseats in the F-150 and Tundra.
The Silverado is a mecca of in-car tech with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi and an insane number of ways to charge devices big and small. Perhaps most notable are optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that join the party for 2016, simplifying smartphone integration with the Silverado's 7- or 8-inch touch-screens, mirroring numerous smartphone applications including navigation.
I used CarPlay with an iPhone 6 in the Silverado without issue, though some editors encountered problems in our Silverado test truck, so bring your iPhone on the test drive. All that's required to take advantage of CarPlay is to plug the phone's charge cable into any one of the multiple USB outlets, follow the prompts on the phone and hit the CarPlay icon on the touch-screen. And that's it. There aren't any complicated phone pairing procedures or extra apps required to use the painlessly easy Bluetooth and voice-to-text functions. CarPlay also mirrors Apple Maps to the truck's touch-screen, but without the intuitive pinch and zoom functions you get on the phone.
An entire truckload of your phone-happy friends won't have any problems finding juice with up to five USB ports, a household AC outlet, two 12-volt outlets and a wireless charging pad for compatible phones all within arm's reach of the driver's seat. In-car Wi-Fi was certainly gimmicky at first, but now 4G LTE speeds make the technology more usable. A strong antenna on top of the truck receives data in areas where a phone comes up short. Internet connectivity is provided through 4G LTE with a Wi-Fi hot spot; it's optional on WT trims and standard on all others. A subscription is required after the three-month or 3-gigabyte trial expires, whichever comes first, and monthly plans range from $15 to $50 a month.
All Silverado cab styles test well in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing, scoring five out of five stars in overall, frontal and side tests. NHTSA rates the Silverado's risk of rollover at four out of five stars. Ford's F-150 gets an overall rating of five stars across all cab configurations; the Ram 1500 and Tundra get four stars. At time of publication, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety had not fully crash-tested the Silverado, but it scored the agency's best rating of good in the moderate overlap front crash test.
An Enhanced Driver Alert Package offered on most trim levels and cab styles includes a lane departure warning system, forward collision alert (without autonomous braking), front and rear park assist, and a few other features. Missing from the Silverado altogether is a blind spot monitoring system that could have made negotiating hairy lane changes easier. The Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra offer this feature.
Click here to see how well child-safety seats fit in the Silverado.
Crew-cab Silverados offer a 5-foot-8-inch or 6-foot-6-inch box with a maximum width of 5.4 feet at the box's floor. Numerous niceties in the cargo box make using the Silverado as a hauler a painless experience. Those include the soft-closing EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate on the LT, LTZ and High Country, which you can whip open and walk away from without the tailgate bouncing open. The tailgate is also power- and remote-lockable on those trim levels, and available on the WT and LS.
Other cargo box options include a factory spray-in bedliner as a $495 stand-alone option or lumped into the $795 Cargo Convenience Package that includes four cargo hooks rated to hold 250 pounds each. A standard single light illuminates the box, but LED lights under the box rails are available for $125.
Those looking for maximum payload should go after a Silverado 5.3-liter crew cab with the Max Trailering Package, two-wheel drive and the 5-foot, 8-inch cargo box, which maxes out payload capacity at 2,160 pounds. The lowest payload rating is 1,650 pounds in the crew cab 4x4 with the 6.2-liter and 6-foot, 6-inch cargo box.
On the inside, the Silverado's flip-up rear seat is painless to use and only requires a good tug to pull up from the floor and a good push to put it back in place. The wide, expansive Silverado interior has no shortage of cargo space for personal items. Tablets or small laptops fit in the deep and wide center console.
The Silverado crew cab we tested with 5.3-liter engine, eight-speed transmission, Z71 off-road equipment and four-wheel drive racked up a bill of $52,585, which seems pricey if you haven't shopped for a truck in a while, but it doesn't take much to hit $50,000 on a new Silverado if you want goods like the eight-speed automatic transmission or the 6.2-liter.
Roughly $50,000 is where you're going to be on any full-size truck equipped with options such as leather heated and cooled seats, four-wheel drive, spray-in bedliner, advanced multimedia system, remote start and the hauling capabilities of a Silverado 1500.
