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LIKE A ROCK N' ROLLER

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, May 28, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

2004 Chevrolet Silverado 4-Door, Extended Cab LT 4WD

LIKE A ROCK N' ROLLER By BT JUSTICE

I tested the four-door extended cab LT 4WD SB over a recent three-day holiday weekend. This included several short trips down to The OC just for the fun of it, and also runs to Home Depot and Costco - duties usually reserved for my 1989 full-size Bronco. The Silverado has many strong points (and I generally like it), but have a few reservations.

While the Bronco serves as one point of comparison, a 2004 Escalade, which I drove immediately before and after the Silverado weekend, serves as the other point. So, strangely, my perspective of the Silverado is framed by, and it falls somewhere in between, a no-nonsense big ol' truck, and, a ghetto-fabulous Escalade. This particular Silverado is a manly-looking, big, roomy truck with lots of power. But, unlike the typical truck, it has just about every gadget imaginable. Ironically, the gadgets are what I most like and dislike about this Silverado.

My favorite option is the very impressive Quadrasteer four-wheel steering system. While a pricey option, it mitigates much of the downside of having a big truck. The Quadrasteer improves the overall handling of the Silverado. Most significantly, a vehicle with Quadrasteer is a pleasure to turn - especially u-turns. It's also a pleasure to park - especially parallel parking. As an owner of a Bronco with oversize tires (which requires a parking space the size of a football field), I find Quadrasteer to be most welcome. And as a side benefit, I was able to impress both friends and onlookers with my apparently awesome parallel parking prowess! I also liked the two-wheel/four-wheel drive options. The two-wheel drive provides a bit better mileage, but in this mode the pickup has too much power for its light rear end. On the first day of my test drive I went from a full stop to a ninety degree turn onto a busy street. This required a bit of acceleration, which was no problem for the eight-cylinder Vortec engine. Unfortunately, the abundant power and low-end torque, combined with my lead foot, resulted in fishtailing the rear of the vehicle ('just skipped one heartbeat). Not that I am haunted by fear of damaging a $37,000 truck mind you, but the embarrassment would have been ghastly. The solution was using the four-wheel drive everywhere but on the highway. The controls are easy to find and use, and the vehicle easily transitions between two & four-wheel drive. The system is one of the best around.

As a side note, I strongly advocate purchasing the four-wheel drive version, especially for anyone who may use the truck as, well, a truck. There is simply nothing quite as embarrassing as having a macho-looking truck that can't even pull a lil' ol' boat out of the water. The four-wheel drive is also great for even the occasional ski/snowboard trip. Who wants to get out of their pickup around Crestline to put chains on when they could just hit a button to engage the 4WD and be on their way? And for those who plan to take this $37,000 truck off-road... Yeah, right. Which brings me back to the reason for the price tag - the wonderful gadgets. The OnStar satellite assistance system is a great option. It is very convenient. For instance, it helped me discover a new Thai restaurant. Like they say, "always there; always ready." It also provides substantial security features. I was tempted to leave the Silverado running in Compton and wait for it to be stolen, so I could examine the anti-theft function. But, that haunting feeling overcame me again and I thought better of it.

The XM satellite radio is another nice option. Initially I was enthused with the XM, then not so much. But absence makes the heart grow fonder and I miss it a lot. I really enjoyed having numerous channels dedicated to a variety of different genres. I especially liked how the similar format channels are together on the dial. The only downside is that I am very impatient, and it takes just a bit of time once you change channels for it to engage. All-in-all, I think XM is well worth the few extra bucks per month.

Ironically, the gadgets which I most liked about the Silverado pose are the cause of my greatest concern. Every gadget is another potential thing to break. The few years of novelty and convenience may not be worth the potential problems, especially if you buy the Silverado intending it to be a reliable truck for the long haul. It's probably worth it if you lease or trade it in after a few years. I'm not saying that the Silverado is unreliable and won't last. It's just that there is a lot that could go wrong, and to my way of thinking, a truck should be simple, reliable, and last forever. Another concern is that the interior seems somewhat cheap and plastic-like. This seemed incongruent with the high-end gadgets and a bit of a disappointment considering its price. I keep thinking that the Silverado doesn't know if it wants to be a big American truck or a pimped-out Caddy. In the end, however, my impression of the Silverado (and this one in particular) is favorable. The eight-cylinder Vortec engine provides considerable power and torque. It handles well (especially with the Quadrasteer and in four-wheel drive). The cab is roomy and comfortable, although the back seat is better left for extra storage. The Silverado is a good-looking pickup and is a worthy daily driver. It is certainly worth considering, and compares favorably to its competition. However, I prefer a nice car with all the fixin's and an old truck for when such is called for, despite the fact that it necessitates a premier membership in the Automobile Club/AAA (for the towing service). With the Silverado, you likely won't need AAA for a jaunt to Home Depot or a trip to the desert or mountains. And, even if you do somehow have a problem in some desolate place, OnStar is in on call and will find you while you're hanging-out, listening to XM satellite radio.

Silverados come in other flavors as well, like the SS and Crew Cab above.

For more information on Chevrolet products, go to www.chevrolet.com.

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle: 2004 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT 4-Door Extended 4WD

Price, as tested: Approximately $37,000 (includes OnStar satellite service, XM satellite radio, and Quadrasteer four-wheel steering)

Engine type: 5.3 liter Vortec V8

Transmission: Five-speed overdrive manual transmission, or optional four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission

Horsepower: 295 hp at 5,200 rpm

Torque: 330 pounds feet at 4,000 rpm

Drive configuration: Four-wheel drive

Steering (with Quadrasteer): Front - hydraulic power, recirculating ball Rear - electrically powered (system also uses front steering-wheel position sensor, steerable solid hypoid rear axle, electric motor-drive actuator and control unit)

Suspension: Front - 1500 4WD, 2500: independent with computer-selected torsion bars, 30-mm stabilizer bar Rear - solid axle with semi-elliptic, variable-rate, two-stage multileaf springs; gas-pressurized shocks

Overall length: 230.2 inches

Overall width: 78.5 inches

Overall height: 72.6 inches

Curb weight: 5,554 pounds

Maximum Payload: 1,854 pounds

Maximum Towing Capacity: 7,800 pounds

EPA mileage estimates: 16 miles per gallon city 19 miles per gallon highway

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