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1999 4x4 of the Year: Chevrolet Silverado

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 1999
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Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road Staff

Chevrolet Silverado

•New 5.3L V-8
•Compression braking
•CD player placement

•Despite improvements, transmission still gear-hunts
•Ineffective rear locking differential
•Uncomfortable cloth bucket seats

The next generation of Chevy pickup has arrived but with a few nasty ghosts of generations past. The most significant is the optional four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. You see, this Bow Tie sported one of the fab Vortec V-8s that blew much of the competition away with its potent power-when the tranny let it strut its goods. However, the constant gear hunting found in the previous C/K series is back and worse than ever in the Silverado.

It has a great new engine, though-on-ramp acceleration and high-speed four-wheeling intensity were thoroughly impressive, but those bonuses were horribly hindered by the constant shifting, resulting in weak confidence for passing and an inability to maintain momentum on sand and bumpy roads.

The Chevy made an impressive debut as third-fastest at the dragstrip, and on the streets and highway it rivaled the Mercedes, the Jeep, and the Toyota for cockpit quickness. On the other hand, its empty-bed wheelhop on the pavement, sand, and dirt also took away from an enjoyable experience with the V-8. But since we liked to take full advantage of the power, more responsive brakes would have better complemented the mill's aggression, as would less of a tendency to oversteer.

The Chevy was afixed with the optional-with-auto-tranny Autotrac active transfer case that gives the choices of automatic four-wheel drive, 2-Hi, 4-Hi, and 4-Lo. While it worked fine and was super quick to respond when pressed into any of these modes, voters never felt sure of its engagement and longed for the certainty of lever control.

OK, so there were those transmission woes plus a few beefs about too much bounce for a 1/2-ton on the street and earth, but that didn't stop voters from commenting on the pleasant ride for its size, it being easy to finesse in and out of traffic, and, no kidding here, it feeling more sports car than truck. Cargo space and the deep center console offered room for hauling and storing, although not having a fourth door was questioned, as was the miniature rearview mirror.

Bottom line
Typical, reliable Chevy truck with more zip than ever before.


Manufacturer Chevrolet
Model Silverado Shortbed Extended Cab 1500
Base Price $25,895
Price as Tested $30,972
Options as Tested Six-way power driver and
passenger seats; deep-tinted glass; reclining bucket seats; locking rear differential; Vortec 5300 V-8; four-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode; Autotrac active transfer case; P265/75R16 tires; AM/FM stereo with cassette and CD; Off-Road Suspension package (includes skidplates and high-capacity air cleaner); Trailering Special Equipment package (includes trailer hitch platform; eight-wire trailer harness; and transmission oil cooler); and LS Decor package (includes air conditioning with air-filtration system; dual power mirrors; chrome grille and styled stainless steel wheels; electronic speed control; power locks and windows; remote keyless entry; leather-wrapped steering wheel; body side moldings; 40/20/40 seating with recline and armrest storage; and graphite custom cloth).

Type Vortec 5300 V-8
Displacement (liters/cubic inches) 5.3/317
Bore & Stroke (inches) 3.78x3.62
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Induction Type Sequential, multiport fuel injection
Fuel Requirement/Capacity (gallons) 87 Octane
Unleaded regular/26
SAE Peak Horsepower 270 @ 5,000 rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 315 @ 4,000 rpm

Type Electronically controlled four-speed automatic overdrive
Model M30
Ratios First: 3.06:1; Second: 1.63:1;
Third: 1.00:1; Fourth: 0.70:1; Reverse: 2.29:1

Transfer Case
Type Active
Model Autotrac
Low-Range Ratio 2.72:1

Front Type IFS
Rear Type Solid
Hubs Automatic
Ratio 3.73:1

Front Computer-selected torsion bars
Rear Semi-elliptic, two-stage multileaf springs

Type Integral power recirculating ball
Turns Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.3/NA
Turning Radius (feet) 47.3

Size (inches) 16x6 1/2
Material Cast-aluminum

Size P265/75R16
Brand Firestone Wilderness A/T

Brake System
Front 12-inch discs
Rear 12-inch drums with ABS

Advertised GVWR (pounds) 6,400

As Tested (mpg) 13.84

Standing 1/4-mile (seconds @ mph) 17.40 @ 79.65

60-0 mph (feet) 121.01

Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase 144
Overall Length 227.875
Overall Width 93.25
Overall Height 72.375
Front/Rear Track 65/66.125
Front/Rear Overhang 21.75/30.25
Minimum Front Ground Clearance 10.25

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