2015 Chevy Silverado 1500

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The new Stingray Corvette is a helluva ride – but it only seats two and can’t tow a whole lot. How about the same engine in something that can (and also seats five)?'15 silverado 1500

Wish granted.

The 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500 is now available with the same basic 6.2 liter berserker used in the ‘Vette – and it’s a show you won’t want to miss. But unlike previous He-trucks (the Ford SVT Lightning comes to mind) this truck is not some 2WD-only tire-fryer useless for work. Its 420 hp will get you to 60 in 5.4 seconds, if you like. But it’ll also pull 12,000 lbs. – best in class – carry 4×8 sheets in the bed and a crew of guys inside the cab to the job site.

The strong-armed 6.2 liter V-8 is paired with a new (and also Corvette-shared) eight-speed automatic, and somehow manages to deliver better gas mileage than the weaker-engined Dodge Ram 1500 and and dead-heat matching the new F-150 on that score while making its smallish 5.0 liter/385 hp V-8 seem … well, small.

Of course, there are a few caveats… .

For one, the killer Corvette-sourced V-8 is only available in higher trim Silverados; ditto the eight-speed automatic (the Chevy’s smaller 5.3 liter V-8 is paired with a six-speed automatic).

Dodge includes an eight-speed automatic with every V-8 it sells.

Also – and this applies to the F-150, too – there’s still no diesel engine on the roster.

Dodge is currently the only brand that’ll sell you a diesel in a 1500 pick-up – and it’s available optionally in the lower-trim (Tradesman) versions that are still priced in the $20ks instead of being optional on high-trim versions that start well into the $30ks.'15 1500 interior 1

But hey, it won’t nail 60 in a bit over 5 seconds. Not without a JATO rocket strapped to the roof, anyhow. And if you look at the other numbers you’ll find the mileage disparity between the 6.2 Silverado and the turbo-diesel Ram isn’t going to save you all that much at the pump. Especially with gas now selling for just over $2 a gallon. It might not last, granted. But – as they say in Rome – carpe diem… seize the day.

It may not pass this way again!

WHAT IT IS'15 1500 two

The Silverado is Chevy’s full-size, 1500-series pick-up truck. It’s available in regular, extended and crew cab (four full-size doors) versions and three available bed lengths (5.8 ft., 6.6 ft. and 8 ft.).

Three engines are available, two gas V-8s and one gas V-6. Unlike its main rivals – the Ford F-150 and the Dodge Ram 1500 – Chevy does not offer turbocharged gas or diesel engines – which has its pros and its cons (more on that below).

Base price for a Silverado “work truck” LS regular cab with 6.6 ft. bed, a V-6 and 2WD is $26,105. A top-of-the-line Z71 (off-road package) 4×4 crew cab with 8 foot bed stickers for $37,125 to start.

The Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram both start out slightly less expensive – $25,420 and $25,410 respectively – but get really pricey as you move up the food chain. For example, a top-of-the-line F-150 Platinum Super Crew with the 5 liter V-8 and 4WD starts at $54,680.

A top-of-the-line Ram 1500 Limited with the Hemi V-8 and 4WD starts at $52,875.

WHAT’S NEW'15 Silverado tow

GM gave its 1500s a major overhaul just last year (2014) but there are several significant updates for 2015 that make the 2015 more than just another model year newer.

The big news, of course, is the availability of the Corvette-in-drag 6.2 liter V-8 and the new eight-speed automatic that comes with it.

WHAT’S GOOD

6.2 liter V-8 really churns the butter.

Does it without turbos or other cost/complexity adders.

Available in-truck Wi-Fi

Abundant (and convenient) storage in the cab – and in the bed.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

Long bed limited to regular cab.

6.2 V-8 (and eight-speed automatic) limited to higher-end (and higher cost) trims; can’t get ’em in a regular cab/long bed Silverado.

No diesel on the options roster.

