Our Appreciation for Every Generation of the Silverado
On July 5th, 1998, Japan made history when they launched a probe to Mars, successfully joining the United States and Russia as a space exploring nation. Moreover, 1998 marks another equally historic event! That is to say, Chevrolet began production on the Chevrolet Silverado. These heavy-duty, full-size pickups were quickly beloved by Chevrolet truck owners everywhere. And they became one of their most popular trucks to date!
22 years, four generations, and 12 million sold units later, the Chevrolet Silverado is still one of our favorite trucks. So let’s take a moment to look at the impressive and beautiful timeline of the Chevy Silverado.
The Chevrolet Silverado Body Style Timeline
What the Silverado offers more than anything else is dependability. It’s a truck that you can rely on, no matter the production year, no matter the trim level. For example, from the light-duty V-6 engines to the heavy-duty V-8 engines, these trucks have been immensely popular since they first rolled off the assembly line.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at what makes the Silverado timeline so impressive!
First Generation (1999-2007)
Chevrolet designed its first truck all the way back in 1918 with the Chevrolet One-Ton. It was made to haul and get the big jobs done. And Chevrolet truck designers have never looked back! Chevy’s first truck was an incredible workhorse. Certainly, that combination of power and utility has followed Chevy trucks to this day.
From 1975-1999 the monicker “Silverado” was used to describe specific trim levels for various Chevrolet trucks like the C/K, Suburban, and Tahoes. However, in 1999, the Chevrolet Silverado began its own life, rolling off of car lots around the country. This first generation came in a few different configurations. But they were all referred to as “the classic” body style.
1999 saw Chevrolet’s first production of the Silverado’s light-duty series, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Much like the trucks of Chevy’s past, the Silverado was made to look great and handle the toughest jobs. This first Silverado didn’t have all of the bells and whistles we know modern trucks for today. But it did have some excellent trim levels to choose from.
The first 1500 came in three different cab configurations:
- The 2-door standard cab
- The 3 or 4-door extended cab
- A hinged 4-door crew cab
It also had 3 available bed lengths:
- The 69.2” short box
- The 78.7” standard box
- A 97.6” long box
In its first year of production, the regular cab and 3-door extended cab were the only options available. There were three engine options as well, the Vortec 4300 V6 engine, the Vortec 4800 V8 engine, and the Vortex 5300 V8 engine.
In 2000, the light-duty Silverado saw some design changes. In addition, a driver’s side door option was added for the Silverado’s extended cab. This was the first time we got four doors on a light-duty Silverado, and the crew-cab was added to the light-duty Silverado lineup in 2004.
The engine also received a small facelift. The 5.3 L engine got an increased output of 285 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. It added a little extra oomph to the Silverado and it was happily accepted by loyal Silverado enthusiasts. Who doesn’t want their favorite truck to get tougher?
Chevrolet Silverado SS
Seeing the need for a high-performance pickup, we saw the launch of the Silverado SS in 2003. The Silverado SS came stock-equipped with 6.0 liter Vortec High-Output V8 with a huge 345 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Silverado drivers who were already happy about the engine upgrade in the 1500 were even more excited about this one!
The first SS had a 4-speed automatic transmission and came with an All-Wheel Drive package. When it was released again in 2005, a Two-Wheel Drive option became available. This was short-lived, however. In 2006 the AWD option was dropped and RWD became the standard for the SS.
Subsequently, in 2006, we also saw a special edition of the Silverado SS released called the Intimidator SS. It was a commemorative truck honoring the late NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt. The truck had some custom aesthetic trims like embroidered headrests and custom badges but was built as a stock SS.
Vortec High Output/Vortec Max
The Vortec High Output option was first made available in limited quantities mostly in Texas in 2004. This became a nationwide option for Chevrolet and GMC 1500 series trucks in 2005. There were several changes made for the High Output option that was not available for previous light-duty Silverados.
One of the biggest upgrades was the LQ9 6.0L V-8 engine, rated at a whopping 345 horses under the hood, 5200 rpm, and 380 lb/ft of torque.
