- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2009

The 2009 Chevy Silverado is a winner.

The Silverado has received the J.D. Powers and Associates “Highest Ranked Large Pickup in Initial Quality” award. This full-size pickup also has been named a “5 Best Trucks” by Car and Driver magazine. These awards put the Silverado in a class of its own. But the biggest award is a reward of better fuel economy for 2009 with Chevrolet’s XFE designation. This stands for Xtra Fuel Economy.

The XFE allows the full-size pickup to achieve higher fuel economy ratings. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the 5.3-liter V-8 XFE model has EPA ratings of 15 miles per gallon city and 21 mpg highway. Non-XFE models achieve 14/20 mpg. The 2009 Silverado XFE is offered only on the Crew Cab 2WD model.

Chevy says the increased fuel efficiency does not diminish capabilities. Because of its new six-speed automatic and high-capacity cooling package, the 2009 Silverado has a towing rating of 7,000 pounds. Unique content for the 2009 Silverado XFE help its fuel efficiency by reduced mass and better aerodynamics: lightweight aluminum 17-inch wheels and low rolling resistance tires, soft tonneau cover (improves aerodynamics), extended front lower air dam, lowered suspension and revised chassis tuning, aluminum lower control arms (reduce mass) and aluminum spare wheel (reduces mass).

My XFE tester’s 5.3-liter V-8 engine has a horsepower rating of 315 at 5,200 and pulling power of 338 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm. With the short box in the rear, this 5/6-passenger 2WD pickup gave me race-car-like lightning get-up-and-go, and I was glad to be driving a truck with such a capable engine with improved fuel efficiency.

The Silverado comes in Regular Cab and Extended Cab versions and has a variety of other engine offerings: 195-hp 4.3-liter V-6; 295-hp 4.8-liter V-8; 367-hp 6.0-liter V-8; 403-hp 6.2-liter V-8.

My tester’s base price was $32,965. Options brought it to $39,010. High-end qualities included very attractive ebony cloth interior trim, high-back bucket seats, seat adjuster for front passengers, deep tinted glass, remote start, power door locks, floor mats, electronic climate control, and heated power mirrors.

If you get the impression that this workhorse is more like an upscale sedan, that’s just the way Chevy presents it. And, that’s the way I felt about it, especially as I drove it through various conditions and it became obvious that it is capable of producing a very comfortable, smooth, quiet ride over very rough roads.

I did not ever feel insecure when pushing the 2WD with locking rear differential through tight turns. Of course, I might not have been so aggressive if I didn’t know that StabiliTrak and stability control were part of its makeup.

This truck rides on 17-inch wheels and has earned the top five-star government safety ratings in frontal crash for both the driver and passenger; it also has a five-star rating for side crash for both front and rear seats and a four-star rollover rating. That’s better than a lot of sedans.

Because the Silverado is a General Motors product, it also offers OnStar, a feature that puts it head-and-shoulders above trucks produced by other manufacturers. For example, OnStar can monitor your engine, and every month you’ll receive a personalized e-mail with your diagnostics results. They are color-coded, allowing you to check the results in a glance.

Put all this together, and it becomes obvious why the Silverado is a top-notch award-winner from the word go.

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