Test: 2004 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT
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Quadrasteer is the most useful innovation designed for a pickup truck since an unknown blacksmith or carpenter fabricated the first cargo bed for a 4-wheel chassis more than 100 years ago.
But when General Motors first introduced this revolutionary feature to Chevrolet and GMC pickups in 2002, it was part of a special option package priced upwards of $7,500 on two-wheel-drive models and about $6800 for 4WD. This package included the 5.3-liter engine, heavy duty locking rear differential, ZX3 suspension, traction control, tow equipment and heavy-duty brakes.
For 2003, GM unbundled Quadrasteer from the pricey package but it was still a $4495 stand-alone option. Not too many truck buyers were willing to part with that much money, so the benefits of Quadrasteer weren’t exposed to many pickup truck owners.
Now, GM has lowered the price to a more manageable $1995, and it’s worth every penny to those who tow on the highway or drive in the city. This isn’t gimmicky showoff technology that only mechanical engineers can appreciate. Quadrasteer turns a 19-foot long, 4500-pound land yacht into a nimble runabout. No more 3-point turns in shopping-mall garages or driving on sidewalks to finish a U-turn. Quadrasteer also reduces trailer sway during lane changes and makes beginners look like pros when backing their Bayliner into the water.
We spent a week with a 2004 Chevy Silverado LT 1500 Extended Cab 4x2 in a Southern California beach town where parking spots are measured for import cars, not trucks built in the Midwest. Driving lanes are usually narrow, and most pickup owners have to scout out doublewide spots far away from the destination for an easy park. But the Quadrasteer slid straight between the Accords and Camrys with the fewest of steering movements. Gone are the embarrassing cockeyed parking angles that force the truck to invade adjacent spots.
By the numbers, a Silverado with Quadrasteer cuts a turning circle 37.4 feet across. That’s 9.2 feet shorter—or about 20 percent improvement—than a regular 2WD Extended Cab model. In real-world driving, that makes a big difference since traffic lanes are about 12 feet wide.
For towing, Quadrasteer adds stability and improves maneuverability. The rear track on a Quadrasteer vehicle is 71 inches, which is five inches wider than a regular Silverado. The heavy-duty equipment needed with Quadrasteer helps boosts the maximum tow rating to 8600 pounds (with 5.3-liter engine). That’s 200 pounds more than any other 1500 series Silverado. The GVWR also goes up 400 pounds to 6600 pounds.
More important, Quadrasteer improves trailer manners. Think about it: if the rear wheels of the tow vehicle can turn, they effectively steer the front of a trailer. The trailer tracks better and responds quicker during lane changes.
The benefits of Quadrasteer are not limited to parking garages and trailers. Quadrasteer changes the all-around driving dynamics of the Silverado. Driver confidence improves with every maneuver, especially at high speeds. Driving a pickup is more enjoyable and less stressful simply because you’re not avoiding situations that are inherently problematic with a long-wheelbase vehicle. Parallel parking becomes simpler and narrow alleys are no longer a challenge. Drivers who feared fullsize pickups are now more comfortable taking the wheel and are amazed at just how sharp the Silverado Quadrasteer will turn.
Quadrasteer was developed by Delphi, the world’s largest supplier to the automotive industry. The rear steering unit is electromechanical: it is not hydraulically operated and therefore needs no fluid or high-pressure pump. The unit mounts on a heavy-duty Dana 60 axle (which houses a 9 3/4-inch ring gear) and is protected by a skid plate. A computer monitoring steering angle and vehicle speed controls the motor that drives the rear steering rack.
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