2005 Silverado 1500HD New Car Test Drive
The styling of the Chevy Silverado has an edgy angularity that looks contemporary. The Silverado shares its bold design cues with the Avalanche, the TrailBlazer SUV, and the mid-size Colorado pickup. The Silverado looks more conteporary than the relatively conservative Suburban and Tahoe SUVs.
Silverado's headlights angle down at the top like the determined eyebrows of a Marine drill sergeant. A large band runs across the middle of the grille punctuated in the middle by a big, gold Chevy bow tie. All of this is smoothly integrated into the front end, along with spaces for fog lamps and recessed tow hooks. The flared engine hood and squared-off wheel openings continue the aggressive theme down the sides of the truck. In the rear are bulging taillamps that maintain the Chevrolet family look yet uniquely identify the Silverado. Quadrasteer (four-wheel steering) models are distinguished by bulging rear fenders.
Silverado's large door openings make getting in and out easier, and the door handles are big and easy to grab. Extended cabs come standard with four doors, though the rear doors open in the reverse direction and not as wide as we would like. Optional puddle lamps mounted beneath the big side mirrors light the ground along the sides of the truck, handy in the woods and in the city. Mirrors are also available with redundant turn signal indicators, warning drivers alongside or in your blind spot that you are moving over. Heavy-duty models have running lights on the roof, tailgate, and leading and trailing edges of their bulging rear fenders. They add visibility for improved safety. Plus they look neat.
Silverado's bed features built-in tie-down brackets near the four corners. Indentations stamped into the inner bed walls can hold boards to form bulkhead dividers or a second floor for two-tier loading. The Silverado's load floor is 31.6 inches above the ground on 2WD models, and 33.7 inches with 4WD. That's relatively low, and low is good when loading heavy cargo. Short-box beds are 78.7 inches long; long boxes are 97.6 inches long. Fleetside boxes are 64.8 inches wide (at the floor); Sportside boxes measure 49.1 inches wide. All Fleetside boxes measure 50 inches wide between the wheel housings.
A Pro-Tec composite box is available for Silverado 1500 Extended Cab short-box models. Pro-Tec is a nearly indestructible material that's lighter and stronger than steel. It never rusts and it resists dents. Pro-Tec tailgates can support a lot more weight than steel tailgates.
Inside, the Silverado is roomy and comfortable. The seats are big and cushy, though we don't always find them comfortable for long trips. The standard front bench seat can seat three, giving Extended Cab and Crew Cab models capacity for six people. It's split 40/20/40, and the middle part folds down to become a center console/armrest. There's lots of head room and plenty of leg room, hip room, and shoulder room. The standard bench is available in cloth or vinyl.
Optional bucket seats are more comfortable and adjust every which way. We like both the premium cloth and the leather. The bucket seats are separated by a deep center console that holds lots of stuff. The top of the lid features a nice rubber-lined indention handy for small items, though it would be even better if the rubber was an insert that could be removed for cleaning. The top of the console is angled forward, which seems unfortunate because clipboards and other items placed there tend to slide off. A big coat hook makes picking up the dry cleaning easier.
The instrument panel features a large speedometer and tachometer. Smaller gauges to the right display oil pressure, water temperature, fuel quantity, and battery charge. HD models with the Heavy-Duty Trailering Package come with a transmission temperature gauge on the left. All use highly legible white-on-black graphics. Headlamps and taillamps turn on automatically when it gets dark. A Driver Information Center, located in the instrument panel cluster, provides various bits of information, including an available engine-hour meter.
Dual-zone climate controls are standard. The manually controlled system that comes on base models is a good, straightforward design. Manual sliders are used to adjust the temperature The available electronic climate controls are better, featuring two large knobs for driver and passenger. A large LED displays the mode and fan settings. It's a well-engineered system that's sophisticated yet easy to operate.
The stereo systems feature digital controls with large knobs for volume and tuning. It's a good setup, more attractive and more sophisticated than pre-2003 systems, but just as easy to use. XM Satellite Radio is a great addition for people who want minimal blab interrupting their music, or who like to listen to 24-hour news or sports channels like FoxNews, CNN or ESPN. Satellite radio also means you can drive across the U.S. without ever having to switch from your favorite stations.
The 2005 models are available with a new generation of OnStar (called Gen 6) designed for improved hands-free operation, thanks to more intuitive dialing and improved voice recognition. OnStar is the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services in the United States and Canada. Using the GPS satellite network and wireless technology, OnStar features core safety services and OnStar Personal Calling that allows drivers to make and receive hands-free, voice-activated phone calls.
The back seat in Extended Cab models offers more room and comfort than expected. We wouldn't want to ride across the state back there, but three adults can fit and be reasonably comfortable for a short trip. The rear-seat bottom folds up to provide space for cargo, but it's still in the way when trying to carry a lot of stuff, and the floor is not flat. The entire rear seat assembly can be removed with a wrench and lifted out through the door when cargo capacity is more important than passenger space.
Crew Cabs offer roomy rear seats and additional interior cargo space. The back seats in Crew Cab models are very comfortable, similar to the rear seats in a Suburban or Tahoe. The rear seats can be flipped down, like those in a Suburban, to provide a big, secure cargo area.