UNDER THE HOOD'15 1500 4.3

The base Silverado’s engine is a 4.3 liter V-6 that belts out near-V-8 power: 285 hp and 305 ft.-lbs. of torque.

Previously (pre-2014) the Silverado’s base V-6 was so underpowered (190 hp in a full-size pick-up is like trying to light up a skyscraper with a backyard generator) it effectively forced buyers to option-up to the V-8, if they meant to do any work with the truck. That’s been dealt with most affirmatively. The Silverado’s base V-6 is now slightly stronger than the Ford F-150’s base 3.5 liter V-6 (283 hp) and only slightly less strong than the Dodge Ram’s standard 3.6 liter, 305 hp V-6.

It also makes more torque than both of them.

This engine is paired with a six-speed automatic and can pull 7,600 pounds – exactly the same rating as the other two when ordered with their respective standard equipment sixes.

Next up is a 5.3 liter, 355 hp V-8 that can pull as much as 11,500 pounds. This – interestingly – surpasses the max tow rating of the stronger-on-paper Ram 1500’s optional 5.7 liter, 395 hp V-8. It – or rather, the truck it’s bolted to – isn’t rated to pull more than 10,650 lbs. And that’s it for the Dodge. (The Ram’s available 3 liter “EcoDiesel” V-6 delivers very high gas mileage for a large truck: 20 city, 28 highway (2WD versions) but its maximum tow rating of 9,200 lbs. is a step down from what the V-8 equipped Ram offers.)'15 1500 5.3

Another interesting wild card is the Ford F-truck’s new micro-turbo 2.7 liter “EcoBoost” V-6. It makes 325 hp and 375 ft.-lbs. of torque. Those are big numbers for a little engine – in a big truck. So is the 8,500 lb. tow rating Ford gives F trucks so equipped.

Ah, but the aptly named Silverado has an ace up its sleeve – a trump card that neither Ford nor Chrysler (er, Fiat Chrysler now) can match: A 6.2 liter, 420 hp hercules that humbles both the F-150’s available “Ecoboost” twin-turbo V-6 (365 hp) and its top gun 5 liter V-8 (385), as well as the Ram’s mightiest engine, the 395 hp 5.7 liter Hemi V-8.

Acceleration with this engine – which comes paired with a new-for-2015 eight-speed automatic – is boggling. Zero to 60 in 5.4 seconds for the RWD version; a tick or two more for those with 4WD.

It’ll pull 12,000 pounds, too.

That’s power.      '15 1500 6.2 detail

Corvette power, to be specific. The 6.2 liter V-8 is the same basic engine used in the new Stingray – enhanced with an 8.5 quart capacity oil pan (the ‘Vette’s capacity is seven quarts) and tuned (intake and exhaust) for more low and mid-range thrust.  The torque number (460 ft.-lbs.) is the same as the Corvette’s – but it arrives 500 RPM earlier – at 4,100 vs. 4,600 RPM in the Corvette.

The new eight-speed automatic is also shared with America’s sports car and when paired with the Silverado uses a neck-snapping 4.56 first gear ratio. Feed that to a 3.42 rear axle and the result is a three-ton pick-up that’ll run neck and neck with something like the 2015 Mustang turbo I wrote about a couple weeks ago (see here) and which is quicker than something like the Cadillac CTS “sport sedan” I reviewed last week. The fact of the matter is the 6.2 Silverado is quick enough to keep a new Corvette in sight… at least, until wind resistance at 120 or so begins to weigh increasingly in the Corvette’s favor.       '15 1500 comparo

Chevy styles the new V-8 an “EcoTec” V-8 and before you snicker, consider: It rates 15 city, 21 highway – beating the less powerful V-8 in the Ram 1500 (14 city, 20 highway) and achieving par with the Ford F-150’s much smaller (and far less torque-productive) 5.0 liter V-8 (15 city, 22 highway).

