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Avg. Price Paid:$9,263 - $21,411
Original MSRP: $17,590 - $38,950
MPG: 15 City / 20 Hwy
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2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 was new.

At the top of the rankings for performance, the 2008 Silverado 1500 is rugged but sufficiently refined for everyday cruising. "With a decent suspension and responsive steering," writes the Arizona Republic, the Silverado 1500's "drivability was good enough to be a capable commuting vehicle for someone who wants a pickup on the weekend for hauling toys or projects."

The Silverado 1500 is available with a number of engine options: a 4.3-liter V6, a 4.8-liter V8, two different 5.3-liter V8s and a 6.0-liter V8. Cars.com says, "There's plenty of energy, especially with V-8 power." The engines are matched to a four-speed automatic transmission.

Car and Driver finds the Silverado 1500 matches the best of its class in terms of "steering precision, transitional grace and engine smoothness." Road & Travel Magazine reports, "We're surprised by the agility and easy-driving nature of the new Silverado." As impressed as most reviewers are by the truck's handling, some point out that pickups have their inherent performance limitations, and the Silverado is no exception. The Chicago Tribune says the "ride is sedan-like smooth while handling is what you would expect in a vehicle that carries a big box in back," and explains, "For the ability to haul hay, snowmobiles, couches and chairs, your vehicle acts more like a bull than a ballerina in a parking lot."

Acceleration and Power

The Silverado 1500 offers a number of engines, from the base V6 to the top-end 6.0-liter V8. They're paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. Most reviewers focus on the V8 lineup and were pleased with it. "Power delivery with each V8 engine we tested was more than ample," finds Kelley Blue Book, "and we were impressed with the smooth delivery of power through the electronically-controlled Hydra-Matic automatic transmission." Consumer Guide deems "acceleration more than adequate at all speeds," and says it's "aided by smooth-shifting transmission that kicks down quickly for more power."

The Silverado 1500's base engine is a 4.3-liter V6 that creates 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The entry-level V8 is a 4.8-liter Vortec that creates 295 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. Another step up are the two 5.3-liter V8 engines -- one with an aluminum block and the other with an iron block -- both of which create 315 horsepower and 338 pound-feet of torque.

In daily usage, the 5.3-liter V8s "had more than enough in reserve for passing semis and slow cars quickly and safely," finds the Detroit News. USA Today calls them "smooth and powerful" and says they "deliver their oomph promptly off idle, entering a second dimension of power delivery as they approach 4,000 rpm." Powering such a heavy truck, the 315 horsepower "doesn't add up to neck-snapping speed," reports Autobytel, "but the truck most certainly feels quick, and 338 lb.-ft. of torque leads to some flustered faces when lights turn green."

The top-line engine is the 6.0-liter Vortec MAX V8, which makes 367 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque. Edmunds writes, "Equipped with the burly 6.0-liter V8, the Chevrolet Silverado delivers swift acceleration." The Chicago Tribune says the big V8 delivers "plenty of off-the-line power for work and ample muscle to ferry the boat to the vacation retreat."

"As much as they have improved over the years, big pickups still are thirsty devils," writes Newsday. This holds true for the Silverado, though its fuel economy is slightly above average for its class. Edmunds says this is attributable to GM's Active Fuel Management system, which shuts down half the cylinders when they are not needed, such as when the truck is cruising or coasting.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the V6 gets 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway with two-wheel drive, and 14 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway with four-wheel drive. With the 4.8-liter V8, those numbers dip to 14 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway with two-wheel drive and 14 mpg in the city and 18 mpg gallon on the highway with four-wheel drive. The iron-block 5.3-liter gets 15 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway, and the aluminum block -- available only with four-wheel drive -- gets 11 mpg in the city and 15 on the highway when using E85 fuel. The 6.0-liter V8 gets 13 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway.

New Silverados are available only with a four-speed automatic. As the Orlando Sentinel explains, "If you absolutely must have a manual transmission," you can "buy one of the Classic models." The four-speed automatic gets mixed reviews. Car and Driver says it's "one of the few things on the new truck that isn't class-competitive," while Edmunds writes it "is sometimes caught flat-footed, taking a beat or two to downshift and provide a surge of power." Cars.com says performance is "satisfying but hardly seamless, and each shift is noticeable." The New York Times, however, finds, "Downshifts come quickly and upshifts go smoothly, so there is no sense of second-class gearbox status."

