Half-ton pickup trucks such as the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150 are perennially Chattanooga's best selling new vehicles.
But with so many full-size pick-ups packing our local roads, a bit of customization is in order. Nobody wants to spend $30,000 to $60,000 on a truck just to be another face in the crowd.
One way to spice up your new 2017 Silverado 1500 LTZ is to order the Midnight Edition which gives one of America's most loved pickups the black-out treatment. Specifically the package includes black bowtie emblems, a special grille insert, a black front skid plate, black belt moldings and numerous other black bits. Just imagine a truck dipped in dark chocolate and you'll get the gist.
Kudos to Chevy for calling the exterior what it is: Not Deep Metallic Black, not Ebony, not Bottomless Pit Black — just Black.
Our factory Silverado 1500 LTZ tester has a menacing stance and backs up its visual machismo with true, work-truck specs. For example, it can haul up to 2,180 pounds and tow 9,300 pounds. Towing capacity can be boosted to 11,000 pounds in our tester by adding a special trailering package.
Model: 2017 Silverado 1500 Z71 4WD LTZ Crew
Exterior color: Black
Interior color: Jet Black
Engine: 5.3-liter V-8
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 20 mpg highway, 15 mpg city
Local Dealer: Integrity Chevrolet, Mountain View Chevrolet
Price (as tested): $55,600
Silverados are available in abundance at local Chevy stores including Integrity Chevrolet on Chapman Road and Mountain View Chevrolet downtown.
Our tester, which retails for $55,600, is near the top of the Silverado price range. A basic Siverado work truck starts at $28,405 and a range-topping High Country trim model with a 6.2-liter V-8 and four-wheel-drive stickers for $58,315. Full-size trucks traditionally hold their value well at resale.
APPEARANCE AND FEATURES
An observation about the Silverado 1500 LTZ: With just its LED running lights illuminated, it looks squinty-eyed, as if it has just woken up from a nap. Meanwhile, the main headlight assemblies were made smaller last year, the first noticeable face-lift for the Silverado since 2014.
It goes without saying that as a modern, American pick-up truck, design pretty much begins and ends with the grille. In that regard, the de-chromed grille on the Midnight edition is much less conspicuous than the normal chrome version. That means the eyes are drawn instead to the five-spoke, black wheels, which are shod with knobby tires for optimal off-roading.
Our tester is a four-wheel-drive Crew cab model with a cavernous back seat and a 5.8-foot box. The proportions of the crew cab make it look curiously front-weighted. Trying to dust off our tester with a water hose, I soon discovered that I needed a step ladder to rinse the roof.
A concave crease above the rocker panels give the doors visual interest, and the big, squared-off wheel arches add muscle to the look.
Inside, the Silverado has an abundance of creature comforts. For example, our tester came equipped with heated and vented front seats. My 10-year-old son also noted, "Look Dad, it has two glove departments!" He also pointed out the numerous 110-volt power outlets throughout the truck.
The crew cab configuration provides the biggest back-seat in the line. There's a double cab model with a slightly smaller back seat and a regular cab with no bonus seats. How you configure your Silverado will be determined by whether you plan to use it as a family vehicle or simply a work assistant.
Silverado drivers have three engine choices, a 245 horsepower V-6, a 5.3-liter V-8 and a 6.2-liter V-8. Our tester has the smaller V-8 which makes 355 horsepower and should have enough pulling power for most jobs.
In a week of driving I was reminded how plush the ride of modern full-size trucks has become. Our V-8, mated to an optional 8-cylinder engine, was quiet and composed with minimal body roll and almost no interior turbulence.
Car & Driver says a unit like our tester will launch from zero-to-60 mph in about 7.2 seconds, not bad for a vehicle with a curb weight of over 5,000 pounds.
Our only critique of the Silverado is a steering-column-mounted shifter that is sometimes hard to move into park and a crash warning driver's-seat buzzer that seemed to activate when nothing was around. Admittedly, the Silverdo is so tall I'm not sure you could even see a fire hydrant in your path until it bit you.
While Chevrolet has skipped Ford's gas-saving turbocharged engines and lighter bodies, it relies on a cylinder shut-down system to reduce fuel consumption at highway speeds. The result is a 20 mpg highway average and 15 mpg city.
There's something solid and refreshing about the Silverado. It feels like a truck that is comfortable in its own skin. Chevy is banking on tried and true technology to produce a desirable product. That's why the bowtie brand sold more than 54,000 Silverados last month.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/ mkennedycolumnist.