I actually did move out of my apartment last weekend, and while I had more than enough extra pair of hands to help out, none of them brougt a truck. Fortunately, I write about cars for a living and know some people who know some people, so after a few last minute phone calls and a little begging, I had secured a 2007 Chevy Silverado 1500 4WD Extended Cab LTZ for the week of the move.
I'm not a "truck guy" and never have been, which is why I don't own one. Moving my possessions in the trunk of a 1999 Oldsmobile Alero, however, would require more trips back and forth across town than I could make in one weekend, so I was glad to be armed with a V8 and a bed last week. How did it perform in its layman duty of carting my butt around while hauling items like box springs and barca loungers? Read on after the jump.
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Like all half-ton pickups, the Silverado's styling tries to send a message before you even unlock the doors. The new design for 2007 screams "big bad truck" with a front end that nearly blots out the sun. In our estimation, it's a bit overkill and gets in the way. The hood is so vast that from the driver's seat it feels like you're standing five feet from the edge of the Grand Canyon (click pic to the right to see for yourself). While the truck was surprisingly manueverable, smaller vehicles so quickly dip below your field of vision that parking is always an exercise in inching slowly forward and hoping a shopping cart doesn't get crushed in your wheel well.
The super schnoz notwithstanding, there was something wickedly decadent about driving around the Silverado LTZ, a vehicle that even on my most demanding days would hardly feel tasked. Mind you, I don't haul around sheet rock for a living, but I'm guessing a fair number of truck buyers use their pickups as daily drivers most of the time, too. In that time behind the wheel between my house and the 7-11 two streets away, I did feel the sting of condemnation and the pride of envy from my fellow man at the same time. It's strange, a bit intoxicating and always led to me cranking up AC/DC on the stereo.
The reason I felt justified in driving the Silverado all week even when not hauling stuff is that A) this is Ah-Mur-Ika and I'll drive what I want, and B) the interior was nicer than my own living room. The LTZ emblazoned on the side of my tester meant that lots of goodies were included including 12-way power heated seats swathed in soft leather, Bose speakers jacked into an XM Satellite Radio, and faux wood trim. The captain's chairs were truly thrones with which I would gladly replace any piece of furniture in my own house. The rear bench looked accommodating, though if I meant to carry four passengers regularly, the Crew Cab would have been my truck of choice rather than the Extended Cab. Being that I never did have a passenger in my truck, the interior was all mine to enjoy, and though the Silverado's basic switchgear is nice, we've seen it on so many GM vehicles now that it no longer feels premium.
The weekend eventually came and it was time to press the Silverado LTZ into service. While we stuffed a 17-foot long U-Haul truck with boxes, the Silverado was reserved for odd-shaped items or stuff of value we didn't want crushed in a tidal wave of cardboard inside the U-Haul. Its first task was to help me pick up a Queen-size box spring and bed frame, so I was disappointed to learn neither would fit in the 69.3-inch long bed, but had to be propped on the liftgate and tied down. Fortunately our tester came with the optional Cargo Management System for $175.00. It features rails built into each side of the bed with a pair of tie-downs for each that slide fore and aft. Thanks to the guy at the mattress store who whipped out some fancy Navy knots, my cargo was easily secured with some white nylon straps.
On Moving Day, we filled the Silverado's bed with a lot more cargo and didn't fear scratching the paint with chair legs or bar stools thanks to the plastic bedliner. Again, the Cargo Management System did its job and allowed us to tightly secure these objects that refused to be stacked nicely. Since there are tie-downs on each rail slide, our strategy was to first tie a nylon strap across the bed attached to two tie-downs, and then after the bed was loaded, slide the tie downs toward the cab until the nylon strap was pulled tightly across the cargo. That left us with two tie downs to run another rope over the cargo to keep taller items from being ejected from the bed on the highway.
Though we never did haul sheet rock, we did appreciate our tester being optioned with the larger 6.0L Vortec MAX V8 with Active Fuel Management (read: cylinder deactivation). We never noticed the Active Fuel Management shutting down cylinders on the highway, so it must have occurred seamlessly. The same cannot be said for the Silverado's 4-speed transmission, which always felt ill-suited, unwilling to downshift and too eager to eager to reach Overdrive. We're betting the Vortec MAX will find a much more engaging partner in GM's six-speed automatic that will soon be offered in more trucks and SUVs. This particular Silverado LTZ also came with a 3.73 rear-axle ratio, which gave us the impression that this model was dialed in more for gas mileage than hauling, towing and passing.
When they took the 2007 Silverado 1500 4WD Extended Cab LTZ away, I have to admit no tears were shed. Not being a truck guy, the new Silverado, nor any of its competitors including the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram or Toyota Tundra, would be my first choice as a daily driver. But after borrowing one for a week and using it to actually accomplish a task, albeit an easy and simple one, it's very obvious why we like our trucks so much in America. They are easily the most refined and evolved vehicles we produce. The Silverado, for instance, could do a little bit of everything, and do most of it well, all while impersonating a luxury car from the inside. It was completely livable on a day-to-day basis, yet had enormous reserves in waiting. Though not my first choice, I'm now on the look out for new friends that own a Silverado.