2015 Chevy Silverado: A pickup with pull

Emma Jayne Williams

For model year 2015, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 offers some new standard and available features, just a year after a complete makeover.

They include a Hydra-Matic 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission on the 6.2-liter V-8 models, 12,000-pound trailering capacity, up-level trailering mirrors with rear guidance lamps, and a spray-on bedliner for all models.

The eight-speed automatic is built tougher, with 11 percent greater torque capacity, to handle the greater power of Silverado's powertrains, Chevrolet says.

Also new are the enhanced MyLink with Text Messaging Alerts and Siri Eyes Free, available OnStar with 4G LTE, and built-in Wi-Fi hotspot (3-gigabyte three-month trial).

Silverado's in-vehicle communication system, MyLink, provides easy, intuitive operation of basic functions, while being highly customizable, linking up to 10 devices such as smartphones, SD cards and MP3 players.

Using a standard 4.2-inch screen and multiple USB ports, MyLink is enhanced by text messaging alerts, which reads incoming texts through the vehicle's speakers. The system collects music from all USB-connected devices into one library, for enjoyment of personal music in addition to standard audio featuring satellite radio and a single-slot CD/MP3 player.

An eight-inch-diagonal touch screen is available with the navigation option. Siri Eyes Free and TMA use voice-controlled connectivity with natural language recognition, allowing phones to remain stowed and hands to remain on the steering wheel. The touch screen also uses gesture recognition.

The new optional OnStar with 4G LTE and standard built-in hotspot provides a means for driver and passengers to stay connected to the outside world, and is on anytime the vehicle is on, instantly available for up to seven devices.

For 2015, Silverado 1500 models are priced from $26,170-$51,540, and include regular cab, double cab and crew cab body styles, all offered with four-wheel drive.

Trims include Work Truck (WT), LS, LT, LTZ and High Country. Regular cab models are available with a 6-foot-6 box or an 8-foot box. Double cab models are offered exclusively with the 6-foot-6 box, while crew cabs are available with a 5-foot-8 box or the 6-foot-6 box.

New exterior colors include Rain Forrest Metallic and Deep Ocean Blue Metallic, which add $495, and for a limited time, Sunrise Metallic and Pewter will be available.

My review vehicle was a Deep Ocean Blue Metallic LS rear-wheel drive double cab with Jet Black/Dark Ash interior featuring high-wear cloth on the bench seats. The cloth is especially durable, stain resistant, and easy to clean — spilled liquid simply beads up instead of soaking in.

On my vehicle, the standard 4.3-liter V-6 Ecotec3 engine was replaced by a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V-8 ($1,095 extra).

The front bench seat was split 40/20/40, with a multi-feature armrest on the fold-down center section and comfortable, manually adjustable bolstered outboard seating areas.

The armrest/seatback included three cupholders; a shallow rubber-lined tray on top; a covered cubby with a folding divider, a large paper clip, two USB ports, and a power outlet; and a sectioned slot for mobile devices (or French fries).

A very small person could sit in the center position up front, if necessary, although legroom was almost non-existent, and the seat belt didn't include a shoulder belt. The front doors had two map pockets, with divisions for two bottles in the lower pockets.

The fold-up rear bench seat allowed tall items to be hauled safely inside, out of the elements. The bench seat had child-seat tethers for all three positions, and lower anchors for outboard seats.

There was 40.5 inches of headroom and 40.9 inches of legroom — with less in the middle rear position. Rear passengers had two pockets and one bottle holder on each door.

For buyers who use their trucks as an office on wheels, a new, larger center console is available. The locking console holds hanging files in reconfigurable compartments, and includes controls for overhead lights, five USB ports, two 12-volt power outlets, a new 110-volt outlet, and a cord-management system.

There are map pockets along the side, movable cupholders and a special location for storing cellphones. The console has nearly a cubic foot of storage space, and is deep and wide enough to conceal a laptop computer.

An upright instrument panel had six simple, intuitive gauges with a 3.5-inch driver-information center, operated by a stalk on the panel itself, directly behind the steering wheel. The controls on the center stalk were simple, logical and easy to operate.

