A cargo bed made of molded composite materials is a new option for some versions of Chevrolets full-size pickup.
This report covers the light-duty versions of the Silverado, which come in 1500 (half-ton) and 2500 (three-quarter-ton) series. The heavy-duty versions of the Silverado are redesigned for 2001 and are covered separately in the Silverado HD report.
The composite cargo bed made of heavy-duty plastic is optional on 1500 short-bed models equipped with four-wheel drive and the Z71 offroad package. Chevrolet says it weighs 50 pounds less than a conventional steel cargo bed, wont rust, and resists dents and scratches better than steel. GMC sells a corporate twin of the Silverado called the Sierra, which also gets the composite cargo bed.
General Motors OnStar communication system is set to become standard on the top-shelf LT models in the spring.
The next big addition for the Silverado is expected to be four-door crew-cab models with four conventional doors that open toward the front, matching a feature already available on the rival Ford F-150. GMs heavy-duty pickups also offer this feature.
The Silverado comes in four sizes: regular cab and extended cab, both with a choice of 6.5- or 8-foot cargo beds. The new composite cargo bed is available in the 6.5-foot length on extended-cab models.
Front styling on the Silverado matches that of the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban sport utility vehicles, which are built from the same design. A Sportside cargo bed with flared rear fenders is optional in place of the standard slab-sided cargo bed.
All extended-cab Silverados come with four doors. The rear doors open toward the rear and cannot be opened unless the front doors are opened first.
Interior furnishings range from plain to plush. Vinyl seats are standard on base models, and cloth is optional. Leather upholstery is standard on the LT trim level the most expensive model and optional on LS models.
Regular-cab models come with a three-place bench seat or a pair of buckets. All extended-cab models have a three-place rear bench and either two front buckets or a front bench that holds three.
Under the Hood
Four engines are available, starting with a 200-horsepower 4.3-liter V-6 that is standard on most two-wheel-drive 1500 models. Most buyers choose one of the V-8s, a 4.8-liter with 270 hp or a 5.3-liter with 285 hp. A 6.0-liter V-8 with 300 hp is standard on the 2500.
Four-wheel-drive is available across the board, and two systems are offered. Insta-Trac allows shifting in and out of 4WD High on the move through a floor-mounted transfer case. Autotrac sends all the power to the rear wheels on smooth, dry pavement and automatically transfers power to the front wheels as needed on slippery surfaces. Traction control is a new option for two-wheel-drive V-8 models.
Chevys full-size trucks are competitive with the Ford F-Series and Dodge Ram in most key areas, though Chevys styling is more conservative and Ford already offers crew-cab models. Though the V-6 and 4.8-liter V-8 are adequate for these full-size trucks, most buyers will be more satisfied with the additional strength of the 5.3-liter V-8.