The High Output package received minor upgrades and variations over its lifetime. Some of these changes included:
- Two-wheel drives packages
- Cloth and leather interior options
- Upgraded suspension systems
- 20-inch factory wheel option
In 2006 Chevrolet introduced the Vortec Max Trailering package. This package was mostly the same as the High Output package with slight variations in badges and other small cosmetic features. The big difference in the Vortec Max was the focus on trailering strength.
The biggest boon for it’s trailering ability was the Z85 Handling/Trailering suspension. While the High Output package focused on the mechanical parts of the SS without the same look, the Vortex Max package focused solely on trailering ability. The Vortec Max was rated for 10,800 lbs towing capacity.
In 2004 General Motors made history again when they released their first Hybrid Chevy Silverado. This first hybrid was referred to as a Parallel Hybrid Truck (or PHT) but did not actually meet our current standards for what we consider a PHT. The electric motor in the Hybrid Silverado only provided power to engine cranking and starting, battery charging, and powering the truck’s accessories.
This marked an important turning point for Chevrolet and General Motors as the world entered a more eco-conscious period. The hybrid models proved to be quite popular, combining a decent mileage rating with the dependability of a Silverado.
The Heavy Duty variant of the Silverado was introduced in 2000 as a heavy-duty light truck. It was a bolstered version of its little cousin and came in 1500HD, 2500HD, and 3500HD models.
The 1500HD came equipped with a Vortec 6000 V8 rated at 300 hp at 5200 rpm and 360 lb/ft of torque. It also came with a Hydra-Matic 4L80E four-speed automatic transmission. The towing capacity was rated at 10,300 lbs and could haul up to 3,129 lbs.
The 2500HD had the option of an LB7 Duramax V8 with 300 hp and 520 lb/ft of torque, the LLY v8 at 310 hp and 605 lb/ft of torque, or the LBZ Duramax V8 with a huge 360 hp and 650 lb/ft of torque. The 2500HD featured a five-speed automatic transmission with a six-speed variation becoming available in 2006. The towing capacity was rated at 16,100 lbs and could haul 3,964 lbs.
The 3500HD had the same engine and transmission options available as the 2500HD. The major difference for the 3500HD was the “dually” wheels in the rear and a stronger suspension. The 3500HD was made to be absolutely tough as nails, rated to be able to tow the heaviest stuff and haul the biggest cargo. The 3500HD was rated for a towing capacity of 16,700 lbs and can haul 5,753 lbs behind it.
Changes in the First Generation of Chevy Silverado
The body of the first generation Silverado remained relatively the same throughout the first generation with minor changes. In 2003 we saw a redesigned Silverado featuring a new front end and an updated rear end. 2006 saw some very subtle cosmetic upgrades including dropping the “Chevrolet” badge from their tailgate, which was used from 1998-2005.
The first generation of Chevrolet Silverados saw huge success, lots of experimentation, and variations that were adored by Silverado drivers. 2006 marked the last year of innovation in this first generation of Silverados that started all the way back in 1999. We saw loads of trucks that we still love like all of the light-duty and heavy-duty variations, the SS models, the Hybrid models, and the Vortex models.
However, these would be far from the final changes we saw happen to the Silverado over the years. 2007 marked the beginning of the second generation of Silverados and a new age for trucks and truck technology.
Second Generation (2007-2014)
The final quarter of 2006 saw the release of the first of the 2nd generation Silverado models. This new generation featured several changes from the previous generations of Silverado. Some of the changes include a redesigned truck interior and exterior, changes to the frame and suspension and power upgrades for some engine options. The pickup was built on the “Shakebody” platform, and was dubbed “the new body style.”
Some of the aesthetic stylings took inspiration from GMT900 SUVs and the Chevy Colorado pickup. One of the biggest improvements to the body design came in its aerodynamics. These improvements included a steeply raked windshield and smaller panel gaps. This proved to increase the truck’s gas mileage.
The newly designed Silverado wasn’t just happily accepted by Silverado devotees, though. It also received critical acclaim, winning 2007’s North American Truck of the Year Award. AIn addition, the Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year for 2007.
The 2nd Generation Silverado had several trim packages to choose from. The first option was a two-door regular cab with rear doors that opened 170 degrees. The second option was a four-door crew cab with rear doors opening the same way as the front doors. Each option was offered in two and four-wheel-drive configurations.
