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We found that the Silverado/Sierra’s driving manners were impeccable. The slalom we ran though, the acceleration runs, and the emergency braking stops highlighted the rear suspension setup’s excellent design, even with a full payload in the bed. The tires stayed planted, the steering was responsive, and the body roll, or lack thereof, showed that the engineers spent their share of GM’s $1.5 billion investment money wisely. The VortecMAX engine was quick in the acceleration runs on the closed course; even for passing on the highway, the power was available all through the band. Under tow, the truck pulled the trailer effortlessly; we’re just sorry we didn’t get a chance to pull a boat off a ramp so we could experience the rear locking diff under that circumstance. Most of the time we found ourselves just saying, “Man, this is a nice truck,” as we cruised down the highway.

Now that you know the whats and whys, it’s time to find out the how much.

With over 40 different configurations to choose from, the prices for Silverado start at $17,860 for the Regular Cab Work Truck with the standard bed and the 4.8-liter engine. The 1LT same configuration jumps to $23,510. A mid-level LT1 4WD Crew Cab with a short bed and a 4.8-liter V-8 starts at $31,615, and the LTZ 4-door Crew Cab 4WD with a short bed will start at $38,990. We added The Z71 Off Road Suspension Package (46mm shocks, off-road jounce bumpers, 34mm front stabilizer bar, high-capacity air cleaner, Eaton rear locking diff, Skid Plate Package) for $275, the Rear Seat Entertainment Package for $1,295, the EZ Lift Tailgate Package (locking tailgate and reduced effort tailgate) for $95, XM Radio for $199, the side curtain airbags for $395, GM’s excellent navigation system for $2,250, and a power rear sliding window for $200. Just for fun we added a sunroof for $685, and 20-inch rims for $1,295. The grand total is $46,440, without tax, license, or delivery.

In other words: Ouch! Getting into luxo car territory with a pickup can be a bit painful, but if you use the truck for work and play, and keep your truck for many years, and many miles, as most Chevy truck owners do, you’ll get your money’s worth here.

According to GM’s Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, full-size trucks are the most important component of GM’s turnaround plan. Even in the 7th year of its lifespan, the Silverado Classic models (06 and earlier) have sold 935,000 units, which means the GM trucks are still popular and still respected by buyers. Just a few weeks ago, Bob Lutz announced that GM expects to sell one million or more pickups in the North American market in 2007. We’re sure both Toyota and Ford will do their best to make sure this doesn’t happen.

The battle lines have been drawn, the strategies are set, and the troops are ready to advance. We’ve now seen GMs armament; the next volley will be Toyota’s in early January. And Ford and Dodge lie in wait, spying on the new soldiers while they decide how to take the field. We’re really looking forward to 2007; the year full-size pickup trucks will get all the attention!

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