Chevy Trucks Rule
This past fall, I purchased a new '04 Chevy truck. I'm surprised to find that no car, truck, or sport-vehicle magazine has done an article about it as yet - no test, no review, no comparison, no comment.
Chevy truck? Oh sure, I know - blah, boring, plain Jane. At least that's what I thought in June 2004 as I considered Nissan's Titan and Ford's F-150 new 1/2-ton choices. A Chevy? Old news, old styling - I wasn't even going to check the Web site or dealers. I checked at least 10 auto/car/truck magazines and they all said pretty much the same. How wrong I was! How wrong you have been in omitting this truck from your reviews and evaluations! Because of thoroughness on my part, I just happened to see a "Just Arrived" Limited Appearance unit at a dealership. So then I started studying and looking in-depth, seeking terminology that neither Chevy or any car/truck publication mentioned - new, hot, desirable.
It's the best-kept secret of the domestic truck and sport truck market for 2004/2005: the Chevy Silverado 1500-series Extended Cab truck first created in May and June 2004. I'm not talking about modified, altered, or custom. I'm talking, "buy it off the dealer lot."
You're quite familiar with the Chevy Silverado SS truck. At $45,000, it's great - except it's expensive. The attached picture (not shown) shows the Chevy Silverado 1500 LS model pickup truck 4x2:
1. with the stock Limited Appearance Package (first introduced in late May 2004)
2. with the stock High Performance Package (first offered in June 2004)
3. with the stock trailer tow package, auto climate control, foglights, XM Radio, and cloth seats
4. with stock rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential
The same truck is available at multiple dealers - I'm not describing a custom
So what is the big deal? Why should your publication consider this truck for evaluation and publication? Here's why:
1. same LQ9 345hp high-output V-8 gas engine as the Chevy SS (no turbo; no supercharger; no Hemi)
2. same Z60 high-performance suspension as the Chevy SS - smooth, quiet, tight, great cornering (but 4x2 is 400 pounds lighter and not stiff like all-wheel drive)
3. same heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission as the Chevy SS - superior to standard
4. 20-inch wheels and tires; like the Chevy SS (size) - but better wheels
5. axle ratio is 3.73 (instead of the Chevy SS's 4.10), giving it a better highway drive and better towing and torque curve
6. ride height - lower than the standard Chevy 1500, lower than the Ford F-150, lower than the Nissan, lower than the Dodge and Toyota, yet ground clearance is as good or better than all the others; plus, it's level from front to back
7. almost 400 pounds lighter than the Chevy SS
8. great for towing; a smoother quieter ride than any truck I testdrove (includes all '04 Toyota Tundras, Nissan Titans, Dodges, Ford F-150s, and Chevy SSs)
9. cost - $13,000 to $15,000 less than a Chevy SS, yet at or better speed and performance; MSRP of mine was $33,400
10. gas mileage - we're talking about gas mileage in a 1/2-ton fullsize high-performance truck, and I get 20.5 to 21.5 in highway driving
So let's summarize - comfort, quiet ride, smooth, super-high-performance power and acceleration, easy maintenance, good traction, better axle ratio, lightweight, exceptional handling, excellent ground clearance, great sport truck looks, decent gas mileage, and moderate purchase price, and no tinkering required. All available stock from the dealer. And what about future resale value?
Makes you wonder why your publication has yet to write about it and tell readers what they are missing.
By the way, my rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential and dress wheels and tires has done well on ice and snow this Wisconsin winter so far: minus 15 degrees F temperatures - no sweat for starting or traction, but great heater and passenger comfort for an extended-cab truck. And even with 300 pounds of concrete patio blocks in the back for extra weight and traction, I've got great hauling capability and I'm still lighter than most fullsize trucks in weight, and heavier in the pocketbook, as my truck operates for less and costs the same or less to insure and buy.
I'm not bragging about my personal truck; I'm just wondering how this cool truck didn't warrant a review in Sport Truck magazine. After all, it's American-made, but with the quality, feel, fit, and ride of a foreign product. I guess I can't fault you guys totally, as Chevy has been equally weak in telling people about this product. The company's Web site and brochures don't mention it either. You could be the first.
Alex Hanifl, '04 Chevy truck owner with 3,500 miles on it
Great find, great comments, and now we, with your help, are the first to get the ord out.
We couldn't get a return call from Chevy's PR crew, but we found some back-channel sources that explained it to us. These 6.0L 1/2-ton pickups are only available in a few states. Our source only heard of Texas and he thought it might be available in a few others. Now we know you can get this hot-rod sport truck in Wisconsin. If any readers have the story on the availability of the 6.0L engine in a Chevy 1500, let us know and we'll pass it along.
We're only going to challenge you on one issue. You mentioned that the only modifications you've made to the truck are a folding hard tonneau cover you installed yourself and window rain deflectors. You can't stop there. You've got to tune it, install some cool electronics, paint it, something. And when you do, let us know.
