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2004 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LT

At Long Last

The new Silverado crew cab is the half-ton truck Chevy should have been building all along.

When we first learned of Chevy’s new Silverado Crew Cab, the first question in our minds was: What took so long? Before its midyear introduction, if you wanted four doors, you had to buy a Silverado HD. Well, not everyone wants or even needs a truck that big, but they’d sure like to have four real doors.

The new half-ton Silverado crew cab should be hard to keep on dealers’ lots, because there is much to like about this truck. For starters, it nets fairly decent fuel mileage with the 5.3-liter Vortec V-8. Environmental Protection Agency estimates show that the truck averages about 19 mpg on the highway, but it can go as high as 22 mpg. That’s never been more important given today’s fuel prices.

Despite its somewhat miserly thirst for fuel, the truck offers plenty of snap without a trailer in tow. Zero to 60 mph acceleration times were in the eight-second range, but more important was the amount of power the 5.3-liter V-8 provided at virtually any speed, something we credit in part to the 3.73:1 rear-axle ratio. When we trounced the accelerator for the first time, we had to stop and check the options list to be sure there wasn’t a 6.0-liter Vortec under the hood. Power held up even with a trailer in tow.

Heading up our usual 2-mile long 7 percent grade, the Crew Cab pulled a 3,500-pound trailer without issue. With the cruise control engaged, there was a bit of downshifting and upshifting busyness to the transmission, so much so that we switched off the cruise. Using your foot to control the accelerator, the truck was better behaved, though it did need to rev to more than 4,000 rpm to maintain 60 mph.

As equipped, our test model had a tow rating of 7,800 pounds. Oddly, the four-wheel-drive version is capable of towing more: 8,500 pounds. In that case we might actually pop for the four-wheel-drive model, which also is available with a 4.10:1 axle ratio if you really like buying gasoline. If not, you can stick with two-wheel drive and get an available 3.42:1 ratio.

Coming back down the grade, the four-wheel antilock disc brakes reacted within the first few degrees of pedal travel and offered outstanding power and feel. The vacuum-assist system works every bit as well as the Suburban’s hydraulically boosted setup.
Interestingly, all California models with the 5.3-liter V-8 feature a more robust catalytic converter, which qualifies it as an ultra-low emission vehicle—if that matters to you. The 5.3 also offers an option that allows it to run on different blends of ethanol and gasoline, with a maximum content of 85 percent ethanol.

As you might expect, the new four-door has a fairly long wheelbase, 153 inches to be exact, which is about 10 inches longer than the extended-cab model. The stretch job adds to the truck’s turning radius and makes it a bit cumbersome in tight spaces and parking lots. Three-point turns to get into perpendicular parking spaces are the norm, but the real doors in the back are worth the tradeoff.
Turning radius and transmission busyness while towing uphill aside, we really haven’t anything else to complain about. The wheelbase contributes to the Crew Cab’s ride quality, which is downright good for a truck that pulls 7,800 pounds.

Inside, the brute was as cushy as a car. The seats were top-notch, with ample thigh support, a wide range of adjustment and confidence-inspiring lateral support. The leather seating surfaces warmed at the touch of a button on the door panels.

One of the nicer aspects of the Silverado’s interior was how much thought appeared to go into its ergonomics. For example, the interior door handles were located right where your hand would fall and the pull required to open the doors felt natural. The column-mounted gear-shift lever also felt just right as did the armrests on the door and inside of the seat. When Chevrolet redesigns the Silverado within the next few years, we hope the ergonomics are as good as existing models.

We found the back seat to be roomy enough for three adults, though 6-footers sitting behind 6-footers will rub their knees on the seatbacks. Passengers in the rear seat will enjoy the roof-mounted DVD player, which they can listen to on two wireless headsets. The entertainment system comes with its own control panel mounted on the aft end of the center console, which also was fitted with cupholders and HVAC vents.

Up front, the passenger had his own climate control system, complete with a dedicated temperature dial and fan-speed settings. It’s great for couples and families with different ideas of what’s cold and what’s not.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the truck was that it would be as suitable for daily duties as it is for towing. Obviously, if you have a 10,000-pound trailer, you will need something a bit more stout. However, many of our readers could use a truck like Chevy’s new Crew Cab Silverado.

It’s the truck Chevy should have been building all along.

SPECIFICATIONS

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City... 16 mpg
Highway... 19 mpg

ACCELERATION
0-60 towing... 15.72 seconds
40-60 towing... 7.93 seconds
0-60 non-towing... 8.36 seconds
40-60 non-towing... 4.87 seconds

POWERTRAIN
Engine... 5.3-liter Vortec V-8
Horsepower... 295 at 5,200 rpm
Torque... 330 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm
Compression ratio... 9.5:1
Transmission... four-speed electronic automatic

CHASSIS
Axle ratio... 3.73:1
Fuel capacity... 26 gal.
Tire size... P255-70R-16
Brakes... four-wheel disc with antilock
Suspension... Front: double wishbone with coil springs; Rear: live axle with multileaf.
Tow rating... 7,800 lbs.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating... 6,800 lbs.
Gross Combined Weight Rating... 14,520 lbs.

DIMENSIONS
Overall length... 237.2"
Maximum width... 79.7"
Wheelbase... 153"
Curb weight... 4,866 lbs.
Base price...$34,173
Price as tested... $37,443

TRAILER TOWED
3,500 lbs.

INFORMATION
Customer service... 800-222-1020
Web site... www.chevrolet.com

 

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