2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 - The Car Connection

   
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The Car Connection Expert Rating Breakdown



The Car Connection Expert Review


Bengt Halvorson

Bengt Halvorson

Deputy Editor


  • Likes
  • Strong yet fuel-efficient V-6
  • Rugged styling, now with better detailing
  • Refined ride and handling
  • Usable infotainment packages
  • Dislikes
  • Longer models hard to maneuver
  • Interior is super-functional—but also a bit too formal
  • No rear climate-control ducts

The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado takes a traditional truck path but counters that with a comfortable, refined interior and a mother lode of technology.


The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado lineup is heading into its third year since a major redesign; yet Chevy is already tweaking the Silverado's look and adding some key features—most notably, a more finely detailed front-end design, more widely available 8-speed automatic transmissions, bolstered active-safety hardware, and new-generation MyLink infotainment systems.

The set of changes should keep sales going strong, as they have been since GM redid these trucks for 2014, when they gained a design that falls closely in step with heavy-duty models from the automaker. A more upright, chiseled—some would say boxy—look was given to the Silverado then, with a more upright yet better-trimmed interior appearance to match. At that time, GM gave these trucks a strong yet more fuel-efficient engine lineup; better cabin refinement; and, at last, some safety and connectivity cred.

This year's refined look adds up to some sharpening and finer detail in the front end, with different grilles for each model, LED signature lighting across the board, and more use of LEDs on top models. Chevy has dropped the dual headlight look in favor of single headlights.

It all simultaneously nods to the looks of buff Chevy HD trucks while adding a luxury-car feature set to the top of the lineup. And while the Silverado may look every bit a direct rival to the Ford F-150 (which it is) the differences in engineering approach between these two trucks couldn't be more different. GM essentially sticks to a steel-bodied layout and traditional, big-displacement engines, while Ford has moved to downsized, turbocharged engines and aluminum-intensive construction.

Although the engine sizes in the 2016 Chevy Silverado lineup are probably going to be familiar to repeat GM truck owners, pretty much everything else is different, and it's all been thoroughly modernized in recent years. All of them feature aluminum blocks and heads and are now equipped with direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable valve timing. The base EcoTec3 4.3-liter V-6 makes 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. That's a sufficient amount of torque to even be paired with the heavier crew-cab models, and we tend to think it's gutsy enough for all but the most serious towing and hauling needs. With the 5.3-liter V-8, you get 355 hp and 383 lb-ft, while the top 6.2-liter V-8, at 420 hp and 460 lb-ft, provides the most capability; it can tow up to 12,000 pounds.

Models with the 6.2-liter last year got a new 8-speed automatic, and for 2016 the 8-speed is available with the 5.3-liter V-8 in the LTZ and High Country models. A 6-speed automatic transmission rounds up the rest of the model line, and we've found it to shift decisively, albeit somewhat harshly with heavier loads. The new 8-speed's closer span of ratios taps into either engine's power better and should bring some towing and hauling ease, but it actually hurts EPA fuel economy ratings. That's an odd one, but real-life mileage may actually be better.

With the Silverado's redesign two years ago it made major gains in ride and refinement. In fact, with its well-tuned ride and responsive handling, it's perhaps the most pleasant of all the full-size trucks from the driver's seat. That's thanks in part to a bit better handling control; front springs were made stiffer, and two-stage leaf springs and twin-tube valving add finesse. Electric power steering is standard across the Silverado 1500 model line, as are four-wheel disc brakes that include a longer-life Duralife rotor design.

Inside the 2016 Silverado controls are logically laid-out, mostly on either side of the steering wheel or in the large center stack. Materials themselves were given a major upgrade a couple of years ago, with most of the touchpoints now covered in a soft-rubber material. Knobs and controls are large, and easy to use with a gloved hand, and cabin noise levels are now on par with, if not better than, many SUVs, thanks to more in-floor insulation. A top-of-the-line High Country model allies with the GMC Denali models to provide serious top-lux cabin appointments, including durable leather, unique wood trim, and other upgrades that GM's highest-end trucks have missed in previous generations.

