In Review: 2012 Chevrolet Silverado

The Silverado in question

Pros: Great ride, smooth power, excellent comfort, surprisingly good fit and finish.

Cons: Lacking in high tech toys, limited cup holders.

The Review

The 2012 Chevrolet Silverado was with us for a couple days.  The folks over at Schlueter Chevrolet let active tweeters take vehicles out as part of a program called a Twitter Test Drive.  If you’re in their area and have a good twitter following, you should consider taking part!

The vehicle in question is a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado LT.  It came equipped with a long list of standard features and included optional extras like steering wheel radio controls, rear power window, 20″ wheels and the 5.3L Vortec V8.  While not standard off the lot fare, it’s the kind of options most owners would find themselves putting on a vehicle – at least what I’d recommend you put on it.  You can save a few hundred by excluding the rear power window in exchange for rear window defrost which, in Canada, is sort of a good thing.  The Silverado was surprisingly well put together.  Interior plastics and fabrics were soft and didn’t feel cheap. A nice change from the usual coming out of GM these days.  All seats were equally comfortable including the middle of the front and rear benches.  You wouldn’t want to have to sit for any extended road trips in those spots (the center hump is a pain) but shorter around town or even to nan’s would work nicely in a pinch.  Driver’s and passenger’s seats are akin to the lazy boys of your front living room.  Interesting; you feel like you’re driving a living room too.

Chevy sent this truck with it’s 5.3 litre Vortec engine.  At 328hp and 348 ft/lb of torque it has guts.  This engine is a $2000 upgrade over the standard 4.8L and it’s worth every penny.  This engine gives you much improved performance, towing capacity and fuel mileage.  Yes, the bigger engine is the gas sipper – bit of a strange concept isn’t it?  Chevy’s drivetrain in this Silverado was very smooth eating up many of the larger bumps the terrible roads around here present.  This Silverado came with the larger crew cab.  Apparently this is the most popular configuration for the truck and it’s plain to see why.  The crew cab makes the truck into

Don’t worry, she’s 16. 16 months. Even she knows how to back this up.

an effective family vehicle; more fun than the minivan we usually cart around. The height of the truck allows for great visibility.  It seems the cabin is designed around blind spots because there are few.  Parking and manuevering the Silverado turned out to be fairly effortless, even in tight parking lots.  This tested model didn’t have any parking aids and, unless you rely on that sort of thing, you don’t really need them.

Chevy’s radio in this model seems to resemble the system they’ve been using for a few years now, maybe 5 or longer.  Considering this is 2012 and we’re supposed to be driving nuclear powered hover cars by now such a simple entertainment system is a weak point.  The interface is clear and simple and easy to read.  Non techie people can quickly navigate the little tabs and get around where they need.  Speed sensitive volume auto-adjust is a nice perk as is digital radio readout.  The upgraded units come with Satellite radio (3 months free) and adding a USB port costs an extra $115.  Should be standard at that price.  Even the standard unit comes with 6 speakers and has good sound reproduction for an OEM system.  Missing is the option for a graphical interface, bluetooth integration and built-in navigation.  Considering the other two major US makers have fully digital options on their spec sheets (and I’m a gadget geek) this is disappointing.

The Silverado has an excellent ride.  There was no rattling or creaks on smooth and rough roads.  Internal road noise was very low even at highway speeds.  Rough roads lost all their teeth when riding the Silverado.  It’s standard traction control and shift-on-the fly 4×4 are easy to find and use but don’t cause an interruption in driving.  Even the trucks eco mode was seamless in the background; it switched from V8 to V4 and back again several times during one trip and it was never noticed.  We really tried to notice it.  The transmission is smooth but seemed to hesitate on a few occasions.  There were a couple lurks and jerks unexpectedly that would have been good coffee spillers.  That’s all pretty nit picky however, the drivetrain performed baby bottom smooth for essentially the whole test.  It had been originally planned to test towing but we ran into a couple of issues; the first trailer came in at less than 3,000 lbs, like towing a mouse behind a lion.  The second was a 5th wheel and, quite frankly, Chevy hopes to sell this truck later and it’d be a lot harder with holes drilled into the bed.  On paper this truck is rated at 7,300 hauling and, if the internet is to be believed (which is never), it does a good job.

Another more pleasant surprise was the fuel consumption of the Silverado.  Chevy (and by extension GM) claims their trucks have the best in class V8 fuel mileage: and it showed.  Our test truck averaged 14.1L/100km (21 mpg) during our test.  Our driving, if we’re honest, was all city and not necessarily nursing the throttle.  If you drove a lot of highway I’d bet you’d get the advertised 9.4L/100km (30mpg) and then some again.  Unless you were towing.  You can forget it then.

All around the 2012 Chevy Silverado is an excellent truck and a great vehicle all around.  It does a lot of things well and, if you look closely, only has a few things missing.  If I had to give it a score, and I guess I do, I would give it a 4 yellow bow ties out of 5.

You can follow Dan on twitter @dcroutch and Schlueter Chevrolet @SchlueterAuto.  Checkout #TTDrive to see my and other’s tweets during their Twitter Test Drives.

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