2001 Silverado 1500 New Car Test Drive
Ford may have the best-selling pickup in America, but a whole lot of Americans still prefer a Chevrolet. While Dearborn's most recent light-duty pickup has taken on a windswept, aerodynamic look, and Dodge has carved a niche with its vaguely retro, little big-rig theme, Chevrolet has stuck with a more conservative shape, bluff in the nose and square in the shoulders. Chevrolet feels its customers are more comfortable with traditional truck styling. So when the Chevy pickup was totally re-designed, re-engineered and even re-named for 1999, its styling was updated but not radically changed.
At the same time, however, Chevrolet caught up with (or even surpassed) the technology and refinement of the more radical looking Ford and Dodge. The Silverado, as Chevy calls its pickups now, is a great achievement, better than the previous 'C/K' truck in every respect. It rides better, handles better and stops quicker; it's faster and it's more comfortable. In fact, the Silverado ranks as one of the most luxurious pickups we've ever driven.
For 2001, Silverado adds even more power, convenience and durability. All extended-cab models now have two auxiliary rear doors, rather than just one on the curbside. Extended-cab 1500s with four-wheel drive are available with a Pro-Tec fully composite box that's virtually impervious to dents or corrosion. OnStar is available on newer LT models. Finally, the 6.0-liter V8 that is standard in 2500 models has been given aluminum heads and more aggressive valve timing, for a nice, round 300 horsepower at 4400 rpm, and 360 pound-feet of torque at 4000.
Like all full-size pickups, Silverado comes in two and four-wheel-drive, with standard-length and extended cabs, and with short (6-1/2-foot) and long (8-foot) bed lengths. Three trim levels are available: base, LS, and LT. Full-width Fleetside beds are standard on all models, but short-bed buyers can choose a stylishly retro Sportside instead, for $795-$895, depending on trim level.
Various payload capacities are offered as well. The 'half-ton' range includes both the 1500 series, with actual payloads ranging from 1593 to 2334 pounds (depending on bed, cab, and drive configuration), and the heavier-duty 2500 series with payloads in the 2612-3224-pound range. Just to make things as confusing as possible, there's also a 1500HD model with a crew cab body.
Silverado 1500 models are available with a 4.8-liter V8, a 5.3-liter V8, and a 4.3-liter V6. The 2500 is powered exclusively by a 6.0-liter V8.
Three-quarter-ton Silverados are badged 2500HD and 3500, and offer payloads up to 6089 pounds. Look for those in a separate nctd.com test drive.