2002 Silverado 3500 New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Silverado is the second-best-selling pickup in America, but that still adds up to a lot of trucks. By consciously avoiding the more radical concept styling of its competitors, the bluff-nosed, square-shouldered Silverado seems to have found its own secure niche in the hearts of many American truck buyers.
But don't let Silverado's conservative demeanor fool you. This truck is every bit as technically advanced, every bit as car-like and user-friendly as its aero-look competitors. It rides, handles, and stops as well as, maybe better than, the best of them. It's quick and it's comfortable.
The base price is higher for 2002, but it now buys more standard equipment, including the chrome bumper and grille that Chevrolet claims most buyers want. Silverado prices still start about $700 below Ford's F-150. Option packages have been streamlined for value and convenience.
Introduced last year, this is the first full production year for the new 1500 HD model, which combines light-duty 1500-series styling in a heavy-duty six-passenger crew cab with a 300-horsepower Vortec V8.
Also available for 2002 is Quadrasteer, an electronically controlled four-wheel-steering system that makes parking much easier and pulling a trailer a breeze. Heavy-duty pickup trucks don't get any better than the heavy-duty Silverado line. General Motors completely re-engineered its heavy-duty pickups last year. Based on our driving experience, the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra appear to be the best heavy-duty pickups on the market.
That's a strong statement, but they boast the most power, the heftiest gross vehicle weight rating and the highest gross combined vehicle weight rating available. More noticeable on a daily basis is their superior refinement. They offer excellent handling, the smoothest ride and the most up-to-date interiors.
Two monster engines are available in addition to the standard 6.0-liter V8: an 8.1-liter Vortec V8 that develops 455 foot-pounds of torque, and the mighty new Duramax 6600 diesel V8 that generates 520 foot-pounds of torque. Each is available with the truly impressive Allison five-speed automatic transmission.
Like all full-size pickups, Silverado is available in a vast array of versions: two-wheel drive and four-wheel-drive; standard-length regular cabs, extended cabs, and crew cabs; 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 LS and LT short-bed buyers can choose a stylishly retro Sportside ($795).
Various payload capacities are offered as well. The so-called 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 2600-3200-pound range.
Silverado 1500 models are available with a 4.3-liter V6, 4.8-liter V8, or 5.3-liter V8. The 1500 HD Crew Cab and 2500 are 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 review.). A dizzying number of configurations is available, ensuring that nearly everyone can find exactly the right truck to suit their needs.
Heavy-duty Silverado pickups are broadly divided into the 2500 HD series and the 3500 series. 'Half-ton,' '3/4-ton' and 'one-ton' are outdated terms because modern trucks haul far more than 1000-2000 pounds. Many of us, however, still tend to refer to the Silverado 1500 and 2500 series as the half-ton trucks (see separate nctd.com review of the Silverado 1500 and 2500 light-duty trucks).
2500 HD pickups are what we generically call 3/4-ton trucks. All Chevy 2500 HD trucks come with single rear wheels.
3500-series trucks all come with dual rear wheels; these so-called one-ton trucks are often called 'duallies.'
Regular Cab, Extended Cab and Crew Cab bodies are available with 6.5-foot short beds or 8-foot long beds. Wheelbases run 133, 143.5, 153.0, 157.5, and 167 inches long on 2500 HD pickups; wheelbases are available in 133, 157.5, 161.5, and 167.5 inches on 3500 duallies. All use the standard Fleetside-style body.
Three trim levels are offered: base, LS and LT.
Engine choices: 6.0-liter Vortec V8, 8.1-liter Vortec V8, and 6.6-liter Duramax Turbo Diesel.
Just as important are the transmission choices: five-speed manual, six-speed manual, four-speed automatic ($1095 on base and LS, standard on LT), and an exciting new Allison five-speed automatic ($1200 on LT, $2295 on base or LS models). And, of course, two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are available.
Retail prices range from less than $23,000 for a 2500HD 2WD Regular Cab to more than $43,000 for a fully loaded 4WD Crew Cab with the Duramax diesel and Allison automatic.
Quadrasteer four-wheel steering - which improves low-speed maneuverability and high-speed stability - will be extended to several more GM full-size trucks during 2002. The system, first introduced exclusively on the GMC Sierra Denali, will be offered this calendar year as a regular production option on properly equipped 2002 GMC Sierra Wideside and Chevrolet Silverado Fleetside 2WD and 4WD extended cab short-box pickups.