"Clear out the garage, Wilma, Fred's comin' home in a new truck!" It'll be a Silverado 4x4, too, if ol' Fred is a Chevy man. The wholesale changes GM has made to its 2007s are going to put the Bow Tie Boys on the fast track to making up a whole lot of lost ground in the ride, handling, roominess and performance wars of late. At least that's my take on them after spending a little seat time behind the wheel of a couple new four-wheel-drive Silverado Crew Cabs in Arizona.
The exterior of the new Silverado is a lot smoother and more muscular-looking. The biggest changes being a grille that extends all the way to the large, one-piece Euro-style headlights, steeply raked windshields and doors that no longer stop at a lower rocker panel.
Hunters, like myself, appreciate the half-doors on the Extended Cab models that now open a full 170 degrees, making access to the redesigned rear seats the most accommodating of any full-size pickup.
But it's the interior where I found the real meat of the major changes unfolding. The Silverado's all-new interior design pushes the dash 5 inches farther away from the occupants than the "old" Silverado, and the new headliner form fits to the roof adding at least 2 more inches of head room. This provides a much more airy and comfortable environment when you're wearing heavy clothing and have big-bodied hunting partners filling the passenger seats.
The entry-level Silverados come with Chevy's "pure pickup" interior, which features big round gauges in a new instrument panel, redesigned seats, unique door panels, a deep center console and double-stacked glove boxes. Cloth is all you can get on the WT (work truck), but leather is available on the LT model.
If you want the "luxury-inspired" leather-and-wood-trim interior to go with your Charley Sisk .280 or Roger Green H&H custom rifles, you'll have to step into a high-end Silverado LTZ. These models feature a completely different-looking instrument package, a single glove box, unique door panels, leather seats and elegant wood trim.
Leg and headroom are abundant, and the seats—split-bench or bucket—are the best-to-date in a GM pickup. Speaking of bench seats, a new 40/20/40 split front bench seat is available. It features a large, fold-down console with integrated cup holders and storage. A locking under-seat storage bin provides more storage and a 12-volt power outlet.
All trim levels—even base work truck models—have a cab that's almost devoid of noise. The Chevy design engineers I talked with say this is achieved with the use of "strategically placed sound-deadening and sound-absorbing material in the body structure as well as the inherent, vibration-minimizing traits of the stiffer frame and quieter attributes of the aerodynamically tuned exterior." All I can say is the new Silverado gives the same sense of quietness at road speed as you'd expect while riding in a limo.
Just as impressive is the Silverado's ride and handling. If you're a current Chevy owner, don't go for a test drive because once you take a lap around the block in the new '07s it'll be tough to get back into your old Silverado.
The new pickups ride on a new chassis like that found under the all-new, full-size SUVs; the fully boxed frame is wider and twice as strong as the previous model, and the track is 3 inches wider in front and an inch wider in the rear.
GM added a new coil-over front suspension, splayed the rear shocks, made wholesale changes to the brakes and dropped in rack-and-pinion steering as the polishing touches. These huge changes soften the truck's ride and sharpen its handling, putting the Chevy Silverado hood-to-hood with anything Ford or Toyota has to offer.
Where this is most impressive is on rough roads and off pavement. Gone is the old GM jitter—that side-to-side skitter that happens when the old truck hit a rough stretch of pavement or a section of gravel washboard. The new Silverado stays pretty well anchored to the road without beating up the occupants.
I also noticed how well it stays centered on the highway. There's no "wander" or need for the driver to saw the steering wheel back and forth while rolling along at interstate speeds. Driver fatigue on those long road trips to and from hunting areas will be far less noticeable in the new Silverado.
Power With Economy
The new Silverado's power and fuel economy are nothing to sneeze at, either. GM offers eight engine choices, from a 195 hp 4.3-liter V6 to the 367 hp 6.0-liter, the latter reserved for implanting in the LT/LTZ models with the enhanced towing package.
I love the 6.0-liter, but it likes gas stations a bit too much for my taste. For most hunters, I'd suggest getting the Silverado equipped with the 5.3-liter. It delivers 315 hp, and with Active Fuel Management achieves an industry-leading 22 mpg in the 2WD configuration. The 4x4s should see 20-21 mpg on the highway. Active Fuel Management is GM's name for its computer-controlled system that seamlessly shuts down four cylinders during idle, off-throttle and light-throttle cruising conditions, greatly improving overall fuel economy.
Transmission choice is limited to 4-speed automatics, but you can get different axle ratios. My suggestion for hunters is to nix the 3.73 and order a 4.10 if you plan on running oversized tires, doing much four-wheeling or are going to be doing any trailer towing. The lower axle ratio won't significantly compromise fuel economy and will greatly improve the Silverado's already impressive low-end acceleration.
When it comes to towing prowess, a couple of the Silverado models top out at 10,500 pounds when using a weight-distribution hitch. But for the most part figure that the maximum size trailer you'll be towing should be less than 9,000 pounds. With towing trailers with surge-type brakes, such as boats or some utility trailers, the limit is going to be 5,000 pounds.
If the wide range of cab, engine, interior, two-, four- and all-wheel-drive and color choices aren't enough to whet you appetite, the 2007 Silverados can be ordered with a number of nice upgrades. Tire and wheel packages range from 17-20 inches depending on the model, and you can get both hard and soft tonneau covers right from GM. (Tonneaus actually help improve fuel economy.)
Hunters who use their trucks for both work and play will like the sliding bed rail system, diamond-plated storage boxes and bed racks that are available from GM SPO as dealer or factory installed items. I've seen these items up close and they're first-class quality.
In fact, that's my impression of the 2007 Silverados overall: first class. Chevy engineers have clearly brought a much-needed and much-awaited improvement to the old models. Better still, GM's new 5-year/100,000-mile power-train warranty is fully transferable and includes courtesy transportation and roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty.
To top it all off, you should be able to get into a new Silverado for the same price as an '06. For example, the 2007 Silverado Extended Cab pricing begins at $23,605, and the Crew Cab versions of the truck start at $27,000. I checked out a nicely equipped 4x4 Silverado Crew Cab 4x4 LTZ with buckets and the 5.3-liter engine for $34,000.
The urge to call Wilma was almost overwhelming.