2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Review and Prices

Last Updated: Dec 12, 2011

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2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Buying Advice

The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is the best pickup for you if loyalty to a proven truck trumps fresher, flasher designs.

That the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 isn’t expected to undergo notable changes from the 2010 model is a sobering reality. While the archrival Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram 1500 were all-new and tangibly improved for model-year 2009, Silverado soldiers on with a design dating to model-year 2007. The Chevy seems stale by comparison. Actually, there’s still a lot of life in it, but you may need to be a Silverado stalwart to see it.    

Should you wait for the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 or buy the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500? Little reason to wait. With no significant changes on the horizon it make sense to shop the 2010 Silverado and capitalize on an incentive-laden buyer’s market -- a market that may not look quite so favorable by the time the 2011 models roll out.

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Changes back to top

Styling: General Motors’ bankruptcy crisis siphoned away lots of development energy, so it’s a good thing the 2011 Chevy Silverado 1500 doesn’t cry out for a sheetmetal facelift. Yes, it’s looking extremely familiar against the recently restyled F-150 and Ram 1500. But Silverado’s clean, conservative lines still have legs and are in fact a bit of an antidote to the some of the self-conscious “tough-guy” touches evident on the Ford and Dodge. So anticipate only modest detail alterations -- if that -- for model-year 2011. Silverado will return with three cab styles: a two-door regular-cab; an extended cab with small, rear-hinged back doors; and a crew cab with four conventional doors. Regular cabs seat up to three; extended and crews up to six. Regular-cabs cargo beds come in 5-foot-8-inch and 8-foot lengths, extended cabs add a third, 6-foot-6-inch choice, and crews use the 5-8 box. Exterior styling dresses up as you ascend the trim-level ladder, from basic Work Truck (WT) through LS, LT, and LTZ designations. An aerodynamic front fascia helps identify the gas-electric Silverado Hybrid l and also is used on the Silverado 1500 XFE (Xtra Fuel Economy) model; both come only as crew cabs. Inside, Silverado makes available two cabin décors. WT, LS, and LT models have a basic design Chevy calls “pure pickup.” The LTZ uses a “luxury inspired” setup that borrows its dashboard design from the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban SUVs built off the Silverado. Note that the GMC Sierra 1500 pickup from GM’s truck division is a slightly re-trimmed version of the Silverado 1500.

Mechanical: The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado is not expected to receive major mechanical changes, but that’s not to imply Chevy won’t continue strategic advances. For example, it gave 2009 Silverado extended- and crew-cabs a hydraulic body mount that notably improved comfort and control. For model-year 2010, it made the StabiliTrack antiskid system standard on all Silverados, not just LT and above. The 2011 Silverado should again feature a base V-6 engine and a choice of four V-8s, including a gas-electric hybrid. The most popular engine choice will continue to be the smooth, versatile 5.3-liter V-8, which was rated at 315 horsepower for 2010. It’s available on all body styles and uses GM’s Active Fuel Management to save gas by automatically switching between eight and four cylinders, depending on power demands. The 2011 Silverado’s V-6 should continue at 195 horsepower. Also returning should be V-8s of 4.8 liters (302 horsepower for 2010) and 6.2 liters (403). The V-6 and 4.8-liter V-8 used a four-speed automatic transmission for 2010, the other engines a six-speed automatic. Advancing at least the 4.8 V-8 to the six-speed automatic would be a worthwhile 2011 change. Expect the 2011 Silverado 1500 to retain a maximum towing capacity of around 10,600 pounds; that was achieved for 2010 with a 6.2-liter-V-8 crew cab and the optional trailering package. The Silverado Hybrid accounts for less than 10 percent of Silverado sales but gives Chevy a bragging right the newer F-150 and Ram 1500 can’t match. It uses an Active Fuel Management 6.0-liter V-8 in combination with electric motors housed in the transmission casing. Total horsepower is 332. The system self-charges its nickel-metal hydride battery pack and can propel the truck up to 30 mph on electricity alone. The electric motors help the V-8 use four-cylinder mode more frequently and also lend support during acceleration. Silverado Hybrid is available with two- or four-wheel drive and uses a continuously variable transmission. Its towing capacity is 6,100 pounds.

Features: Credit Chevy with keeping Silverado in the game with an extensive roster of standard and optional features. In model-year 2010, for example, head-protecting curtain side airbags were made standard on regular-cab Silverados, not just extendeds and crews. And every audio system (save the very basic setup) gained USB iPod connectivity. The rearview backup camera was made available on more models, too. Chevy does fall off the pace a bit in cargo-bed versatility, lacking, for example, Dodge’s RamBox storage bins or Ford’s deployable bed steps and radio-frequency equipment tracking. The 2011 Silverado would benefit from these sorts of features, but a more serious enhancement would matching F-150 and Ram 1500 with towing sway-control that taps the antiskid system to automatically counteract wayward truck and trailer motions. Silverado already offers an integrated trailer-brake controller on all models. And along with the Ram 1500 (and GMC Sierra), Silverado is the only full-size pickup to offer a four-wheel-drive system that can remain engaged on all surfaces. That’s a traction advantage on damp pavement, when pickups with empty beds suffer poor rear-tire grip. The system is called Autotrac. Like Silverado’s basic part-time 4WD, it has low-range gearing. The 2011 Silverado will continue with several available suspension setups, from comfort-oriented Z83 and Z85, to off-road Z71, to sporty-handling Z60. Leather upholstery, a navigation system, OnStar communications, rear-seat DVD entertainment, a power sliding rear window, remote engine start, 12-way heated power front seats, and Bluetooth cell-phone link also will return.

