The Chevy Silverado has been a beacon of reliability, endurance, and utility for decades. These trucks are true workhorses, with large amounts of cargo space and significant payload capability, not to mention towing capacity. With large numbers of the truck sold over the decades, the Silverado is incredibly easy and cheap to maintain, with abundant parts and spares easy to come by at a moment’s notice. These days, there is a Silverado for every budget on the used market, and they make excellent trucks for both work and play. Used Silverado sales happen frequently, which isn’t a surprise when one learns the many reasons why the Silverado continues to be among the best-selling trucks in the US.
Of all the attributes a truck can have, being able to get back home after a long day is probably the best. Reliability has always been one of the most important facets of the Silverado’s success. In the strictest sense, reliability really is just that one can depend on a vehicle to do what it was built to do without drama, and the construction, engines, and maintainability of the Silverado ensure that it can just about always do just that.
The Silverado’s build has always been by the book pickup truck standard: a steel ladder frame underpinning sturdy cab and bed modules. This body-on-frame construction not only lends itself to massive amounts of carrying capacity but with a structure tougher than more lightly built standard passenger cars. Compared to a unibody, ladder-frame vehicles are heavier and less efficient but far more sturdy. They are also easier and much less expensive to repair, whether the said repair is a dented fender or a bent frame.
The engines of the Silverado have also greatly contributed to its overall dependability over time, with names like Vortec remaining universally respected for their inexpensive yet solid nature. Whether V6, V8, or diesel, practically every engine the Silverado has used was very well optimized for its truck role. In the early days, this meant iron engine blocks that were quite heavy but also practically indestructible. In more recent years, aluminum has made engines significantly lighter while retaining the same reliability.
There is a Silverado for every budget, and the same could be said for the truck’s parts. Those working with just a shoestring purse will still be able to keep their rig running with used parts, while those with more means will find that parts and labor costs at shops are lower than most cars for more operations.
Power and Torque
The greatest advantage the Silverado line has had over the years is under the hood. Chevy trucks are equipped with industry-leading Chevy engines, including the rock-solid Vortec 4300 V6 and powerful LS series of V8s. The current generation of Silverado, with 2019 models just now hitting the used market, even has an all-aluminum turbocharged inline-four displacing 2.7 liters. Old-timers may start to scoff, but the engine makes the same power as the original Silverado’s 5.3 Liter V8 and noticeably more torque. Direct injection, variable valve timing, and better computer controls continue to eke out more reliable power from each drop of fuel.
That said, for most people, the latest and most advanced isn’t as useful as the tried and true simplicity and affordability found in the engines of previous generation Silverados. The most telling example of this is the Vortec 4300 4.3 Liter V6 found in the base model of practically every Silverado generation. While the greatest attribute of this workhorse is its extreme affordability, its ability to reliably move both truck and payload for decades on end is often underrated. Its power is moderate, its efficiency is nothing to write home about, but it will get you home.
Further up the feature list is the legendary LS series of V8 engines. The first LS engines in Silverados, carrying Vortec branding, were built from hard iron. Newer blocks and heads are actually cast from aluminum, similar to the engines used in the Corvette. The LS came in many flavors in the Silverado over time, but just about all of them came with the compactness, simplicity, reliability, surprising fuel efficiency, and stout power LS engines are known for.
In addition to the gasoline-powered engine options, the Silverado has also included a selection of turbocharged diesel engines over time. This Duramax series makes enormous amounts of torque, and combined with high levels of cruising efficiency, makes for a great engine for professionals. The diesel engine options give you the best of both worlds: excellent power and efficient driving.
The main purpose of any pickup is to be a utilitarian workhorse, and one of the main reasons for the Silverado’s continued popularity is the versatility it has always provided. Equally useful for work or play, the Silverado can handle large payloads, can carry several people in the crew cab configurations, tow heavy loads, and then handle rough terrain for fun after the work is done.
The Silverado’s bed is available in a multitude of different sizes and configurations across the generations available on the used market, and as one might expect, there is an appropriate configuration for just about any purpose for just about any purpose. Short bed, long bed, even trucks with added upfits are available frequently on the market. Upfits are professional modifications that allow the vehicle to be better suited to a specific use, and they even further expand the Silverado’s capabilities.
Crew cab and extended cab variants offer large amounts of interior space and passenger seating, often comfortably seating more people than a car while still having a large pickup bed for cargo. Newer Silverados have interiors with just as many amenities as the equivalent car. Certainly, a Silverado is a workhorse, but no one says a workhorse has to be a bad place to be.
Towing capability is practically a foregone conclusion, as just about any Silverado is capable of handling thousands of pounds of towed load. From boats to lawn equipment to moving containers to car haulers, the Silverado can get outsized towed objects to their destination and back without fuss.
The Silverado’s off-roading ability is also of note. Like most pickup trucks, a large number of Silverados on the used market have driver-selectable four-wheel drive, where the vehicle can go from rear-wheel drive to four-wheel drive at the touch of a control. This certainly allows the Silverado to handle treacherous conditions with ease but also allows it to make a great base for a serious off-road rig.
The Silverado Continue to Know No Bounds
Decades after it was first introduced, the Silverado remains one of the best-selling vehicles in American history and one of its premier pickup trucks. The reasons for this are actually pretty simple. Silverados are invariably dependable vehicles, and even when maintenance or repair is required, it tends to be easy and inexpensive. Silverados have the advantage of being equipped with some of the best engines ever fitted to any mass-market vehicle, and now those engines are in vehicles available for just about any budget on the used market. Finally, the Silverado’s utility knows no bounds. Whether working, playing, hauling, towing, cruising, or off-roading, a Silverado has got you covered.