U.S. Steel

2000 Chevrolet Silverado Z71
1500 LS Sportside Z-71 Extended Cab

By JJ Gertler
2000 Hardrive.com
1995-2000 PickupTruck.com

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 linebackers.

LS denotes the medium trim level, although it includes about everything except a fish tank.

Sportside describes 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.

INSIDE & OUT

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 bar.

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.

SUMMING UP

Chevrolet's Silverado 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 frame.

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

Model Lineup
(Selected Models):
2WD Fleetside Base Shortbox Regular Cab ($15,355)
2WD Fleetside Base Shortbox Extended Cab ($19,729)
2WD Fleetside LS Shortbox Extended Cab ($22,351)
2WD Fleetside LT Longbox Extended Cab ($28,410)

4WD Fleetside LS Shortbox Regular Cab ($22,701)
4WD LT Longbox Extended Cab ($31,620)
2WD Fleetside LT Extended Cab 2500 ($29,560)

Engines:
4.3L OHV 12V V6
4.8L OHV 16V V8
5.3L OHV 16V V8
6.0L OHV 16V V8

Transmissions:
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Safety equipment:
Dual airbags with passenger-side deactivation; ABS

Basic warranty:
3 years/50,000 miles

Assembly:
Lansing, MI

Specifications
as Tested

Model Tested:
2000 Silverado LS 1500 4-Door

Base price:
$26,476:

Price as tested includes:
4-speed automatic transmission with Tow/Haul mode ($1095);
Vortec 5300 V8, ($800); Sportside body, ($795); 6-way power driver and passenger seats, ($480); off-road suspension package, ($395); AutoTrac active transfer case, ($375); reclining bucket seats, ($375); LT245/75R 16C tires, ($285); locking rear differential. ($285); light-sensitive rear view mirror with thermometer and compass, ($175); electric rear window defogger, ($175); fog lamps, ($140); aluminum wheels, ($110); deep tinted glass, ($107); transmission cooler, ($95); power heated outside mirrors, ($42); destination, ($665).

Price as tested:
$32,871

Layout:
front-engine, four-wheel drive

Engine:
Vortex 5300, 5.3L V8

Horsepower:
285 hp @ 5000 rpm

Torque:
325 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm

EPA fuel economy:
16/20 mpg city/hwy

Transmission:
4-speed automatic

Wheelbase:
143.5 in.

Length/width/height: 227.6/78.5/74.0 in.

Track, f/r:
65.0/66.0 in.

Turning circle:
43.6 ft.

Seating capacity:
5

Head/hip/leg room: 41.0/61.4/41.3 in.

Payload:
1757 lbs.

Towing capacity:
11000 lbs.

Suspension, f/r:
independent/solid axle

Curb weight:
4442 lbs.

Tires:
P255/70R-16

Brakes, front/rear:
disc/drum

Fuel tank:
capacity 26.0 gal.

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.

N/A: Information not available or not applicable.

Manufacturer Info Sources:
1-800-222-1020

http://www.chevrolet.com