2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 review

Want some tech with your torque? Chevy's Silverado 1500 delivers

Chevrolet’s full-sized pickup is ready to meet your hauling needs, but the tech on offer makes it easy to live with as well.
Chevrolet’s full-sized pickup is ready to meet your hauling needs, but the tech on offer makes it easy to live with as well.
Chevrolet’s full-sized pickup is ready to meet your hauling needs, but the tech on offer makes it easy to live with as well.

Highs

  • Ample power with the optional 6.2-liter V8
  • Excellent technology suite
  • Handsome looks
  • Rugged truck with intelligent safety tech

Lows

  • Suspension lacks composure over rough pavement
  • Transmission can be fussy at low speeds

While fuel prices remain relatively low, the domestic market for full size trucks like the Silverado remains strong. And with serious competition from Ford’s F-150 as well as the Ram 1500, Chevrolet continues to evolve its formula to stay in the running. As with those other trucks, the Silverado 1500 can be had in an array of different configurations and packages.

Here outfitted in Crew Cab configuration with LTZ trim, the Z71 off-road package, and the Redline Edition option group, this Silverado 1500 4×4 seeks to appeal to truck buyers who not only need heavy duty capability along with passenger and cargo capacity, but also want some measure of luxury and style as well.

Boasting a wide scope of tech features as well as a best-in-class tow rating, the Silverado has the hardware to match its tough aesthetic, in turn offering truck buyers a full sized pickup that backs up the claims made by its bold looks with legitimate capability.

What’s new

The 2017 Silverado sticks close to the playbook established by the significant refresh that debuted last year, but there are some tweaks on hand here worth noting. Along with the improved tow rating figures that now put the Silverado at the head of the class (12,500 pounds when properly equipped), several new safety features have been implemented.

These include the optional low speed forward automatic braking system, which applies the brakes at speeds between 5 and 37 mph when the system senses a potential collision, as well as the Teen Driver feature, which provides parents with a data log of the vehicle’s recent driving activates.

Trim levels & features

In base configuration, the 2017 Silverado 1500 Z71 4WD LTZ Crew Cab rings up $49,190 before a $1250 destination charge, and is equipped with a 5.3-liter Ecotec3 V8 that generates 355 horsepower, which is hooked to GM’s eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Our tester is outfitted with the top-spec V8 however, a 6.2-liter mill that dishes out a healthy 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, which is also equipped an 8-speed automatic.

The Z71 package adds 4×4 capability that includes off-road suspension tuning with Rancho monotube shocks as well as skid plates, Hill Descent Control and requisite badging inside and out. Our tester’s LTZ Plus package adds adjustable pedals, a Bose audio system and a heated steering wheel to the mix, while the Redline Edition package adds black and red exterior accents, unique running boards, and 20-inch black aluminum wheels wrapped in all-terrain rubber.

2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 review
Bradly Iger/Digital Trends
Bradley Iger/Digital Trends

Our test vehicle was also equipped with the Enhanced Driver Alert package, which adds front and rear park assist, active lane keep assist, low speed automatic braking, Intellibeam adaptive headlamps, forward collision alert, and the safety alert seat, the latter of which provides alerts to the driver through haptic hardware installed in the seat. Add a power sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, leather, and the optional 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and this Silverado tallies up $59,610 all-in with destination charge.

Technology overview

With the optional 8-inch touchscreen infotainment on hand here, our tester offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, while the center console features a wireless charging pad as well as additional USB, traditional outlet and cigarette lighter-style charging ports located just underneath the HVAC controls.

The technology on board can make the vast dimensions of this pickup easier to live with on a day to day basis.

Chevrolet’s MyLink system remains one of the strongest infotainment system offerings on the market, providing fast response, a wide-ranging feature set, and aesthetic continuity with sharp visuals throughout. Though it might lose a step to the Ram’s Uconnect system in those aforementioned characteristics, it stays well ahead of Ford’s Sync 3.

MyLink’s navigation software is easy to use and provides clear instructions both visually and through voice prompts when in use, though some of its interface eccentricities might take a few uses to acclimate to. Regardless, this is one of the few systems on the market that owners might actually prefer to use over the solutions provided with Apple Carplay, Android Auto, or the multitude of navigation apps available for most mobile devices.

While the Silverado is big vehicle – particularly in Crew Cab configuration – the technology on board can make the vast dimensions of this pickup easier to live with on a day to day basis. Along with active safety tech like blind spot alerts and collision alerts, the proximity sensors of the optional front and rear parking assistance feature make estimating how much room you have around you much less of a guessing game, and feedback from the seat alerts will also help prevent any potential mishaps. Hill start assist comes standard here, though in practice we found it to be more hindrance than help, as tight parking maneuvers on steep streets and driveway were often made more difficult by this feature’s tendency to automatically lock the brakes only to suddenly release them a second later.

