Road Test Review: 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71

Words and Photos By Mark Williams for

When GM tossed us the keys to a 2010 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 Extended Cab, we hit the open road. Sure, the new Silverado has been for sale for a while and is without many significant changes, but there seemed to be a few new details. In fact, there are several new features, options and colors that keep the aging half-ton a significant player in the pickup truck marketplace.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Ford and Dodge have put out significantly redesigned players in the segment and reaped the benefits in market share and media attention. The Silverado isn’t scheduled for its remodel until 2013 or so, but we’re likely to hear more in the next few months, after the 2011 heavy-duty models finish their rollout this year.

We recently got into a 2010 Silverado 1500 4x4 Extended Cab Z71 pickup as a quick refresher of what the GM trucks have to offer. Our test unit came equipped with the all-aluminum Vortec 5300 V-8 with mpg-mindful active fuel management to allow the small-block to run in four-cylinder mode during low-load situations or V-8 mode when it needs to work. We’ve always liked how well this system operates, making the transitions between four and eight cylinders almost invisible. (You can train yourself with the help of the information center to search for the ever-so-slight shutter between the two modes.)


During our longer freeway stretches, the fuel economy readout told us we were getting 24 mpg on the flats (nothing in the bed) at 65 mph. Much of this truck’s ability to sip fuel when cruising has to do with the 3.08 axle gears, now offered as the standard axle ratio on all 5.3-liter V-8s. Combine this with the six-speed automatic transmission’s 0.67 sixth-gear ratio, and our test truck has a low-low 2.03 final drive ratio, allowing the engine to loaf along (saving fuel as it goes) at 1,300 rpm at 60 mph.

Gearing choices like this make sense with a potentially unstable fuel market and the gas-mileage race between Ford, GM and Ram. However, what surprised us most was that this type of mileage and these types of axle gear ratios are standard on the Z71 package — supposedly the roughest, toughest off-road package GM offers.

In the past, Z71 meant backcountry exploring in four-wheel drive for Chevy pickups and SUVs while sacrificing mileage cruising for gear ratios more biased to low-range crawling. GM’s solution is in the 6L80 transmission. More gears mean a lower first gear (4.03) for controlled slow-go and a higher sixth gear (0.67) for better highway mileage. In fact, even with the fuel economy axle gears, our Z71 Silverado has a respectable 31.3 crawl ratio (multiply first gear by axle gears by low-range ratio) when switched in four-wheel-drive low range — quite respectable in the 4x4 world. This means the 265/65R18 Bridgestone Dueler A/Ts can claw with control through horrible terrain after a washout or up to a steep trail to the mountain cabin, yet still cruise home on the highway (presumably at full tire pressures) getting gas mileage in the 20s. Not bad. In the past, “Z71” meant you had to have much lower axle gear ratios, like 3.73, which would give it a better crawl ratio, but not deliver the lower engine-speed advantages at highway speeds.


There are no changes to the four-wheel-drive system, but we still like the fact that GM is about the only full-size pickup truck maker in the segment to offer a full-time, set-it-and-forget-it all-wheel-drive setting, called “AUTO.” Ford offers all-wheel drive, too, but only for its F-150 Harley-Davidson specialty model. From our point of view, this makes the Z71 a more versatile all-weather and all-terrain hauler.

During our test time, we had a few quibbles with the 2010 Silverado. To begin, on our model at highway speeds, we found a good amount of wind noise at the A-pillar but couldn’t determine whether it was coming from a loose seal at the door or glass, or whether it was turbulence kicked up from the rearview mirrors. Regardless, we found the noise on both sides of the cab, which made for some challenging phone conversations on a long drive home (hands-free phone, of course).

Our LT model came with the front 40/20/40 front bench seats and open center floor. The dash itself is beginning to look old for the segment and was showing signs of factory quality issues as well. The “meet line” for the radio and dash and the dual glove boxes and dash clearly were not what they should be. One side of the radio's head unit was slightly inboard and the other side a bit outboard relative to the plastic bezel around it. Although it was difficult to capture in photos, the surface matching did not look up to par. Granted, this test unit had seen some hard miles, but several of the seams between the various dash and inlay surfaces had pronounced stair-steps.


