First introduced in 1998 for the '99 model year, the Chevy Silverado was a follow up to Chevy trucks' successful C/K pickup line, and built on GM's long success with pickups, dating back to its first model in 1930. 1998 wasn't the Silverado name's debut, however, as it had made an appearance previously when Chevy used Silverado as an upscale trim name for both its Suburban and C/K pickup truck models from '75 through '99.
First generation: 1999-2007
Built on the GMT800 platform, the Chevy Silverado light duty truck came in three models, including the half-ton, SS, and Hybrid. These light duty trucks used the 1500 alias and were eventually available in three cab lengths—a two-door regular cab, four-door extended cab, and front-hinged four-door crew cab.
For the first year, only the regular cab and an extended cab were available, along with the Vortec 4300 V6, Vortec 4800 or Vortec 5300 V8's. In 2000, another driver's side door option became available for the extended cab, giving it four doors, and the crew-cab body was added to the lineup.
GM introduced a reworked version of the Silverado in 2003 with a new front end and slightly modified rear, but this model maintained all the power of its predecessor. Launched in early '03, the SS came on the scene as the high-performance pickup. Based on the Silverado 1500, this truck had upgrades to the drivetrain and to both the exterior and interior appearance. Equipped with the 6.0-liter Vortec High-Output V8, the SS delivered 345 horsepower at 5200 RPM with 380 lb. ft. of torque.
In 2005, in an effort to increase sales, a two-wheel drive version became available and a sunroof was added to the SS lineup. By 2006 the two-wheel drive option was dropped, leaving just the rear-wheel drive. Also in 2006, Chevy introduced the Intimidator SS, a special edition Silverado to honor the late NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt.
2007-2013: A new generation
The all-new GMT900 Silverado generation arrived in the last quarter of 2006 as a 2007 model. It featured a redesigned exterior, interior, frame, and suspension, as well as a power increases on certain engines. This truck had greatly improved aerodynamics thanks to the steeply raked windshields and tighter panel gaps, along with weight savings and a more efficient drivetrain—all of which helped create better fuel economy.
-door regular cabs, four-door extended cabs (with rear doors that now opened 170 degrees, similar to the Nissan Titan) and four-door crew cabs.
Starting in 2008, GM's full-size trucks with manual transmissions were no longer available in the U.S. and Canada. This same year, GM discontinued the Silverado hybrid, simply because it wasn't selling, as well as a slew of other GM hybrid models.
Halfway through the '09 model year, the Silverado received minor upgrades on the bumper and front fascia, but the real overhaul came in 2010 with new interior door panels and a six-speed automatic transmission. Two new exterior colors were added as well—Taupe Gray Metallic and Sheer Silver Metallic. Few other modifications occurred in the last few years of this generation, but that would soon change.
THIRD GEN: 2014-2018
Silverado's third generation built and improved on the success of generations one and two. On December 13, 2012, the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado was introduced in Detroit, Michigan, at the North American International Auto Show. Available in three gas engine options thanks to added technological upgrades, and sporting a new exterior look, this Silverado was truly a mechanical wonder.
instead of the stamped steel used by other manufacturers, in order to save weight and gain strength. All of these improvements contributed to the 2014 Silverado receiving the 2014 North American Truck of the Year Award.
The 2015 Silverado saw some transmission changes, but the real change came with the introduction of the Special Edition truck series, including Rally Edition 1 and 2, Midnight Edition, Custom Sport Edition, Custom Sport Plus Edition, Black Out Edition, and Texas Longhorn Edition. In 2016, the Special Edition lineup changed slightly, dropping the Longhorn and adding the Custom Sport HD, Realtree, and Special Ops Editions.
This third-gen Silverado was available in various engine sizes and power, from the 4.3 L LV3 GM EcoTec3 4300 V6 with 285 horsepower at 5300 RPM to the mammoth 6.6 L L5P Duramax V8 with 445 horsepower at 2800 RPM in 2017.
In natural 21st century style, the modern-day Silverado featured enough gadgets and tech to keep drivers connected and safe, with available technology features that included On-Star, a Bose® sound system, Bluetooth®, Chevrolet MyLink® audio system, a driver Information Center with 4.2" diagonal color display, lane keep assist, and more.
Fourth GEN: 2019-Present
The fourth generation Silverado 1500 debuted with the 2019 model year and eight trim levels – listed below in descending order of features included, with High Country representing “the best Silverado has to offer". Each trim choice has its own unique personality thanks to a distinct grille and front end and wheel designs.
- High Country
- LT Trail Boss
- Custom Trail Boss
- Work Truck
Notable changes with this fourth-gen include a more sculpted exterior design and LED daytime running lights in headlamps integrated into the front grille.
Leaning on its more than 100 years of truck-building experience and success, Chevy describes today's 2020 model as “the strongest, most advanced Silverado ever." Chevy also says today's Silverado is bigger and lighter than previous models, with a towing capacity of 13,400 lbs., payload capacity of 2,250 lbs., and 89.1 cu. ft. of cargo space.
Building on that payload capacity, Silverado's “Durabed" offers more standard cargo bed volume than other trucks, 12 tie-down points, and the industry's first power-up and -down tailgate.
Six engine choices in the 2020 Silverado include an available 6.2L V8 delivering what Chevy claims is best-in-class V8 power and towing, and an available Duramax® 3.0L Turbo-Diesel that Chevy also says offers better fuel economy than any other pickup with 23 MPG city and 33 highway.
Silverado's payload and towing brawn are complemented on the inside with technological brains. For instance, a “Drive Mode Selector" allows drivers to adjust, with the turn of a dial, their Silverado's performance to match six different driving conditions, including normal, sport, tow/haul, off-road, terrain, and snow/ice. Keeping an eye on what's happening outside the cab, Silverado offers 15 different camera views, as well as a suite of technology products designed to keep occupants connected, including:
- Hands-free calling
- Mobile 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible
- Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system
- myChevrolet Mobile APP
- Chevrolet Connected Access
- SiriusXM® with 360L
Safety is always an important consideration for vehicle owners. To that end, Silverado features a high-strength, steel safety cage, as well as available active safety features that include forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, and an adaptive cruise control camera.
And because price is always part of the decision equation, consider that Silverado's top-of-the-line model High Country starts at $53,300.
Although the Silverado always faces tough competition with the Ford F-Series, this truck shows no signs of slowing down. Perhaps it's because of its reputation of "America's Longest Lasting and Most Dependable Truck on the Road."
Have you owned a Chevy Silverado? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experience.