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  • First Drive: 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom

First Drive: 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom

Exploring Montana's Glacier National Park

Satish Kondapavulur
Sep 22, 2015
Photographers: Satish Kondapavulur
There are many reasons to want a pickup truck. A contractor may need to move cement bags from one location to another. A retired couple might require a truck to tow their fifth-wheel trailer while visiting national parks across the country. A motocross racer may need a place to carry his or her dirt bikes without the hassle of a trailer. A farmer may need to haul some livestock and hay from one end of the farm to another. A city-dweller may buy a truck since he really likes helping his friends move. A band of thieves may need a reliable vehicle for hauling away a heavy safe from the scene of the crime. These are all extremely valid reasons for having a pickup truck.
Photo 2/28   |   2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Driver Side View
I, on the other hand, wanted a pickup truck for much less compelling reasons. I didn't have any dirt bikes or a trailer in the driveway. I already have a van, so my friends already ask me to help them move. My neighborhood doesn't allow livestock in the yard so I didn't need a means of transporting hay. And I was unable to find a partner in crime for performing a safe heist. Instead, I was going to visit Glacier National Park in Montana and wanted to blend in with the locals. To that end, I managed to get my hands on a '15 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 double cab in LS trim with the 5.3L V-8.
The truck was equipped with the $1,290 Custom Package, which brought 20-inch wheels shod with P275/55R20 tires, chrome door handles, chrome mirror caps, and a body-color bumper that would be found on the LT trim of the Silverado. It's a good choice for the customer who plans to use the truck as a daily driver with the occasional need for towing or placing some items in the bed but wants the truck to look good without spending up to the LT or LTZ trim levels. Additionally, the truck had the premium Deep Ocean Blue metallic paint for an extra $995, which earned the truck quite a few favorable comments.
On the other hand, the Custom Package and its 20-inch wheels aren't suited to off-roading. You'll have to spend the $3,000-$5,000 extra for the LT Z71 four-wheel-drive model with its gas-charged shocks and off-road jounce bumpers.
The dynamics on normal, paved roads were another story. Handling on curvy roads was very good, due to the standard suspension and street tires. The Silverado had no problem going up and down the winding and narrow Going-to-the-Sun Road at Glacier National Park. (Quick note: When traveling Going-to-the-Sun Road, ensure that you're not the one driving since you will be easily distracted by the wonderful scenery.) The park does not allow vehicles on the road larger than a Mercedes Sprinter due to the nature of the road. I had a simple time ensuring the truck stayed in its lane, even with oncoming traffic. Anyone who has driven a vehicle that is the size of a modern midsize crossover, like a Traverse or Explorer, will become quickly accustomed to driving the Silverado 1500.
Photo 6/28   |   2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Passenger Side Profile
On the highway, the truck smoothly traveled over any ruts or potholes that I would make sure to brace myself for in most other vehicles. Performance was a high point with the 5.3L V-8 that makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The engine had no problem traveling between a constant 70-80 mph for close to nine hours. The six-speed transmission easily dropped a gear when I wanted to pass a car on Montana's two-lane highways. It also didn't feel unstable at high speeds and stayed planted around curves. It's amazing how well GM engineers have tuned the chassis dynamics that driving a fullsize pickup truck can feel like driving a modern crossover.
Photo 7/28   |   2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Driver Side Front View
Ride comfort in the Silverado's front seats is exceptional, even over long distances. Once you familiarize yourself with the controls in the dash, everything is easy to reach and change. Most controls, such as the climate control and lights, are fairly straightforward. Even though the driver seat was manually adjustable (including the lumbar support), I could find a comfortable position to sit in during the 1,500-plus miles in the truck. After spending close to nine hours driving from Kalispell, Washington, to Seattle, I still had the energy to walk around the Seattle for another hour. The issue of comfort changes when you get to the back seat, however. If you plan on carting around more than two passengers on a regular basis, it would be better to get a Silverado in the Crew Cab body style.
During the trip, the fuel mileage I got with my particular Silverado was exceptional, considering the V-8 engine, with the onboard computer indicating 21.6 mpg over the 1,500 miles that I had the truck. This occurred despite being stuck in Seattle traffic for a good hour. It also meant I wouldn't have to plan a robbery or haul some hay for some Montana farmers for cash to pay off the gas bills. Much of the 21.6 mpg figure has to do with the truck being two-wheel-drive and the amount of time I spent traveling at 40 mph or above, which greatly helped overall fuel mileage. In addition, the truck's tires were Continental CrossContact LX20s with "EcoPlus" Technology, which likely contributed some more to the fuel economy number.
Photo 11/28   |   2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Driver Side Profile
Ultimately, my particular Silverado may not have been perfect for Montana and Glacier National Park, but it was a great truck in its own right, excellent for the person who wants a good-looking truck at a reasonable cost but who rarely ventures off-road and occasionally tows something. Thankfully, in this day and age, a pickup truck customer has the ability to spec a truck however he or she sees fit depending on necessary body styles, drivetrain, suspension, cargo box size, and so on in order to spec the perfect vehicle for Montana (Crew Cab, 4WD, possibly the Z71 package, standard box).
Photo 12/28   |   2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Passenger Side Rear Quarter View
In the end, I can't knock the ability of my Silverado 1500 test truck, especially considering the sum of its parts. With its remarkable ride comfort, maneuverability, and fuel economy, the Silverado 1500 with the 5.3L V-8 is an excellent choice for today's truck buyer. You'll be amazed at how much you can accomplish with $35,000 worth of truck versus $35,000 for any other type of vehicle. Instead of bank jobs, hauling hay, helping ungrateful friends move, or carrying motocross bikes, I managed to find a way to kayak the lakes of Glacier National Park, comfortably and efficiently drive 1,500 miles, and discover what a scenic and enjoyable place Montana is.
Photo 13/28   |   2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Tailgate
2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LS Custom
TYPE: Five-passenger pickup
BASE PRICE: $31,940
PRICE AS TESTED: $35,660
ENGINE: 5.3L Ecotec3 V-8
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER: 355 at 5,600rpm
TORQUE: 383 lb-ft at 4,100rpm
EPA FUEL ECON: 16 city / 23 hwy
Photo 17/28   |   2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Driver Sidep Profile
Photo 21/28   |   2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Rear Tailgate
Photo 25/28   |   2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Driver Side Front View

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