First Drive- 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500 Z71

by Tony West and Daryl Payne
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71

Chevy follows up its 2014 Car of the Year win with a refined 2015 Silverado that’s a quadruple threat. Enhanced with a new tricked-out exterior and new infotainment, the new Silverado adds a Z71 high performance off-road trim and available max trailering package. The Silverado is already a great full-size pickup for work and recreation. Now Chevy has outdone itself making the 2015 attractive to folks who hadn’t thought about buying a truck. The new Silverado boasts a chromed-out exterior, a highly functional leather trimmed tech-advanced interior, a high torque/ balanced performance, and class leading off-road and towing capabilities. And unlike some big-body pickups, the new Silverado isn’t intimidating thanks to its welcoming cabin with adjustable pedals.

The 2015 Silverado 1500 range includes regular cab, double cab, and crew cab body styles – all offered with 4WD. Models and trim include Work Truck, (WT), LS, LT, LTZ, and High Country. Regular cabs are available with a 6’6” box or an 8” box. Double Cab models are offered exclusively with the 6’6” box. While crew cabs are available with a 5’8” box or the 6’6” box.

We reviewed the Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LTZ with 4WD and Z71 Trim. Z71 is available on LT and LTZ models and features a specific off-road style lower bumper, unique chrome grille and grille badge, and advanced off-road suspension components.

 

 

New Tricked-Out Exterior

2015 Silverado 1500 Z71
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71

Silverado’s new exterior design echoes Chevy trucks heritage and adds a contemporary twist. The big body truck has a muscular stance with its standard HID headlamps pushed to the corners. The double decker grille is trimmed with chrome. Projector beam headlights and halogen fog lights are also standard. The Z71 trim features chrome and rear bumpers and standard 18 inch aluminum alloy wheels. Twenty-two inch chrome aluminum wheels are also available. The Z71 also has chrome body side molding. An aluminum hood with twin power domes also enhances efficiency with lower weight than a steel hoods.

2015 Silverado 1500 Z71
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71

The quiet cabin is made with high strength steel for high durability. Inlaid doors fit into body sides rather than wrapping over the roof which, along with triple door seals reduce wind noise and turbulence.

The new Silverado 1500 Z71 is a head turner that made pickup owners drool. Cool new metallic colors set off the chrome accents and the gold Chevy symbol on the grill, wheels, and the rear. Big heated power folding side mirrors are offered with chrome trim. A new auxiliary back-up lamp is integrated into each mirror to enhance trailer visibility.

2015 Silverado 1500 Z71
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71

The new Silverado 1500 Crew Cab has a 5’6” cargo box with a top-tier loading design that allows for a platform to separate cargo on two rows. An EZ Lift and Lower Tailgate allows for easy loading of the cargo box. And four integrated cargo tie downs will keep items in place. Upper tie downs- 240 lb are also available. The bed also has LED lights.

The 2015 Silverado 1500 design appeals to the labor worker, the married, couple, even businessmen with its versatile capabilities.

 

 

Highly Functional Premium Interior

The exterior of the 2015 Silverado echoes the interior cabin that’s refined for max comfort and intuitive technology. The leather cabin sits 4-5 people comfortably, and features heated and ventilated front seats, dual zone climate control, and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.

2015 Silverado 1500 Z71 interior center stack
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71 interior center stack

The Silverado 1500’s driver-focused interior is spacious with 45 inches of front legroom and 40 inches or rear legroom. The cab is quiet, and resilient with 2/3 composed of high strength steel. Hydraulic body mounts help to tune out turbulence for a quiet, comfortable ride.

Storage in the Silverado is abundant with a center console offering 1 cubic foot of storage, door holders for each passenger, and added storage under the center stack.

Driver and passenger have a 10-way adjustable seat. And a cool pedal adjuster adds more class and comfort as does the chrome assist steps with the LED lit Chevy emblem. The Silverado also features 40/20/40 split fold rear seats and a cool sunroof.

The inside of the Silverado 1500 is made for work and play with an easy-to-learn layout and the right combination of digital technology and manual controls. This is especially helpful with the driver’s dash that features 6 gauges and a 4.2 Driver Information Center (DIC) that offers more useful stats, and settings. The 4.2 inch DIC displays a digital speedometer, fuel level, oil life, transmission fluid temperature, average fuel economy, tire pressure, trailer brake settings, and controls for navigation, phone, and audio. The cool DIC can show the compass, fuel economy, navigation, and cylinder deactivation all in one display.

2015 Silverado 1500 Z71 driver dash
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71 driver dash
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71 interior rear
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71 interior rear

The heated leather-wrapped steering wheel allows for focused control of the road. Vital functions like cruise control, the DIC, audio, the heated function, and the forward collision alert can be controlled with the steering wheel. The layout of the interior puts the driver in full control, comfortably. I like how the buttons compliment new technologies, but still allow for confident driving and towing. Locking Differential and the Electronic Transfer Case knobs are located on the driver’s left side, and the power folding mirror button is on the window. The towing lever is at the driver’s right, behind the steering wheel.

