2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Quick Spin [w/video]
The New Look You Were Waiting For
Power355 HP / 383 LB-FT
Curb Weight5,444 LBS
MPG15 City / 21 HWY
As Tested Price$54,670
Best Deal Price$22,928
If a Ford grille that reaches halfway into the headlights is good, a Chevy grille that cuts the units clean in two must be better. That's at least how we imagine the designers' thought process went. Those new split lights use HID projectors on lower models and full-LED tech on the upper trims, with all versions getting LED daytime running lights. LED taillights are also included on the fancier models.
Each of the eight trim levels has its own look, and the differentiation goes beyond the placement of chrome and the color of cladding. Look closely and you'll see that elements of the various grille treatments are repeated within the headlights. It's a neat touch, and proof that attention to detail is still a thing. Chevy also reshaped the hood, with sharp lines and pockets that look like they'll do a great job of collecting snow come winter. We get why a Corvette has troughs in its hood (you know where the wheels are and see through the valley to the road) but the surfacing on the Silverado's engine hat has only aesthetic benefits.
On the feature front, almost all 2016 Silverado models get standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support; the 7.0-inch screen includes both, while the available 8.0-inch screen will add Android Auto through an update in March of 2016. The top High Country trim gets new power-articulating side steps as an option. In addition to swinging down to help you hoist yourself in through the door, the steps have a button at the rear that, when pressed, motors them down and rearward to give you a foothold at the front of the bed. Chevy also catches up to the competition with an available remote-locking tailgate.
Chevy also gets further into the competitive numbers game for 2016 with expanded use of its eight-speed truck transmission. In addition to its use in all 6.2-liter-equipped trucks, the eight-speed now comes with LTZ, LTZ Z71, and High Country trucks equipped with the 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8. (Lesser 5.3 trims and those with the V6 remain paired with six-speed autos.) The eight-speed has a wider ratio spread and a shorter first gear, and models so equipped get taller rear-axle ratios. The new transmission has two overdrive gears, just like on the six-speed. The surprise is worse fuel-economy ratings – for example, 16 mpg city and 22 highway for a two-wheel-drive, eight-speed truck compared to 16/23 for a rear-drive truck with the six-speed. Chevy says this is because the mix of eight-speed 5.3 trucks includes only the higher trim levels, trucks that have more options and are therefore heavier on average. We're told real-world economy should improve when comparing similarly equipped trucks with the two different transmissions.
- Regardless of what it does for fuel economy, the eight-speed helps improve response from the smaller V8. The 5.3 feels just a touch more flexible with this transmission, which it needed.
- When paired with the eight-speed, the 5.3's cylinder deactivation seems to put it into four-cylinder mode less often than it does with the six-speed. The computers are undoubtedly making the more economical decision, and it just so happens that shifting up a gear is often a better way to reduce torque load than shutting down half of the engine. This is fine with us, since the transmission shifts more smoothly than the cylinders deactivate and reactivate.
- Those new articulating running boards are pretty neat, and just the latest volley in the pickup step wars. See them in action in the video below.
- The Z71 models are the most handsome of the new trucks to our eyes, since they're usually monochrome and mostly devoid of brightwork. You pay more for the Z71, however, and that might be GM's way of getting those looking for the clean look to shell out a little more money. The Custom is a close second, sitting just above the Work Truck and LS in the lineup and also leaving most of the chrome at the plant.
- If you have an iPhone, you'll like CarPlay. If you have an Android, you'll like Android Auto. And that pretty much covers the US population.
Outside the styling changes, this set of upgrades is relatively mild. The increased use of the eight-speed automatic is welcome, but there are still six-speeds in most of the lineup. We suspect greater proliferation of the eight-speed in coming years, and once that happens the fuel-economy figures are likely to be revised upward slightly, since the average eight-speed truck will be lighter. Until then, the Silverado at least looks and feels more modern, leaving us little to ask for.
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