Cylinder deactivation (the big V-8 runs on just four cylinders during steady-state cruise another light-load moments) high (11.5:1) compression (which makes the most of each squirt of fuel) , direct injection – and the efficiency advantage of having eight rather than six forward gears is what makes it all possible.

ON THE ROAD'15 burnout

It’s a measure of how good we have it – if “we” means those who crave power – that you can buy a full-size pick-up that’s quicker than most classic-era muscle cars but which use less gas.

Cue Darth Vader voice: Most impressive.

Even the middling 5.3 V-8 is a hauler of the mail. Hell, the base V-6 is stronger than any normal production truck V-8 you could buy back in the ’90s.

And Chevy has worked these miracles with oft-derided “ancient” technology.  The LS Series V-8s are two-valve/pushrod designs – superficially the same as the ur small block Chevy that debuted back in 1955. But the new ones flow oceans of air through alloy passages that have been honed and tweaked to such an extent that they outperform the four-valve/overhead cam (alleged “state of the art”) engines they compete with.'15 1500 tow 3

Also miraculous is the un-truck ride quality of this still leaf-sprung truck – solid rear axle and as much unsprung weight as Titanic in drydock. Well, maybe not quite that much – but still, it’s a heavy Chevy. But it feels amazingly light on its feet and easy to manage… except in tight confines such as narrow driveways and busy shopping mall parking lots. This cannot be helped. It’s a full-size truck and there’s no getting around the length and width. It comes with the territory. But once you’ve eased out of the slip and pointed her toward the open ocean, it’s a wonderful cruise.

Of the (big) three, the Chevy’s got the second-tightest turning circle: 40 feet (for the regular cab/short bed) vs. 39.5 for the Ram and – surprisingly – 40.7 feet for the 2015 F-150, which is the newest of the three.

Ground clearance varies from 8.2 inches to 8.6 inches, depending on the configuration.

The eight-speed automatic’s tire-frying/stump-pulling first gear ratio in tandem with a magnificent superfluity of horsepower literally lifts the front end almost off the ground if you do a dragstrip-style launch. Go out and torment some old GTOs.  2015 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ

During part-throttle driving, though, the eight speed in my test truck sometimes wandered around the ranges, trying to find the “right” gear for the situation. This is probably inevitable with so many forward gears. I have experienced the same phenomenon in other new vehicles with eight and nine-speed transmissions. It’s the price we have to pay in order to continue to have access to big V-8s. That 2-3 MPG uptick made possible by these boxes is critical to the continued viability of engines other than sixes and fours – not because of consumer demand for less engine but because of the government edicts that gas mileage rise ever higher.

AT THE CURB'15 interior 2

At least you can still get a regular cab 1500.

The Silverado’s not unique in that respect, of course. Both the Ram 1500 and the F-150 are also offered in regular cab versions (as is the Toyota Tundra though not the Nissan Titan). But you might want to “gather ye rosebuds while ye may” – as the regular cab (and long bed to go with it) configuration seems to be gradually fading away. That combo is unavailable in current mid-sized trucks like the new Chevy Canyon/GMC Colorado as well as the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.

And no one sells a compact-sized truck in any configuration.

The “why” is easy to get a handle on when you realize that trucks have become at least as much about transporting people (in comfort) as they have traditionally been used for carting 4×8 sheets of OSB to a job site.'15 1500 bed 1

So, for the moment, you can still get a regular cab Silverado – and an eight foot bed to go with it. How much longer, though, is anyone’s guess.

Or, go “shorty” and pick the 6 foot, 6 inch bed.

The double cab comes only with the 6.6 bed, however.

Crew cabs (four fill-size doors) come with either the above 6.6 bed or a really short 5.8 foot bed.

Interestingly, the Chevy’s standard (6.6) bed is slightly longer than both the F-150’s standard bed (6.5 inches) and the Ram’s standard bed (6.4 inches).

