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.

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