On the plus side, the Rancho shock absorbers did a commendable job on all the road surfaces, which included expansion-joint-filled freeways, as well as off-road dirt trails at our local off-highway vehicle park north of Los Angeles.

We wish GM would do something more serious with the Z71 name (remember last year's ZR2 Concept at SEMA?) instead of a bunch of stickers and a few mechanical swaps, but we understand GM has to be exceptionally careful about every dollar it spends. With what Ford and Dodge are doing with Raptor and Mopar, Chevy will have to do something pretty special to keep up.

Another detail we liked on our extended cab was how simple it is to open the rear doors. We admit to being transfixed at the simplicity, solidity and sheer size of the dual-swivel hinges that allow the rear doors to open a full 180 degrees, making interior loading and rear storage area access a simple slide-in. One final favorite feature of the truck is the amount of vehicle data that can be accessed from the gauge screen information center. Readouts such as transmission temperatures, tire pressures, instant fuel economy, oil life and whether your truck is in V-8 or V-4 mode are just some of the data it can show. But here’s a note directly to GM engineers: Give us more! Why not give us all of it or give us access to more detailed information you can store on some medium-sized memory chip or RAM? What about towing advice, bad-weather driving tips, local campsites or restaurant recommendations? Sure, we could pay for OnStar, but this type of data would be free. We like free.


However, what’s not free is a truck like this. A 4.8-liter V-8-equipped 1500 Extended Cab LT has a base price of $33,270 (including destination fee). In fact, for almost $5,000 more, we got the bigger and stronger (but just as fuel efficient) all-aluminum 5.3-liter V-8 and six-speed transmission, rear locking differential, heavy-duty cooling, bigger wheels and tires, Z71 gauges and decals, Rancho shocks, fog lamps, extra skid plating, oversized air filter, remote start, locking tailgate and Bluetooth for a total of $37,775. Still, with a five-star front crash rating from the government for both driver and passenger, a five-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and more than 20 mpg on the highway, there is a value proposition here.

GM has done a good job in the past year streamlining its supply lines and improving plant efficiency. Unfortunately, finding the great deals are a little more difficult nowadays thanks to the reduced supply chain, but they are out there. As evidenced by our test truck, there is plenty of value to be had in the mid-$30,000s, and we’d expect the 2012 half-tons to be packed with value as well. As mentioned, we don’t expect to get a taste of the new Silverado 1500 for a little while, but you can expect we’ll bring you any news and spy photography as soon as GM engineers get closer to hot- and cold-weather sign-off. For now, it looks like the new F-150 and Ram 1500 have a slight lead over the aging Silverado. But that could all change real soon.

Quick Hits: What’s New For 2010 Chevrolet Silverado
-- New Battery Saver Voltage Monitor
-- 3.08:1 axle ratios standard with 5.3-liter V-8
-- E85 FlexFuel capability on 4.8-liter, 5.3-liter, and 6.2-liter V-8 engines
-- Variable valve timing on 4.8-liter and 5.3-liter V-8s
-- Six-speed automatic on regular and extended cab 5.3-liter V-8s
-- Side curtain airbags and seat-mounted airbags standard on 1500
-- USB connectivity on all radios (except base), as well as charging for some devices
-- Rearview camera available on more models
-- StabiliTrak electronic control system now standard on all 1500s
-- Two new exterior colors: Taupe Gray Metallic and Sheer Silver Metallic



Oh no guys. Bobs upset. He's serious know. I guess I would be too if nobody appreciated all the trouble i went through to pick that cherry.

Unfortunately I see no true advantage in your highly specific comparo and real world testing proves it is an insignificant (you can find that section in the website also).

Hay Lou, your spewing lies again about the Ford. Ford's half ton crew cab is not 6.5 inches in length. Ford does offer a little boy's step. Onstar is superior to Sinc.

GM was the first to offer Tow Haul Mode in their half ton's. Ford copied. GM was the first to offer a automatic locking differential. Ford now offers in very limited models a electronic locking diff. GM offered Onstar years before Ford came out with Sinc. GM was the first to offer a independent front suspension. Ford copied. Ford has been ripping off and copying GM for years and always tries to one up GM (aka Mustang)

A GM truck with a 5.3 liter engine will get better gas milage than fords try to run 5.4 liter and beat it in acceleration tests.

