There's no replacement for displacement.
– Montreal, Quebec
After decades of near-uniformity, full-size pickup trucks have finally begun to chart their own evolutionary branch away from each other. The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is the perfect example: refusing the tread the turbocharged path of its Ford F-150 rival, or experiment with non-traditional suspension designs like the hot-selling Ram 1500, the Silverado instead doubles-down on time-honored V8 designs infused with modern technology. The end result is a very modern truck that continues to get the job done, whatever the task may be.
There have been a raft of small changes made to the 2016 edition of the Chevrolet Silverado, with the majority limited to a cosmetic refresh of the vehicle's exterior styling. Most noticeable is the decision to offer a new set of separate grille designs depending on which trim level is ordered, with the body-coloured unit on our Silverado LTZ tester matching up well with its LED headlights and fresh LED foglights. There are LED tails out back, too, proving that one of the most effective ways to update an established design is to reconfigure its lighting details.
A monstrous 420 hp 6.2-litre V8 is available with LTZ and High Country trucks.
Interior enhancements are more modest, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now available across both the entry-level seven-inch and larger LTZ-spec touchscreens (both of which also feature the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment interface). We're not huge fans of either phone integration method, and Chevrolet actually does a very good job with the design of the MyLink system, but for those who want to be able to access a subset of their phone's functions via the LCD display, it's now there.
Unchanged are the options under the hood of the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Standard on most every trim (save for the LTZ and High Country models) is a robust 285 horsepower 4.3-litre V6, with the option to install a 5.3-litre V8. This unit delivers 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of twist, numbers that feel more than up to the task of towing the 4,898 kilograms allowable by the Silverado 1500's chassis. Should more grunt be desired, a monstrous 420 hp 6.2-litre V8 is available with LTZ and High Country trucks to replace the 5.3-litre motor, and it brings with it 460 lb-ft of torque.
You can also haul as much as 1,025 kilograms in the pickup's cargo bed: our four-door crew cab tester was matched with a five-foot, eight-inch short bed, but you can go a foot longer (available on regular cab, standard on extended cabs), or even stick an eight-footer on there, too (regular cab).
GM's cylinder deactivation technology helps ease the pain on the highway by slicing the number of pistons churning by half during highway cruising.
Chevy has elected to offer its recently-developed 8-speed automatic transmission across more than just the biggest of the Silverado's V8 engines, with the 5.3 now capable of benefitting from a pair of extra ratios as compared to the 6-speed it's matched with on lower trims (V6 Silverados also avail themselves of the 6-speed). The benefit? Smoother performance, especially around town as the gearbox is better able to manage the motor's power band, but strangely, fuel economy actually drops slightly if you go for 8 over 6 forward ratios. Most pickup owners expect an increased cost at the pump, of course, but GM's cylinder deactivation technology helps ease the pain on the highway by slicing the number of pistons churning by half during highway cruising or other light-load driving.
The truck's gargantuan size guarantees ample cabin space for crew cab models.
When you've got a platfrom as large as the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500's, it only makes sense to cram in as many useful features as possible, including 4G LTE Wi-Fi (standard), an available towing package with trailer braking control, and of course the now-expected option of heated and cooled leather seats. The truck's gargantuan size guarantees ample cabin space for crew cab models, with the rear seat not only offering easily-foldable cargo storage for whatever you don't trust in the bed, but also huge amounts of legroom and shoulder room. Similarly generous proportions can be observed in the centre console, and there are plenty of spots up front and in the rear where you can stuff gear to keep it protected and out of the way.
The Silverado's size also informs its on-road demeanor, although it's less of a handicap as compared to the experience offered by pickups past. The 6.2-litre motor is a veritable catapault with the pedal down, helping the truck hit 100 km/h in just under six seconds, and when equipped with the Z71 off-road package like our test vehicle the low-range four-wheel drive system is aided and abetted by Rancho shock absorbers, skid plates to protect the undercarriage, a hill descent control system, and tow hooks. Wherever you might need to go, whatever you have to haul, and however deep the mud might be, the Silverado Z71 has your back.
In our minds, the sweet spots of the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 line-up can be found near the bottom (the Work Truck package) and almost at the very top (our LTZ cruiser). Work Truck editions of the Silverado can be had with V8 power and offer all of the utility you might need, without asking you to pay for features that probably don't matter to you all that much on the job site. The LTZ, on the other hand, strikes us as a better value than the High Country, as the latter simply doesn't reach the same standards as its Blue Oval or FCA luxury truck competitors. If you want to stay in the General Motors stable, you'll most likely be better served by the more popular, and mechanically-identical GMC Sierra and its Denali trim.
Photos: Benjamin Hunting