The big center stack has a combination of big knobs for driving, climate, and media, plus an 8 inch touchscreen. The leather wrapped center stack has a highly functional layout with the first row of buttons for audio, the second row for climate, and the third row having buttons for the pedal adjuster, traction control, parking assist, lane departure warning, and hill descent control.

Along with being a Wi-Fi hotspot and having Bluetooth, the Silverado 1500 has a 110 volt power outlet, five USB ports, and two 12 volt power outlets. The 8 inch touchscreen has space for 60 programed stations. Navigation in the Silverado is on point with a zoom function like a tablet. The Silverado also has a bangin Bose surround sound system. The 8 inch touchscreen features navigation, Sirus XM Satellite Radio, Pandora and MyLink technology. Chevy’s standard MyLink system can link up to 10 different devices.  Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free enable voice controlled connectivity with gesture recognition and natural language voice recognition. Available OnStar is enhanced in this mobile hotspot and features Automatic Crash Response, Stolen Vehicle Assistance, Vehicle Diagnostics, and Dealer Maintenance Notification.

 

 

Refined Efficient Powerful Performance

The Silverado already has unmatched performance, and the Z71 adds sporty suspension and handling. The Silverado has three available engine options: a 4.3 liter V6 with 285 horsepower and 303 lb-ft of torque, a 5.3 liter V8 with 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, and a beastly 6.2 liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque- Wow.

2015 Silverado 1500 Z71
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71

The Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 we reviewed has the 5.3 liter V8. All of the engines feature direct injection, continuous variable valve timing, and Active Fuel Management. Active Fuel Management or cylinder deactivation runs the Silverado in four-cylinder mode when cruising with light loads for even greater efficiency. Active Fuel Management gives the Silverado a class leading EPA of 22 mpg highway (18 mpg combined, 16 mpg city). Aluminum alloy engine and suspension components reduce weight and boost efficiency.

In North America the 4.5 liter and 5.3 liter engines are matched to a Hydramatic 6L80 6 speed automatic transmission and the 6.2 liter V8 with the 8L90 eight speed automatic transmission. But they are relatively the same size and weight.

2015 Silverado 1500The Silverado 1500 was engineered to deliver great capability, fluid steering, forceful braking, and a quiet ride. The pickup has a ½ inch wider rear track and ½ inch wider wheels for a smoother more stable ride and confident cornering. All Silverado models feature coil-over shock independent front suspension with forged aluminum upper control arms and cast aluminum control arms. Hotchkiss-type axle rear suspension delivers strength and flexibility for all towing needs.

The Z71 off-road package features 46mm monotube Rancho shocks, front tow hooks, and an off-road lower bumper. The NHT Max Trailering package adds a 9.76 inch rear axle, heavy duty rear springs, revised shock tuning, enhanced cooling, and an integrated trailer brake controller. Also included is the 680 locking differential, a trailer hitch, and bumper-mounted four and seven pin connectors.

Whether hauling or cruising with no load, the versatile Silverado 1500 with the Z71 package has sport SUV like prowess with powerful yet balanced torque delivery and agile handling. And with its stiff chassis and high strength steel frame, the Silverado 1500 has an outstanding high speed performance with no vibration in harsh terrain.

An electric transfer case can adjust 4WD mode to 2WD High, Automatic, 4WD High, or 4WD low that delivers max torque to all four wheels. The Silverado 1500 is actually fun to drive, and handles like a turbo SUV. It’s easy to forget there’s a load in the rear.

 

 

Advanced Safety Technology

2015 Silverado 1500 Z71
2015 Silverado 1500 Z71

The safety features in the Silverado 1500 add even more driver confidence. Four-wheel disc brakes are standard with Duralife rotors. A rearview camera is also standard along with 6 airbags. Also standard is Stabilitrak and electric variable assist power steering that saves fuel and enhances fluid parking and cornering. Hill Descent Control, standard on the Z71 uses the ABS system to enable a smooth descent on inclines and in rough terrain. Also useful is Trailer Sway Control and the Integrated Trailer Brake Control with Hill Start Assist. The trailer brake controller allows the driver to adjust the output available to the electric trailer brake.

The available safety alert seat works with sensors to alert the driver when the drift out of their lane or in an impending collision. The Silverado 1500 also has an available Blind Spot Info System, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert.

Driving the 2015 Silverado feels like a boss with all functionality and capability at my fingertips. The powerful pick-up gives the F150 and the Ram 1500 a run for its money. I’m looking forward to a possible repeat for 2015 Truck of the Year.

Check out more behind the scenes pics of the 2015 Silverado 1500 Z71 on our Facebook Page!