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2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader January 2016

Thanks to a redesign two years ago, the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado offers a more modern take on the traditional full-size pickup truck. That means the bare-bones interiors and low-quality materials of old trucks are gone, replaced instead by a more elegant cabin, crossoverlike ride and handling, modern technology and -- at the heart of it all -- improved capabilities. In other words, the latest Silverado makes an excellent case for itself as one of today's top pickup trucks.

Yes, it's true the new Silverado's styling isn't radically different -- but that's no accident. The small changes give the truck a modern look, while keeping it recognizable. But it's what's under the skin that counts, and that's where the Silverado shines. This year's Silverado is wider, tougher and higher-tech than ever -- and while it may look mostly the same, the latest Silverado is also more capable, boasting a greater payload and towing capacity than ever before.

What's New for 2016?

In addition to minor styling updates, the 2016 Silverado offers a few new features like HD Radio, a wireless charging device and a new high-beam assist feature in the truck's Driver Alert package.

What We Like

Great interior; steering and handling almost feels like a car; impressive array of technology

What We Don't

Styling is too similar to the outgoing model; that's about it

How Much?

$28,100-$51,000

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado is offered with three engines: a 4.3-liter V6 that makes 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft, a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft, and a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. All use a 6-speed automatic as the only available transmission.

For shoppers interested in gas mileage, the 4.3-liter engine is the one to have. It returns 18 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway with 2-wheel drive, or 17 mpg city/22 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.

Drivers who step up to the 5.3-liter V8 will find fuel economy ratings of 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway with 2-wheel drive, or 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive. The mighty 6.2-liter, meanwhile, returns 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy with 2-wheel drive, or 14 mpg city/20 mpg with 4-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

Like all full-size trucks, the Silverado 1500 is offered with a wide array of body style configurations, engine choices, drivetrain options and bed sizes. We've simplified it here for shoppers interested in buying a Silverado, but choosing the truck that's right for you will involve more than just picking a trim level.

Base-level Silverado models use the WT designation, for Work Truck. Starting at $28,100, the WT includes only the basics, like power locks, cruise control, air conditioning, vinyl upholstery and an AM/FM stereo with a USB input, but no CD player.

Drivers who upgrade to the LS ($30,100) get power mirrors, power windows, keyless entry, GM's OnStar system with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, a CD player and an entry-level version of Chevrolet's MyLink system with a 4.2-inch center screen.

Shoppers who step up to the LT ($34,200) get features like steering wheel audio controls, alloy wheels, a 6-speaker stereo, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cloth upholstery. The LT also offers more options than the WT and LS, including features like an alarm, a lane-departure warning system, a rearview camera and a forward-collision alert system.

The luxury-oriented LTZ ($42,400) is the next trim in the Silverado's lineup. Only offered in Double Cab or Crew Cab body styles, the LTZ includes 18-in alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a remote starter, a power sliding rear window, a memory system for the mirrors and seats, a rearview camera and an 8-in color touchscreen for the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system.

Topping the Silverado lineup is the upscale High Country ($50,700), which is only offered in Crew Cab guise. It features stitched leather seats, chrome trim on many exterior surfaces, a Bose audio system and cooled front seats. It also uses the truck's 6.2-liter V8, which is exclusive to the High Country model.

If you're interested in options, the Silverado has quite a few. Additional extras include a power sunroof, a navigation system, cooled seating, wireless device charging, power-adjustable pedals, a heated steering wheel and safety features like forward-collision alert, automatic high beams and a lane-departure warning system.

Safety

All Silverado pickups include daytime running lights, dual front airbags, front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitor. Safety options include forward-collision alert, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning and GM's OnStar system, which can provide crash notification and stolen vehicle tracking assistance.

The Silverado is the first pickup to receive a 5-star overall crash-test rating by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Crew cab variants received the top rating, earning 5-star scores in front-impact tests and the side-impact assessment, along with four stars in the rollover rating. The Silverado has not yet been tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

The Silverado's ride and handling have been dramatically improved compared to last year's model. On the road, the truck now feels more like a crossover SUV than a beefy truck. The interior remains family-sedan quiet even on the highway. Electric power steering delivers just the right amount of road feel, but it also makes the Silverado easy to maneuver in a parking lot or on a boat ramp.

We spent most of our time in a 2-wheel-drive Silverado Crew Cab with the 5.3-liter V8. This is the setup Chevy says most buyers will order. With 355 hp, this middle engine makes more than enough power but feels as smooth as a family sedan.

To capitalize on the new, more refined feel, Chevy did some serious work on the truck's interior. The gauges, dash, seats and even the carpet all give the truck a more upscale feel compared to the previous Silverado. We like the Silverado's large, easy-to-use buttons and switches. Just below the radio and climate controls are several large switches that control features such as parking sensors and Hill Descent Control. All these switches are large enough that real truck folks won't have to take off their gloves to use them.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Ford F-150 -- The newly redesigned F-150 strong competitor, offering V6 and V8 power, excellent capabilities, great gas mileage and a long list of trim levels ranging from basic to high luxury.

2016 RAM 1500 -- Formerly the Dodge Ram, the RAM 1500 boasts muscular styling, HEMI V8 power and available air suspension. We also like its optional diesel engine, which is now offered on light-duty models.

2016 Toyota Tundra -- The Tundra doesn't have the same wide-ranging lineup as the Silverado -- but it's getting close. Shoppers who pick the Tundra will find a refined, muscular pickup with many great standard features and options.

Used GMC Sierra Denali -- If you want more features and bolder styling than you can get in the Silverado, you may want to consider its upscale GMC Sierra Denali twin. Prices are higher, though, so you might have to check out a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

It's hard to go wrong with any 2016 Silverado, provided you buy the truck that's right for you. In other words: don't get a bare-bones WT model if you'll spend most of your time hauling your family around town. Likewise, don't get a High Country if you'll be driving to job sites. For us, the right truck is somewhere in the middle: an LT, or possibly an LTZ, with Chevy's high-tech MyLink system. And we'd go with the Crew Cab model to maximize practicality.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: New Car Review - Autotrader