The Chevrolet Silverado has been knocking on the Ford F-150's tailgate for the crown of best-selling fullsize truck as the latest Ford truck nears the end of its life. To keep the Silverado competitive for 2009 -- the same model year Dodge sends its new Ram to the market -- Chevy is mating Silverados powered by the 5.3L, 6.0L, and 6.2L V-8 engines with a six-speed automatic transmission.

That last engine is a new entry to fill out the top end of the 2009 Silverado lineup. Available on crew cab models, the big E85-ready V-8 produces 403 horsepower, enough to knock the 5.7L 381 horsepower Toyota Tundra from the title of most powerful fullsize truck. The rest of the Silverado engines remain unchanged, with the 195 horsepower 4.3L V-6, 295 horsepower 4.7L V-8, 315 horsepower 5.3L V-8, and 367 horsepower 6.0L V-8 filling out a large family of trucks. As before, the Silverado can be ordered in three cab styles and three cargo box lengths from 5 foot 8 inches to a healthy 8 foot.

On the lower end of the Silverado family, a vehicle stability enhancement system is now standard on all models except those equipped with the 4.3L V-6. Similarly, an integrated trailer brake controller is now available on all regular cab models except the 4.3L V-6. New 18- and 20-inch wheels can be paired with the new colors for 2009: Black Granite Metallic and Imperial Blue Metallic.

Silverado buyers who check the box for OnStar 8.0 get Turn-by-Turn Navigation and available Bluetooth connectivity. If you've opted for the navigation system, the XM NavTraffic real-time traffic feature is available. Extended cab and crew cab Silverados now come with the option of a rearview camera system regardless of whether the truck has a navigation system -- the display is on the rearview mirror.

Are Chevy's changes to the 2009 Silverado enough to push it ahead of the Ford F-150 in sales? Now that the bottom of the pickup truck segment has fallen out, anything is possible. One thing's for sure: spreading a six-speed automatic transmission throughout the lineup will only help move the Silverado forward.

Below is the official press release from Chevrolet for the 2009 Chevy Silverado.

2009 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 1500 ADDS FUEL-SAVING SIX-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION AND POWERFUL 6.2L V-8

New for 2009
• Six-speed automatic transmission with 5.3L, 6.0L and 6.2L engines (interim availability on regular cab and extended cab models)
• More powerful, E85-capable 6.2L V-8 available on crew cab
• New 18-inch and 20-inch chrome-clad wheel designs
• Black Granite Metallic and Imperial Blue Metallic exterior colors
• OnStar 8.0 with Turn-by-Turn navigation and Destination Download
• Bluetooth phone connectivity
• XM Satellite Radio with new NavTraffic feature
• Rearview camera system (extended cab and crew cab)

The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado is not only the strongest ever offered by Chevrolet, but it delivers segment-topping fuel economy - a combination that is winning over more and more customers and critics - including repeat appearances on Car and Driver's 5Best Trucks list for 2008.

For '09, Silverado's fuel economy advantage is enhanced with a new six-speed automatic that is paired with V-8 engines (except the 4.8L). Also, a new 6.2L V-8 with variable valve timing and E85 capability is offered on crew cab models; it is rated at 403 horsepower (301 kW). Additional new safety and convenience features give Silverado customers a broader array of choices when selecting the truck to fit their lifestyle.

"Silverado is the industry benchmark for full-size trucks," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "The new six-speed automatic is the latest example of how Chevrolet is working on fuel solutions for all of its vehicles, strengthening its leadership position in the market."

A Silverado Hybrid model also is available starting in 2009 and it delivers a 25-percent improvement in overall fuel economy while offering the Silverado's traditional capabilities - including a 6,100-pound (2,767 kg) towing capacity. Please see the separate Silverado Hybrid release for complete details and specifications.

Fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmission
Silverado's new Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission rolls out on models equipped with 5.3L, 6.0L and 6.2L engines. It debuts in crew cabs and migrates to regular cab and extended cab models with the 5.3L and 6.0L engines (except extended cab/short box 5-foot 8-inch configurations).

The six-speed helps achieve better fuel efficiency on the highway through lower "cruising" rpm - less fuel is used with the lower engine speed. The reduced engine speed also enhances the interior's quietness.

2009 new features and changes
In addition to the new six-speed automatic transmission and 6.2L V-8, a host of new features and revisions gives customers more choices. They include:

• New 18-inch and 20-inch chrome-clad wheels - The new-design wheels add contemporary options for style-conscious buyers; the 18-inch chrome aluminum wheel is a new addition to the lineup, while the new 20-inch chrome aluminum wheel replaces a previous machine-face design
• New Black Granite Metallic and Imperial Blue Metallic exterior colors
• OnStar 8.0 - The latest-generation OnStar system offers advanced features, including Turn-by-Turn Navigation and new, Destination Download that automatically downloads requested directions to the Silverado's navigation system
• Bluetooth phone connectivity - Available with OnStar 8.0, it enables safer, hands-free calling and other wireless activities, with controls on the steering wheel
• XM Satellite Radio with NavTraffic - Available with the standard XM Satellite Radio service, the new NavTraffic feature delivers real-time traffic advisements through the navigation system
• Rearview camera system - Extended cab and crew cab customers can select this safety device that can be ordered with or without the navigation system; it provides a remote view directly behind the vehicle via a display in the inside rearview mirror

Changes and revisions to previous models and equipment packages include:

• Integrated trailer brake controller is available on regular cab models (not available with the 4.3L engine)
• Vehicle stability enhancement system now standard on all models except with 4.3L V-6 engine
• 2LT trim is discontinued

Silverado lineup
The Silverado lineup is built on GM's robust full-size truck architecture. It supports a smooth ride and confident handling while delivering segment-leading capability and power. A lineup of powerful small-block V-8 engines complements the stronger chassis to deliver a confident towing capacity of - 10,700 pounds / 4,853 kg (extended cab with 6.0L and enhanced trailering package) - with a maximum payload capacity of 1,909 pounds / 866 kg (2WD crew cab).

There are three cab styles - regular, extended and crew cab - and three cargo box lengths: 5 foot 8 inches (short), 6 foot 6 inches (standard) and 8 foot (long). The pickup is available in four trim levels: WT, LS (crew cab only), LT and LTZ; and is available in 2WD and 4WD.


2009 Chevrolet Silverado
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD/4WD, 4-6- pass, 2-, 2+2-, 4-door truck
Engine 4.3L/195-hp/260-lb-ft OHV 12-valve V-6; 4.8L/295-hp/305-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8; 5.3L/315-hp/338-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8; 6.0L/367-hp/375-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8; 6.2L/403-hp/417-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8
Transmission 4-speed automatic; 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 4558-5504 lbs (mfr)
Wheelbase 119-157.5 in
Length x width x height 205.6-249.2 x 79.9 x 73.6-73.9 in
Headroom 39.2-41.3 in
Legroom 34.3-41.3 in
Shoulder room, f/m/r 65.1-65.3 in
Cargo vol 53.2-75.5 cu. ft
Weight dist., f/r 58-60/42-40
EPA City/Hwy Econ 12-15/19-20
CO2 Emissions 1.15-1.35 lb/mile