Crew Cab models’ rear doors are large, for easy entry and exit, and the B-pillar is pushed forward, which helps get feet in more easily. Meanwhile, the rear doors on extended-cab versions now hinge from the front—they're called Double Cab in this generation—offering entry and exit ease that’s close to that offered in former Crew Cab models. The front seatbacks are thinner in this generation as well, and that increases rear leg room by about two inches and also eases entry and exit.

Three different cargo-bed lengths are offered: 5-feet-8-inches, 6-feet-6-inches, and 8-feet long, and in general cargo convenience is far better than it has been in previous versions of these trucks—everything from new CornerStep bumpers to a soft-opening, rotary-damped tailgate to LED lamps tucked under the bed rails.

The Chevrolet Silverado has earned some good safety ratings. The federal government gives Crew Cab models its highest five-star rating overall, while the IIHS has given the Silverado a top "Good" rating in all tests except for the small overlap crash test, where it earned an "Acceptable" rating in extended cab configuration and a "Marginal" rating for crew cab trucks. StabiliTrak with Trailer Sway Control is a standard feature, as are hill start assist and head-curtain side airbags with rollover protection.

For 2016, GM makes IntelliBeam (intelligent high-beam headlights) and lane keep assist available in an Enhanced Driver Alert Package that is offered for LTZ and High Country. Also offered are a lane-departure warning system, a camera-based forward collision warning system, as well as the Safety Alert Seat—a vibrating chair that alerts the driver to the direction of possible dangers. Front and rear park assist and a rear tailgate camera are also available.

An upgraded version of Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system is also new for 2016. It gets a faster processor and full Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, allowing you to use smartphone apps via the vehicle's touch-screen system. MyLink is already one of the better systems on the market—refreshingly simple compared to some other lead rivals—with connectivity for multiple devices, natural-language voice recognition, a "favorites" system (contacts, destinations, radio stations or media), and an eight-inch touch screen. For 2016, GM also adds a version with a seven-inch touch screen for lower line trucks. Last year GM added text-message alerts, Siri Eyes Free, and available OnStar 4G LTE hotspot capability (with a subscription data service).

For 2016, Silverado 1500 V-6 models earn EPA ratings of 18 city, 24 highway, 20 combined with rear-wheel drive, and 17/22/19 mpg with four-wheel drive. The 5.3-liter V-8 model is rated at 16/23/19 mpg with the 6-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive, and 16/22/18 mpg with the 6-speed and 4WD.

Styling
7.0

Bold, blocky, and macho, the Silverado takes cues from Chevy's HD pickups and from big rigs.


In just its third year after a complete redesign, the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado gets a revised look up front. Every model features a new bolder front end with LED signature lighting. The grille changes for each model. The WT, LS, and LT models have HID projector headlights, while the LTZ and High Country have LED headlights. Dual stacked headlights give way to single headlights on all models. The LTZ and High Country also feature LED taillights.

In front, the look is tall and blunt, and it takes cues from Chevy's heavy-duty (HD) trucks, which take their cues from big rigs. The overall effect is imposing, thanks in part to a hood placed at the same height as the HD trucks', plenty of brightwork on higher trim levels, and a mesh-honeycomb appearance for the grille. Meanwhile, the dual-dome hood and chiseled details of the sheet metal help give it a high-shouldered, squared-off appearance, with squared off wheel wells that accent the profile.

Despite the blocky appearance, these trucks are more aerodynamic than their predecessors—thanks to a grille design that is mostly blocked off and a hood shape that helps channel air over the windshield wipers. Wheel sizes range from 17 to 22 inches.

