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2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 was new.


Performance: 8.3

Most reviewers say that the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado has a refined ride, powerful V8 engines and an available six-speed automatic transmission that always seems to pick the right gear. The Silverado 1500 is available with a number of engine options, most of which reviewers say are plenty powerful.

  • The GM twins feel lithe and manageable compared with the pickups from Ford and Dodge, but they lack the solid air of the competition.” -- Car and Driver
  • "Unlike previous generations of pickups, the … Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is actually pleasant to drive.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Silverado 1500 offers a number of engines, from the base V6 to the top-of-the-line 6.2-liter V8. The Silverado 1500's base engine is a 4.3-liter V6 that makes 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The next-level engine is a 4.8-liter V8 that makes 302 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. Another step up is the 5.3-liter V8 engine, which makes 315 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. The biggest engine is a 6.2-liter V8, which makes 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. The EPA estimates that the V6 gets 15/20 mpg city/highway with two-wheel drive and 14/18 mpg with four-wheel drive. With the 4.8-liter V8, those numbers dip to 14/19 mpg with two-wheel drive and 13/18 mpg with four-wheel drive. The 5.3-liter V8 gets 15/21 mpg and 15/22 mpg in XFE trim, both of which are actually better fuel economy than what the V6 offers. The 6.2-liter V8 gets 13/18 mpg city/highway with two-wheel drive and 12/18 with four-wheel drive.

The Silverado comes with either a four- or six-speed automatic transmission. Reviewers are nearly unanimous in preferring the six-speed, since nearly all of the Silverado’s competition offers a five-speed transmission on base models. Most test drivers say the base V6 performs adequately, but that buyers wanting to get the most towing, hauling or highway capabilities out of their Silverado will want to opt for a larger engine.

  • "While we expect the 4.3-liter V6 and 4.8-liter V8 to be more than adequate in work truck applications, we recommend the 5.3-liter V8 engines, some with cast iron blocks and some with aluminum, but all with Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • “Acceleration with the 5.3-liter V8 is more than adequate at all speeds, aided by the smooth-shifting transmission that kicks down quickly for more power. The available 6.2-liter V8 has more power overall, though it feels only marginally quicker than the 5.3 V8.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The base V6 engine is a hindrance, as it struggles to adequately motivate this large truck.” -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Reviewers find that the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500’s handling is one of its strong points. While the Ram 1500 offers a coil-over suspension that some test drivers say gives it a smoother ride than the Silverado’s, most say the Silverado is easy to drive and live with every day. Though few reviewers have taken the Silverado off-road, those who have are impressed with the truck's capabilities. For heavy off-roading, a locking rear differential and skid plates are available. All Chevrolet Silverado 1500 models are available as two- or four-wheel drive vehicles. The four-wheel drive system acts as an all-wheel drive system on dry roads, distributing power as it detects wheel slippage. That’s better than the Ford F-150’s four-wheel drive system, which should be deactivated on dry roads. Full-time four-wheel drive can be turned on when the driver wants equal power sent to all tires.

  • "Thanks to its rigid frame and advanced construction techniques, the … Chevrolet Silverado offers a markedly better ride-and-handling combination than many of its competitors.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The steering is light but reasonably precise, and the truck's comfortable seats and smooth, quiet ride make road trips enjoyable. The Silverado's turning circle is a bit larger than those of most other trucks, however.” -- Edmunds

Hauling and Towing

The towing and hauling capacities of the Silverado vary by cab type, drive wheels and box length. A regular cab Silverado with a long box and four-wheel drive can haul up to 1,794 pounds. A crew cab model with two-wheel drive and a short box can haul up to 1,937 pounds, the most in the lineup.

Depending on the model and equipment, the Silverado 1500 can tow up to 10,700 pounds when properly equipped. A number of towing packages are available from Chevrolet. Integrated trailer brake control is available on some models. Reviewers who used the Silverado as a tow vehicle were generally happy with its performance.

  • "Excellent towing manners, plenty of pulling power.” -- Cars.com
  • “Drivers who tow will appreciate the optional integrated brake controller like that used on the Silverado heavy-duty trucks.” -- New Car Test Drive

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