The full-size pickup truck class has seen a lot of positive change lately. Many of the best-known trucks have been redesigned, making impressive gains in power, fuel economy and all-around refinement. The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 received a total overhaul just last year. The latest Silverado boasts exactly the strengths most buyers have come to expect from full-size Chevy trucks: considerable towing and hauling capabilities and lots of available configurations. But what really sets this generation apart from its forebears is a comfortable and well-built interior and an overall excellent daily driving experience.
Step inside the Silverado and there’s nothing trendy about the design, but there’s space everywhere, especially in the popular crew cab body style, and the quality of the materials is high. On the move, the cabin remains noticeably serene, and ride quality is smooth bordering on relaxing on most versions. If you’re planning to use your truck for real work, one of the three available engines will meet your needs. The standard V6 shouldn’t be overlooked, as it allows the Silverado to tow up to 7,600 pounds when properly equipped. If you do need one of the two V8s, though, they come with fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology for low-load situations when you don’t need all the power. New for 2015 is an eight-speed automatic paired to the larger 6.2-liter V8 engine. Chevy Silverados with this powertrain are able to tow up to 12,000 pounds when properly equipped, and the two extra forward gears should add up to better performance and fuel economy when you’re pulling a trailer.
Unfortunately, just like last year, the 6.2-liter V8 is available only on the upper trim levels, and the same goes for the available eight-speed automatic transmission, so you’ll pay a premium for the extra capability. The six-speed transmission that comes standard on the 2015 Silverado 1500 has widely spaced gear ratios, which makes towing near the maximum with either the V6 or the available 5.3-liter V8 a difficult enterprise.
Even with these minor complaints, the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is still an extremely likable truck. Keep in mind, though, that its recently updated competitors are just as likely to meet your needs in most cases. The Ram 1500 is one of our top picks, as it, too, offers a refined driving experience and a well-trimmed cabin with lots of high-end amenities on the upper trim levels, along with the only available diesel engine in the 1500 class. The 2015 Ford F-150 is completely redesigned this year, too, with a lighter aluminum body, an impressive new V6 engine and a vast array of body styles and configurations. For the weekend dirt enthusiast, the Toyota Tundra can be equipped with an optional TRD Pro package, which makes it extremely adept at off-roading. Ultimately, your choice for a full-size truck might come down to styling preferences or equipment availability, but know that the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 should be on your short list.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is a full-size pickup offered in a variety of cab/cargo-bed configurations in both two- and four-wheel drive. Body styles include regular cab, extended (“Double”) cab and crew cab. Regular cabs can be had with either a 6.5-foot standard bed or an 8.2-foot bed. Extended cabs come only with the 6.5-foot standard bed, while crew cabs can be had with either a 5.75-foot short bed or the 6.5-foot standard bed.
Regular cabs are limited to the Work Truck (WT), LS and LT trims. The extended cabs come in WT, LT, LS and LTZ trims while the crew cab comes in all the aforementioned trim levels, plus the plush High Country and off-road-oriented Z71 trims.
The WT comes with 17-inch steel wheels, tinted glass, air-conditioning, cruise control, power door locks, a tilt-only steering column, vinyl seating, rubber floor covering, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat and a four-speaker AM/FM sound system with USB and auxiliary inputs. The LS adds stainless steel finish wheels, chrome bumpers and grille, power and heated mirrors, deep-tinted glass, power windows, keyless entry, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, OnStar with 4G LTE WiFi and an upgraded MyLink audio system with a 4.2-inch color display, satellite radio, Pandora radio, a CD player and voice control functionality.
Stepping up to the LT adds a chrome grille insert, an “E-Z” lift/lower tailgate, alloy wheels, cloth upholstery (with adjustable lumbar support for the driver), carpeting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and six speakers for the audio system.
The LTZ piles on chrome trim, 18-inch alloy wheels, remote starting, power folding mirrors, a power sliding rear window, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, a 110-volt power outlet, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power driver and passenger front seats with two-way adjustable lumbar, driver seat memory settings and an 8-inch touchscreen display for the MyLink interface.
In addition to the LTZ features, the High Country includes a unique grille, 20-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, cargo box tie-downs, a spray-on bedliner, a Bose audio system, 10-way power front seats and ventilated front seats.
The Z71 trim, which is available for the LT or LTZ, features off-road-oriented hardware such as special shock absorbers, a heavy-duty air cleaner, hill descent control, underbody shields, recovery hooks and a few unique exterior and interior styling tweaks.