Inside, the layout is simple and the ambiance is refreshingly refined. GM has resisted the urge to make the interior of its trucks either more complex or even lower and more car-like. The instrument panel is upright and simplified, with controls clustered either just to the left of the steering wheel or in a large, upright center-console area, and GM has aimed to make all the knobs, buttons, and interfaces easy to read and operate even with work gloves on. This also helps the ungloved who just want to change a setting with only a glance at the controls. Most materials are of high quality, with most touchpoints made of soft rubber.

New exterior colors for 2016 include Siren Red Tintcoat, Red Hot, and Iridescent Pearl Tricoat.

Bold, blocky, and macho, the Silverado takes cues from Chevy's HD pickups and from big rigs.

Performance
8.0

Controlled moves and three strong engines allow the Silverado to tow and haul with ease.


The Silverado offers a well-tuned ride and responsive handling, as well as refinement unmatched by previous generations of Chevy pickup. Stiff front coil springs, two-stage leaf springs, and twin-tube valving for the front and rear shocks offer a measure of control that previous Chevy truck buyers wont recognize.

All Silverado 1500 models get electric power steering that we can actually say is an improvement (both in on-center feel and off-center weighting) over the last-generation's hydraulic setup, while four-wheel disc brakes are standard across the model line, and a Duralife rotor design offers a longer service life.

The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 offers a base V-6 engine, and we find it plenty powerful for most use. For those who need more, there are a pair of V-8s.

The base 90-degree, 4.3-liter V-6 is essentially a V-8 with two cylinders lopped off, but it has a balance-shaft design to provide acceptable smoothness. And with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque, the V-6 is now strong enough to power crew-cab models or trailer-tow. In fact, we think that for all the full-size buyers who never tow more than a modest pleasure boat or a trailer of snowmobiles or ATVs, this V-6 has more than enough muscle for the job. We towed a 4,700-pound camper-trailer with the V-6 and had no problem merging into moving highway traffic or maintaining speed up rather steep hills.

Meanwhile, the 5.3-liter V-8 remains the mainstream pick. It makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque and allows the Silverado to, when properly equipped, tow up to 11,500 pounds. We've found performance with this engine to be confidence-inspiring and quick, even with a load in the bed.

Top trims, including the High Country, can be optioned with a 6.2-liter V-8. It provides the most power and torque of the bunch, and can tow and haul the most as a result. This engine makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft and can tow up to 12,000 pounds.

All three engines feature cylinder deactivation technology, which allows the engine to smoothly transition to running on four cylinders (for the V-6 or the V-8s) when engine load is low, such as in highway cruising, coasting, or decelerating. An active exhaust system makes up for the required change in back pressure when the switch occurs, and also does its best to keep the associated pulses from being felt or heard by occupants. These truck engines use a pushrod design based on GM's storied small-block architecture; it may sound like quaint technology, but it is simple and proven, while GM adds that the design gives a packaging advantage as a result of the small, power-dense engine unit. The engines feature aluminum blocks and heads for reduced weight, as well as direct fuel injection and continuously variable engine timing, which can aid fuel economy or generate greater power as needed.

The V-6 and base versions of the 5.3-liter V-8 are both equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Last year, Chevrolet paired the 6.2-liter with an 8-speed auto, and this year that transmission becomes standard with the 5.3-liter in LTZ and High Country models. GM's 6-speed units have proven very smooth, with both up and downshifts occurring almost imperceptibly even under heavy loads. The same is true for the eight-speed. It does a great job of getting the most power out of both engines, but, oddly, it actually produces worse fuel economy ratings in the 5.3-liter V-8.

Controlled moves and three strong engines allow the Silverado to tow and haul with ease.

Comfort & Quality
8.0

The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado's interior combines the refinement of a sedan with the simplicity desired in a full-size pickup.


Those who need a big, capable truck like the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado tend to spend a lot of time in their vehicles. Thankfully, the cabin design, seating, and comfort are passenger friendly, and there are plenty of available amenities. Of course, Chevrolet also offers several layouts (as well as many other trims and bed lengths) to suit any individual's planned use.

