KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/3/2011
The Ford F-150 may hold the title of best selling individual pickup 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. Despite last year's economic woes and General Motors' subsequent remaking, the Silverado continues to be a strong seller for Chevrolet, which is probably why Chevy has done very little tinkering with the 2011 version. To its credit, the line of Active Fuel Management-equipped V8 engines offered in the Silverado give it segment-leading fuel economy, and, for those with an ecological bent, a number of engine choices are now Flex-Fuel E85-capable. There is also a hybrid model, reviewed separately.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you need to tailor your pickup truck to your exact requirements, the 2011 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, Flex-Fuel E85 capability and even a hybrid model.
You May Not Like This Car 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 availability of the Silverado HD further muddies the waters for potential buyers.
What's New for 2011
Beyond an upgrade to OnStar 9.0, some new colors and some minor enhancements to reduce wind noise, there are no major changes for the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado.
Thanks to its rigid frame and advanced construction techniques, the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado offers a markedly better ride-and-handling combination than many of its competitors. The Silverado 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 6.2-liter 403-horsepower aluminum-block V8 is available as well. Power delivery with each V8 engine is more than ample, and the electronically-controlled six-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission delivers it smoothly and without hesitation.
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.
The Silverado features two distinct interiors. The WT, LS 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 low and farther forward for an increased feeling of spaciousness and visibility. The back-seat area in the Crew Cab models offers generous room for adult-size occupants and is nearly as comfortable as some full-size SUVs; the design also features stadium-style rear seating and has a 60/40-split design and folding center armrest. A lockable storage bin is built into a big 40/20/40-split bench front seat. The bin can accommodate a laptop computer and features a 12-volt power outlet.
With its wide front and rear tracks, the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado looks substantial without displaying the bulbous but juvenile muscularity of some of its competitors. Instead, the Silverado looks tailored and subdued front to rear. Highlights include narrow gaps between body panels, enabled by a fully-boxed frame delivering maximum stiffness and rigidity to help eliminate body flex. The handsome 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 thanks to large rear access doors that open 170 degrees, and power-operated rear side windows lower completely into the access doors.
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2011 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. The LTZ adds 10-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. The StabiliTrak electronic stability control system is standard on all 1500 models.
Notable Optional Equipment
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. A choice of two- and four-wheel-drive models, various cabs and bed lengths and a variety of axle ratios are also offered.
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, but all with Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing. And for those who want more power (or towing capacity) the 6.2-liter is tops in its class, offering significantly more power and torque (pulling force) with very little penalty in fuel economy.
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 Flex-Fuel
302 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
305 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 (2WD), 10/14 (2WD, E85), 13/18 (4WD), 10/13 (4WD, E85)
5.3-liter V8 Flex-Fuel
315 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
326 horsepower @ 5300 rpm (E85)
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
348 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm (E85)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (gasoline), 11/16 (2WD, E85), 15/22 (XFE), 11/16 (XFE, E85), 15/21 (4WD), 11/16 (4WD, E85)
6.2-liter V8 Flex-Fuel
403 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18 (2WD), 9/13 (2WD, E85), 12/18 (4WD), 9/13 (4WD, E85)
The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $22,000 for a base two-wheel drive Regular Cab, a somewhat spartan work truck. The LT Regular Cab with substantial equipment starts closer to $28,000, while the top-of-the-line, four-wheel drive LTZ Crew Cab with all the options can run as high as $50,000. Before heading to your local Chevy dealership, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com to see what others in your area are paying. Taken in the context of the current market, the Silverado offers good resale value within its segment, higher than the projected residual values for the Dodge Ram, Nissan Titan and on par with the Ford F-150, but still below that of the Toyota Tundra.