The Chevrolet Silverado shares its GMT900 platform with the GMC Sierra 1500, but there are some styling and interior differences to appeal to shoppers with different tastes. Competitors include the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150.
The Silverado comes in regular, extended and crew-cab versions. Standard (6-foot, 6-inch) and long (8-foot) cargo beds are available on regular and extended cabs, while the crew cab gets a short (5-foot, 9-inch) bed. All configurations are available in two- or four-wheel drive.
There are four trim levels: WT, LS, LT and LTZ. The popular Z71 off-road model comes with upgraded shocks, skid plates and special badging. Most V-8 models are rated to tow around 9,000 pounds, but some models manage more than 10,500 pounds with an enhanced trailering package. The Silverado doesn't offer fancy luxury packages, but rather provides an outstanding foundation to tackle tough chores.
For truck buyers who need to tow more than 20,000 pounds, there are the 2500HD and 3500HD heavy-duty versions of the Silverado that are available with a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engine.
The Silverado Hybrid is a half-ton pickup that achieves better overall fuel economy than a gas-powered Silverado, but it can still pull a 6,100-pound trailer. Available exclusively in the crew-cab body style, the Silverado Hybrid is expected to use one-quarter less gas than a regular Silverado. It's covered separately in the Cars.com Research section.
(Skip to details on the: Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD)
New for 2012
The Silverado 1500 gets a redesigned front end that includes a chrome mesh grille and surround on LS and LT models, or a body-colored surround on the LTZ. The LS and LT trim levels now have a silver-painted lower bumper that is more aerodynamic on two-wheel-drive models without tow hooks. Twenty-inch chrome wheels are available. Plus, cruise control and a spare tire lock are now standard.
The new White Diamond Edition is offered on LT and LTZ trims. These trucks are distinguished by a White Diamond Tricoat exterior color matched with chrome mirror caps and door handles. The LTZ adds a Z60 high-performance suspension, 20-inch chrome wheels, touring tires, a chrome exhaust tip and chrome tow hooks.
To mark the 45th anniversary of Chevrolet's first Custom Sport Truck Package, the 2012 Silverado is available with a modern-day version of the package that includes a 5.3-liter V-8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, a heavy-duty trailering feature, 20-inch chrome wheels, chrome accents and door handles, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and a USB port.
While GM is trying to differentiate the Silverado and Sierra, their common silhouette is hard to overcome, even with unique front fenders, grille, bumpers, headlamps, cargo box and taillamps. There's also still a strong family resemblance with the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban. Exterior features include:
- Wide rear-door opening on extended-cab models to load passengers, cargo
- Available 17-, 18- and 20-inch wheels
- Available EZ Lift tailgate
- Available fog lamps
- Available power sunroof
The Silverado offers two distinct interiors. Interiors of the WT, LS and LT are more work-oriented while the LTZ draws inspiration from the SUV lineup. Besides interior fabrics and colors, the dash layouts are different. The easiest way to tell the difference is that work trucks have two glove boxes and LTZs have one. The Silverado cab is spacious and well-organized. The work trucks come standard with vinyl seating; cloth or leather is available. The LTZ can have heated and cooled front seats, a Bose stereo and a larger center console.
For 2012, a revised navigation radio is available. It has an updated screen and an integrated hard drive that eliminates the need for map discs. With the available dealer-installed Wi-Fi system, the Silverado can be even more of a mobile office. The split-bench rear seat in crew cabs can be folded to expand load space. Interior features include:
- Standard air conditioning
- Standard AM/FM stereo; CD stereo available
- Standard tilt steering wheel; available steering-wheel audio controls
- Available power-sliding rear window
- Available integrated trailer brake controls
Under the Hood
Mechanical features include:
- 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 with iron block and cylinder heads, cam-in-block, two valves per cylinder and 260 pounds-feet of torque
- 302-hp, 4.8-liter V-8 with iron block and aluminum cylinder heads, cam-in-block, two valves per cylinder and 305 pounds-feet of torque
- Flex-fuel 315-hp (gas) or 326-hp (E85), 5.3-liter V-8 with aluminum block and cylinder heads, cam-in-block, two valves per cylinder and 335 pounds-feet of torque (gas), 348 pounds-feet of torque (E85)
- Flex-fuel 403-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 with aluminum block and cylinder heads, cam-in-block and two valves per cylinder that makes 417 pounds-feet of torque
- Four- or six-speed automatic transmission
GM's electronic stability system includes rollover mitigation technology. Roof-mounted side curtain and seat-mounted side-impact airbags are standard on all half-ton models. GM says its seat belt pretensioners activate during rear-end impacts. Safety features include:
- Four-wheel antilock brakes
- Traction control
- Available OnStar alerts authorities after a crash
- Trailer-sway control and hill start assist
- Available rear parking sensors
- Available backup camera
Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD
Chassis improvements allow the 2012 heavy-duty Silverado to tow and haul more. An updated trailer hitch receiver enables conventional towing of 18,000 pounds when properly equipped. A strengthened cargo box, revised shocks and beefier rear springs give the 3500HD the ability to tow up to 23,000 pounds with a fifth-wheel trailer. Payload capacity is an impressive 7,215 pounds.
For the 2500HD and 3500HD, buyers can choose a 6.0-liter gas V-8 engine or a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V-8 engine. With a 36-gallon fuel tank and the diesel engine, the heavy-duty Silverado can travel up to 680 miles, according to Chevrolet. An available smart exhaust brake provides greater control on downward grades and reduced brake pad wear.
Newly available features include a navigation radio with a built-in hard drive, heated and cooled seats for LTZ trims, and a Z71 Off-Road Appearance Package. The Z71 package includes a body-colored grille surround with chrome mesh inserts, body-colored bumpers and 18-inch polished aluminum wheels. Additional features include:
- Regular, extended or crew-cab body styles
- Rear- or four-wheel drive
- Standard or long bed
- Fully boxed high-strength-steel frame
- Available dealer-installed Wi-Fi system brings internet access to the Silverado
- Trailer-sway control and hill start assist