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Autotrader's 20th Anniversary: Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra

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author photo by Joe Tralongo July 2017

To commemorate Autotrader's 20th Anniversary, we've compiled a list of the top 10 most-searched new cars on the site and compared the current versions to their 20-year-old former selves. Ironically, the only passenger cars to make the list are two high-performance coupes, with not a single sedan or hatchback making the cut.

Number 2: Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Pickups

Like Ford's F-150, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup and its nearly identical twin, the GMC Sierra, have been a part of American trucking lore for more than 40 years. Actually, the Chevy C/K pickup has been around since the 1960s, with the Silverado name being added as a trim level in 1975. That all changed in 1999, when the C/K designation was dropped in favor of the Silverado name. At GMC, the Sierra followed a similar path, although with the introduction of the Denali trim GMC took its pickup in a more upscale direction. While the Ford F-150 claims the title of best-selling pickup in America, the combined Silverado/Sierra 1500 sales actually surpass those of the F-150. However, when one adds the heavy-duty models to the mix, Ford's F-Series still outsold its GM rivals by about 25,000 units in 2016.

While the big Chevy can't tow as much as the HD F-Series and Ram trucks, it's still a favorite of full-size pickup buyers, offering numerous cab and bed configurations, wheelbases and trims. Engines for the Silverado range from a 285-horsepower V6 to a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8. Of course, the engine found in most Silverados is the tried-and-true 335-hp 5.3-liter V8. Moving up the 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty trucks opens the door to GM's newest Duramax diesel V8, displacing 6.6 liters and putting out a class-leading 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque.

Trims include the basic work truck, the midlevel LS and LT, the nicely equipped LTZ and the new High Country, which was built to challenge the F-150 Platinum and Ram Laramie Longhorn. Numerous packages and special edition models include the Z71 off-road, Redline, Midnight, Rally 1 and 2, High Desert, Realtree and Alaskan. In 2018, the Silverado/Sierra twins are rumored to be gaining a diesel engine for 1500 models, although the really big news will come in 2019, when an all-new truck arrives.

The 1997 Chevrolet C/K Silverado

In 1997, Great Britain relinquished its 99-year lease on Hong Kong back to China, the average price for a gallon of gas was $1.22, and Woolworths department store closed its doors after 100 years in business. For Chevrolet, its full-size C/K pickups (C denoting 2-wheel-drive trucks, K representing 4-wheel drive) were in overdrive, with sales strong enough to keep the C/K in second place behind the perennial favorite, the Ford F-150. In 1997, the C/K could still be equipped with the legendary 7.4-liter "454" V8 engine, and all 1500 models included airbags for both driver and passenger. 1997 would also be the last year the Chevrolet name was proudly displayed across the truck's tailgate. Reviews of the day praised the C/K's no-nonsense styling, strong engine lineup and heavy hauling abilities, but its ride and handling took a back seat to the all-new Ford F-150. Stylistically, the bolder Ram 1500 beat out both the Chevy and the Ford in the minds of many.

Other Notable Accomplishments at Chevrolet in 1997

1997 saw Chevrolet's renewed attempt at challenging Chrysler's minivan dominance with the introduction of the Venture minivan. The Venture replaced the oddly styled Lumina APV minivan, affectionately nicknamed "the Dustbuster" because it shared its silhouette with the pint-size vacuum of the same name. This same year, a jump in truck and SUV sales precipitated a drop in large-car sales, forcing GM to announce it would close its Buick City plant in Flint, Michigan midway through the 1999 production run.

Read more about the 10 most-searched new cars on Autotrader:

#1: Ford F-Series
#2: Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
#3: Jeep Wrangler
#4: RAM 1500/2500
#5: Chevrolet Camaro
#6: Toyota Tacoma
#7: Ford Mustang
#8: Jeep Grand Cherokee
#9: Chevrolet Tahoe
#10: Toyota Tundra

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New 2017 Chevrolet Silverado and other C/K1500 4x4 Crew Cab High Country
New 2017 Chevrolet Silverado and other C/K1500
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New 2017 Chevrolet Silverado and other C/K1500
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New 2017 GMC Sierra C/K1500 Denali
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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.
Autotrader's 20th Anniversary: Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra - Autotrader