Chevy's 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-horsepower V-8 sounded swift and accelerated smartly, but the pickup also boasted six-passenger extended-cab seating, all-wheel drive, and a hefty towing capacity (it was 7600 pounds; now it's 8100). 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 horses) could run rings around it at the track.

To the surprise of many, the market responded favorably to the Silverado SS, snapping up over 14,000 in two years, with an average transaction price for most over $40,000. The competition hasn't been as lucky. Ford's Lightning struck out after 2003, and Dodge recently saw fit to introduce a more practical four-door SRT-10 with an automatic transmission and a 7500-pound towing capacity, presumably to intensify interest in the SRT-10.

Now Chevy is adding a rear-drive variant to the Silverado SS line. Ditching the transfer case, front driveshaft, and front differential lightens the truck by about 200 pounds and shaves $3150 off the bottom line, which starts at a more reasonable $36,440. Who knows, it might even shave off a few seconds 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 SSs. 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 quickly enough 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's 0.77 g to 0.79.

Bottom line: If you're looking for the sportiest sport truck out there, pay the extra $10,000 and get a two-door SRT-10 six-speed. There just isn't any practical way to make a box nearly 19 feet long and six feet tall weighing 5023 pounds feel nimble. However, we should note, 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--or at least until the tires melt.

2005 RWD Chevy Silverado SS
General
Location of final assembly Pontiac, Michigan
Body style 4-door extended-cab pickup
EPA size class Full-size truck
Drivetrain layout Front engine, RWD
Airbags Dual front
Powertrain
Engine type 90o V-8, cast-iron block, alum heads
Bore x stroke, in 4.00 x 3.62
Displacement, ci/L 364/6.0
Compression ratio 10.0:1
Valve gear OHV, 2 valves/cyl
Fuel induction Sequential
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 345 @ 5200
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 375 @ 4000
Transmission type 4L85-E four-speed auto
1st 2.48:1
2nd 1.48:1
3rd 1.00:1
4th 0.75:1
Reverse 2.08:1
Axle ratio 4.10:1
Final drive ratio 3.08:1
Recommended fuel Regular unleaded
Dimensions/Capacities
Wheelbase, in 143.5
Length, in 227.6
Width, in 78.5
Height, in 71.2
Track, f/r, in 65.0/66.0
Headroom, f/r, in 41.0/38.0
Legroom, f/r, in 41.0/34.0
Shoulder room, f/r, in 65.0/66.0
Hip room, f/r, in 61.0/62.0
Ground clearance, in 8.0
Approach/departure angle, deg 25.0/12.0
Bed size LxWxD, in 79.0x65.0x19.0
Base curb weight, lb 5023
Payload capacity, lb 1400
GVWR, lb 6400
GCWR, lb 14,500
Towing capacity, lb 8100
Fuel capacity, gal 26.0
Chassis
Suspension, f/r IFS, double A-arm, coil springs/live axle, leaf springs
Steering type Power rack and pinion
Ratio 14.2:1
Turns, lock to lock 3.0
Turning circle, ft 46.6
Brakes, f/r 12.0-in vented discs/12.8-in discs, 4WABS
Wheels 20x8.5-in alloy
Tires 245/75R20 all-season
Load/speed rating 109S
Performance
Acceleration, sec
0-302.3
0-403.4
0-504.8
0-606.7
0-708.6
0-8010.9
0-9014.8
0-10020.6
Standing quarter-mile, sec @ mph 15.1 @ 90.5
Braking, 60-0, ft 128
Lateral acceleration, g 0.79
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy 14/16
Price
Base price $36,440
Price as tested $36,780
On sale Currently
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 Ram SRT-10
Ford SVT Lightning (rumored for 2008)

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