Perhaps even more interesting, the regular cab/short bed Silverado itself is several inches shorter overall than its main rivals: 205.6 inches vs. 209.3 inches for the new F-truck and 209 inches for the Ram. The Chevy is also wider than both of them: 80 inches vs. 79.4 for the Ram and 79.9 for the Ford.   '15 1500 bed 2

Trims range from the base Work Truck – which is still a very nice truck (AC, cruise control, power door locks, a decent stereo) – all the way up to the luxurious High Country, which rides on chrome 20 inch wheels and comes with a high-end Bose stereo, heated leather seats and eight-inch LCD MyLink touchscreen interface.

The rugged Z71 off-road package remains available. It includes HD Rancho 46 mm shocks, skid plates, heavy duty air cleaner, M/S tires on 18-inch steel wheels, electric-locking differential, tow hooks and special trim. Available separately is a “max trailering” package, which fits the truck with a beefy 9.76-inch rear axle (8.6 is standard with the V-6; 9.5 with the V-8s)  and 3.73 ring and pinion,  heavy duty springs and heavy-duty cooling system. Electronic trailer braking is also included with this package.'15 1500 mylink

Standout available features include in-truck Wi-Fi Internet access, which comes on whenever the truck is on; foot-holds built into each corner of the rear bumper to make accessing the bed easier; a “damped” tailgate that lowers itself in a smooth, fluid motion and a rear-seat DVD/Blue-Ray player.

THE REST

The Chevy is the second-newest of the “big three” – having been substantially redesigned for the 2014 model year and significantly updated for the 2015 model year. The updates have been more conservative relative to Ford’s fairly radical decision to go all-aluminum (and its earlier decision to shy away from V-8s in favor of turbo sixes… and now turbo fours).  But, arguably, conservative is a good thing when it comes to trucks.'15 1500 last

The F-150’s new aluminum body may be lighter, but it will make the truck harder (read, more expensive) to repair – at least until body shops get comfortable working with aluminum panels. And the fuel efficiency advantage of the F-truck’s turbo’d sixes and fours is not spectacular (best case, 19 city, 26 highway for the four vs. 15 city, 21 highway for the Silverado’s more-than-twice-as-big and much stronger 6.2 liter V-8) and the cost to repair/replace those turbos may very well be exactly that (i.e., spectacular) eight or ten years down the road from now. GM’s fairly simple V-8s have fewer parts (two valves rather than four; just the one camshaft rather than two or four; and of course, no turbos at all) which necessarily means fewer things that could potentially go wrong – and these engines have a proven track record for being largely bulletproof.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I think Chevy ought to have at least made the new eight-speed automatic optional with the middle V-8 (the 5.3 liter) rather than exclusive to the 6.2 liter V-8. Still, this new combo rocks the truck world like Cheap Trick at the Budokan back in ’79.

I want you to want me!

Ok!

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25 COMMENTS

  1. I actually kind of like the looks of the new Stingray (not that I’d ever buy one) but the first one I saw was white with the black trim spots. All I could think was Star Wars Clone Warrior.

  2. I had been a loyal GM buyer and owner for nearly 30 years when Bush/Obama highjacked the automotive industry. I will personally never buy a car from Government Motors as long as there’s an alternative.

  3. Glad to hear they threw the 6.2 in a half ton and gave it some more gears. I’m sick of the Ford ecoboost lovers lying through their teeth about their performance.

    I’d like to see them ditch the UAW. That would bring me back. But, I’m just going to have to wait for the 2016 Tundra. Hopefully they have something good up their sleeve at Toyota. If its like 2007 when they came out with the new tundra, it will be awesome. They were hands down the best power/mileage combo back then.

    The competition has stiffened for sure. The 6.2 Chevy is an impressive addition. Great to see the 4.3 back too. That’s an awesome engine…..but still, that Damn UAW thing. I was a Chevy guy most of my life, until I educated myself about unions. Now, on principle, I just can’t bring myself back into the fold.

