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This week I got my hands on the undisputed king of pickups in the GCC – the Chevrolet Silverado (Prices here). Why GCC? As in the rest of the world – particularly North America – the Ford F150 (Prices of F150) reigns supreme. Both F150 and Silverado are work-horses – made for heavy lifting/towing but in GCC there are many Japanese alternatives so one could ask why should anyone buy them. Well, the plain and simple answer is SWAG. They are big brutes and can be used for bullying others on the road and perform decent off-road as well.
Well, first and foremost, the Silverado is long, wide and high. So, it will take a while to get used to the dimensions if you haven’t driven an American truck before. The Silverado is based on the Tahoe and shares the same design language. There are various trim levels for the Silverado but the one I received was the Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LTZ. The Crew Cab is the one having equal-sized 4 doors and a standard bed. Considering the generous ground clearance, one might think side steps will be included to ease the process of entering and exiting. Thankfully, though, they were provided.
This huge size overall does have its disadvantages as squeezing into parking lots became a losing battle and I had to look for large empty spaces far away in the mall parking lot so that I can maneuver this truck away from confined spaces. Moreover, the extended length does not allow the truck to fit within the lines of the parking.
Interior Materials & Finishing
As with most American vehicles, expect hard plastics in the interior. But, thankfully, the plastic percentage in this car was on the lower side as our full options test car had a generous dose of leather wrapping on the instrument panel and arm-rests. Coupled with leather seats and steering, the interior was a pleasant place to be in and considerably relaxing. The only complaint here is the lack of proper insulation as I could hear wind noise when the car crossed the 100 km/h mark.
Interior Space and Visibility
This car is huge from the outside as well as inside. The front hood seemed never-ending while taking turns and I always had that worry of hitting the pavement while turning. The outrageous turning circle did not help my case either. Also, driving this vehicle in one lane on the highway was a bit tedious as it kept on touching the lane markings on either side due to its width but, the lane departure warning system kept me alerted and for that I thank you Chevrolet. Other than that, this car has a decent bed which can easily fit any picnic/hiking gear for adrenaline junkies and the rear legroom is spacious for 3 adults to fit in. Overall, this car takes time to get comfortable with but once you’re familiar then it becomes easy to drive.
Interior Features and Technology
Since it’s a top-spec model so expect all the gizmos and gadgets American luxury has to offer. The touchscreen infotainment system takes a bit of a learning curve as there are buttons below the screen as well as on the screen to select the options. Also, one thing I truly missed in such a big-sized car was blind spot detection. Other than that, every modern safety feature is adopted including lane departure, collision warning and park assist. Moreover, the interior features included seat cooling/warming, heated steering, dual zone climate control and a lot of USB ports in addition to AUX and SD card reader. Also, it had a 230V 3-plug socket as well. Overall, the gadgets satisfy the asking price.
Power and Transmission
The car is powered by a 5.3 liter V8 producing 355 BHP and 520 Nm of torque. This engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission – enough to pull this monster from stationary position. In our test run, the car accelerated from 0-100 in 8.3 seconds and gave an average fuel economy of 16.7 l/100 km. This is a decent mileage if you compare the weight and power of this Goliath. The transmission, too, was adequate as this is not a car where you notice instant shifts in gear. The Silverado takes time but, hey, this was never meant to be a sports car. Overall, no complains.
Handling, Brakes and Suspension
The Chevrolet Silverado is a tall brute which means the ride will be lumpy. But, what I did not expect was that the suspension will be hard enough to make me feel each and every blemish on the road surface. I did not feel pot holes that much even in the Honda City (Prices of City). However, due to its trampoline of a suspension, going over speed bumps was fun as the car jumped up and down like riding a wave. Other than that, expect a lot of body roll as it feels like piloting a cruise-liner. Steering lacks feel so handling isn’t very impressive but good enough for a daily drive.
Braking is another area where it took me a while to getting used to. Since it’s a heavy vehicle, it will take its sweet time to decelerate. So, make sure you press brake at least 100m in advance from your intuitive braking point. Once you get the hang of it then its normal. Our test run resulted from 100-0 in 3.3 seconds – faster than a Honda City. Good job Chevy!
As for off-road capabilities, it is highly capable due to its low-range gearing, good ground clearance and of course power – add to that Z71 off-road kit as well. But due to its long wheelbase, tackling dunes isn’t easy. But on flats, it just cruises along smoothly.
Overall, such handling and suspension suits the character and I did not face any major disappointments.
The Chevrolet Silverado is amongst the impractical cars money can buy – and that is its USP. It is meant for explorers who like to challenge nature and keep on moving. This car has road presence and one can easily bully other drivers. It has power to get out from tough situations. What it doesn’t have are decent dimensions. Also, it has average looks – something Chevy needs to work on. I understand the whole boxy-tough image but they can definitely do better.