After The Fact Factory Upgrades
First off, I would like to say you guys put out a great magazine. My question seems to be one of great confusion. I have asked numerous dealers and parts suppliers, and have even called Chevrolet Customer Service. I get a different answer with every person asked.
I have an '02 Chevrolet Silverado Extended Cab with a 5.3L engine. Because of a lack of money, I was left with the option to buy a truck with less equipment. This truck has everything except for power windows, power mirrors, and power seats. I figured that the upgrade would be a small task at a later date.
Is there any way I can install factory power windows, mirrors, and seats using equipment from a junkyard? It would seem that all I need are the wiring harnesses and equipment. The last person I spoke to was at a local junkyard and informed me that I would have to change out the fuse blocks and pull the dash out because Chevrolet does not pre-wire its vehicles. It seems to me that it would be just a simple plug-and-play type of install. Aftermarket equipment just does not have the same effect on resale as factory equipment. Any great help would be appreciated.
Kenny Cech, Houston, Texas
Thanks for the compliment. Unfortunately, our sources say about the same thing the guy from the recycling yard told you. If you gave him your VIN number, then you can almost take his comments to the bank. Recycling yards are tapped into a huge database that uses the VIN number to verify applications and cross-reference component fitment.
If you didn't give him the VIN and he was just guessing, he's still giving you good info. Here's what our sources tell us. With the '02 model year, GM started using body control modules. These modules are computers that control all the interior functions, such as the lights slowly dimming, the CD player checking itself before playing, doors locking when driving, and so on. These modules are not wired to accept all the possible combinations of accessories, so you would have to get into the wiring harness to do it factory-level right.
The only exception was the power seating. Unless yours is a stripper work truck, the pigtail for the power seats should be there. Once you install your seats and connect them, you'll need to take it to the dealer so they can program the body control module to operate the power seats properly. If it's a base-model work truck, it won't have the pigtail and you have to go the aftermarket route for the seats as well as all the other power accessories you want to install.
We recommend checking with our advertisers. If you don't see a branded product that fits your need, call some of our mail-order friends. They have the expertise to advise you on the right mix of products that'll make your truck your own.
Does Sex Sell?
I'm a girl and I love your magazine; you have great articles and awesome pictures. However, I found the pinup in your Aug. '04 to be distasteful and offensive. In your Nov. '04 issue, another of your subscribers voiced his support of these types of pictures. Part of your response was, "Despite what we want to believe, our own statistics don't see a whole lot of difference between girl/no girl covers in terms of newsstand sales." I'm asking you to consider this: Many people might be offended by the current sight of the girls in your magazine, such as those who don't want their kids or teenagers running across the pictures, other women who find the pictures offensive and degrading, and people who have moral issues with scantily clad women (such as myself). How many of your readers do you think would oppose to buying your magazine off the newsstand if the girls were more tastefully dressed? I'm not saying I think there should be no women (although honestly I don't think that would hurt), but rather I'm asking that they be more appropriately clothed.
Like I said earlier, I thoroughly enjoy your magazine and I hope that I won't have to choose to stop reading it simply because of the lack of clothing on your girls.
C. Hogan, via e-mail
Thanks for supporting our magazine and for expressing your opinion on this volatile subject. We've toned it down for the last several issues and we're waiting to see how our readers respond. So let us know what you think about how we should dress our Sport Truck models.
Howdy From Kentucky
Recently I became disabled and was forced to retire after 30 years of working in manufacturing quality assurance. Although I didn't like the idea at first, it has provided me with the time to pursue my love of refurbishing trucks. Having been out of the game for so many years, I'm finding out that there is a lot of different shop talk that I want to get up to speed on. For instance, what exactly is a crate engine, and what is a stroker engine? Another question I have concerns roller valve rockers. I am seeing a lot of advertisements stating that going to this configuration can increase horsepower. I don't understand how this would have an impact on power.
Could you enlighten an old knuckle-buster on some of the latest jargon or tell me where to look.
Michael Noland, via e-mail
Sorry to hear about your disability, but we're happy to have you back in the sport of building sport trucks. Here's the scoop on the terms you say you want explained. A crate engine is an engine assembly minus the fuel and exhaust system, accessory drives, and sometimes the oil pan. These are available through the automakers' performance parts channels as well as through mail-order businesses, such as Summit Racing and other business that advertise with us.
A stroker engine is one that has had the stroke of the crankshaft increased to provide more cubic capacity to the engine as well as more leverage on the crankshaft to produce more power and torque.
Roller rockers increase power in two ways. The roller assembly generates less friction so more power gets to the flywheel. But more importantly, they allow cam designs that snap open the valve more quickly so that more air flows through the valve than with the same duration specs of a non-roller-rocker design. More airflow means more power.