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Review: 2008 Chevrolet Silverado

November 3rd, 2008
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No, our heading isn’t a mistake. We’re actually reviewing the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado full size pick-up in Australia of all places.  Whilst Genseral Motors doesn’t officially sell the Chevrolet brand down-under, thanks to American Vehicle Sales it’s not only our friends living in the Amercias that get to drive Silverado’s and have all the fun.

The Silverado is a full size pick up and we really mean full-size!  Australia’s top selling utility, the Toyota Hilux, measures a little over 5 metres in length (already one of the longest new light commercial vehicles on Australian roads), yet is dwarfed by the 6571mm long Crew Cab Silverado in Long Box format.  Heck, we’ve just spent a week reviewing the Smart ForTwo which is so much smaller, that three Smart’s (two in length and one by width) could almost fit in the same parking spot as the extra long Silverado!

Silverado’s come in regular, extended, and crew cab body styles and buyers can choose three lengths for each of these, which Chevrolet refer to as Short Box, Standard Box and Long Box.  However going by the size of them we’d label them Large, Extra Large and Jumbo.

Buyers can then choose from rear wheel drive or four wheel drive, a V8 petrol in 4.8L, 5.3L or 6.0L sizes or the huge 6.6L V8 Turbo Diesel.  Talk about giving the customer a range of choices!  Finally, you can order the Silverado in standard trim, LT spec and top of the range LTZ spec where you get luxurious soft leather 10-way electric seats, wood grain trim that’s better than you’d think from an American truck and a quality Bose sound system.

We’ve got our hands on two 2008 year Chevrolet Silverado’s from James Hill from American Vehicle Sales, one being a short box Crew-Cab 4x4 with the Vortec 4.8L Petrol V8 in top LTZ spec and the other being an even bigger long box Crew-Cab 4x4 also in LTZ spec but with the 6.6L V8 Turbo Diesel.

First impression is the quality of the latest Chevrolet trucks.  In the past we’ve seen for ourselves and read about the poor fit and finish of American pick ups and heard jokes about the poor interiors made from cheap rock hard plastics.  Whilst we never mistook that we were looking at the dash of an Audi (a brand with truly world class interiors), the latest Silverado’s have better styling inside and outside than most of the light commercial pick-ups sold in Australia which are primarily built in Thailand. 

The 2008 Silverado’s, at least in the 4x4 dual cab short box shape, have a very tough yet modern exterior design.  Boy do these trucks have a presence, with the word aggressive even coming to mind!  Of all the Silverado body shapes that American Vehicle Sales bring into Australia, the most popular is the Dual Cab. We can see why, with acres of interior room for five yet a rear end that is more than sufficient in short bed length and mammoth in the long bed model.  The target market for Silverado’s in Australia is predominately business owners and retirees. The long bed is popular with caravans, motor home and especially fifth wheeler owners and is also ideal for fitting two or three motorbikes in the back and still being able to close the rear tray.

2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ 4x4 crew cab short box

2008 Chevrolet Silverado 2008 Chevrolet Silverado

On the road in the Silverado 1500 LTZ crew cab short box, its 4.8L Petrol V8 has that typical General Motors V8 brute feel.  However at 220kW and 413Nm of torque it’s no sports truck considering it weighs approximately 3,200kg.  For comparison a Holden Commodore VE SS Utility with its 6.0L V8 produces 270kW and 530Nm and weighs approximately 1800kg.  However the strength of the Silverado lies in its towing capacity.  This Silverado 1500 has a max payload of 760kg yet for towing real loads the 6.6L Duramax V8 Turbo Diesel is truly the king.

2008 Chevrolet Silverado 2008 Chevrolet Silverado

On our brief venture onto dirt roads the Silverado 1500 4x4 handled the terrain with ease.  The 265/65 R18 with 5 spoke alloys are probably the smarter choice than the optional 20” alloys if your Silverado is regularly on a building site, mine site or off the beaten track.

During our test drive we didn’t get the chance to throw any cargo in the 5 foot 8 length tray (and remember this is the short box) and with a depth of 550mm it would handle more than a couple of bails of hay.

2008 Chevrolet Silverado 

So how much does it cost to drive this unique pick-up in Australia?  American Vehicle Sales sells the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4x4 short box in top of the range LTZ trim for approximately AUD $95,000.  After driving it we reckon this sound about right.  A TRD Hilux 4000SL is $65,000, yes it produces similar power and torque, but it’s a far smaller utility.  And when this 2008 Silverado pulls up next to you at a set of traffic lights, we reckon it’d be hard not to look across and admire the Silverado’s tough yet modern styling.

2008 Silverado 2500 LTZ 4x4 crew cab long box

2008 Chevrolet Silverado 2008 Chevrolet Silverado

After driving the 1500 short box, which we thought was big; we went for a spin in the Silverado 2500 LTZ crew cab, with the long wheelbase.  The unbelievably long wheelbase and pumped out rear guards means this is a different looking machine, especially considering the standard wheels are only 16” alloys sitting on 245/75 tyres, however 20” wheels are an option.  Too our eyes, we prefer the tough looks of the dual cab short box on 18” or 20” wheels but this machine is targeting a different buyer again.     

2008 Chevrolet Silverado                        

Under the bonnet of this Silverado sits the optional 6.6L Duramax V8 Turbo Diesel generating approximately 270kW and a very healthy 890Nm of Torque!  And for those who somehow think this isn’t enough, American Vehicle Sales will up the power to 300kW for less than $1,000 or 330kW for less than $3,000 or 375kW for less than $10,000.  And the latter option sees torque increase to around 1200Nm.  That’s Bugatti Veyron territory!    

2008 Chevrolet Silverado                                

However whilst the French supercar is all about acceleration, this baby is about towing big loads and with the smooth 6 speed Aisin automatic transmission we imagine it would do it with ease.  A big selling feature is the pick-up we’re driving has a 6.2 tonne maximum tow weight yet you can drive this Silverado with a passenger car license.  Geez, you could tow a horse float and you wouldn’t even feel the motor straining!

Driving this Silverado after the 4.8L V8 petrol we immediately felt the difference in torque.  With the gas shocks the ride was very impressive and a locking rear diff, which is sourced from the Hummer H2, as well as the standard off road tyres means dirt roads are a breeze.       

2008 Chevrolet Silverado                          

Inside, as with all LTZ specked Silverado’s, beneath your feet is carpet of a decent quality, and the dual zone climate control should keep the huge interior cool under a strong Australian sun.  We also noticed standard heated seats, which is probably to keep Canadian buyers happy in their freezing winters.                    

2008 Chevrolet Silverado            

The 2008 Silverado 2500 LTZ 4x4 crew cab with the long box and 6.6L V8 Turbo Diesel engine costs approximately $115,000 from American Vehicle Sales.  Sales come from all around Australia, with a car sitting in the showroom with a sold sticker about to be delivered to an outback mobile pastor who requires this kind of towing capacity.  And no doubt the tax advantage of a vehicle that has this kind of towing capacity is a selling point to prospective owners.

Car rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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