2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Expert Review

You'll Like The 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 If...

If you want to tailor your pickup truck to your exact requirements, the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado enables you to do just that with a wide variety of configurations, bed lengths and trim levels. The Silverado's V8 engine lineup offers Active Fuel Management technology and Flex-Fuel E85 capability.

You May Not Like The 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 If...

The only quibble we have with the Silverado is the baffling array of choices buyers have - multiple trim levels, cab sizes, bed lengths and even instrument panels. Plus, the continued availability of the Silverado Classic (the previous design) further muddies the waters for potential buyers.

What's New

Changes are limited to a few interior upgrades, the addition of XM Satellite Radio and an available integrated trailer brake control.

Interior Features

The Silverado features two distinct interiors. The WT and LT trim levels feature the "pure pickup" interior with larger controls and a double glovebox, while the LTZ trim has a "luxury-inspired" interior. Both instrument panels are mounted lower and farther forward for an increased feeling of spaciousness and visibility. The back-seat area in the Crew Cab models offers significantly improved room and comfort, and the stadium-style rear seat has a 60/40-split design and folding center armrest. A lockable storage bin is built into a new 40/20/40-split bench front seat. The bin can accommodate a laptop computer and features a 12-volt power outlet.

Exterior Features

With the widest track in the segment, the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado is substantial but it eschews the bulbous but juvenile muscularity of some of its competitors. Instead, it looks tailored and subdued front to rear. Highlights include narrow gaps between body panels, enabled by the new version's significantly stiffer frame that limits body flex. The new horizontal grille is divided by a thick bright metal bar that flanks a bold Chevrolet "bow tie" symbol. Designers also took special pains to integrate the pickup box while at the same time making it taller. Entry to the rear seat/storage area of Extended Cab models is eased with new rear access doors that open 170 degrees, and power-operated rear side windows lower completely into the access doors.

Driving Impressions

Because it rides on the new GM full-size truck platform, the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado offers a markedly better ride-and-handling combination than the previous generation. The new platform includes a fully-boxed frame (for more chassis stiffness), coil-over-shock front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, and the result is a surprisingly maneuverable and comfortable vehicle. A lengthy test drive over rough, washboard gravel roads revealed a quiet and composed cabin. While the available 4.3-liter V6 could probably get most jobs done, the Silverado can also be equipped with a variety of V8 engines, most with 5.3-liter displacement. A 6.0-liter 367-horsepower aluminum-block V8 is available as well. Power delivery with each V8 engine is more than ample, and the electronically-controlled Hydra-Matic automatic transmission delivers it smoothly and without hesitation. GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system is standard on Crew Cab models, and is available on Extended Cab models as an option.

Pricing Notes

The 2008 Chevrolet Silverado has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $18,000 for a base two-wheel drive Regular Cab, a somewhat spartan work truck. The LT Regular Cab with substantial equipment starts under $25,000, while the top-of-the-line, four-wheel drive LTZ Crew Cab with all the options can run as high as $46,000. The popularity of Chevrolet's new truck keeps pricing very close to MSRP. We advise that you check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see the typical prices consumers are paying now. As the segment sales leader, the Silverado offers very good resale value, higher than the projected residual values for the Dodge Ram, Ford F150 and Nissan Titan and similar to that of the Toyota Tundra.

Notable Equipment

The 2008 Chevrolet Silverado WT includes a four-speed automatic transmission, tire pressure monitoring system, anti-lock brakes (ABS), air conditioning and two auxiliary power outlets. The 1LT adds cruise control, compass and temperature-display rearview mirror, power windows, door locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry and CD/MP3 player audio system. Opting for the 2LT level nets you the 5.3L V8, automatic dual-zone air conditioning, six-way power front bucket seats and 17-inch wheels. The LTZ adds 12-way power heated front bucket seats, leather seating, power-folding power-adjustable heated mirrors, Bose audio with MP3-compatible six-disc CD changer and auxiliary input jack, remote starting system and heated washer fluid system.

Notable Options

Depending on trim, the Silverado can also be optioned in several ways. It offers five suspension systems, each tailored to suit specific driving requirements. They include Z83 for a solid, smooth ride, Z85 for enhanced handling and trailer towing, Z71 for enhanced off-road capability, Z60 for street performance with 20-inch wheels and NHT for maximum towing capacity. The StabiliTrak electronic stability control system is standard on Crew Cab models and available on select Extended Cab models. A choice of two- and four-wheel-drive models, various cabs and bed lengths and a variety of axle ratios are also offered.

Favorite Features

Big knobs
In a welcome bow to those who work hard to earn their keep - and who live in frigid climes - the Silverado has knobs, switches and door handles that can be easily operated while wearing gloves.

Active Fuel Management
The Active Fuel Management system available in four different V8s cuts the operation of four cylinders when they are unneeded and enhances fuel economy.

Under the Hood

While we expect the 4.3-liter V6 and 4.8-liter V8 to be more than adequate in work truck applications, we recommend the 5.3-liter V8 engines, some with cast iron blocks and some with aluminum. And for those who want more power (or towing capacity) the 6.0-liter with Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing is a gem. It offers significantly more power and torque (pulling force) with very little penalty in fuel economy.

4.3-liter V6
195 horsepower @ 4600 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 (2WD), 14/18 (4WD)

4.8-liter V8
295 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
305 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 (2WD), 14/18 (4WD)

5.3-liter V8 Flex Fuel
315 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
338 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/15 (2WD, E85) 15/20 (2WD, Gas), 11/14 (4WD, E85), 14/19 (4WD, Gas)

5.3-liter V8
315 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
338 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 (2WD), 14/19 (4WD)

6.0-liter V8
367 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
375 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18 (2WD), 13/17 (4WD)

Editors' Notes

The Ford F150 may hold the title of best selling individual pickup truck (and vehicle, for that matter) in the country, but when you combine the sales of the Chevrolet Silverado with the nearly-identical GMC Sierra, it's a different story. The General Motors pickups outsell the Ford handily and also outsell all the import label pickup trucks combined. Fresh from its complete remake in 2007, the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado sees major advances in its chassis, more precise steering and a quieter, more upscale interior. Thanks to the new line of Active Fuel Management-equipped V8 engines the Silverado offers segment-leading fuel economy. And, for those with an ecological bent, a Flex-Fuel E85-capable engine is also available.

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