When shopping for a truck that combines power, style, and reliability, nothing comes close to the Chevy Silverado. Not only a great value when brand-new, but a used Chevy Silverado is a great investment for its lower price and stellar performance. While the Silverado name wasn’t formally introduced until the release of the 1999 Silverado, the history of the lineup goes back further than some may expect. Today, the Chevy Silverado is currently in the dawn of the fourth generation of this iconic pickup truck.
The original use of the term Silverado was first seen as far back as 1975. But this Silverado wasn’t a pickup model. Instead, it was a trim for another vehicle entirely. The origins of the Silverado trace back to the Chevrolet C/K, a once-beloved pickup truck that has since passed into obscurity. The Chevrolet C/K was introduced to the United States market in 1959 and impressed the public in many ways. In 1975, after over 15 years on the market, the Chevrolet C/K was refreshed with a list of new trims, and at the top of the list was the newest high-end model, the Silverado.
The Chevrolet C/K saw success for many years, but the Silverado name slowly grew in prominence until it became all but synonymous with the C/K truck. So in 1999, when Chevy decided that it was time to redesign its full-size truck lineup, it renamed the new half-ton model the Silverado 1500. The three-quarter-ton and one-ton models followed soon after, and the last C/K rolled off the line in 2002.
With available V6 and V8 engines that produced a highly competitive performance for its era, the beginning of the Silverado was met with praise by Chevy fans and critics alike. One year later, the Silverado would then get its heavy-duty lineup referred to as “HD.” Both the 1500 and 2500 got their heavy-duty variants with the 1500HD and 2500HD, but alongside it was the newly introduced 3500HD. The path to the modern-day Silverado was full of innovation, and Chevy has performed some considerable changes since the beginning of the lineup’s history.
Today, the fourth generation Silverado is on the market and has yet to lose any of its relevancy as the lineup has not only retained its popularity, but it has gained popularity as well. Those looking to purchase a used Chevy Silverado should consider obtaining one from either the third or fourth generation in order to get the best value to performance ratio. This includes trucks from the 2014 model year up to today.
For several years, the Silverado family consisted of 1500, 1500HD, 2500HD, and 3500HD. But the 2007 Silverado 1500HD would end up being the last of its kind as the second generation Silverado 1500 only came in its standard variant. This ultimately means the only Silverado models being produced today are 1500, 2500HD, and 3500HD. Although the 1500HD was originally more powerful than 1500 of the day, this isn’t the case anymore. Over the years, 1500 has provided an excellent performance output that outpaces what the 1500HD could achieve back in the day.
What differentiates these trucks from one another mainly comes down to payload and towing capacity as each one outpaces the last. Both the 2500HD and 3500HD are similar in many ways, including the available powertrains, while the Silverado 1500 uses a different body and selection of engines. Chevy originally released the Silverado to provide a powerful truck for the heaviest of towing tasks. Although shoppers looking for a used Chevy Silverado should ideally opt for a used third or fourth-generation Silverado because of their more relevant feature sets, older models are still quite powerful.
With the third generation of Silverados, the 1500 was offered with three engine variants while the 2500HD and 3500HD had two. This was the basic setup until the fourth generation Silverado was released, but these engines certainly don’t lack potential. Buying a used Silverado 1500 can still provide plenty of power as models from even a decade ago could be outfitted with a large 6.2L V8 engine. Silverado 1500s equipped with this V8 engine could produce 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque, and today these vehicles are a fraction of their original cost. Due to this V8 engine’s power, the Silverado 1500 sported a maximum towing capacity of 10,500 lbs for some years.
Today the Silverado 1500 still offers a 6.2L V8, but that engine now produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Towing capabilities have also been improved upon over the years, with current models offering a maximum towing capacity of 13,400 lbs. However, as can be seen, the difference is not so large that an older used Silverado 1500 will be left in the dust.
But while an older Silverado 1500 can provide great towing results, a used Silverado 2500HD or 3500HD will be even better. The second-generation 2500HD and 3500HD offered a diesel-powered 6.6L V8 that produced 397 hp and an incredible 765 lb-ft of torque. With this engine equipped, it allows a decade-old Silverado 3500HD to support a maximum towing capacity of 21,700 lbs. These numbers are still impressive to this day.
Much like the V8 inside of the Silverado 1500, this V8 has been improved upon over time, and the current iteration now provides 445 and 910 lb-ft of torque. Furthermore, the most current Silverado 3500HD can tow upwards of 35,500 lbs. And much like the towing capabilities, payload capacity has also improved over the years. Those shopping for a used Silverado must take into consideration how they plan on utilizing their trucks when deciding which model and model year to purchase.
As each truck offers different towing capacities, the three Silverado variants appeal to different drivers. The most capable 3500HD is best suited for those who require heavy towing for work-related tasks. But drivers who are looking to take their boat to the lake or bring a set of ATVs to an off-roading site will have plenty of ways to do this with a Silverado 1500. Finally, the Silverado 2500HD is a happy medium between the two and will appeal to drivers regularly towing medium loads such as campers.