Although single-row cabs are still offered, they are less popular now. GM has been selling nearly 60 percent of its full-size trucks in the roomy Crew Cab configuration, and about 90 percent in Crew Cab and Double Cab layouts. Three different cargo-bed lengths are offered: 5-feet-8-inches, 6-feet-6-inches, and 8-feet long. Unlike with past generations, Crew Cab models are available with a 6-feet-6-inch long bed.

In the roomiest Crew Cab models, the rear doors are large for easy entry and exit, and the B-pillar is pushed forward, which helps rear occupants swing their feet in more easily. Meanwhile, the rear doors on Double Cab versions hinge from the front—offering entry and exit ease that’s close to what's offered in Crew Cabs. Rear occupants have good leg room in the Double Cab and plenty of space in the Crew Cab.

Inside, the available cloth is a high-wear material. Also available are options ranging from tough vinyl in Work Truck trims all the way up to supple piped leather in top-of-the-line High Country models. With the High Country trim, Chevy brings the Silverado in line with GMC's Denali offerings, adding a premium look and feel. The seats front and back are comfortable and well contoured, and steering wheels can be optioned to adjust telescopically as well as for tilt; a heated steering wheel is also available.

Models with the 6.2-liter V-8 have active noise cancellation to quell the 4-cylinder thrum when the cylinders are deactivated. Wind-noise-reducing measures include triple door seals and a door design that fits into the side rather than wrapping up into the roof.

GM offers some features that allow easy access to the bed, including a CornerStep bumper and hand-grip pockets. The tailgate opens in a damped motion, avoiding the loud thud that can accompany the act of opening it, and there are LED lamps hidden under the bed rails, which are especially helpful when a truck cap or bed cover is installed. To help reduce noise and vibration, GM has installed shear-style mounts between the cab and frame.

Chevrolet's MyLink screen-based interface is easy to learn to use, and it doesn't involve the learning curve and frustration of some systems. Straightforward controls, and enough redundancy with traditional knobs and buttons, make it easy to figure out at first glance, and many items can also be controlled using voice recognition.

The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado's interior combines the refinement of a sedan with the simplicity desired in a full-size pickup.

Safety
8.0

The structure is stronger than in the past, and the Silverado offers active-safety features that add a security net.


Standard safety equipment of the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado includes StabiliTrak with Trailer Sway Control, plus hill start assist, as well as head-curtain side airbags with rollover protection.

An available lane-departure warning system keeps the driver alert of lane drifts via a chime or the optional Safety Alert Seat—a seat that vibrates to warn drivers of the direction of possible dangers. Bigger spotter mirrors help reduce the size of blind spots, even though the mirrors themselves are smaller and more aerodynamic, while other safety features on offer include a camera-based forward-collision warning, front and rear park assist, and a tailgate-mounted rear camera. For 2016, IntelliBeam (intelligent high-beam headlights) and lane-keep assist have been added to an Enhanced Driver Alert Package that is available on LTZ and High Country.

In testing by the NHTSA, the 2016 Silverado 1500 earned a five-star overall rating, with five stars in the frontal and side crash categories and a four-star score in rollover testing.

In comprehensive crash testing the IIHS gave the Silverado all "Good" scores, except in the small overlap crash test. The extended cab Silverado managed an "Acceptable" rating in that test, while the crew cab Silverado earned a worrisome "Marginal" rating. The IIHS also acknowledges the SIlverado's available basic crash-avoidance tech, which includes a front crash warning system that uses radar sensors to detect when a possible impact is imminent and alerts the driver.

The structure is stronger than in the past, and the Silverado offers active-safety features that add a security net.

Features
9.0

Buyers can choose the model and amenities they need, ranging from the simple WT work truck all the way up to the GMC Denali-like High Country model.


The Silverado also offers a lot of utility-oriented convenience features. The CornerStep bumper and built-in hand grip make it easier to climb up and access things in the bed, while LED lamps built into the bed rails help spot smaller items within the bed, and are especially helpful when a truck cap or bed cover is installed.