There was a small, open, rubber-lined shelf on the dash near the driver's left hand with a card slot beneath, a larger pull-out cubby at the bottom of the center stack, a bi-level glovebox and storage for glasses on the overhead control panel. Ambient lighting highlighted all switches for easier viewing at night.

Silverado's exterior is aerodynamic to reduce wind noise and enhance efficiency on the highway. The doors are fitted into the body sides and triple sealed to help keep the cabin quiet. The aluminum hood is lighter than a steel hood, also enhancing efficiency.

The tester was EPA rated at 16 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway, better than any other V-8 pickup. Traveling over 800 miles, mostly on two-lane and low-speed-limit four-lane roads, hauling a bed full of household items, I averaged almost 19 mpg.

My Silverado had a $475 spray-on bed liner, a CornerStep bumper, ergonomically shaped handholds and several covered tie downs built into the new box rail protector. Four heavy duty tie-downs were positioned low on the bed wall.

After I packed the bed, I couldn't reach the lower tie-downs, so I uncovered the upper tie-downs. Adjustable upper tie-down hooks are available. My tester had a box light mounted above the rear window, with under-rail LED lights available.

The signature bold, upright two-port grille gave my Silverado a strong, muscular appearance with Chevrolet's signature vertically stacked headlights pushed to the corners.

Chrome bumpers, mirror caps and door handles also recalled Chevy's heritage. Wide doors made loading and unloading the rear cargo area easy.

Getting into the front seats would have been easier with running boards. The bed also features a two-tier loading design, allowing the owner to insert a platform to separate items during hauling or conceal tools or other valuables below.

Chrome door handles and mirror caps were included in a Custom Package for $1,290, along with 20-inch silver-painted aluminum wheels with five wide spokes, all-season tires and a body-color rear bumper pad.

Silverado's safety systems are designed to protect driver and passengers before, during and after a collision and include three-point safety belts in all rear positions, front outboard safety belt retractor pretensioners which gradually loosen after sudden retraction; six standard air bags with sensors to detect the presence of a properly seated front passenger; head-curtain side-impact air bags with rollover protection; front seat-mounted side-impact air bags; and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology, trailer sway control, and hill-start assist.

High-strength steel makes the cab and frame stronger and lighter, helping Silverado achieve a five-star rating in government crash testing.

A Trailering Equipment Package ($770) included auto-locking rear differential, hitch platform and two-inch receiver, four-pin connector, and seven-wire harness for parking and backup lights, turn signals, brake lead, battery and ground.

My tester also had antilock brakes, four-wheel discs with Duralife rotors, which offer double the service life thanks to a GM-exclusive process to protect against rust; tire-pressure monitoring; daytime running lights; EZ Lift-and-Lower locking tailgate; spare-tire lock; deep-tinted glass; rubberized-vinyl floor mats; and power/heated outside mirrors.

All GM products come with six months free OnStar Directions and Connections at the time of purchase. Directions and Connections includes all of OnStar's adviser-based safety and security features, along with Automatic Crash Response, Stolen Vehicle Assistance, and turn-by-turn navigation.

A five-year basic plan includes those services in addition to RemoteLink mobile app, vehicle diagnostics, maintenance notification, hands-free calling, emergency services, roadside assistance, and remote services.

Silverado's cabin is roomy, quiet and functional; the ride feels controlled and confident, with good steering, cornering, and braking — even when the bed is fully loaded.

There were $4,225 in options on the Silverado including the spray-on bed liner for $475 and color-keyed carpet for $100, and $1,195 freight bringing the total sticker to $37,360.

2015 Silverado 1500

Vehicle Type: Front engine, rear or four-wheel drive, five-passenger pickup

Price: $31,940 base

Power plant: 5.3L EcoTec3 V-8 VVT with direct injection and cylinder deactivation

Power: 355 horsepower; 383 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds (Car and Driver)

Weight: 5,324 pounds as tested

Fuel economy: EPA 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy

Report card

Highs: Quiet ride, good steering, cornering and braking, even with a full load.

Lows: Getting into the front seats should be easier; there should be running boards.