2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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I drove past a local GM dealer the other day and the reason Chevy's Colorado and many other compact pickup trucks no longer exist became very apparent. A big full-size Chevy pickup truck was decaled out with a very persuasive call to action: 2013 Silverado only $19,995! Now that's not the manufacturer's suggested retail price of Chevrolet's best selling model, but it's what you can buy one for right now less freight, prep fees and taxes.

If you're purchasing on sheer mass alone this is probably the best deal in the automotive sector, the most practical bang for the buck anywhere. Fortunately the truck I tested was close to the one advertised, being trimmed out in the Silverado's most basic Work Truck iteration, albeit with an Extended Cab allowing up to five occupants. If you want to get specific it was a 2013 Silverado 1500 EXT CAB W/T 2WD, which meant a 4.3-litre Vortec V6 powered the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission with Tow Haul mode.

Four-speed? Yes, four-speeds are still being made and once you've driven this one you'll wonder what all the multi-speed fuss is about. It goes about its business unnoticeably, smooth, quiet and with what should be total reliability. The words "proven" or "tried and tested" probably grace the brochure, and while marketing shtick these words have credence here. Likewise the 4.3 V6 is a workhorse, adequately powerful and like the transmission its power delivery is smooth and uneventful, just how a work truck should be. Maximum output equals 195-horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, which should take care of most peoples' needs, whereas its fuel economy is very good at 14.1 L/100km city, 10.0 highway and 12.2 combined.

Just the same, this is where I put a plug in for Chevy's 5.3-litre V8 with gas-saving Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation, because it delivers V8 performance with 315-horsepower and 335 lb-ft of torque while getting slightly better combined fuel economy than the V6 at 14.3 city, 9.4 highway, and 12.1 combined. There's a 302-horsepower 4.8-litre V8 with 305 lb-ft of torque in between that will save you money over the more sophisticated 5.3 and won't cost you much more to drive either, although if something with more brute force is needed you can outfit the Silverado 1500 with GM's 403-horsepower 6.2-litre V8 with 417 lb-ft of torque.

While the Silverado's drivetrains are smooth operators, they're almost overshadowed by the truck's comfortable suspension. It's so nicely sprung it feels more like a luxury ute than a basic work truck, but GM trucks are always class leaders when it comes to ride quality. For its class the Silverado is fairly well sorted through the curves too. I didn't have opportunity to tow with this particular example, but in all past experience Chevy's trucks are up to the class standard. In the end you've really got to figure out how you're going to use your truck, because it's not all about how much weight you can throw into a trailer or onto the bed. It's more about how it reacts to steering and braking input, and even how it tracks in a straight line when fully loaded. Chevy trucks have always provided me with confidence inspiring hauling capability, so I'm certain this particular Silverado would be no different. Incidentally, maximum payload is 880 kilos (1,940 lbs) for a regular cab with a standard box while max towing is up to 4,808 kg (10,600 lbs) for the largest 6.2-litre V8 with a 3.73 axle, both 2WD.

Trucks are always about personal taste, which is why some people are died in the wool Chevy fans no matter what type of marketing hype the competition throws at them. You either like the way a truck fits your lifestyle or you're driving something else already, and a lot of people like what the General has on offer. Combined sales of Silverado and GMC Sierra make it one of the best-selling pickups on the market.

There's good reason for the love affair with Chevy trucks too. Even my just-above-base W/T (it had a $410 locking rear diff along with the Extended Cab I mentioned earlier for an MSRP of $32,340 including freight and dealer prep) was nicely fitted with really comfortable cloth covered seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (go figure?), full audio, cruise and Bluetooth phone controls on the steering wheel spokes, decent AM/FM/CD audio, and a simple but effective three-dial HVAC system with air condition that really blew cold quickly. Ventilation is good; three of its four vents that can be positioned to blow on the driver. Other than that my tester was pretty basic, even without powered windows or carpets, so that you can wash it out easily when it gets really dirty (although using a hose is not recommended).

Despite the lack of carpeting to deaden sound, the cabin is nice and tight with no squeaks or rattles at all when out on the road. It's roomy too, as expected in this class. Unless you're hauling around a crew of large guys the Extended Cab should suffice, although I've been in Chevy's Crew Cab a number of times and the extra legroom is appreciated by those in back while the regularly-hinged rear doors are more accommodating.

In case I haven't been clear enough there are a total of three body styles available, Regular, Extended and Crew, while bed lengths measure from five-foot-eight to eight feet, with a six-foot-eight bed thrown in the middle, and their availability depends on body configuration and drivetrain. Nobody offers more body style, bed lengths and powertrain possibilities than Chevy, so if you can think it up the bowtie boys can probably build it for you.

Of course, throw in all the goodies from an LT, Cheyenne Edition or top-line LTZ before adding more power plus four-wheel drive and prices will climb, although the Silverado always remains totally competitive and, right now at least, healthy discounts are available.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Pickup, Chevrolet, 2013, Silverado, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Full-size,

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