Trucks & Trailers: GM’s Silverado and Sierra pickups strike out on their own

Updated May 16, 2012

General Motors revamped both its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks for 2007. As a result, the trucks feature bigger and bolder styling, increased power and carrying capability and improved interior details.

Payload for both new models has been increased to 1,564 pounds and tops out at 2,160 pounds. Towing capacity is upgraded as well, starting out at 4,300 pounds, although this can be upped to 10,500 pounds, depending on powertrain options. At the same time, GM is reporting EPA gas mileage ratings of 17 mpg city and 21 mpg highway for Silverado/Sierra models equipped with the 4.3-liter V-6 engine. Taken as a whole, these power and mileage ratings currently give GM “best in class” bragging rights for the half-ton pickup segment in North America.

The demand for a vehicle that is both practical and refined has led GM to offer a wide range of powertrain options. These start with the aforementioned 4.3-liter V-6 and running up to a 367 horsepower 6.0-liter Vortex Max V-8 mated to a heavy-duty four-speed transmission.

GM’s popular Z71 off-road package is still available – although it is no longer the exclusive domain of four-wheel-drive equipped trucks. Two-wheel-drive trucks can now be spec’d with Z71 off-road shocks, skid plates, automatic locking rear differential and a high-capacity air cleaner to better handle rough off-road driving conditions. Four-wheel-drive buyers can also spec this off-road package, although these trucks are now designated “Z71 4X4” models on new rear panel graphics.

A more refined interior for Silverado
Climb into the cab of a 2007 Chevy Silverado and the first thing you notice is the attention paid to its interior amenities. If previous generation Silverados had a weak point, it was their hard-plastic dominated design theme in the cab. New seat and dashboard materials give the cab a more comfortable feel and the gauge package layout is an improvement over the already functional and easy-to-read design on previous generation Silverados. The center console is extremely functional and in-cab storage space abounds. One of the more innovative touches is the folding rear seats, which rotate down and out of the way, leaving a completely flat cargo area in the rear cab of the truck.

Outside, the new Silverado has a wider stance accented by deeper wheel wells and a new front grill that is fresh, yet still evokes the signature Chevy look by taking its design cues from the previous Avalanche-inspired grill found on Silverado trucks.

On the road the 2007 Silverado really shines. The truck has power to spare and the new interior combined with the redesigned chassis affords a quiet, comfortable ride. A new rack-and-pinion steering system means this is the most responsive Silverado yet in terms of handling.

Sierra swaggers with a broader, more aggressive look and profile
Although Silverado and Sierra are virtually identical in terms of size and weight, GMC’s 2007 full-size pickup appears bulkier and brawnier than its cousin, even when the two are parked side-by-side. A lot of that has to do with the bold – almost aggressive – front grill design Sierra trucks are sporting these days.

GMC designers worked hard to distinguish the two trucks, giving Sierra a wider hood, and a completely different front end, front and rear fenders, headlamps and turn signals, cargo box and tailgate. The overall look, combined with the prominent, rectangular grill, accentuates the truck’s wide wheel wells, giving it a distinctively broad-shouldered stance that practically screams “tough!”

On the highway, Sierra shares many of its Chevrolet cousin’s refinements, including the new steering system and double-jointed extended cab doors which open to an impressive 170 degrees for easier cargo storage. And like the Silverado, Sierra has three different cab styles and bed lengths and seven different engine options. One distinction is the upscale Denali model, which features a 6.2-liter, 400 horsepower V-8 from the Cadillac Escalade. In the cab, Sierra’s console and dashboard are borrowed from GM Yukon SUV line, which further separates the truck from the Silverado and gives it a more upscale interior.

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