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The Works

Enough about the touchy-feely stuff; let’s get to the meat and bones. The Silverado/Sierra sit on the all-new full-size truck platform that has a fully boxed frame boasting a 234 percent increase in torsional stiffness and 62 percent better vertical bending control over the old model. The front section is hydroformed, and helps produce a controlled, confident ride, as well as maximum crush resistance. The frame had to be designed to support the Silverado’s max 10,500-lb tow capacity (Crew Cab Short Box 4x4 with towing package) as well as its 2,160-lb max payload (Extended Cab, Standard Box) rating. The mid- and rear-bay parts of the frame are unique to the pickup, and the nine crossmembers on the long box help it achieve that 90 percent increase in twist resistance.

The suspension story would fill volumes, since there are five different setups designed to provide five different rides. Here’s how they stack up:

Z83 - Solid, smooth ride
Z85 - Enhanced handling and trailer towing
Z71 - Enhanced off-road capability
Z60 - Maximum street performance (offered with 20-inch wheels)
NHT - Maximum-capacity trailering package

The suspension has been redesigned and now features a rear Hotchkis-type-setup with splayed shocks that are angled outward and upright. The goal was to provide improved damping characteristics as well as help carry more payload and improve feel while towing heavy loads. This outboard shock setup has been on the F-150 and works well, so it made sense for GM to adopt the design for the Silverado/Sierra. The new suspension setups helped the engineers achieve all those unique tuning targets. To provide additional lateral stability, the Silverado features stabilizer bars, but they’re different thicknesses depending on the suspension.

With a wider track front and rear (3 inches in front, 1 in the back—same as on the SUVs), the Silverado displayed impressive handling prowess on the autocross course the good folks at GM set up for the journalists to experience at GM’s Arizona Proving Grounds.

Along with the frame and suspension improvements come an equally efficient lineup of engines. The 4.3-liter V-6 (LU3) with 195 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque is a carryover from 2006, and is standard on the WT Regular Cab and 2WD Extended Cab models.

Next is the 4.8-liter V8 (LY2), now with 295 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque. The LY2 has a cast iron block and aluminum heads. It’s standard on WT 4WD Extended Cabs, LT Regular and Extended Cabs, and on WT and LT Crew Cab models.

The third engine in the lineup is the 5.3-liter FlexFuel V-8 (LMG) also from 2006. It bumps up to 315 hp and 338 lb-ft of torque, and is available across the model lineup. Engine number four is also a FlexFuel V-8 (LC9), with the same rated power, but the difference is this one is all aluminum, while the LMG has a cast iron block with aluminum heads. Both the latter engines are E-85 capable, and use GM’s Active Fuel Management system, or what we used to know as Displacement on Demand.

Next comes another 5.3 V-8( LH6) (still with us? We know it gets confusing…), but this one is pump gas only, with aluminum block and heads, Active Fuel Management. It does produce the same 315/338 numbers as the other 5.3s.You need to order the Crew Cab 4WD model to get this engine.

The last of the 5.3s is the (LY5), with an iron block, Active Fuel Management, and the same performance numbers. This is the standard engine for the LT and LTZ models, and is available across the board. Last, and certainly not least is the 6.0-liter VortecMAX V-8 with an aluminum block, Variable Valve Timing, and Active Fuel Management. It produces the most power in the Silverado lineup with 365 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque, and is available on LT and LTZ Extended and Crew Cab models as part of the maximum trailering package.

If you’re not scratching you head by now, you will be when we throw one more into the mix: a 6.2-liter V-8 (L92) that makes 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. If you want it, you’ll have to go to the GMC Sierra Denali to get it. We hope you got all that; there will be a quiz later.

We know by now that you’re wondering: why do they need all those different 5.3-liter engines? (We know you’re asking that because we were, too.) The basis for using the different materials comes down to helping reduce mass to improve weight distribution as well as fuel economy.

The one area the new GMT900s fall short is in the transmission department. Only the 6.2-liter, found in the Sierra Denali, will come standard with a 6-speed automatic. The rest rely on the tried and true Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatics. Nissan’s Titan has a standard 5-speed, and the new Toyota Tundra will come with a heavy-duty 6-speed with its new 5.7-liter V-8 engine. The rumor is that the SUVs are sucking up all the production, so the trucks won’t get the six for at least another year.

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