It happens every year: Once our Truck of the Year winner joins the Motor Trend long-term fleet, it becomes the hardest-working vehicle we have. Knowing it would be the same story for our 2007 Silverado, it was outfitted for labor and versatility-and power and comfort. Aha, you say-another topline long-termer with every option box checked, eh? Well, not quite. We needed a crew cab, but, unfortunately, that meant we couldn't get the maximum trailering package, which would've given the half-ton 4:10 gears, 4L70 four-speed automatic, 9.5-inch rearend, and heavy-duty cooling system. The 3:73s, 4L60, and 8.75-inch rear would suffice. Plus, we knew the Z71 package came with a locking rear diff. We also opted for the LT1 group instead of the best-of-the-best LTZ. Without any options above and beyond the basic LT1 trim, the four-wheel-drive crew cab's MSRP would've been $32,515. We requested the LT1 convenience, safety, E-Z Lift tailgate, and Z71 off-road suspension packages; the 367-horsepower, 6.0-liter V-8 with Active Fuel Management; sunroof; and a few other goodies, bringing the bottom line to $38,802. That's a bit steep, but our truck was now fully prepared for the off-road and street duties it would inevitably face.

"Inevitably" came within less than a month, when one staffer comfortably fit five people in the "pure pickup" work truck six-person cabin. Later, he used the Silverado to haul an eight-foot couch, overstuffed chair, and dining-room table in one trip-because of the short bed, he had to use tie-downs and the tailgate had to be left open. Another staffer lugged 1200 pounds of payload from Los Angeles to Phoenix and observed an 18-mpg fuel-economy average and 440-mile range, with the V-8 often staying in four-cylinder mode. He was impressed with the transmission's Tow/Haul feature: Once it recalibrated for the added payload, shifts were smooth and gears held longer.

The same hardy staffer who used the Silverado to move, used it again a few months later for a three-day camping trip. He'd opined that a camper shell would be a useful addition to the half-ton. After the editor of Truck Trend preran some trails near Big Bear in Southern California, he agreed, and off the Chevy went for its upgrade. American Camper Shell in Stanton, California, installed Leer's 100XQ shell (about $1800), finished in Graystone Metallic to match the truck's exterior. ACS also fitted the Chevy with a weatherproof, carpeted BedRug bedliner (about $400), making the bed even more civilized and camping-ready. Adding both items to the truck took less than two hours. Fresh from its back-half upgrade, the Chevy was again on the road, this time to the Mojave Desert and then to Hungry Valley for photo-vehicle duty. Out in the ruts and rocks of Hungry Valley, one of the shell's struts came loose. Another trip to Stanton, and ACS fixed it within 15 minutes.

The Silverado's first scheduled trip to the dealer was unremarkable. It received an oil change at 9200 miles (a little late). It went back to the dealer at 11,861 miles, when we showed the technicians the rattling/loose passenger-side mirror and they ordered a replacement. One editor noticed that on bumpy roads, the check-airbag light turned on intermittently-the dealer couldn't duplicate it, but after cleaning dust off the sensor connections, the problem eventually stopped. The techs also completed a throttle-body service and lube/oil/filter change ($381) and fixed a battery recall. Once the mirror arrived, it was installed under warranty on a third trip.

This is a truck that can go nearly anywhere, which we proved over the yearlong loan, and did so while providing a comfortable ride in a spacious, attractive cabin. The interior received high marks, as did the driver-information center. The biggest complaint: the four-speed automatic. There were times when the truck seemed held back by the transmission, that two more gears could've made better use of the 367 horses. In addition, a six-speed would make a big difference with fuel economy. By the time the year was up, many staffers had plunked down more than $75 to fill the tank, with one paying nearly $100. It would've been nice to squeeze the most out of every gallon, and during some hard work and play, the Silverado was guilty of single-digit fuel economy. It did get a high of 20 mpg, but it took some babying to achieve that number. We realize a high-horsepower V-8 isn't the most fuel-efficient engine, but it takes torque and power to tow and carry as much as the Silverado can, and this V-8 uses cylinder shutoff, which helps. We hear the Silverado is supposed to get the six-speed next year and with that should come better mpg.

