On Aug. 3, the automotive world was buzzing about how full-size pickup sales had jumped 12 percent in July.
Of those pickups, GM’s Chevrolet Silverado was second in July in total sales among all vehicles, behind the Ford F-Series juggernaut, with 56,380 sold, a 33.9 percent increase over July of last year. For the year, Chevy has sold 332,202 Silverados, 17.5 percent more than at this point in 2014, according to Cars.com.
On that same day, I got a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 to test drive for a week. What I wanted to find out was why were these full-size pickups flying off of dealers’ lots? What’s the attraction that’s moving so much metal?
As I discovered, it was the combination of a powerful engine, an amazingly quiet and comfortable cabin, available Internet connectivity and two things a big truck must do well: haul and tow.
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The test vehicle was a rear-wheel drive 1500 LS double cab with a 6-foot, 6-inch box. While not the highest trim in the Silverado lineup, its standard features along with a few key options added up to a lot of truck.
One of those options was the engine, a smooth-running 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8. The standard engine is a 4.3-liter V-6. The bigger engine provides 70 more horsepower and 78 more pound-feet of torque than the V-6, which is useful on the 19-foot, 5,000-pound truck.
Equipped with this V-8 and the optional 3.42 ratio rear axle, the truck has a maximum trailer weight rating of 9,500 pounds and a payload rating of 1,870 pounds. When it’s not towing or hauling, the Silverado can engage its fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology on the V-8 and switch to four-cylinder driving. That helps the Silverado attain a 23-mpg rating on the highway.
For better control when towing a trailer, the Silverado comes with Stabilitrak stability control with trailer sway control and hill start assist. There also is a manual mode that allows the driver to select a desired range of gears that helps control the vehicle’s transmission and speed.
Even with the V-8 engine, elevated ride height, big 20-inch wheels and 275/55 tires, the Silverado is remarkably quiet, and the composed cabin, while not luxurious, is another of the Silverado’s main draws. At highway speeds, there is almost no noticeable wind or tire noise, and the engine is muted. The suspension smooths out rough stretches.
The front seat is a bench with a 40/20/40 split. In the middle is a large fold-up storage unit. The front seat lacked power controls, but did feature manual lumbar support adjustment. The seat was comfortable. Visibility was good in every direction except directly behind the truck. A rear-view camera should be standard on every trim level of a truck this big.
Because this was a double cab, there is a usable back seat with 38.7 inches of headroom and 34.6 inches of legroom.
If this truck is going to be a work truck, then it needs connectivity, and this one excels in that category.
First, the truck provides ample methods of connecting and powering your devices with multiple USB ports and 12-volt outlets. But the centerpiece of the Silverado’s connectivity is its available OnStar with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and Chevrolet indicates the Silverado is the first pickup to offer it. It allows up to seven connections to its hotspot so work can continue inside or outside of the truck.
Three years or 36,000 miles; five years or 100,000 miles powertrain warranty.
The starting price for the Silverado was $31,940. Options included a trailering equipment package with auto locking rear differential, a custom package that included 20-inch aluminum wheels, all-season tires, chrome door handles and mirror caps, body color bumper pad, the 5.3-liter V-8 engine, the Deep Ocean Blue metallic finish, spray-on bed liner, color keyed carpet, a Gross Vehicle Weight rating of 7,000 pounds and 3.42 rear axle ratio. The sticker price was $35,660.
2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2WD LS DBL
ENGINE: 5.3-liter, 355-horsepower EcoTec3 V-8 with 383 pound-feet of torque.
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
WHEELBASE/LENGTH: 143.5/230 inches
CURB WEIGHT: 5,102 pounds
BASE PRICE: $31,940
AS DRIVEN: $35,660
MPG RATING: 16 miles per gallon in city driving, 23 on the highway