  4. eric, that reminds me of a friend who had an ’84 305 in a Chevy pickup. That big Honda sized tailpipe and that tiny hole in the air cleaner horn made you know that thing was gonna make some serious power……in a lawn mower. We’d drive along with the back window open and all you could hear was this loud hissing noise from the exhaust. I told him one day that any time an engine makes that sort of a hissing noise it’s way too restricted and not only decreases power but increases heat and makes life a living hell for said engine. Of course he simply blows me off since dual exhausts actually cost a few bucks. We’re driving along pulling the boat and you hear “Bam, huff huff huff huff”. Think that baby didn’t have some serious back pressure? It blew #8 spark plug out through the well-oiled head threads(and well oiled pistons, valves and sparkplugs). Seems like those no-foul oil adapters for the plugs ain’t up to snuff. It was hanging on the wire so we screwed it back in and kept on, fish didn’t know what we were doing. That pickup used more gas than my big block 4WD 3/4T. If GM had made that engine with a more restrictive intake and exhaust, it could have gotten down into the big rig fuel consumption. What added insult to injury was the fact it had no power at all. It was a great deal like driving a Ford from that era…except it rode much better and handled better and the front end didn’t eat the tires one way for 40,000 miles and then the other way for the next 40,000 miles at which point you traded. And GM lost a lot of pickup business simply because of too small engines cause they didn’t have the equivalent of a really cheap throwaway car to offset the CAFE bs. Small engines with big power in a pickup sounds good on the surface. Maybe it works for Mork who drives one with no load and nothing to pull but when you regularly use one for that maximum towing(maximum towing=half again as much as advertised in real world work) they’re simply over-worked. I paid $1.999 for gas today, diesel was $3.25. I can use a bit more gas when the alternative is a very stressed engine.

    • Great stuff, Eight!

      Back in high school, my sister had this ’79 Camaro Berlinetta with a 305. It would diesel for as long as you liked if you floored it just as you keyed the ignition to “off.”

      A true pants pisser… especially if you were partaking of the Wacky Tobacco at the time!

  5. Hey Eric,
    talking about cooler heads prevailing,GM ,once upon a time seriously considered,making the 3.5 or 3.7 5cyl,Atlas engine ,the standard engine for the 1500.
    I said years ago,if I was GM, I would simplify the engine lineup,they did well,I believe I would have made a 5 litre V-8 standard and made the 6.2 the upgrade,along with the 4.5 Duramax(thats one thing I like about Nissan and Toyota,everybody gets a pretty good engine-
    And one thing to be said about the larger engines,they will pull a higher gearing easy and get better mileage then the BPI engines(barely pull it)So torque rules in the truck world-Kevin

    • Hi Km!

      My personal bias, engine-wise, is for a large displacement OHV engine… if the vehicle is a truck or a heavy car. These engines provide torque, down low – and without resort to turbos/superchargers, which are simply efforts to make torque with greater complexity (and necessarily increasing the loads/stresses the engine is subjected to).

      I think Ford made a big mistake when it dropped the 302/351 (5.0/5.8) in favor of the 4.6/5.4 OHC engines… in trucks, at least.

      GM, on the other hand, was uber smart to stick with the OHV layout. The current LS V-8s are arguably the finest V-8s on the market, and perhaps ever mass produced.

      • I don’t know why people complain about the modular V8. The engine has been in use for over 20 years now and has been very durable and accepting of modification. Quite honestly I think it is a ever present bias for GM. Back before the mod motors people (those who weren’t ford guys generally) would have bad things to say about the Ford small block. It was too difficult to modify, there were too many versions, too much for a person to know, parts from this one didn’t work with that one, etc and so forth.

        • Couple reasons:

          The 4.6 and 5.4 (being smaller displacement) produced less torque than the larger GM V-8s.

          The 4.6 and 5.4 are physically big engines; they take up more room in the engine bay and are harder to work on.

          More parts, too.

