Then there's the curious combination that is the Chevy Silverado 1500HD. It's a hybrid of sorts, starting with the 2500's chassis, which was retuned for the inevitable use half-ton trucks see: grocery shopping, hauling furniture, dragging the Jet Ski to the lake, all endeavors that don't call for the husky hauling capabilities of a full three-quarter ton pickup.

Chevy responded to the success of Ford's F 150 SuperCrew and Dodge's then-new Ram 1500 Quad Cab by creating the 1500HD, offered as a new submodel in 2001. It combines a four-door cab and a short box (6.5 feet)--at the time, the only Silverado 1500 available in that configuration--with rear or four-wheel drive. While the rest of the Silverado line could be ordered with a variety of engines and drivelines, the 1500HD came with the best of the bunch, the 6.0 liter Vortec V 8 driving the evergreen (and tough as nails) 4L80 E four-speed automatic transmission. This brute of an engine, boasting 300 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque, couldn't be ordered in any other half-ton.

While the 1500HD is smaller than the 2500 with its eight-foot bed, it still isn't a small truck. It rides on a 153-inch wheelbase, about 10 inches longer than the extended-cab 1500. To help offset the HD's extra length, GM offered its innovative Quadrasteer as an option; it would steer the rear wheels opposite the fronts to help reduce turning radius and make urban parking a lot less tiresome as well as provide stellar towing function by phasing the rear wheels at higher speed, thus eliminating "tail waggle." The option started at $4000, a price later reduced to less than $2000.

Of course, the big incentive for buying the 1500HD is the cabin, capable of hauling six people who can enter through four full-size doors. While the specs suggest the HD has only six inches more rear legroom than the extended-cab 1500, the large windows and big door make the second row seem much bigger than that.

The 1500HD remained essentially unchanged from 2001 to 2002, but the year after it received the same updates as the rest of the previous-generation Silverado line: more aggressive front end, updated trim, and minor changes inside the cabin. The 1500HD name didn't exist for 2004, when Chevy introduced the regular 1500 with a four-door cab, but the model returned for 2005. By that time, half-tons also were available with the larger engine.

Because it shares almost everything with the 2500 Silverado, the HD has basically the same service history, which is mixed. An online search of problem spots reveals little about the engine itself, a burly V-8 that runs on regular unleaded and is good for 13 mpg. There also have been relatively few issues with the automatic transmission. That there are fewer incidents of this truck hauling big trailers certainly helps.

Owners complain about spongy or ineffective brakes. There were two brake-related recalls, one in 2000 and another in 2006; be sure that any 1500HD under consideration has been properly serviced and plan to inspect the brakes regularly. There also are recalls on the steering hoses. Owners report the ride, despite the low-rate springs from the half-ton Silverado, as rough at times.

Nevertheless, the 1500HD has a devoted following for providing what may be the best compromise between size and civility. And, for a few months, they're still available as new trucks. If you act quickly, you may be able to find a 2007 Silverado 1500HD Classic, but expect to pay between $30,000 and $35,000.

2001-2006 Chevrolet Silverado 1500hd
Body type 4-door pickup
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD/4WD
Airbags Dual front
Base engines 6.0L/300-hp OHV V-8
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc, ABS
Price range, wholesale/retail $10,046/$14,734 (2001 LS 2WD);(IntelliChoice) $20,482/$27,972 (2005 LT 4WD)
Recalls Too many to list; see www.intellichoice.com
NHTSA frontal impact rating, driver/pass Four stars/three stars