Handling and Braking

Handling is generally found to be one of the Silverado 1500's strong points. "When compared with other half-ton trucks," writes AutoWeek, "the Silverado sets the standard for handling and ride quality." Car and Driver reports: "The body structure feels as rigid as a supreme-court decision, so squeaks and groans are rare. The ride is smooth, the steering is crisp, the brakes respond without slack. Even on rough dirt roads, the ride remained smoother than in the others." But U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman writes, "It wasn't exactly nimble, but for a 5,000-pound vehicle, it displayed a mix of steering, braking, and cornering that was comforting, compared with some runaway trucks that feel as if they must continually be muscled under control on curves."

The Silverado 1500 offers five different suspension configurations, each identified by three characters. PickupTruck.com explains that the Z83 offers a "solid, smooth ride," the Z85 offers "enhanced handling and trailer towing," the Z71 offers "enhanced off-road capability," the Z60 offers "maximum street performance," while the NHT is the "maximum-capacity trailering package." Overall, reports Auto Mall USA, "The suspension did a nice job of providing stability and also soaking up the rough surface of the gravel road, even in areas which featured a surface you might better call rocky than graveled."

Most test drivers say that the Silverado's steering is a highlight of the truck. USA Today says all Silverado models "go where you point them with dispatch and precision. That's a big reason they feel so very satisfying to drive." The Detroit News adds that they "found the Silverado's new rack-and-pinion steering precise, ably handling turns through surface streets." To the New York Times, "steering is vastly improved, giving the driver a far better sense of what the vehicle is doing. Consequently, the Silverado felt remarkably responsive for a 5,300-pound vehicle."

The majority like the Silverado's anti-lock brakes. Road and Track says that "the brake pedal has a firm feel when bringing the truck to a stop," and MSN adds that the "brakes are strong, with good pedal action." Despite being impressed with the brakes, the Chicago Tribune says, "if you don't drive trucks often, keep Isaac Newton in mind."

Off-Roading

Though few test drivers took the Silverado off-road, those that did were impressed with the truck's capabilities. U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman reports, "The few times I left solid pavement -- mostly onto snow -- the Silverado made easy work of the slippery surface, gripping and grabbing with little effort." For heavy off-roading, a locking rear differential and skid plates are available on some models.

Truck Trend put the Chevy to the test off-road against what many reviewers see as its main competitor, the Toyota Tundra. At the end of the test, Truck Trend found, "The Silverado felt more balanced and less nose-heavy than the Tundra." However, though the Silverado climbed steep rock stairs, they also report that it "let us know several times it had smaller approach angles (12 degrees less than the Tundra), scraping the airdam and front bumper." Road & Travel Magazine adds that the Silverado can "plow through sand as an intelligent transfer case distributes big-time engine torque to all wheels in order to maintain traction during our trek across the cactus-spiked Sonora Desert."

Four-Wheel Drive

All Chevrolet Silverado 1500 models are available as two- and four-wheel drive vehicles. The four-wheel drive system acts as an all-wheel drive system on dry roads, distributing power as it detects wheel slippage. Four-wheel drive can be turned on when the driver wants equal power sent to all tires.

Though few reviewers tested the Silverado four-wheel drive, those who did were pleased with the system. Autobytel says, "Hit the dirt and the electronic four-wheel-drive system makes for quick and grippy traction." Truck Trend adds that during a head to head test between the Silverado and the Toyota Tundra, "the Chevy, left in Auto mode, proved the best handling of any Silverado variant, past or present. Much of that we credit to the computer-controlled all-wheel-drive system that sends power to the front wheels a split second before it detects rear wheelslip. During most of the handling tests, the Silverado was the traction king."

Hauling

The hauling capacity of the Silverado varies by cab type, drive wheels and box length. A Crew Cab Chevy Silverado 1500 can haul 2,039 pounds. An Extended Cab long box model with four-wheel drive can haul 1,574 pounds, the smallest amount of any Silverado model.

Towing

Depending on the model and equipment, the Silverado 1500 can tow up to 10,500 pounds. A number of towing packages are available from Chevrolet.

Review Last Updated: 3/10/09

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