You may know that the Silverado is one of the most popular Chevy trucks for sale right now, but you might not know that the truck shares its name with a trim level that was first introduced back in 1975. The Chevy C/K pickup and the Suburban SUV both offered a Silverado trim before the name was transferred to the new truck that would take the place of the old C/K.
While facts like these might seem like little more than interesting trivia, they actually help you gain a more complete understanding of the history of the Chevy Silverado, which can help you understand how it has evolved to become the quality truck it is today. Then when you go shopping for Chevy trucks for sale, you have a better appreciation for the value the Silverado offers.
Here’s what you need to know about the history of the Chevy Silverado:
The Chevy Silverado was first introduced as a light-duty pickup truck in 1999, with the GMC Sierra as its mechanical twin. The C/K pickups, which the Silverado was meant to replace, continued in production through 1999 and 2000 for light-duty models and heavy-duty models, respectively.
The first generation of the Silverado is referred to as the “classic” body style. It came with three cab styles (a two-door standard cab, an extended cab, and a four-door crew cab) and three bed lengths (short, standard, and long). However, the only options for the first model year were a regular cab and a three-door extended cab. Chevy gave the Silverado a facelift a couple of times during the first generation, including updates to its exterior styling in 2003 and 2006.
Three engine options were available for the first year: A Vortec 4300 V6, Vortec 4800 V8, and a Vortec 5300 V8. Additional options were added in later years: A larger Vortec 6000 V8 and the massive Vortec 8100 V8. All engine options were powerful enough for off-roading and hauling. In 2004, Chevy even introduced a mild-hybrid version of the Silverado, making this legendary truck the first GM hybrid passenger vehicle.
Several variants of the Silverado were offered during the first generation, including a high-performance SS model that was introduced in 2003 and boasted 345 horsepower. A special edition Intimidator SS in 2006 honored Dale Earnhardt, and fewer than 1000 were built, making it a particularly rare version of the Silverado
The second generation of the Chevy Silverado was introduced in 2007, and it received an all-new design and some new engines. The new Silverado got a new interior and exterior, a new frame, and new suspension. Since the production of this generation ended in 2013, these trucks make a great way to get behind the wheel of a Silverado at an affordable price.
The new Silverado offered the same cab configurations as the previous generation, and it came as either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. It received the Generation IV small-block V8 engines, and the LTZ trim offered a new high-performance 6.2-liter V8 engine. The entire lineup was more powerful.
The second generation of Silverado was also made to be tougher. The truck received a new frame made of higher strength steel, improving the stiffness of the body by a whopping 92 percent. New rear springs, hydraulic body mounts, and other changes improved the durability of the truck while also improving the ride. The new Silverado could stand up to tough road conditions and carry heavy loads. In fact, the new front axle ratings on the truck allowed the four-wheel drive versions to handle a snow plow as well as tow heavy trailers.
The Silverado’s second generation racked up accolades. It received top safety marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it was named the North American Truck of the Year and Motor’s Trends Truck of the Year for its inaugural year in 2007.
The current generation of the Chevy Silverado was introduced in 2014, and it saw several improvements while maintaining the same quality that had made it such a success up to that point. With the introduction of the third generation, the Silverado got three new engine options: a 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V6, a 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8, and a 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8. They offered 285 horsepower, 355 horsepower, and 420 horsepower, respectively. Buyers can get all the power they need from a used truck with these engines and enjoy improved efficiency as well.
Structural changes were made that increased the strength of the new Silverado, including a steel frame produced with hydroforming technology and a high-strength steel frame in the bed of the truck. The steel used in the bed is roll-formed instead of stamped, reducing weight to improve the performance and fuel efficiency of the truck. Aluminum is also used on the hood, engine block, and control arms to save weight.
Numerous tech features were also added to the third generation of the Silverado. Examples include the MyLink infotainment system with touch screen, Bluetooth technology for streaming music and making hands-free phone calls, an optional Bose premium audio system, OnStar navigation, and USB ports for charging smartphones and tablets. These more modern additions make a used third generation Silverado the perfect choice for the driver shopping for an up to date truck on a budget.
The new Silverado also got its first luxury model, the High Country special edition. This upgraded model included special leather upholstery, subtle exterior styling changes, and special badging throughout. With the 2015 model, the Silverado received a 6.2-liter EcoTec3 engine with an eight-speed 8L90 transmission. The new transmission allows for faster shifting and acceleration and improved fuel efficiency.