Ford is always trying to one up GM. LOU, FRANK are liberals that are jealous of GM.

I would have to agree with Keith on the 6.2L V8. The review does state the 5.3 on the silverado along with 3.08 rearend, it said nothing about the 6.2L. The 6.2 is only available on the LTZ model Silverado (unless they changed that for 2010-11) and even with that rear end would still be a dog.

I guess we will just have to wait and see what GM comes up with for the Silverado. I am hoping good things! Good competition keeps Ford, GM, & RAM striving to make a better product.


Ford offered independent suspension starting in the 60's on 2wd

and on 4wds in 1980

Chevy offered (terrible) independent suspension in 1972 on 2wd and 1988 on 4wd.


@B"0"b - quote"Chevrolet is the second best selling truck in the country and nothing your feeble minded little idiots say can prove otherwise."

Why would I argue against that point?

Thanks for pointing that out.

How does it feel, having to say that Chev is NUMBER TWO?

Does it roll off your tongue?

or do you choke on the words?

You can't use the tired brand versus manufacturer argument anymore!
You afraid that Toyota will outsell GM next?

Quote"Ford has been ripping off and copying GM for years and always tries to one up GM (aka Mustang)"
You don't know much about history-
The Chevrolet Camaro is an automobile manufactured by General Motors under the Chevrolet brand, classified as a PONY CAR [1][2] and some versions also as a muscle car.[3][4] It went on sale on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year and was DESIGNED AS A COMPETING MODEL to the Ford Mustang.
The Mustang came out in "64 1/2. Notice that the Camaro was refered to as a PONY car! Pony = horse = Mustang.

Bob - why don't you and you little bowtie buddy Bobby1971
grab your purses and go home. Go compensate for small bowties else where.

"my brother-in-law, once an avid Ford guy, has switched to GM. He got tired of the front suspensions needing to be replaced so often."

I think you have that backwards. GM's torsion front end has been known to be a weak spot since forever. IIRC they now run a coilover set up on their 1/2 tons just like everyone else.

Bob, you do realize GM added the Vortec Maxx package after the Nissan Titan dropped in with a 9500lb tow rating? You also realize Nissan had wide opening extended cab doors and a cargo tie down system before GM as well right? So not only has Ford beaten GM to the punch many times, Nissan did as well and GM played copycat. FWIW GM wa salso behind Ford, Nissan and Toyota in offering a tranny with 5 or more speeds in the truck line up.

good looking truck, I love that front-end. Alot better looking then the boxy F-150 IMO

and it looks like Lou is showing his true colors, just admit it, your a ford nut hugger. I would have more respect for you then what you do now by claiming you unbiased, give me a break...


Grap you're purse and join Bob & Bobby1971.

Good bye!!! LMAO!

@Jake - Bob and Bobby1971 are extreme fanboys.
I'm countering their BS.
I'm not brand loyal .
I do have preferences, and I'll list them for you:
In the 1/2 ton ranks I prefer the F150.
If I was looking at a HD I'd probably go with a Cummins powered Ram.
If I were to get a compact, it would be a Tacoma.
I don't see a pattern of loyalty.
If you read back to my first post - I liked the look of the truck. I think OnStar is no longer a big deal as a cell phone can do almost the same thing.
I was asked what features that Ford had that GM doesn't have that I wanted. I listed them.
I have no problem defending my point of view or countering BS. If having preferences is bias, then so be it. Brand loyalty is a different story. I'm not about to loose sleep over anyone's opinion of me.

Alex, I am angry that the 6.2 is never mentioned. The fact is Fords 4.6 and 5.4 are underpowered period. They are also a nightmare to service. Every other full size V8 truck sold makes more power. Just want the facts, there it is!. Google broken plugs on Fords and case closed.

I mention the 6.2 because I can. Its an option Ford does not offer. When they do great, till then sorry.

5.4L is under powered whatever the shelby gt500 can get up to 1000 hp superchargered ponies with that 5.4L . i own a harley f150 with the 5.4L its a great engine i had no problems i only would drive a ford !!!

Bob you are so naive.