Overall, the Silverado easily fulfilled its duty as workhorse and trustworthy chase vehicle. It used to be that owning a truck came at a price: harsh ride and poor handling in exchange for fantastic utility. Now that trucks have become viable daily drivers and family haulers, the price is paid at the pump. But if you're willing to invest more when you fill up, this pickup provides a big payoff for the money.

From the Logbook
"I made a great trip up to Big Bear and beat the snot out of the truck prerunning some trails on the west side of the lake. The Silverado is definitely a tough truck and seems to like getting dirty."
- Mark Williams

"Its smoothness, refinement, and fit and finish are impressive for a rig that's clearly still built to do a hard day's work. But what won me over was its friendly, big-hearted, can-do personality: It's like your best buddy, favorite hunting dog, and Trigger, all rolled into one."
- Angus MacKenzie

"It's not much to look at on the outside, nothing groundbreaking, but holy cow! The interior of this truck is enormous."
- James Dryden


Our Car
Base Price $32,515
Options Vortec 6.0L V-8 ($1695); 40/20/40 split bench seat ($800); LT1 convenience package ($895); electric sunroof ($795); safety package ($715); Z71 Off Road package ($615); power camper-style mirrors ($238); XM radio ($199); cargo- management system ($175); E-Z Lift locking tailgate $95; P265/75R17 tires ($55)
MSRP, as tested $38,802
Total mileage 19,027
Avg fuel economy 14.0 mpg
Problem areas Service airbag light, loose pass mirror, camper shell strut breakage
Maintenance cost $419.05
Normal-wear cost $0
3-year residual value $19,789
Recalls Battery rundown *Automotive lease guide data


2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4WD Crew Cab
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
Drivetrain layout Front engine, 4WD
Engine type 90-degree V-8, iron block/alum heads
Valvetrain OHV, 2 valves/cyl
Displacement 364.0 cu in/5967 cc
Compression ratio 9.6:1
Power (SAE NET) 367 hp @ 5500 rpm*
Torque (SAE NET) 375 lb-ft @ 4300 rpm*
Weight to power 15.0:1 lb/hp
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Axle/final ratios 3.73:1/2.61:1/2.72:1
Suspension, front; rear Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; live axle, leaf springs
Steering ratio 16.5:1
Turns lock-to-lock 3.2
Brakes, f;r 13.0-in vented, disc; 13.5-in vented, disc, ABS
Wheels 7.5 x 17 in, cast aluminum
Tires 265/70R17 113S M+S Bridgestone Dueler A/T
DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase 143.5 in
Track, f/r 68.1/67.0 in
Length x width x height 230.2 x 80.0 x 73.7 in
Turning circle 47.2 ft
Curb weight 5520 lb
Weight dist., f/r 58/42%
GVWR 7000 lb
Payload 1480 lb
Towing capacity 8500 lb
Seating capacity 5
Headroom, f/m/r 39.1/37.8 in
Legroom, f/m/r 41.9/35.6 in
Shoulder room, f/m/r 56.4/56.1 in
Cargo vol behind f/m/r 15.9 cu ft
TEST DATA
Acceleration to mph
0-30 2.6 sec
0-40 3.7
0-50 5.3
0-60 7.3
0-70 9.3
0-80 11.5
0-90 15.7
Quarter mile 15.3 sec @ 89.6 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 132 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.67 g (avg)
MT figure eight 30.1 sec @ 0.52 g (avg)
Top-gear revs @ 60 mph 1750 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
Stability/traction control Yes/yes
Airbags Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance 5 yrs/100,000 miles
Fuel capacity 26.0 gal
EPA city/hwy econ 15/19 mpg
MT fuel economy 16.4 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.17 lb/mile

*SAE Certified

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