2006 Silverado 1500HD New Car Test Drive
The 2006 Chevy Silverado is the last of its generation. An all-new generation of trucks is being introduced for 2007. So look for deals on the outgoing 2006 classic versions. The 2006 Silverado rides well and handles well. It's quick and it's comfortable. Boxed and hydroformed frame rails provide a strong, rigid platform. It is, as the advertising tagline says, like a rock. Heated seats, a Bose stereo, XM Satellite Radio and other options make long days spent in a Silverado comfortable and enjoyable.
Silverado benefitted from some significant revisions for 2005. Lower-profile tires on 17-inch wheels provided better handling than before. A gas/electric Hybrid option promised lower operating cost with V8 performance. A sporty SS model debuted, for buyers who value muscle-car acceleration and handling over towing/hauling capacity. More minor changes for 2005 included dual electric cooling fans, which are quieter and more efficient than the engine-driven fan used previously; while aerodynamic refinements to the front end and running boards reduced wind noise and promised a slight improvement in fuel economy. Chevrolet announced no changes for 2006.
Those who value a smooth-riding truck with a low load height should compare a two-wheel-drive Silverado to the other full-size pickups; lifting heavy equipment into the back of high-riding trucks is hard on the back.
The choice for best full-size pickup is not as clear as it was four years ago, when the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra appeared to be the leaders of the pack. Since then, Ford has introduced an all-new F-150, Dodge has re-engineered the Ram, Nissan has rolled out the appropriately named Titan, and Toyota has joined the fray with the biggest Tundra ever. There isn't a dog among them. All are superb in their own way.
Like all full-size pickups, the Silverado is available in a vast array of configurations: two-wheel drive (2WD) and four-wheel-drive (4WD); regular cabs, extended cabs, and crew cabs; short beds (6-1/2-foot) and long beds (8-foot). Three trim levels are available: base, LS, and LT, plus a sporty SS. Full-width Fleetside beds are standard, but retro Sportside beds are offered for selected models. Silverado is available in several load ranges, but this review focuses on the light-duty 1500 series, which offers payload ratings from 1,215 to 2,040 pounds. Silverado 1500 models are available with a 4.3-liter V6, a 4.8-liter V8, a 5.3-liter V8, or a 6.0-liter V8.
Silverado also offers the 1500HD, which represents a compromise between the light-duty 1500 series and the medium-to-heavy-duty (and correspondingly harder-riding) 2500HD and 3500 series. Avaialble only as a Crew Cab with a 6-foot, 6-inch bed (instead of the standard 1500 Crew Cab's 5-foot, 8-inch bed), the 1500HD hauls 3,073 pounds with 2WD, 2,766 pounds with 4WD, and tows 10,200 pounds. Power is provided by the big 6.0-liter V8 that's used in the 2500HD/3500.
Standard equipment on all Silverado models, even the most basic W/T (Work Truck), are air conditioning, AM/FM stereo, tilt steering, a chromed front bumper, painter rear step bumber, and 17-inch painted steel wheels.
Moving up to LS trim (starting at $19,725) adds cloth instead of vinyl upholstery, a CD player, and an expanded list of options. LS Crew Cabs ($24,615) come with the 4.8-liter V8 and automatic. Silverado LT (starting at $23,000) is more luxurious, with upgraded upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Again the Crew Cab version ($28,165) comes with more, including an upgraded six-speaker stereo. The 5.3-liter V8 is standard on LT Crew Cabs. LT2 and LT3 option packages add yet more equipment, but both price and specific content depend on cab style, driveline, and other factors. We suggest you see a Chevy dealer to sort it all out.
The Z71 off-road package includes full LS trim, plus special off-road suspension, locking rear differential, P265/70R17 on/off-road tires, skid plates, high-capacity air cleaner, wheel flares, fog lamps, and deep-tinted glass.
Silverado SS ($32,930) is a performance model equipped with a high-output 345 horsepower Vortec 6000 6.0-liter engine designed for quick acceleration and relaxed cruising. SS gets a high-performance Z60 chassis package; 20-inch wheels and tires; full-time all-wheel drive; a lower, wider stance; and special exterior and interior trim.
A Hybrid option ($1,500) is available in several states. With its unique starter/generator combined with a 5.3-liter V8, the hybrid offers up to 10 percent improvement in fuel economy while delivering the same 295 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque as any other Silverado with the 5.3-liter engine.
Options include XM Satellite Radio ($325), which provides CD-quality broadcast of 100 digital channels coast to coast, and a Bose sound system. Crew Cab models offer a Panasonic DVD Passenger Entertainment System ($1,295) and rear-seat audio controls. Late in the model year, Extended Cabs and Crew Cabs will offer a power sunroof ($795). OnStar ($695) is also available, which puts a human being at your assistance at the press of a button any time of day. OnStar operators can unlock your doors remotely and the system automatically calls for assistance if the airbags deploy.
Safety features on most 1500 models include dual-level front air bags, which are designed to provide an appropriate amount of inflation based on the severity of the crash. A passenger-sensing system automatically deactivates the passenger-side front air bag under certain conditions to protect children. Active safety features include anti-lock brakes (ABS) on all models. GM's Autotrac 4WD improves traction and stability of four-wheel-drive models on slippery roads.