Interior fit & finish

Since the Silverado 1500 is, at its core, a utilitarian work truck, the interior aesthetic is business-like with little apparent concern for creative flourishes, instead focusing on keeping things simple and easily-accessed. Though that might not make the Silverado’s interior a particularly exciting place to be, the emphasis on function over form is desirable for a vehicle like this. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and seating gives the LTZ trimmed Silverado a more upscale feel, but would-be pilots shouldn’t expect any major surprises here.

What the Silverado’s interior might lack in creativity it makes up for in spaciousness and utility, with numerous storage compartments large and small, as well as cavernous amounts of leg and headroom for up to six occupants. The standard bed size for the Crew Cab Silverado is 5.8ft, while a 6.5ft bed is optional.

Driving performance & MPG

The Silverado 1500 Crew Cab’s on-road manners, while reasonably composed at speed, aren’t going to be confused with a sports car anytime soon. The Z71’s off-road tuned suspension feels surprisingly soft at speed and rough pavement can quickly unsettle it, resulting in several body motions before the chassis settles down again.

While reasonably composed at speed, The Silverado’s on-road manners, aren’t going to be confused with a sports car anytime soon.

Here the Chevrolet loses some ground to offerings that are simply more sophisticated and tuned for on-road handling than its leaf-spring rear axle setup (such as the five-link design Ram uses), though Chevy continues to improve upon this well-worn formula as time goes on.

Equipped with the 6.2-liter Ecotec3 V8 the Silverado is never lacking for grunt, and the quick ratios in the first few gears of eight-speed transmission keeps the motor in power at lower speeds, though we did find shifts somewhat sluggish and unrefined at times.

The Silverado 1500 gets EPA-rated fuel economy scores of 15 mpg city, 20 highway, and 17 combined. Our observed fuel economy, which saw a lot of urban gridlock as well as liberal use of the throttle to jockey for position in traffic in this big pickup, tended toward the low end of this scale. We would theorize that extended use in more varying situations would likely yield fuel economy results similar to those EPA numbers, if not better.

Safety

The 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 scores a five star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Silverado a “Good” rating for side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seats, and moderate overlap crash tests, and “Marginal” for small overlap crash testing.

Nearly all of the widely available active safety features are available on the Silverado, though it’s worth noting that nearly all of them – emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and so on – are optional rather than standard features throughout the Silverado lineup.

How DT would outfit this car

As is the case with other full-sized trucks on the market, the sheer volume of these vehicles that are sold annually means there’s justification for manufacturers like Chevrolet to offer packages to suit just about anyone. The Silverado can be configured as a no-frills work truck with a regular cab and a V6 or a High Country Crew Cab with every available bell and whistle in Chevrolet’s arsenal. That platform flexibility means that buyers can likely find a package combination and configuration that most ideally suits their needs.

2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 review
Bradly Iger/Digital Trends
Bradly Iger/Digital Trends

For those with any intentions of heading off the beaten path, the Z71 package would be highly recommended, as its uprated suspension, all-terrain tires, and additional undercarriage protection both ensures the well-being of the truck’s mechanicals as well as making it more sure-footed off the pavement. Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system with the 8-inch touchscreen is worth the extra coin as well, both for its wide range of features and rock-solid functionality.

While the LTZ trim’s standard 355 horsepower 5.3-liter V8 will likely be enough motivation for most, those with a need for speed will want to spring for the 6.2-liter mill, a $2,495 option. Both engines enjoy a healthy aftermarket with an array of available upgrades in terms of air intakes, exhaust systems, ECU tweaks and other modifications for those who’re looking to eek more performance out of GM’s latest V8s.

Our Take

Since this year follows a significant refresh for the truck, would-be 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 shouldn’t expect any revolutionary changes to Chevrolet’s proven full-size pickup formula. Although it may lack any headline-grabbing new features this year, the Silverado remains a compelling option for truck buyers looking for solid combination of capability, technology, and traditional, squared-off aesthetics.

Is there a better alternative?

As one of the most competitive segments in the automotive industry, the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Nissan Titan, and Toyota Tundra are all worthy contenders, each with their own virtues and drawbacks.

The Ram handles better, but is underpowered compared to the Silverado, while the F-150 delivers copious torque from its optional 3.6-liter EcoBoost V6 and the F-150 Raptor offers far more off-road capability than any Silverado 1500 configuration currently available, though its infotainment system is lacking versus both the Chevy and the Ram.

Ultimately the net result of such heated competition is that there’s no real “wrong” answer for buyers, and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is consistently on the heels of Ford’s F-Series trucks in terms of annual sales for good reason.

How long will it last?

The 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The 2017 Silverado 1500 scores three and half stars out of five in J.D. Power and Associates Predicted Reliability rating according to U.S. News & World Report, giving Chevy’s full-sized pickup a slightly above average expected reliability rating.

Should you get one?

Whether or not the Silverado 1500 best fits your full sized pickup needs is a largely subjective decision based on where your priorities lie. Chevy’s full-size pickup undoubtedly checks all the major boxes for most truck buyers in terms of features and capability, but specific attributes like style, handling, and the technology offered may carry more weight some buyers than others. That said, the Silverado 1500 is a well-rounded truck with a laundry list of available features and packages, meaning that most buyers can find one that suits their needs well.

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