You should compare an engine out of GMs fleet that has the balls to compete with the HEMI. The only engine they would have it the 6.2. FYI it gets worse fuel economy then the HEMI.

The only reason why Chevy can achieve 20 MPGs with there 4x4s is because they are the only manufacturer that offers anything higher then a 3.55s in 4x4s. How many people actually get the base gears when they order there truck. Not many, most people opt for the 3.73s or 4.10s, which bring your mighty 5.3 numbers to the same range as the HEMI and 5.4.

I'd like to see GM build compact pickups again.

Hey Drew - GM is building compact trucks. They are called Sierra and Silverado 1500's..... Ha Ha Ha

the 5.4 is not underpowered. Off the line, it smokes the tires. What more do you want? Smoke them faster? The problem with the 5.4, is it doesn't like to rev, and the mileage sucks. But it is NOT underpowered. I think the 6.2 and EcoBoost might address those problems. I would prefer that 4.4L V8 diesel though.

glad to see that GM went back to steel or iron front suspension control arms instead of those weak aluminum ones. a 4x4 needs strength.

L1Tech - Maybe you should read your own google references. If you did you would actually know the plug spitting problem has been a non problem since 2004 when the heads were redesigned.

I'm new to this site and WOW I have never read so many angry comments. Is this normal? I mean, I've been laughing my ass off.

Hey Drew, you've been reading this site on a good day. Ha Ha.

@ Bob - I've said this before and I'll say it again...Don't you read the crap you post.
- quote" LOU, FRANK are liberals that are jealous of GM."

Which political party was in power for the GM bailout?

To quote Business Week -
"Now, Obama 'Owns' General Motors".

That would make GM a "Liberal" company.

Barrack Obama - Commander and Chief of the military and GMC.

Bob, Have a wonderful day!


A good day? Holy smokes!! I hate to see what a bad day is...LOL

All of you questioning the off-road prowess of the Silverado: The Silverado took 3rd in's off-road shootout. Right behind the Sierra All Terrain and Nissan Titan Nismo Off-road. The Silverado is exceptionally capable considering it's the 2nd oldest truck on the market.

Also, the impressive 6.2 liter can be had in a truck exactly like the one pictured above. You can get the 6.2 with the Z71 appearance and suspension package for under $40K. Don't believe me? Go to and build one. Also with the 6.2 comes the 4.10 gears, tranny cooler, oil cooler and 6speed auto which should cure all the complaining about the 3.08 gears, something the general population doesn't care about. Most prefer 3 better MPG which would stretch to almost 80 miles in the real world.

@Bob-you finally made some progress by admitting the chevy was second best selling behind the F150. The facts don't lie the Ford is the best selling truck for a reason.

@ Nash - his psychologist has been working real hard! Bob needs to come out of the closet and admit he's a Honda Ridgeline fan.
Bob - quote "It will be a big mistake if Honda drops the Ridgeline. Honda also mis-stepped on their first-gen Odyssey, but they went back to the drawing board, and now their minivan is arguably the gold standard in that market segment. They can do the same with a next-gen Ridgeline.

This vehicle was never meant to do commercial-grade work. It was aimed at Harry Homeowner, who does yard work and who needs to haul/tow some outdoor toys—and who wants a family truck. In that role it's the perfect vehicle.

It matches, or is in the ballpark with most 1/2-tons in terms of payload, and can tow 5K—which is more than enough for most homeowner's needs. If you need to tow 9+K, look elsewhere. It's also the only mid-size truck (it's not full size truck) that can lay 4x8 paneling flat on the bed floor.

Finally, I get a big chuckle from all the Ridgeline critics, as those who actually own these vehicles love them."

I bet Bob owns a Ridgeline and only pretends to be a GM fanboy.
Poor Bob... It's okay Bob.... you've been outed....
admit it.... your a Honda fanboy..... it's okay.... really.....
we won't make fun of you..... come out of the closet...eerr,,, I mean Ridgeline trunk...