          • Like I said, it’s always something… never the benefits just picking out whatever thing can be spun negatively. It’s real ‘problem’ is that it’s a Ford engine.

            • Hi Brent,

              I don;t think I ever disparaged the Ford 4.6/5.4’s reliability or longevity.

              But the lower output and torque relative to competitor (GM LS) engines was an objective thing to criticize, yes?

              They’re also pretty complex engines – with more parts – than the OHV (and two-valve) GM engines.

              I’m not one of those “Ford sucks” guys; hope you know that! I like Fords (and Ford engines). But the GM LS V-8s are pretty hard to fault on any count. Tremendous power output from a fairly simple/conventional design that’s also compact and so on.

              • It wasn’t about you specifically but in general, as someone who prefers Fords… well it just gets old. I’ve been hearing it for 30 years and usually I just let the GM guy ramble on without saying anything because it’s a nonsense argument to have and I got better things to do.

                lower ouput? lower torque? Which versions compared to which? The mod motor comes in many varieties too. But even so, there’s more to an engine than peak numbers. Small? Nobody says well that Ferrari V8 is just too small in displacement compared to a good old SBC. Complexity? Nobody faults Toyota or Honda or Porsche or Audi or anyone else for using OHC, but on a Ford it’s a bad thing. And is OHC really that more complex? I suppose DOHC is a little bit more if we give the push rods a free pass but all the VVT stuff, GM has that too on their LS.

                GM has done a lot with OHV, but it’s still OHV and has faults there of. But those are the tradeoffs inherent in engineering, in design and so are those in the Ford V8s.

                • Hi Brent,

                  I meant chiefly the Mustang GT 4.6 vs the Camaro/Firebird V-8s, esp. late 1990s-early 2000s. That period was kind of a role reversal for Ford in that the GT – which was almost always quicker the F-cars during the ’80s – swapped places and became the slower car of the group.

                  I really like the OHV Ford small block. The 289/302 has a sound like no other V-8.

  6. Sounds like a Very Impressive engine. I read your post twice, and couldn’t find a MSRP for Chevy’s “Corvette Truck.” Perhaps that’s because, since it’s only available in “upper trim” levels, this thing costs as much as a Corvette??

  7. A 1/2 ton truck that can pull 12,000 pounds is pretty amazing! And, that eight-speed tranny would certainly help with that towing. I wonder what the towing capacity of the 2500 version would be with the same engine and tranny. I would certainly consider one of those to tow my house!

  8. Eric,I thought the little ecoboost was a V-6.Actually the 6.0 is no slouch either(not availible this year?Dont know why they dumb down the transmissions on the smaller engines,I expect around here you are going to be looking@ 50K plus for a truck thusly equipped,anyway despite not being a GM fan,thanks GM for KISS on some of the best V-8s in the world
    Kevin

    • Hi Kmccune,

      Yup!

      This engine doesn’t just makes 420 hp… it makes an easy/effortless/smooth idling/everyday-drivable 420 hp… and that is impressive!

      The 7.4 liter (455) in my ’70s Trans-Am makes maybe 330 or so hp… and it has a choppy idle … which is cool, but also indicative of the fact that it is getting close to the edge of streetability. Push it to 400-plus hp and the thing would likely have a very erratic idle, weak vacuum signal and be hard to drive at anything much less than all-out.

      But these LS V-8s can make 500-plus hp and still be as docile as a 150 hp 305 from the early ’80s!

    • kmccune, a friend with an 89 GMC and 350 engine said as we were about to leave “my water pump is leaking and I don’t want to go without replacing it”. So we head to the local shop our buddy owns, whip it in the door, throw the waterpan under it and proceed to remove the belt and the 4 bolts holding the pump on. By the time the pump was off, the new one had gaskets stuck on and got bolted on toot sweet, fan back on, belt on, new coolant poured in and we backed out the door(big hurry that morning, no time to bs)15 whole minutes after we came in that door.

      Pick your truck, any other truck you like and see how long it takes.

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