Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ride Proves 2007 Silverado Is More Than A Truck

Auto shows are great for getting an up-close-and-personal look at the most vehicles in the shortest amount of time. I plan to do plenty of that this weekend in Providence at the four-day Northeast International Auto Show.
But at some point, you’ll want to get in and take your favorites for a ride - something not usually possible on the floor of the convention center.
Last Saturday, courtesy of Ralph’s Chevrolet Cadillac in Dartmouth, I took a little ride in the new Chevrolet Silverado, Motor Trend’s favorite truck of 2007. If it weren’t for the truck label and the pickup bed, I might have thought I was riding in something with a familiar luxury moniker.
Such is the case at least in the 1500 1LT extended cab model with the Z71 off-road package. But a Silverado can be many things for many people. With models ranging in price from $16,700 to over $34,000, there’s a Silverado that can look good with bluejeans or with a suit and tie.
“There’s a wide range,” explained Ralph’s sales manager, Steve Marchand. “The WT – it stands for Work Truck – is available as a 6 cylinder automatic or manual with A/C. It’s for the typical worker who wants to throw stuff in the back.”
“Then you can go up to the crew cab and use it as a luxury car,” he added.
There’s some expectation that getting the nod as Motor Trend’s 2007 Truck of The Year will generate additional interest in the model so Mr. Marchand intends to use the Silverado as a featured vehicle.
But according to sales associate Joe Ferreira, who took me out for the spin in the truck, it’s a little too early to tell if word of the Motor Trend designation has reached the ears of customers, yet.
“For people who do their homework, it’s fine,” he mused.
However, he cautioned that with such a wide latitude of model prices and options in the Silverado buyers are wise to assess their buying power before letting their imaginations get ahead of them. He considers it part of his job to help customers with that.
“You really have to sit people down and get a feel for what they’re looking for,” he observed.
I noted how the truck we were in had a cute little third front seat in the middle with a seat belt when the console was popped up and back. It’s an option available in the 1LT that underscores Chevrolet’s aim to make the truck a versatile work, crew and family vehicle. The option disappears higher in the line with the 2LT and is replaced by bucket seats.
“It’s not really a work truck anymore,” said Mr. Ferreira. “People are trying to combine both. If you buy a 2LT you’re really not buying a truck for your workers, you’re buying a truck for yourself.”
Truck or not, the suspension in the Silverado delivers a more car-like ride than expected. The days of the hard-bouncing truck ride are over.
Plus, with a list of standard features in the 1LT that includes dual zone climate control, cruise control, tinted windows all around, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with 8-point compass and outside temperature display and a leather wrapped steering wheel, this truck is clearly built for comfort.
Buyers can take advantage of a $500 Auto Show Rebate until the end of the month, too. Makes that test drive a little more enticing.

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