The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado offers a laundry list of standard features. Those looking to go beyond can equip their truck like a luxury vehicle.

All Silverado models come with keyless entry and air conditioning. For 2016, all models with front bucket seats get wireless phone charging. Silverado LT models add fog lamps, parking assist, heated front seats, and power-adjustable pedals; those with the front bench seat also have a USB port for the upper glove box. LTZ models add 18-inch machined aluminum wheels, a Blu-ray entertainment system, cooled front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The Chevrolet MyLink system is available on the Silverado, offering connectivity for up to 10 devices, natural-language voice recognition, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. The system allows up to 60 favorites to be saved for contacts, destinations, radio stations, or other media. This year it gets a faster processor and comes with Apple Car Play and Google Android Auto capability. An Enhanced My Link version adds text-message alerts, Siri Eyes Free, and an available OnStar 4G LTE hotspot (with an embedded/subscription data service). A base version with a 7.0-inch screen is also added this year for lower-end models. Most models include a 4.2-inch color Driver Information Center set between the gauges, and all come with multiple USB ports plus both 12-volt and 110-volt power outlets (with USB ports in multiple locations in the LTZ).

As a sort of companion to GMC's top-trim Denali models, Chevy offers the High Country trim on Crew Cab models. The luxury package includes High Country badging, a unique exterior look, and increased standard equipment. The interior features heated and cooled front seats, nicer leather with piping, power-adjustable pedals, a premium Bose sound system, and the 8.0-inch touchscreen with MyLink infotainment. High Country trucks also have a suite of safety technologies that includes forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, and parking sensors.

Off-road-oriented Z71 models add (to LT or LTZ) brushed metal sill plates, unique 18-inch wheels, special graphics for the instrument cluster, and a "technical" finish for the interior trim. Z71 models also have Rancho monotube shocks, front tow hooks, a transfer-case skid plate, hill-descent control, and special all-terrain tires. There's also a locking rear differential that can react quickly to a loss of traction at one of the rear wheels and help regain traction.

LTZ models have USB ports in multiple locations, along with a 110-volt outlet, to power all of your chargers, devices, and accessories.

A spray-in bedliner is offered on in a convenience package that also includes upper cargo tie-downs and cross rails in a tiered storage system. Also offered are trailering mirrors with back-up lighting. Newly available this year are a remote locking tailgate, and, on the High Country, power articulating side steps.

GM includes free scheduled maintenance for two years or 24,000 miles on all new Silverado 1500 models.

Buyers can choose the model and amenities they need, ranging from the simple WT work truck all the way up to the GMC Denali-like High Country model.

Fuel Economy
5.0

The 2016 Chevy Silverado impresses for V-6 and small V-8 fuel economy, but the new 8-speed automatic transmission actually hurts the ratings.


The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado's fuel economy is very competitive with the other full-size light-duty trucks.

For 2016, Silverado 1500 V-6 models earn EPA ratings of 18 city, 24 highway, 20 combined with rear-wheel drive, and 17/22/19 mpg with four-wheel drive (4WD).

The 5.3-liter V-8 model is rated at 16/23/19 mpg with the 6-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive, and 16/22/18 mpg with the 6-speed and 4WD. Oddly, the EPA figures drop for the 5.3 with the 8-speed automatic to 16/22/18 mpg with rear drive and 15/21/17 mpg with 4WD.

The fuel-economy ratings for the 6.2-liter V-8 are 15/21/18 mpg with rear-drive and 15/21/17 mpg combined with 4WD.

It's likely that these numbers will be quite reproducible in real-world driving as well. On a 42-mile loop of hilly two-lane country roads, we averaged 23 mpg in a V-6—even when driven a bit briskly.

The 2016 Chevy Silverado impresses for V-6 and small V-8 fuel economy, but the new 8-speed automatic transmission actually hurts the ratings.




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