2000 Chevrolet Silverado Z71
What's in a name?
The answer is plenty,
with a name like Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LS Sportside Z-71 Extended Cab.
It's a big name for a big truck. But let's take it apart.
Chevrolet you know,
or at least you think you do. If you haven't looked up close at a Chevy
in the last couple of years, you'll be surprised.
Silverado is their
big pickup truck, the successor to the C/K series, mildly updated on the
outside while everything underneath is new.
1500 is the runt
of the Silverado litter, which is like being one of the smaller Packer
LS denotes the medium
trim level, although it includes about everything except a fish tank.
the flared rear fenders, where big letters say Z-71. That's Chevy's off-road
suspension package, and it makes this new pickup handle surprisingly well,
even on the street.
Extended Cab? On the Silverado, it means more room inside than some of the quad cab pickups hitting the market.
Chevy chose a deliberately
conservative course when styling the Silverado's exterior. "We wanted
people to know what it was, right away," said one GMer, "and our owners
liked it the way it was." Translation: No slope noses or ersatz Peterbilts.
Next to a late model C1500, the Silverado looks a bit more rounded, with
somewhat better aero, but still clearly kin. The flareside bed adds a
good bit of character, and makes the truck look even longer.
The Z-71 suspension
option raises the Silverado up 2.7 inches, although it adds less than
an inch of ground clearance. With a full-length bed and additional cab
room, our tested Silverado was a very long truck, but not dauntingly so.
In fact, despite being the size of a new Suburban, which is a squareback
Silverado, the pickup feels easier to park and handle.
The interior of our gray truck was also done in grays, and not unattractive. The dash and controls have a pleasing design, which is shared across the Chevy truck line and is in fact a scaled up version of what first appeared on the Blazer. While not as sleek or carlike as the Toyota Tundra, this dash could be transplanted into almost any GM vehicle without inducing designer heartburn.
The instrument panel
has a 6000 rpm tachometer, a 100 mph speedometer, and four smaller gauges
off to the right for fuel level, voltage level, oil temperature, and water
temperature. Beginning with the Malibu, the quality of GM switches has
increased noticeably in the last couple of years in both appearance and
feel. In its Silverado iteration, those switches mostly give a light but
positive feel. While some of them -- noticeably the climate control dials
-- look at first like the horrid old snapped-off-the-sprue gray stuff,
they have a rubbery touch and are positioned so you can operate without
taking your eyes of the road. They're also operable with gloves and fingernails.
And so the breed improves.
Front seats have
flip down armrests and seat belts built into the seat that come out just
over your shoulder. That's both a technical necessity because there's
no center pillar, and a practical advantage since it gets rid of the chafing
that seat belts can cause coming from way up back there. The other 2-door
with this feature is Mercedes' SLK, which can't be had as a duallie.
The LS' front seats
are also power adjustable for fore and aft movement and rake of the seat
bottom. There's a dial adjuster for bottom bolsters and a flip lever to
release the seat back. Uneasy front passengers will find a built-in grab
Between the front
seats, a very large bin with top opening toward the passenger and a foam
rubber bottom. Under the lid are two pen clips, a tissue dispenser slot,
and a couple other things that we can't even tell what they're supposed
to be but are obviously meant to be useful. Chevy molded in a change holder
inside the bin. Molded ahead of the bin are two cup holders and a slot
that's just about the right size for a cell phone; ahead of that, another
recess with a door, with racks for CDs, and above that a flocked general-purpose
compartment. One of the three power ports bears a cigarette lighter.
The Silverado has
no fewer than four clothes hooks, one over each rear door on the side
and two over the rear window.
Even this middle-trim
version enjoys very good interior materials. Plastics are rugged and durable
looking without being too shiny, and seats grip you with a heavy velour.
In LS guise, this isn't a truck to be hosed out, but a comfortable conveyance
for long trips.
And that goes for
everybody inside. The rear seat gives almost as much room or as much room
as in some smaller quad cabs we've seen. Everybody doesn't get their own
door handle, at least on the outside, but they do enjoy generous room
and comfort. In fact, the only clue that you're in a club cab is the slightly
abbreviated rear seat bottoms. Backseaters get cup holders molded into
the doors and two more that flip down from between the front seats.
Nothing comes between this Silverado and the road except 245/75 R16 Firestone Steeltex ATs mounted on aluminum wheels.
ON THE ROAD
The Silverado is
undeniably more pleasant to drive than its C/K forebears. A lot of the
reason for that is stiffness, with thanks going primarily to an all-new
frame made with hydroformed rails. That process eliminates welds by bending
the long box tubes with water pressure. The resulting single piece is
stronger than a built-up rail, and stiffer, too. It's the same system
Chevrolet pioneered on its other two-door V-8, the Corvette.
As a result, the
cabin and box feel connected to a much greater degree than before, with
rattles virtually eliminated. You notice it even more clearly in the wheel,
which feels much better anchored to the rest of the vehicle. Feedback
from the recirculating-ball steering is much better, telling you what
it's doing without the extraneous inputs we used to associate with GM
steering in general, and the C/K's in particular. That's hard to explain,
but rewarding to drive.
The AutoTrac four-wheel-drive
system gives 100% of the power to the rear until slippage is detected,
when electronics intervene to split torque forward. It is utterly unobtrusive
in operation. With snow and rain falling to form sloppy slush, our only
clue to the system's occasional engagement was a light on the dash. There's
no drama, no fuss, no drive line clunking.
Mileage? Don't make
me laugh. With EPA ratings of 15 and 18, you don't pull up to the gas
pump in the Silverado without some trepidation. Several hours of highway
running made the EPA look like they know what they're doing, but extensive
mixed-road driving yielded just under 13 mpg. Curiously, though, the 4.8
liter and 5.3 liter Vortec V8s give the same EPA numbers, despite the
5.3's 15 extra horses (285) and 40 more lb/ft of torque (325). A 6.0 liter
is also available for those who simply must have 300 horses.
The Firestones are
not quiet on the highway, the trade-off being good grip in adverse conditions.
The cab's design and plushness, though, minimized the intrusion of that
and all other noises. Indeed, to the reviewer's ear, this pickup truck
rivals the quietness of Cadillacs of recent memory. Maybe all that subtle
aero work did pay off.
With this weight
-- over two tons -- and this wheelbase, one could hardly call the Silverado
nimble. But its handling does not deserve the old adjective trucklike,
either. Chevy cut unsprung weight from its suspension, coupled that with
4-wheel disk brakes with ABS, and now the truck's handling belies its
size. It's no ballroom dancer (like the Tundra and some smaller pickups),
but it won't smash all the china, either.
pickup is America, just scaled down a little bit. It's big; in fact, the
extended cab long bed we drove wouldn't fit into a standard parking space.
It's strong, thanks to good old-fashioned V-8 power and that hydroformed
Like America, the
Silverado is diverse. You can make it mild or wild, city or country, long,
short, tall, or small. It's got some Felix Ungar in its detailed interior
appointments, but not too much Oscar Madison in the way it's put together.
It's styling makes the Silverado seem the silent type. But when the going gets tough, the Silverado is a brawny and faithful friend. That's America at its best.
2000 Chevrolet Silverado Specs
Fleetside LS Shortbox Regular Cab ($22,701)
Length/width/height: 227.6/78.5/74.0 in.
Head/hip/leg room: 41.0/61.4/41.3 in.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
N/A: Information not available or not applicable.