Chevy's latest Silverado SS has always tried to be a jack-of-all-trades performance truck. A renaissance bad-boy, if you like. When it arrived in 2003, it looked mean and its 6.0-liter, 345-horse V-8 sounded swift and accelerated smartly, but it also boasted six-passenger club-cab seating, all-wheel drive, and a hefty towing capacity (now 8100 pounds). These virtues did much to offset the fact that the short-cab, rear-drive Ford SVT Lightning (380 horsepower) and Dodge Ram SRT-10 (500 horse) pickups could run rings around it at the track.

The market has responded favorably, snapping up over 14,000 Silverado SS versions in two years. Ford's Lightning struck out after 2003, and Dodge has recently seen fit to introduce a more practical four-door SRT-10 with an automatic transmission and a 7500-pound towing capacity.

Now Chevy is adding a rear-drive variant to the Silverado line. Ditching the transfer case and front drivetrain lightens the truck by about 250 pounds and shaves $3150 off the bottom line (to start at $36,440). Who knows, it might even shave a few seconds off at the dragstrip--or maybe not. Our 6.7-second 0-to-60-mph and 15.1-second, 90.5-mph quarter-mile times fall within the range of performance we've seen in AWD SS models. We experimented with a variety of launch techniques, from brake-torquing and holding wheelspin to about 3000 rpm until the tires hook up to flat-footing the pedal and taking off with minimal wheelspin. The results of four runs were within 0.16 second of each other. Maybe the AWD SS launches sufficiently quicker to make up for its added weight. Or maybe our totally green test truck (showing just 200 miles) needed to loosen up for another couple thousand miles.

One thing's for sure, this SS will feel slower than its AWD counterpart on public roads, where the traction control is hard at work whenever one cracks the throttle more than about half open. We'd be sorely tempted to fit some wider tires to the back. Lateral grip in the lighter, more tail-happy truck improved from the AWD version's 0.77 g to 0.79.

If you're looking for a sport truck, pay the extra $9785 and get a two-door SRT-10. There just isn't any practical way to make a box nearly 19 feet long and six feet tall, weighing 5023 pounds, feel nimble. But this Silverado is reminiscent of the big honkin' Impala SS of yore, in that you can load it up with six people and do smoky burnouts all night long.

2005 Chevrolet Silverado SS
Base price incl dest $36,440
Price as tested $36,780
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD, 2+2-door, 6-pass pickup
Engine 6.0L/345 hp/375 lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Curb weight, f/r dist 5023 lb, 58/42%
Wheelbase 143.5 in
Length x Width x Height 227.6 x 78.5 x 71.2 in
0-60 mph 6.7 sec
1/4 mile 15.1 sec @ 90.5 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 128 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.79 g avg
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 14 / 16 mpg
What's Hot Tasteful tuner styling; passenger and payload utility; vintage V-8 soundtrack
What's Not Traction deficit; oafish maneuverability; plastic interior
Like This? Try These Dodge SRT-10; Ford SVT Lightning (rumored)
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