Last year’s freshening caused the full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck to display more of a family resemblance to the company’s Avalanche and TrailBlazer sport utility vehicles. Two models join the lineup for 2004: a 1500 Crew Cab, which replaces the prior 1500HD series, and a 2500 short-box Crew Cab. Base trucks now include cruise control, power locks, black bodyside moldings, chrome bumpers and a CD player. The Work Truck Package is available in 2004 on all models except the 2500 Crew Cab.
The Silverado 1500 has a half-ton rating while the 2500 and 2500HD have a three-quarter-ton rating. The 3500 provides a one-ton rating. Whereas the higher number models provide an increased level of hauling and towing capability, the lowest rated, 1500 model offers editions that are not available in the others, such as the Silverado SS performance truck. Continue reading for information on the Silverado 1500.
(Skip to details on the: 2500 | 2500HD | 3500)
Regular-cab, extended-cab and Crew Cab models have a half-ton rating. A broad choice of powertrains, including a 4.3-liter V-6 and a 4.8-liter, 5.3-liter and 6.0-liter V-8, is available. Heavier-duty models may be equipped with a Duramax diesel V-8 or a big-block 8.1-liter gasoline V-8. GMC’s Sierra pickups can be powered in a similar fashion.
A special Silverado SS (Super Sport) joined the group in the first quarter of 2003. Unique SS features include a high-output 345-horsepower, 6.0-liter V-8 engine, a high-performance chassis and 20-inch tires. A lowered ride height and what Chevrolet calls a “trim, aggressive stance” differentiates the SS from other extended-cab short-bed Silverado models.Quadrasteer four-wheel steering is offered on 1500 extended-cab short-box versions. The electromechanical system turns the truck’s rear wheels up to 12 degrees in relation to the front wheels for greatly improved low-speed maneuverability and high-speed stability.
Offered in base, LS and LT trim levels, the Silverado 1500 comes in four variations in addition to the new Crew Cab: regular cab and extended cab, and with either a 6.5- or 8-foot cargo bed. A Work Truck Package is available, as are SS and Z71 Silverados. Four wheelbases are available, from 119 to 157.5 inches. Fleetside (slab-sided) cargo beds are standard, but a Sportside design with flared rear fenders also is offered.
All extended-cab Silverados have four doors. The narrow, rear-hinged back doors can’t be opened unless the front doors are open. The new Crew Cab trucks have four, conventional, front-hinged doors.
Payloads for the Silverado 1500 range from 1,288 to 2,123 pounds, but the numbers increase to 2,783 to 3,094 pounds for Crew Cab models. Light-duty models have gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWRs) from 6,100 to 6,400 pounds, and 8,600 pounds for the Crew Cab. Silverados equipped with two-wheel drive have front coil springs, while four-wheel-drive versions use torsion bars. A Z71 edition of the 1500 4x4 includes gas shocks, offroad jounce bumpers, specific stabilizer bars, distinctive decals, skid plates and a high-capacity air cleaner.Silverados feature angular wheel openings and an aero-styled hood. Front tow hooks and fog lamps are recessed into the front bumper, and the front fascia is flush-mounted.
Regular-cab pickups come with either a three-place bench or a pair of bucket seats. Extended-cab models have a three-place rear bench and either two front buckets or a front bench that holds three occupants. Crew Cab trucks carry six people. Cloth, vinyl and premium leather seating surfaces are available. An XM Satellite Radio is offered as an option. Extra features with the Z71 Offroad Package include a cassette/CD stereo and remote keyless entry.
Under the Hood
Four engines are available for the Silverado 1500. A 195-hp, 4.3-liter V-6 is standard, but most buyers select one of two available V-8 engines: the 4.8-liter produces 285 hp and the 5.3-liter delivers 295 hp. A version of the 5.3-liter V-8 can run on either gasoline or E85 ethanol. The SS version gets a high-output 6.0-liter V-8 that pumps out 345 hp and 380 pounds-feet of torque. Silverados use either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission.
Two four-wheel-drive systems are available. Insta-Trac permits shifting in and out of 4WD-High on the move by using a floor-mounted transfer case. Autotrac sends all of the power to the rear wheels on smooth, dry pavement and automatically transfers power to the front wheels as needed on slippery surfaces.
Antilock brakes and child-restraint top-tether anchors are standard. Dual front airbags include a passenger-sensing system.
Redesigned for 2003 with the lighter-duty 1500, the three-quarter-ton full-size Chevrolet 2500 pickups come in base, LS and upscale LT trim levels. A short-box Crew Cab model is new this year.