I own a GMC Z71 I love the truck I put bigger rims on it and tires, I also put a 2 inch lift in it. Plus many other upgrades I take my truck off road almost every weekend. I tested an F-150 Raptor WOW, I love GM so I really hope GM is listening give us more with the Z71 please, shut the titan, Raptor, Hemi, and toyota fans up, I try every weekend and I am worried someones going to show up with that new Raptor. My GMC with all its upgrades are not ready for a stock Raptor

I have always owned Chevy trucks and there are more Chevy trucks on the road today than Ford and Dodge combined and GM builds the best HP push-rod OHV V-8 engine on the market so all you Ford and Dodge Fans can squawk all you want about Chevy but there is nothing Ford or Dodge has done since 1953 that even come close to the Corvette. Chevy is still and always will be KING.

"Chevy is still and always will be KING."

All in the eye of the beholder.

@2013 you are an idiot. The f-150 didn't "win" the half ton shootout. It got annihilated on every power, payload, and towing test. It won because of fuel economy on a far smaller motor. The 6.2L was 1.5 less fuel efficient and was 100 up more powerful making it the best workhorse PERIOD. They even said that if the fuel economy was slightly better on chevy it would have easily won the test. That tells me that those who know trucks know that power is king and if you wan the BEST you'll pick that over fuel economy. SCREW FORD.

In response to Ford not having On Star and turn by turn Navigation. Ford offers the SYNC system which does have 911 assist, Vehicle Health Reports, Hands free Phone and Music...All Free for the life of the vehicle. SYNC also has turn by turn Navigation, as well as traffic information, and will track your favorite sport teams, news broadcasts, horoscopes, Stocks, and weather. This is free for 3 years and after that it is only $60 a year!! How much does a one year subscription to On Star cost!!

still the same plain oh chevy that truck that changes every 10 or 11 years . ford fan here forever i love my f-150 i like that ford changes there designs all the gtime to go fords . the leader in truck designs

nice to see people this enthusiastic about american autos. keep the buisness at home buy american . i may be crazy but the economy looks like it could use the , ford dodge in that order. but all american.japanese is not better.lets support american automakers.keep jobs at home so we can support ourselves.

just bought the Silerado 1500 4x4,love it,and yes in ten years it'll be passing broken down fords and dodges,I'll probably be flagged down so they can use my on star to call a tow truck,the only question I have is,will I let them use it.......

Yeah, Only reason Chevy gets the mileage is they gear it waaaay down. 3.08 gears and .67 6th gear. You can get 20 mpg out of a 3.55 geared Dodge 4x4m as long as the tires aren't the aggressive ones-another thing Chevy does to get their high number. Lets see, one truck with a 3.55 x .67 final gear and plus 72 ft pounds torque, one with 3.08 gears and .67 final gear, and has to be turned 300 rpm higher to get its "max" torque. There will be alot of shifting happening, and not near as much needed in the Dodge! Hey, what is the tow rating like on those 3.08 geared 5.3s? I had a 2006 Chevy ext cab 4x4 310 hp 3.42 gear, lots of shifting! Lots of hunting for gears! And ping ping ping! I got a 2010 TRX4, doesn't have those issues! No more 180 degree doors for me! Of course my payload is low, most of the time I'll be ok. Put a little air in the bags! Cause even a 6.5 foot Ford bed crew can be overweight (although they hold alot) If Dodge would just come up with a 6 or 7 speed, they would beat GM's mpg numbers with alot more power. Cause thats all it is! Oh, the truck pictured? Ugly, in my opinion!

Did the 6.2L come with 4.08 gears standard. I'm looking at a used 2010 LTZ with the 6.2 L motor and was wondering how the mileage would be. It only has 2000 miles on it and the only reason I wasn't jumping on it was because of the motor, I was looking for the more effecient 5.3.
Good reliable motor? Thanks.

There must be a lot of you boys out there that bash the SH*T out of your trucks in some sort of competition to see which lasts longer. My 95 F-150 with well over 200,000 miles has no such suspension issues nor anything else. I just maintain it and it goes, so I will be sticking with Ford. Look at any random parking lot and count the vehicles, you will find that most of the time when it comes to trucks, there will be more Fords than Chev or Dodge. My dad owns a 98 GMC Z-71 and its a great truck, but that's with the 350. These newer chev engines don't impress me too much. What happened to needing a full size truck for work, not track times and WOW I can get 23 mpg with killing half the motor. If mileage is such a big deal then get a small truck cause to me if mileage is at the top of your list of attributes then playing in the full size game might not be for you. These trucks need to work and having a very hard working truck will negate the best mileage. I won't compromise capability for mileage, that's not what trucks are about IMO.

i have owned a dodge with the hemi- ran great for about 60k. suspension fell apart. owned a ford power stroke- 2 times in the shop in 45 days for motor and suspension problems- 65k. i can only assume they are good for 50-70k miles before they fall apart. 36k warranty on both 75k extended tells me they can't build a soild product. brought 2010 Silverado- chevy backs it with 100k warranty. nuff said!