Many of the features on the upper trim levels are offered on the lower ones as options, while other available features (depending on the trim level and configuration) include various axle ratios, a power sunroof, side step rails, parking sensors, a navigation system and a rear seat entertainment system with a DVD/Blu-ray player. Notably, the Max Trailering package features an integrated trailer-brake controller, heavier-duty suspension calibration and a higher-capacity radiator.
Another key option group is the Driver Alert package that features lane departure warning, forward collision alert, a safety alert seat and front and rear parking sensors. There are also the All Star Edition, Texas Edition and Custom Sport option packages, whose highlights (depending on the package) include 20-inch wheels, one of the available towing groups, remote starting, a power driver seat, a rearview camera and, of course, unique badging.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on all but the LTZ trims is a 4.3-liter V6 with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. It comes matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. The EPA’s fuel economy estimates stand at 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) for two-wheel drive. With 4WD, EPA estimates drop to 19 mpg combined (17/22). Maximum towing capacity, when properly equipped and depending on body style, ranges from 5,500 to 7,600 pounds.
The 5.3-liter V8, which is standard on the LTZ trims and optional on other Silverados, makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. It also comes with a six-speed automatic and the choice of two- or four-wheel drive. Properly equipped, trucks with this engine can tow anywhere from 6,200 to 11,500 pounds. With rear-wheel drive, the EPA says Silverados with the 5.3-liter V8 will achieve 19 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway). With 4WD they rate 18 combined (16/22). In Edmunds testing, a 2WD Silverado 1500 LT Z71 Crew Cab with the 5.3-liter V8 went from zero to 60 in just 6.8 seconds.
Optional on the LTZ and High Country trims is a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. It’s paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and maximum towing capacity ranges from 9,100 to 12,000 pounds when properly equipped. Trucks with the 6.2 V8 earn an EPA rating of 17 mpg combined (15 city/21 highway) with either 2WD or 4WD.
Standard safety features on the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard on all trim levels except the Work Truck is OnStar, which includes services such as automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance.
Options include a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors and a suite of driver aids that include lane departure and forward collision warning systems.
In government crash tests, the Silverado earned a perfect overall five-star rating, with five stars awarded for both total frontal-impact and side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Silverado earned the top rating of “Good” in the moderate-overlap frontal offset crash test.
During Edmunds’ braking test, a Silverado Crew Cab 2WD came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, a good performance and a few feet shorter than average for a full-size pickup.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, all versions of the Chevy Silverado have high-quality materials, and we’ve been impressed by the build quality in all the trucks we’ve tested. There are numerous bins and cubbies, a deluge of cupholders and, depending on the trim level, up to five USB ports to keep all your devices charged and happy. Available on most versions, the optional 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface features straightforward menus and effective voice commands, although the system can occasionally be slow to respond to inputs.
With a choice of bench or buckets up front (depending on trim level), as well as available heating, ventilation and adjustable lumbar support, the Silverado’s thickly padded seats promise plenty of long-trip comfort. When you go with the crew cab, there’s plenty of room for full-size adults in the front and backseats. In addition, the current Silverado is better insulated from noise than ever before, and city potholes and grooved highway pavement seldom intrude on the cabin’s calm. Finally, clambering into the cargo bed is made easier by clever steps and handholds built into each rear corner.
The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado’s standard V6 engine provides more than enough power for most simple tasks. As you’d expect, the 5.3-liter V8 delivers even more thrust with good manners, though there’s still a bit of vibration during hard acceleration. More seamless than ever, however, is the 5.3-liter engine’s fuel-saving cylinder deactivation system, which swaps between V8 and V4 modes with complete transparency.
The six-speed automatic transmission provides smooth and timely gearchanges in normal driving. However, we’ve noticed that there’s still too big a gap between the transmission’s gear ratios when towing near the maximum. With its closer gear ratios, the new eight-speed automatic is a welcome addition, but it’s available only with the 6.2-liter V8. That said, we’ve used a Silverado with the 5.3-liter V8 and the Max Trailering package to tow a trailer with an 8,600-pound load, and there was plenty of reserve grunt.
Overall ride and handling dynamics are some of the best available in any full-size truck. The 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500 feels robust structurally, yet most versions are compliant and comfortable over broken pavement. Take note, though, that the ride is noticeably stiffer on trucks with the Max Trailering package. The Silverado earns an Edmunds.com “B” rating, and one of the areas it scores highest in is quietness. Road and wind noise are minimal, even at highway speeds. In our long-term test of a Silverado 1500, we found this truck extremely livable for daily commuting and long road trips alike.
Given its size and focus on utility, the Chevy isn’t exactly agile around turns, and there’s plenty of body lean if you push it harder. But in normal driving it feels confident, and the steering is well-weighted. Off-road, the Silverado exhibits excellent composure when bouncing around on rocky trails.