Offered in regular-cab and extended-cab body styles, the 2500 uses a 300-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 engine and connects to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. The regular-cab version comes with a long, 8-foot cargo box, and the four-door extended-cab model is equipped with a 6.5-foot box. Their wheelbases measure 133 inches and 143.5 inches, respectively.All models have Fleetside (slab-sided) cargo beds. The front suspensions on Silverado 2500 trucks use torsion bars. When equipped with a weight-distributing hitch and sway control, the towing capacity is 10,700 pounds. Standard 16-inch tires mount on eight-bolt wheels. Skid plates and tubular side steps are optional. Quadrasteer four-wheel steering is offered on the 2500 Crew Cab. GM’s OnStar communication system is standard in the LT and optional in the LS. Back to top
Available in base, LS and upscale LT trim levels, Silverado 2500HD trucks are equipped with a standard 6.0-liter V-8 engine. For additional hauling power, an 8.1-liter gasoline V-8 or a Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 can be installed. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual, but four- and five-speed automatics and a six-speed manual are available. The heavy-duty three-quarter-ton Silverado 2500HD pickups may be mounted on a choice of five wheelbases and come in three body styles: regular cab, four-door extended cab and four-door Crew Cab. The Silverado 2500HD also comes in plain chassis-cab form, which lacks a cargo box.
Fleetside (slab-sided) cargo beds are available in long or short lengths. Chevrolet’s smallest heavy-duty model is the regular cab, which has an 8-foot cargo bed and measures 222.1 inches long overall on a 133-inch wheelbase. At the larger end of the spectrum, the Crew Cab long-box truck is also equipped with an 8-foot bed but measures 256.2 inches long overall on a 167-inch wheelbase. Extended-cab and Crew Cab models may be equipped with a 6.5-foot bed instead of the 8-footer.
Payloads for Silverado 2500HD models range from 3,076 to 4,047 pounds. Silverado 2500HD pickups equipped with the two larger engines can tow trailers up to 12,000 pounds — and possibly more when special equipment is installed. Their GVWRs are as high as 9,200 pounds. Standard 16-inch tires mount on eight-bolt wheels.Chevrolet’s 8.1-liter gasoline V-8 engine generates 330 hp and 450 pounds-feet of torque. A Duramax 6.6-liter, direct-injection turbo-diesel V-8 delivers 300 hp and 520 pounds-feet of torque with a manual transmission (310 hp and 590 pounds-feet of torque when connected to an automatic transmission). The 6.6-liter and 8.1-liter engines team with either a six-speed ZF manual transmission or an Allison five-speed automatic. Back to top
The one-ton Silverado 3500 trucks come in base, LS and upscale LT trim levels. A Work Truck Package also is available. Powertrain choices are similar to the three-quarter-ton 2500HD series and include a 300-hp V-8 engine; a 330-hp, 8.1-liter gasoline V-8; and a Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 that cranks out 300 hp with a manual transmission (310 hp when connected to an automatic). Four transmissions — two automatics and two manuals — are available. Silverado 3500 pickups come in four body styles: regular cab, four-door extended cab, four-door Crew Cab or plain chassis cab (with no cargo box). All models have Fleetside (slab-sided) cargo beds that are available in long or short sizes.
Chevrolet’s smallest heavy-duty model is the regular cab, which has an 8-foot cargo bed and measures 222.1 inches long overall on a 133-inch wheelbase. At the larger end of the spectrum, the four-door Crew Cab also comes with an 8-foot bed, but it is 256.2 inches long overall on a 167-inch wheelbase. Extended-cab and Crew Cab models can be equipped with a 6.5-foot bed instead of the 8-footer.Payloads start at 4,941 pounds and reach as high as 5,559 pounds for the regular-cab 3500 long-box version. Silverado HD pickups with the two larger engines can tow trailers up to 12,000 pounds. GVWRs are as high as 11,400 pounds. Standard 16-inch tires mount on eight-bolt wheels. Back to top
In its basic regular-cab form and with few extras installed, the Silverado 1500 behaves like a serious workhorse. You can expect a traditional pickup-truck experience, which translates to a bouncy ride — especially when the cargo bed is empty. But there’s plenty of energy, especially when one of the V-8 engines is installed.
Performance with the automatic transmission is satisfying but hardly seamless, and each shift is noticeable. Handling isn’t especially ponderous, as the 1500 maneuvers rather well through urban environments. The fully calibrated instruments are excellent and easy to read, and the Silverado runs rather quietly for a truck.