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Chevrolet Silverado steels itself for pickup wars

Emphasis on making it bolder and to play up its human connection

Published: September 25, 2015, 12:00 AM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:37 PM

2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71

Several years back, Bob Lutz (then with General Motors) told a small gathering of auto journalists that he couldn’t believe automakers spend so much money researching and developing a vehicle that is basically identical no matter who makes it. He was talking about the pickup truck, and with the seemingly simultaneous introduction from Chevrolet, Ford and Nissan, all at the Texas State Fair (which has become the venue of choice for the introduction of new pickups in recent years), we wonder if he wasn’t right.

2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT

You’ll read more about the new Ford Super Duty and Nissan Titan elsewhere on the site, but today we’ll look at the 2016 Chev Silverado.

The emphasis for the new Silverado was to make it bolder and to play up its human connection. To address the former, Chevrolet says the new exterior is more muscular. We think more “tankish” is probably a more apt description, but there’s no denying is conveys the look of brute force and durability. It also makes it look more and more like its GMC sibling, which probably addresses Lutz’s point about cost reduction.

Contrary to that philosophy, the Silverado features extensive use of steel – a fully boxed high-strength steel frame and a body structure that make extensive use of high strength steels, as well as roll-formed steel beds – unlike the Ford F-150’s metal of choice, aluminum.

“New muscular front end designs, sculpted hoods and signature LED lighting accents reflect Silverado’s strength and dependability, which have helped make Silverado the fastest-growing full-size pickup brand this year,” said Sandor Piszar, GM’s marketing director for Chevrolet trucks.

2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country

Chevrolet deliberately created a unique look for each of the model’s trim levels – WT features chrome horizontal grille elements, black grille inserts and compact high-intensity discharge headlamps; LT and LTZ feature chrome grille elements and bumpers; Z71 has a monochromatic appearance; and High Country features chrome horizontal bars and unique grille inserts, and body colored bumpers – will all featuring LED running lights and the upper trims also getting LED headlight, fog lights, turning lamps and taillamps.

Among the list of driver assistance features are Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist and IntelliBeam high beam assist. Among the technology features are remotely-locked tailgate, and wireless charging of mobile devices. The flagship High Country gets power-operated running boards (which help occupants step up into the cabin) that move rearward to aid access to the pickup bed.

On the topic of customer friendliness, there are additional safety technologies and improved connectivity, such as Chevy MyLink support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which not only makes the MyLink screen mimic the Smartphone’s screen, but also allows them to listen to texts over the audio system’s speakers, reply vocally to texts, and control some other infotainment features.

Power comes from a choice of three EcoTec engines (evolved to EcoTec3 status) – a 285-hp 4.3-litre V6, a 355-hp 5.3-litre V8 and a 420-hp 6.2L V8 – all featuring direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation (using only four cylinders under light loads). The 6.2 V8 offers the highest tow rating of any V8 (up to 12,000 lbs.). A new eight-speed automatic is available with all V8-engined models.

“Our strategy is pretty simple,” concludes Piszar. “Build trucks that meet the real needs of truck customers. The right designs. The right sizes. The right powertrains. The right materials. The right technologies.”