Silverado lives up to the hype

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There's no doubt about it -- Chevy's on a roll.

Buoyed by strong sales for the Chevy Silverado pickup, lots of buzz about the new Camaro coming down the pike, a boffo act at the North American International Auto Show in January that featured an all-new 2008 Malibu and the exciting Chevy Volt electric hybrid car, Chevy's got it going on.

When you head to the auto show in April, the first place you want to go when you see Chevy's exhibit is the new Silverado, voted the North American Truck of the Year by auto writers at the Detroit Nauto show.

The 2007 Chevrolet Silverado.
Click photo for larger image.

Having seen and driven the new Silverado, I can tell you it's well worth the hype. It's incredibly quiet, fun to drive, well-equipped, stylish and roomy. I was especially surprised by how well it's built. When you drive it with an empty bed, you don't get all the shaking and rattling you get with most trucks. And the gaps in installment of parts is almost nonexistent.

Chevy officials have said they expect the new pickup to get at least 20 to 22 miles per gallon on the highway, thanks to the availability of an engine with a "FlexFuel" system that can use either ethanol or gasoline. Some of the cylinders shut down in some engines when maximum power or sudden acceleration isn't needed for passing or other driving conditions.

Chevy says the new Silverado has the light-duty segment's highest rated towing capacity of 10,500 pounds and a payload capacity of 2,160 pounds. Three cab styles -- regular, extended and crew -- are available and there are three trim levels, WT, LT and LTZ. Six engine choices also are available, ranging from a 4.3 liter V-6 rated at 195 horsepower, to a 367 horsepower, 6.0 liter V-8.

The 2007 Silverado has a new, much stronger chassis and lots of advanced safety equipment including "compatibility brackets" designed to help protect lower-riding vehicles in collisions. Standard safety equipment includes StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology, roof-mounted head curtain side air bags and segment-first safety belt pretensioners that activate during a rear-end collision.

There are other touches that I really liked -- for instance, the back doors open far and wide, leaving your entrance or exit just about obstacle free.

I also liked the availability of two entirely different instrument panels, depending on whether you buy a luxury, top-end pickup or the entry level "workaday" model.

The basic or lower-end models have a functional design with a cockpit style theme, with large, glove-friendly controls and door panels that are trimmed in aluminum. Buyers of the higher-end models get a sleek, three-gauged hooded dash design that includes wood and aluminum trim. The dashboards have been lowered for better visibility and a more-car-like drive and feel. Chevy's Silverado now ranks at the top of the class for drive comfort.

Prices range from $15,840 to $38,330 for the Silverado truck lineup.



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