We might be making a relative judgment here. But in our opinion, the Silverado stands at the top of the heap. Now, this isn't based entirely on the technical merits of the truck, although that's a huge part. There is also the value proposition that the line presents, and the position of the Chevy brand in the market. The Silverado prices range from mid $23K to close to $45K, with five engine displacements that range from 4.3L to 6.0L (most run on gasoline and E85 and offer cylinder deactivation). The Silverado's offerings also include: a choice of two four-speed trannies, 2WD and 4WD; tow capacity of up to 10,500 pounds; two distinct "pure pickup" and luxury interiors; touchscreen navigation; satellite radio; rear seat DVD; power sliding rear window; standard traction/stability control; close tolerances between interior and body components; quieter cabs; ultrasonic rear parking assist; EZ lift tailgate; and more.
Our extended cab 1500 LTZ starts with nice standard features, but it wasn't packaged with many options. Its 5.3L V-8 put out it in the middle of the pack on the quarter-mile, but achieved a whopping 15.07 mpg-the best of the trucks. It drove well on the road, more than adequately off-road, and handled amazingly well for a fullsize truck.
The redesigned exterior combines Chevy's signature split grille with an assertive edge that looks cleaner and more refined then the Sierra (the Denali, though, takes that to the next level in both style and money), and certainly more so than the other trucks on the market. Its interior borrows the best from the luxury SUV models.
At the moment, the Silverado offers the widest range of capabilities on the freshest platform that exhibits the best-looking design for reasonable prices. Granted, the GMC is pretty close, but in our opinion you get enough from the Silverado and still walk away with some cash in your pocket. Plus, the Silverado is likely to have the greater impact on trends in the pickup market then the Avalanche or the GMC will, among both the OEs and the aftermarket. The Chevrolet Silverado is the Truckin' 2007 Truck of the Year.
The redesigned Chevrolet Tahoe almost won SUV of the Year. The Tahoe's styling looks more cohesive than before, with integrated bumpers and improved panel gaps that make it look like it could be an Escalade. Inside, its dash no longer looks like it belongs on a work truck. And, the Tahoe is extremely livable with features including: navigation (again, Ford and Chevy have good systems right now); satellite radio; auto-ride suspension; a rearview camera; rear-seat video entertainment; power liftgate; head curtain side airbags for all rows; and more.
The third row was actually comfortable for grownups, but only because the two captain's chairs in the second row of our tester made them easier to access and took up less space. Granted, the third row seats weren't as cush as the second row's, and legroom was more limited, so they are probably better suited for kids during road trips. The rear seats don't fold flat, although you can remove them to make room for cargo (not an ideal solution). Really, a better configuration might be to go with the 60/40 bench in the second row, and ditch the third, allowing you to carry five instead six passengers, but at least the expanded cargo space can be used without manhandling third row seats.
Our tester's 5.3L didn't fair so well in the quarter-mile (it did practically the same as the Expedition); and the mpg on this vehicle wasn't so hot, either. The Tahoe's tow rating is about the same as the Chrysler Aspen's, but is trumped by the Expedition, according to specs. It's a shame that you can't get the 6.0L with the Tahoe, but that's been reserved for the Suburban, which, apparently, is intended to be more the beast of burden for the Chevy line.
Any way you look at it, the Tahoe deserves to rake in lots of lucre for GM. The improvements endowed upon the Tahoe from the new GMT900 platform blow away its previous-generation and make it a powerful player in a very competitive segment.
Chrysler brand's first SUV-yes, really, its first-is based on the Dodge Durango. The Aspen, like its other cousin the Dodge Nitro, is primarily an attempt to keep brand-loyal customers from cross shopping. In this case, those would be the wealthier buyers who want an SUV decorated with higher-end cues such as: chromed accents; 20-inch wheels; ridged hood reminiscent of the Crossfire; Limited trim level with leather seats and faux wood; and more. The Aspen is supposed to complement the Pacifica and Town & Country. Chrysler touts this as the 300C of SUVs, as it tries to borrow from the design-heavy, bling-forward success of the sedan.
Aspen buyers get one trim package, the Limited, and a variety of features and options to choose from. These include a choice between two engines, the 5.7L Hemi and 4.7L V-8s with cylinder deactivation; and a five-speed transmission in 2WD and 4WD. Other features include three rows of seats; AM/FM radio; 6-Disc CD; Sirius; navigation; Alpine speakers; rear-seat DVD video entertainment; UConnect Bluetooth hands-free phone system; heated second-row seats; remote start; standard traction/stability control; side-curtain air bags; tire pressure monitoring; backing sensor; power rear liftgate; and more. Prices range from $30,745 to $41K.
If you understand the Durango, then you get the gist of the Aspen with some key differences. The Aspen is definitely trying to provide a plush and elegant alternative, and for the most part it delivers in that area. Its interior appointments are comfortable and well integrated. Accessories like the analog clock ensconced on the leather-lined dash evoke a sort of Swiss precision and Euro style. Staffers appreciated details like the girth of the leather and faux-wood steering wheel, ghost-blue LED interior lamps, and the living-room-like comfort. One staffer was attracted to it because it reminded him of the floaty ride in his classic 1970s Caddy.
The problem with the Aspen is that in some ways it's too deluxe and understated. It evokes the image of "your father's SUV." Our drivers felt completely disconnected from the road by the boat-like suspension and steering setup, despite the Hemi's assertive efforts to bridge that gap. Combine that with its lozenge-shape and an almost-generic expression of class, the Aspen evoked a kind of minivan vibe. In a way, the Aspen offers a better experience for passengers than for drivers. It's great for living in during a long haul; and the driving is not bad, but it's not great either. We would prefer the latter.