Limiting the 5.3-liter and eight-speed automatic combination to higher trim levels means the 6.2-liter V-8 is within reach by a few grand, and without a considerable loss in fuel economy. The 5.3-liter and eight-speed are available only on LTZ and High Country trim levels, just like the 6.2-liter, so for an extra $2,695 the 6.2-liter isn't a bad deal. Cargo and trailers feel lighter when being hauled by the beastly 6.2-liter compared with not only the 5.3-liter, but also the most potent engines in other half-tons.Hide full review
2017 Chevrolet Silverado
New paint colors, repackaged options, and a complete phase-out of 6-speed automatic transmissions for more sophisticated 8-speed automatics. These 2017 updates will come on the heels of a substantial model-year 2016 update that included freshened styling. Also updated was GMC’s version of this half-ton pickup, the Sierra 1500. It was the first notable change since these full-size pickups were fully redesigned for model-year 2014. Silverado’s No. 2 in sales to the Ford F-150 in this very profitable segment. But while F-150 sales grew 5 percent in the first quarter of 2016, Silverado sales were stagnant compared to the same period last year. At the same time, the No. 3 seller in the class, Fiat Chrysler’s Ram 1500, grew 12 percent. Some of GM’s full-size-pickup sales likely were siphoned off by its popular Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups. This report covers the Silverado 1500; heavier-duty iterations are available as the three-quarter-ton-payload Silverado 2500 and one-ton 3500.
To take advantage of a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Its availability should no longer be limited to the most expensive trim levels and drivetrain configurations. Chevy started rolling out this gearbox during the 2015 model year. Availability was restricted to Silverados (and Sierras) equipped with the most powerful and most expensive engine, a 6.2-liter V-8. All other models continued to use a 6-speed automatic. For 2016, Chevy began paring the 9-speed with the far more popular 5.3-liter V-8, but only on Silverado’s top-line LTZ and High Country models. In 2017, we expect the 8-speed to become standard equipment across the entire Silverado 1500 line.
Aside from possible additions of even more special-trim versions, such as Black Out Edition and limited-availability Custom grade added during 2016, the core of that lineup should again consist of the contractor-class Work Truck (WT); the volume-selling LS and LT; the upscale LTZ; and the flagship High Country. The 2-door regular cab body style will return, as will the extended Double Cab and the roomiest and most popular, the Crew Cab. The latter two have front-hinged rear doors that open independently of the fronts. Expect the regular cab and Double Cab to again be available with a 6-foot 6-inch-long short-bed cargo box and an 8-foot-long long-bed, with Crew Cabs available with a 5-foot 8-inch short-bed and a 6-ft-6 long-bed.
Yes, if your truck budget points you to a version with the proven 6-speed automatic transmission. It delivers a good driving experience, sacrificing just a trace of throttle response to the 8-speed. And depending on the trim level you choose, fuel economy will likely be a wash. The ’16 styling updates will carry this truck through to its next redesign, likely for model-year 2019 or ’20, although a 10-speed automatic transmission is slated for model-year ’18. Of course, buying a ’16 helps you avoid model-year price inflation. And you’ll save even more by taking advantage of the perpetually generous financial incentives GM offers on its full-size pickups. During spring 2016, for example, Certain Double and Crew cab models qualified for factory and dealer rebates of $10,000 or more off list price. This doesn’t mean your Silverado of choice will necessarily be cheap; loaded versions top out around $60,000. But your dealer should have plenty of room to drive down the price.
Not after Chevy re-worked the Silverado’s exterior appearance for 2016. The truck’s basic design and engineering dates back to the 2014 model year. While that model received significant enhancements under the hood and inside the cabin, the exterior styling remained rather conservative. The 2016 freshening addresses this somewhat with a bolder front grille and sculpted hood. WT, LS, Custom, and LT models received LED accent lighting while the LTZ and High Country get the full LED headlight treatment. The overall design should continue into 2017 with no major changes until the next-generation Silverado 1500 comes online. The core lineup for ’17 should return with the WT, LS, and LT models available in all three cab configurations, the LTZ offered in Double and Crew cabs, and the High Country as a Crew Cab only.
