Chevy’s stripped-down Silverado can still pack a punch


CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer

There’s something about a pickup truck that causes even the most colorful club queen to find her inner lumberjack, but buying one often requires stupid coin — what with all of the intoxicating saddle leather, slick touchscreens, crash avoidance systems and rear seats with enough space to rival a penthouse suite. I mean, it’s nice, but who needs all that shiz? Is going without really doing without?

Luxury trucks will spoil you, so slipping into our plain Jane Chevy Silverado was temporarily demoralizing. Cloth seats were manually-adjusted, climate control required human intervention, and the steering wheel was rubber. Forget about heated/cooled thrones, heated steering wheel, or back-up camera too. Power windows, mirrors, Bluetooth, satellite radio and flip down armrest with pass-through for USB and power ports were part of the accoutrement. You can even activate 4G LTE Wi-Fi to connect all your iThings.

Double Cabs net you four front-hinged doors with outside door handles, but rear seat space is about as tight as the old extended cabs. Front passengers sit like princes on a big comfy 40/20/40-split bench, but three in the rear sit straight up with knees bent. It was impeccable for my mother-in-law, but if you want to take people you actually like cross-country, get the longer Crew Cab.

The truck’s exterior only exacerbates the conflict between luxury and affordability — because it flashes its 20-in. aluminum wheels, chrome door handles, gleaming mirror caps, and body color bumper pads like dime store jewelry on a destitute. A big chrome grille flanked by stacked headlamps move slowpokes out of the left lane while bulging fenders and chiseled hood reveal its hard-working origins. Check the cool corner step bumper.

Screen shot 2015-09-03 at 3.28.22 PMBase Silverados come with a 4.3-liter V6 that’s powerful enough for amateur landscapists, but the 355 horsepower 5.3-liter V8 is a better choice if actual work is planned. On open Interstate or curvy backroads, you barely notice the engine shutting down four cylinders to conserve fuel or the six-speed automatic transmission stepping through gears. Plant your Cole Haan firmly into the throttle to feel the big truck thrust forward with zeal. Fuel economy is rated a reasonable 16/23-MPG city/hwy.

If you live in a swanky downtown condo or often park at chic restaurants, skip the Silverado — it’s a whopper (the mid-size Colorado pickup is smarter). But, there’s nothing more American than loading up your posse and heading off across open prairie with anything you darned-well want. I could gripe about all of the black plastic and vinyl inside, but it will all last longer than it takes to get served at an Indiana bakery.

Although the exterior is gleaming for a night on the town, this is not a truck you would be afraid to get mulched, sling fishes, or get in dripping wet clean off a jet ski. If you can afford it, buy a Silverado High Country and
luxuriate in it. But, I’m not rich, so I’d go for our suave truck that proves going without doesn’t mean doing without.

Expect to pay $26,105 or $35,660 as-tested. Also consider the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, GMC Sierra, Toyota Tundra, and Nissan Titan.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 4, 2015.