2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Review
Spending a week in this Ocean Blue Chevy Silverado is enough to make anyone a truck guy. Effortless capability and strength have always been key elements of the Silverado, and continue for 2015 — even as the rest of the truck becomes far more tech-savvy, comfortable and fun-to-drive.
The Z71 LTZ 1500 trim of the test truck brings the best style and equipment to the table, and really helps show the Silverado in its best light. The upgraded cabin for 2015 is packed with cool goodies: some standard like the 4G LTE wi-fi, and some optional, like the huge bank of a dozen in-cab charge ports, USB inputs and even a three-prong power outlet.
Included here in the Exterior, Interior, Drive Impressions format are 65 high-res photos, plus two drive videos. A comparison of the Chevy versus the new Ford F-150 appears in the second video, but it is just subjective observations at the wheel of the Chevy.
DRIVE VIDEO ONE
The style of the 2015 Silverado majors on continuity – refining and tweaking the design to recall the legendary “Like a Rock” era trucks more than ever. A dual layer of lighting elements, split by the chrome bow-tie grille, is the most prominent new design detail. Projector low-beams up top and a new chopped-circle highbeam down below are a nice and classy update on the Chevy truck style. New running lights light up both the upper and lower amber indicator areas, and the foglamps can be on even without the main lights.
This is admittedly a pretty subtle design change versus the new F-150, and the Silverado lacks HID lights or LED accents altogether up front. Even so, the low-beams are the main DRL — which is a nice change versus the old high-beam setup.
Toward the sides, the new body features chunky integrated fender flares in a blocky, sculpted form around both front and rear tires. The Z71 package is a full upgrade to the mechanicals, with hill-descent-control, off-road Rancho shocks and underbody shields in metal for the engine and transmission case.
With the Z71 off-road suspension comes a big style upgrade outside, with a taller ride height, shiny 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, and a chrome bath all around. The test truck has the $1400 optional 20-inch wheels, which are as big as you want for off-roading. 22-inch rims are available on other trims, but the short sidewalls will be too delicate on the rough stuff for the Z71 package.
The cabin of this LTZ trim level is where previous Chevy owners will really be in for a smooth and pleasant surprise.
Giant fixed running-boards in chrome (optional at $600) along all doors make entry easy, even with the taller Z71 ride height, and once in you have truly huge cabin room all around. The front cab has much more space on all sides than before, but the extra 3-plus inches of legroom are most noticeable. With the tilt-adjustable steering and optional power pedals, anyone can get comfortable and have a commanding view forward. No telescope on this wheel, but it still is a good driving position.
MyLink Audio with eight-inch nav touchscreen is a definite plus at its cheap $475 option price, while the $375 full-feature seats are also smart. Good power adjustment range, from super-low to perched high.
The seats are firm and the leather is still extra thick and tough-wearing — even with the perforations on the test truck and its $650 optional heated and cooled seats. Money well spent. The LTZ Plus package for $800 includes the power-operated pedal adjustments, Bose audio and a heated steering wheel. Sounds silly, but a warm wheel does feel very nice on chilly mornings. It heats up quickly.
The view out of the Silverado easily beats the new F-150, as does the Chevy’s width and roominess. The Ford feels much, much tighter inside thanks to its console-mounted shifter versus the Chevy’s column-mounted setup, and the Chevy feels taller and more relaxed than the low-roof F-150. The floor of the Chevy is noticeably higher than the Ford, however, but also roomier in total leg, hip and shoulder space front and rear.
The back seat of the Silverado Crew Cab is gigantic, with rear seats full of padding and legroom that feels much larger than the Tahoe’s second row. They also flip up for in-cab storage, and have extra power ports and HVAC vents to keep comfortable back there.
This 2015 Silverado has the 5.3-liter V8 engine and delivers 16-mpg city and 22-mpg-highway. Driven extremely gently, the truck will best those figures with eager cylinder deactivation. Driven hard, and it starts guzzling fuel like any V8. There is good pace possible with just a light throttle input, and that speaks to the 355-horsepower and low-peaking 383-pound-feet of torque. It sounds good and deep – a deep tenor versus the baritone of the uplevel 6.2-liter V8.
The 5.3-liter small-block sticks with a six-speed automatic for 2015, while the 6.2-liter upgrades to an eight-speed this year. The 5.3-liter is plenty fast and capable, but we’d probably want the 6.2-liter just for its extra urge and only modest efficiency penalty of one to two MPG on each count.
The test truck had a 3.42 rear axle ration and switchable 4×4 in its 5’8″-box, Crew Cab layout. Performance feels good with great speed and throttle response almost all the time. Its natural mood is relaxed inputs, but if you peg the gas pedal, the 2015 Silverado aces the classic Chevy inhale-downshift-lunge that has always been a memorable small-block trait.
Low-speed grunt has always been a small-block skill. But most surprising in the 2015 Silverado? How fast it is passing at highway speeds. It feels quick on the top end and has power to spare. Our memory of the Suburban, Tahoe and Silverado’s from the 1990s is that they totally ran out of shove above 60-mph. Not this 2015. It hauls ass and feels potent at all highway speeds. The Tahoe PPV, after all, can hit nearly 150-mph in de-restricted form. The Silverado is capped well below that with its Z71 tires and suspension, but still feels quick on the highway.
But as quick as the Tundra 5.7-liter V8? The Toyota is a sprint champ with times in the high 5-second range to 60-mph. The Chevy is not that fast. We’d estimate a 7.3-second 60-mph sprint as equipped here.
Lastly, despite the LSD in back of the Silverado, it is still quite eager to break rear tire traction in 2WD mode. 4-Auto makes this trait disappear, but at the cost of a dent in efficiency.
DRIVE VIDEO TWO
The Silverado Z71 tested with a base price of $45,81o, but adds $7500 in very nice options. The only thing we would skip is the $1000 moonroof. Out the door with a $1200 destination charge, the truck comes in at $54,550.
Build your own Silverado and play with the wheels and color visualizer over here.
SILVERADO Colors and Wheels Sampler
The 2015 Silverado is a true no-nonsense machine. The traditional, but enhanced, design outside tells an accurate story. While the Ford F-150 feels lighter and smoother and lower and more luxurious for 2015, the Silverado is more classic in its truckiness. It can get choppy over bumps with no load in back, but its steel body is heavy and strong for the long haul.
The 5.3-liter V8 drivetrain is totally bulletproof. Versus the new-tech EcoBoost twin turbo’s, the Chevy V8’s proven ability to hit 300,000-miles is its real trump card. No one really knows how well a trubo V6 will do after 200,000 miles. But as we mention above, for someone who has seen his Subaru’s turbo oil lines explode — shooting black oil out the hood scoop in Upper Michigan — we’d be a bit worried.
Same goes for the Ford body in alloy.
As everyone knows, this tech advancement happens quicker than it can be troubleshooted, per se.
For those who demand long-haul durability, strength and capability — the 2015 Silverado 1500 V8 is still the go-to pickup in our book.
At the end of the day, after 10 years of hard hauling, everything else seems like a big gamble versus the proven Chevy truck core.
In this high-mile, real-world scenario, the Silverado is our 2025 Truck Of The Year.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.