As noted, the 8-speed automatic transmission should become standard equipment on all 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 models. Expect engine choices to stand pat. Standard on all but the LTZ and High Country would be a 4.3-liter V-6 with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. Standard on the LTZ and High Country and for about $1,200 on all the other models, you can get what is, by far, the most popular engine on this truck: a 5.3-liter V-8 with 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Available for about $2,500 on the LTZ and High Country is a 6.2-liter V-8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. This engine is shared with the high-end GMC Sierra Denali pickup and Cadillac Escalade premium-large SUV. Rear-wheel drive is standard. Full-time four-wheel drive (4WD) that can be left engaged on dry pavement would be available for an additional $3,150. The system includes low-range gearing for heavy off-road use. When properly equipped, the Silverado’s maximum towing capacity is a robust 12,000 pounds.
Probably for lower-trim models, thanks to the 8-speed automatic. Oddly, 2016 EPA ratings were slightly lower for 5.3-liter-V8 models equipped with the 8-speed than for those with the 6-speed. That may have reflected the higher curb weights of the LTZ and High Country trims, the only versions available with the 8-speed for ‘16. The 8-speed should help V-6 Silverados beat ’16 ratings of 20 mpg city-highway combined with rear-wheel drive and 19 with 4WD. They may or may not change for the 5.3-liter V-8 with the 8-speed, which rated 18 mpg combined with rear-drive and 17 with 4WD (versus 19 and 18, respectively, with the 6-speed). With the 6.2-liter V-8, Chevy will try to leverage the 8-speed to beat ’16 ratings of 17 mpg city-highway combined with both rear- and four-wheel drive.
The V-6 and 5.3 V-8 will again use regular-grade 87-octane gasoline or E85 ethanol-blended fuel. GM will again recommend premium-grade 91-octane gasoline for the 6.2 V-8. Both V-8 engines will again come equipped with GM’s Active Fuel Management that shuts down four of the cylinders under cruising and light load conditions in order to save fuel.
Probably not, per se, but expect existing options to be repackaged into different groups to potentially offer buyers greater value. Model-year 2016 brought the addition of several useful technology and convenience items, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as part of Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system; available wireless phone charging; an optional remote locking tailgate; and a Cargo Convenience Package that includes a spray-on bedliner, cargo tie-downs, and a cross-rail tiered storage system.
Silverado customization is limited pretty much only to your imagination. At the bottom of the pecking order, Work Trucks are for blue-collar businesses who need dependable rigs to run their companies. While you can get niceties such as power windows and locks, it is possible to equip a WT without them if you’re really watching your bottom line. At the other end, the High Country is for business owners or recreational users who crave luxury-sedan trappings but need to tow their horse trailers and/or moderately sized watercraft. These trucks are available with high-grade leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, power running boards, a navigation system, and more.
They’ll doubtlessly be higher, but probably only by a few hundred dollars. A 2016 regular cab WT starts at $28,090, including $1,195 destination fee. A decked-out 4WD High Country (which is crew cab only) with the $1,095 Premium Package (forward collision alert, lane keep assist, high beam assist); $2,495 6.2-liter V-8; extra-cost paint ($395-$995); and 22-inch wheels ($2,995) will top out at $60,000, give or take a grand or two. A more modestly equipped 4WD LT Crew Cab, which should account for the majority of non-fleet sales, should sticker for about $46,000.
Expect a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 release date in the fall 2016.
Ford F-150, Nissan Titan, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra
Chevy once offered Silverado in a Double Cab long-bed version and some buyers might appreciate its return; Ford is the only rival currently offering such a combo. It’s also pioneered the use of aluminum instead of steel for body panels and bed. GM touts the all-steel construction of its trucks now, but it, too, will employ some aluminum body panels in its next-generation full-size pickups. Otherwise, the Silverado should soldier on as a reliable workhorse with a wide range of body styles and features to suit most any truck shopper. It lacks the forward-thinking styling and engineering of the Ford F-150 or the excellent road manners and available diesel power of the Ram 1500. These points won’t matter to Chevy die-hards, but first-time buyers or those not loyal to any brand may want to consider the competition first, at least until the next-generation Silverado is ready to roll.