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Prices back to top

The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado pricing won’t be announced until shortly before 2011 models go on sale. But don’t expect significant increases over 2010 Silverado pricing. Note that prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Chevy’s 2010 Silverado fee was $995.

The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 regular-cab base prices should begin around $23,000 with two-wheel-drive (2WD) and around $26,500 with 4WD; that’s with the V-6 engine. Expect 2011 regular-cab base prices to top out around $32,500 for the long-bed LT 4WD with the 4.8-liter V-8.

The 2011 Silverado extended-cab pricing will start at an estimated $28,000 for the 2WD short-bed Work Truck with the V-6 and around $32,000 for the 4WD version with the 4.8 V-8. The 2011 Silverado extended-cab base prices should top out around $41,000 for the 4WD LTZ with the 5.3 V-8 and either the short or long bed.

Crew Cabs account for about 50 percent of full-size pickup sales, and 2011 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab prices should start around $32,000 for the short-bed WT with the 4.8 V-8; figure around $35,000 for the same model with 4WD.

Estimated base prices for popular 2010 Silverado crew cab trim levels: LS, $33,000; LT, $34,000, LTZ, $41,000. Add about $3,000 for 4WD. Stuff an LTZ Crew Cab with options, and a $50,000 2011 Silverado is an easy reality.

The XFE should return for 2011 as a 2WD Crew Cab with the 5.3 V-8 starting around $36,000. Base price for the 2011 Silverado Hybrid is an estimated $44,000 with 2WD, about $47,000 with 4WD.

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Fuel Economy back to top

EPA mileage ratings for 2011 models were not available in time for this review, but fuel economy is an area in which the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 have been big-pickup pacesetters.

Chevy aims to continue that leadership for model-year 2011 with EPA ratings that match or exceed the 2010 Silverado’s. Those ratings were 15/20 mpg (city/highway) with the V-6 engine and 2WD, and 14/18 with the V-6 and 4WD. With the 4.8-liter V-8, ratings were 14/19 2WD, 14/18 4WD.

With the 5.3-liter V-8, 2011 Silverado fuel-economy ratings should reflect 2010 numbers of 15/21 with both 2WD and 4WD. The XFE model, which uses the 5.3 V-8, was rated at 15/22. Using the 6.2-liter V-8, 2010 Silverados were rated at 13/19 with 2WD and just 12/19 with 4WD.

Silverado’s V-8 engines can run on any combination of gasoline and the E85 gas-ethanol blend. Horsepower ratings are unchanged using E85, but fuel economy drops by 20 percent or so. For example, a 2WD 5.3-liter Silverado rates 15/21 burning gas but just 11/16 using E85.

The 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid is rated at 21/22 with 2WD and 4WD.

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Release Date back to top

Look for the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 in showrooms during July 2010.

By the way, “1500” is Chevy’s code for a half-ton pickup, defined roughly by its payload capacity, which in the Silverado 1500 maxes out around 1,800 pounds. Chevy, GMC, Ford, and Dodge all offer heavier-duty three-quarter and one-ton versions of their pickups with stouter frames, more payload and towing capacity, and diesel engines. GM and Dodge use 2500- and 3500-series designations for their three-quarter and one-ton models, respectively. Ford uses F-250 and F-350.

What's next for the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 back to top

Sources say General Motors has pushed back introduction of its next-generation half-ton pickups to model-year 2014, two model years later than projected before the economic melt-down and GM’s reorganization.

That redesign will bring new styling inside and out, plus innovations in cargo carrying, and almost certainly engines that more efficiently balance power and fuel economy.

The good news is that commercial users, trades people, farmers, ranchers, and serious trailer-pullers will continue to need pickups, and GM, Ford, and Dodge Ram will continue to compete to serve their needs. Evidence of that is a flurry of activity in the three-quarter ton and one-ton categories, where Ford and Dodge are brining out redesigned models during calendar 2010 and GM is preparing new 2500 and 3500 Silverados and Sierras for model-year 2011; they’ll have a new chassis and be available with a new  Duramax 6.6-liter clean diesel V-8.

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Competition back to top

Ford F-150: Expect a revamped engine lineup for 2011 featuring a new V-8 and a version of Ford’s EcoBoost V-6, a twin-turbo engine boasting six-cylinder fuel economy and eight-cylinder power. F-150 was redesigned for 2009 with updated styling, larger cabs, and a lighter, stronger frame. It beats Silverado for passenger room, in-cab storage space, and model-year 2010 tow ratings of 11,300 pounds and a 3,030-pound payload capacity. No other major changes expected until model-year 2014 or so.

Dodge Ram 1500: Also expected to add an important new engine for 2011 in the form of Chrysler’s Pentastar V-6. This pickup was redesigned for model-year 2009 with aggressive new styling touches, roomier cabs, and the innovative RamBox storage system. It also got a full-size-pickup-first coil-spring rear suspension for class-leading ride comfort. Ram should continue with two V-8 choices -- one a Hemi with cylinder deactivation -- and also the option of full-time 4WD on top-line versions. Tow rating was 10,450 pounds, payload 1,900 for model-year 2010. No major alterations on tap until model-year 2014 or thereabouts.     

Toyota Tundra: Like the GM half-tons, its basic design dates to model-year 2007, but Tundra has made less news on the development front. Still, this U.S.-built Toyota matches the domestics for size and power, if not for sales volume -- commercial and fleet customers haven’t appeared in great numbers. Two strong, smooth V-8s supplement a get-me-over V-6. Trailering capacity was 10,800 pounds, payload 1,990 for model-year 2010. Don’t expect major Tundra changes before model year 2014.