I am very dissapointed in my 2010 chevy silverado 4.8 L truck (3.23 rear axle). Where do I start? Gas milage pulling my little 2300 lb light-weight travel trailer, as low as 7 mpg (not in the mountains). Not enough power pulling the hills on interstate in Colorado, less than 30 mph and transmission over heating. Turning radius sucks, hard to pull into parking spots or u-turns. Cruise control runs plus/minus 4 mph on small hills, I can do better myself without cruise and not looking at the speedometer. I was told by the salesman that this truck would do alot better than the 4.3 L v-6 Mercury van that I had (not even as good). I just traded it in for a 2008 Honda pilot and lost my butt (better than keeping that piece of crap).

To all you anti chevy guys. Maybe you should do your research chevy makes a 6.2with 405 horsepower let's see you weak f150 and dodges pull up to it and see how bad ass your sorry hemi is. And for looks and interior the silverdo is way better looking and comfortable. Why are you reading a Gm. Post if all your gonna do is hate on it. The silverado can tow way more I don't know why they don't ever talk about the 6.3 in their shoot ours maybe cause the others can't compare

Okay, I will bite.

The Ram's 5.7L V8, HEMI Magnum, produces 390 horsepower. The General Motors 6.2L only produces 15 horsepower more with half a liter more (6.2L>5.7L) engine size. The Ford 6.2L produces 6 more horsepower (411>405) from the same size. Yeah, the 6.2L is really awesome?

@ william - since you are an expert on GMC - what is the standard gas engine in the 3/4 ton trucks?
Funny, no mention of the 6.2 as an option in the HD - please explain why GMC does not offer the omnipotent 6.2 in the HD?
Play engine for play trucks?


That is because, like you said, the G.M. 6.2L V8 is not a real truck motor. It is reserved for cars; like the Cadillac Catera Touring Sedan-V, Chevrolet Camaro Super Sport and Corvette.

who cares if chevy doesnt have nice interiors. if you use your truck the way it was meant to be used, the interior is the least of your worries.

@Chevy - every guys who buys a truck other than a Chevy cares ;)
Spoken like a true apologist.

I just have to say something about everyone and their comparisons... Its all just preference. Who here runs their engine at redline? Probably not many of us, but thats damn near the point at which the horsepower ratings come from. Hp ratings are worthless to me, its about feel. I choose GM because I can work on it my self. The mechanics on these trucks are simple, alot of the parts interchange from engine to engine, and I wont pay exagerated prices for parts. GM parts were usually always the cheapest to replace compared to the others nad damn near non of the parts interchange on Dodge or Ford. I've owned all three brands, I landed on GM and this is where I will stay.

The 5.4 liter Ford are GARBAGE...havent found one ford truck that didnt have a cam phaser problem. there engines are slow and feels like a boat going into a turn. Hence they had to release the 6.2 for the Raptor. Had a 2008 Silverado with 100k miles, drove like it was new. Too bad I needed the money and had to sell it, back in the market for another one though. If not Chevy or GMC, possibly a Dodge Hemi.

I believe in not only looking at a small portion of a bigger picture! And the bigger picture is Chevy is Better!! Don't get me wrong I love the interior of a Ford they have it down! I also love the sound and power a hemi makes there is no substitute! But I want a truck that can do truck things! Ford and Dodge have redesigned and who knows when Ford will finally get a decent motor or when Dodge will keep their front end from shaking and thier transmissions from going out but until then ill stick to what is proven itself through the years! Id put my stock 6.2liter halfton ltz against any Ford or dodge!

I had a f150 I have no idea why people say it's a good truck I turned to gmc sierra I can feel the difference the g80 it's great .

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