For the prior, 2016 model year, the Silverado 1500 received an all-new radio with a 7-inch-diagonal color touchscreen. The new radio carries over to the 2017 model year, with the new 7-inch unit being available on WT models and standard on the LS trim. An 8-inch system is offered on higher trim levels and equipment packages.
Both radios offer improved system speed and performance, faster, more accurate map loading, faster service reprogramming and redesigned navigation interfaces, including a quick list of recently-browsed points of interest, point of interest country grouping, last destination screen and visual landmark indication with map guidance (on navigation radios only). The 8-inch radio offers enhanced voice command execution, while the new 7-inch radio uses pass-through voice recognition that is handled by the user’s phone.
The 2017 Silverado 1500 offers four radio head units:
|IO3||4.2 inches||Knob & toggles||standard on WT|
|IOB||7 inches||Chevrolet MyLink Touchscreen||available on WT; included on LS and Silverado Custom (1CX)|
|IO5||8 inches||Chevrolet MyLink Touchscreen||included on LT and LTZ; upgradable to IO6 on LT and LTZ|
|IO6||8 inches||Chevrolet MyLink Touchscreen||available on LT and LTZ; included in High Country|
Complete details on 2017 Silverado 1500 radio headunits.
New for the 2017 Silverado is the GM AppShop. Built into the IO5 and IO6 radios, the App Shop allows users to browse, select and install apps on the vehicle’s radio system. Apps include Pandora, iHeartRadio, The Weather Channel and more.
Wireless Phone Charging
Wireless phone charging is available on LT and LTZ double cab and crew cab models with available bucket seats. The feature is standard on High Country models.
Teen Driver Mode
The 2017 Silverado 1500 adds Teen Driver mode as a standard feature on all trim levels. The configurable feature lets drivers activate customizable vehicle settings associated with a key fob to encourage safe driving behavior. It can limit certain vehicle features, and it prevents certain safety systems from being turned off. An in-vehicle report gives you information on the teen’s driving habits and helps you continue to coach your new driver
Advanced Smartphone Integration
Also new for Silverado 7-inch and 8-inch radio systems is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. Available on most models, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto provide simple and smart use of smartphones in the vehicle, integrating certain phone functions onto MyLink’s color touchscreen and allowing users to call up music, navigation apps and more via compatible phones.
MyLink with the 7-inch display is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on equipped models. The 8-inch system features Apple CarPlay compatibility on most models at the start of the model year.
Using either application is simple. A “Projection” icon on the MyLink screen is visible when a phone is not connected, then changes to indicate CarPlay or Android Auto when a compatible phone is connected via USB.
Apple CarPlay takes the iPhone features customers want to access while driving and puts them on the vehicle’s display in a smart, simple manner. This allows drivers to make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music right from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri. Apple CarPlay-supported apps include Phone, Messages, Maps, Music and third-party audio apps. Apple CarPlay is compatible with iOS 7.1 or higher.
Android Auto is built around Google Maps, Google Now and the ability to talk to Google, as well as a growing audio and messaging app ecosystem that includes WhatsApp, Skype, Google Play Music, Spotify and podcast players. A full list of supported apps is available at g.co/androidauto.
Android Auto requires a phone running Android Lollipop 5.0 operating system or above.
OnStar 4G LTE With Wi-Fi Hotspot
Complementing MyLink to enhance Silverado’s connectivity is OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot. It provides a mobile hub for drivers and passengers to stay connected. The hotspot supports up to seven mobile devices and is on whenever the vehicle is on. It comes with a three-month/three-gigabyte data trial. It is available on WT and standard on other models.
At the time of purchase, six months of an OnStar Guidance plan includes all of OnStar’s advisor-based safety and security features, including Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Assistance, as well as turn-by-turn navigation.
Five years of a subscription-free OnStar Basic Plan includes RemoteLink Key Fob Services, allowing owners to perform the following from anywhere with a data connection:
The OnStar Basic Plan also includes:
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