Within hours of Ford unveiling its new Super Duty truck lineup, Chevy retaliated by releasing its face-lifted 2016 Silverado 1500 at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. After playing second banana to Ford’s F-Series in the sales department for over three decades, Chevy is hoping that the updates to America’s second-best selling vehicle is enough to keep undecided truck buyers away from the Blue Oval’s aluminum-plated F-150. Despite being all-new for 2014, Chevy’s full-size pickup was put on the defensive by the success of the radical F-150, and now, just two years into the Silverado’s lifespan, it’s getting significant cosmetic and tech updates to stay competitive.
Gone are the simpler days of Chevy’s C/K trucks, and a dozen years between generations. As the $70,000 Ford F-150 Limited shows, most Americans aren’t interested in just simple workhorses anymore, they want technologically advanced, luxurious trucks that can double as the family car. And while the ’16 Silverado 1500 is mechanically similar to the current truck, Ford’s game-changing truck has led the Bowtie Brand to make some quick improvements to keep its truck appealing to these buyers.
For starters, Chevy is following up on its early adoption of 4G LTE WiFi systems into its trucks by introducing a new infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen that supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also available: Forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, wireless phone charging, automatic headlight dimming, and a remote locking tailgate. Outside (on range-topping High Country models), the Silverado has retractable running boards that also shift back to give easier access to the bed.
Out front, the new Silverado is noticeably different, ditching the current truck’s ’80s-style quad headlights for an asymmetrical grille that brings Chevy’s trucks closer into line with the styling of its current car lineup. And instead of those traditional lights, the new Silverado is adorned with HID lamps and an array of LEDs. The hood is new too, with impressively sculpted sheetmetal breaking up the truck’s flat planes. Chevy calls this “The New Face of Strong,” and while it’s certainly more muscular than the current truck, we’re looking forward to a head-to-head comparison between Chevy and Ford to see which is better: Chevy Strong or Ford Tough.
Under that hood, the 4.3 liter V6 remains the base engine, while the 5.3 liter and range-topping 6.2 liter V8 are still available. With the latter engine, the truck puts its 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque to good use, as it’s able to tow 12,000 pounds of whatever you can throw at it. To make sure that the V8-powered Silverados don’t get too thirsty, GM is introducing its fuel economy-minded eight-speed automatic transmission to all 5.3 liter-powered models too, though V6 trucks will stick with the tried-and-true six-speed auto.
Overall, it makes for an even more competitive Silverado. For now, Chevy’s big dog is staying all steel, though insiders say that it will follow Ford’s lead and will be on an aluminum-intensive diet by the time the next all-new Silverado rolls around in 2019 or so. And with that a few years away (GM is working on $877 million worth of updates for its Flint, Michigan truck plant to prepare), the facelifted Chevy should be more than enough to keep the faithful happy while causing some people to think twice about putting money down on an F-150. Stakes in the full-size pickup game have never been higher, and with Chevy’s latest move, it just upped the ante that much more.
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