Redesigned Engine Options
The first generation of Silverado, part of the GMT 800 series of pickups used Generation III small-block V8 engines. The second generation of Silverado, part of the GMT 900 series, featured the upgraded Generation IV small-block V8 engine.
This new generation of the engine meant several performance upgrades for the Chevy Silverado:
- Increased power and active fuel management for the 5.3L and 6.0L V8s
- New, high-performance 6.2 V8 rated with 403 hp and 417 lb/ft of torque was made available for 1500 models made after 2009
There were also plenty of cosmetic and technological upgrades for the Chevy Silverado during its second generation:
- Two dash options including a luxury-inspired dash. The other option was a traditional upright dash which made room for a passenger seat that replaced the center console.
- In 2009 the Silverado ½ ton models saw a redesigned bumper and shortened front fascia
- Extended and Crew cab models outfitted with the Vortex 5300 V8 got a new six-speed 6L80 automatic transmission
- Bluetooth stereos and rear-vision cameras become part of the standard equipment list
- Integrated trailer brake controllers, first only made for the Silverado HD in 2007 becomes an option for 1500 series Silverados.
- Beginning in 2010, new models had redesigned interior door panels which relocated the handle and added an additional cup holder
- Six-speed automatic transmission on regular cab models with 5.3L V8 becomes standard.
- New exterior colors are introduced.
- Beginning in 2012 the Silverado 1500 received a new grille and front fascia.
- A newly redesigned touch screen becomes an option for some Silverado models
- Trailer sway control and hill start assist become standard on all models
- Cooled seats become an option for some Silverado models
Electric Engine Options
There were also some changes for the hybrid engine during this second generation of Chevy Silverados. The hybrid model Chevy Silverado was skipped during 2008. But a two-mode hybrid model was released for 2009.
To clarify, the newly designed Silverado 1500 hybrid was made available in two-wheel and four-wheel drive packages. Firstly, either configuration came equipped with a 6.0L V8 joined by a 60-kilowatt electric motor. The electric motor was powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. It was located under the rear seat. Secondly, the Hybrid’s V8 was rated on its own at 332 hp and 367 lb/ft of torque. As a result, the combined hp of the electric and combustible engine was estimated at 379 hp.
Third Generation (2014-2019)
By time 2012 rolls around, the second generation of Silverados is coming to an end. Moreover, Chevy is also really beginning to hit their stride in the design and production of their Silverados. In the third generation, we see fewer changes and experimentation with truck design. That is to say, there is much more emphasis on making an efficient and comfortable truck.
Some notable changes going into the third generation of Chevy Silverados:
- General Motors switches from the GMT900 platform to K2XX platform for Silverados
- Three new gas engine options:
- 4.3L EcoTec3 V6
- 5.3L EcoTec3 V8
- 6.2L EcoTec3 V8
- Touch-screen multimedia system become available on most models
- A2DP stereo, Bluetooth telephone, and USB inputs introduced
- Bose surround sound becomes available on most models
- OnStar becomes standard on all models
- To cut weight, hoods, engine blocks, and control arms are aluminum
- Beds are now made from roll-formed steel instead of stamped steel
Changes to the Silverado weren’t drastic this time, but the awards kept rolling in. The Chevy Silverado won the 2014 North American Truck of the Year award!
2015 Chevrolet Silverado
2015 saw few changes for the Silverado. They use a new 8-speed 8L90 transmission to offer better driving and fuel economy. But the really big changes were in the technology. 2015 marks the first year that Silverado HDs offered Adaptive Cruise Control. As well as a Forward Collision Warning System, and a Lane Departure Warning System.
In fact, Silverados were the very first heavy-duty trucks to offer these features!
2016 Chevrolet Silverado
Likewise, changes for the Chevy Silverado were fairly minimal in 2016.
Some slight upgrades to the Silverado in 2016 are:
- New grille
- Brand new headlights
- New front fascia
- New LED taillights
- HD radio is added
- New color options
- Options for wireless charging station on the center console
2017 Chevrolet Silverado
After that, changes remained very minimalist for the 2017 Silverado. Especially as the third generation of these great trucks began to wind down.
Some of the new features on 2017 models included:
- Diesel engine Silverados got a new front hood with air intake vents
- Gas engine models now have a capless fuel fill
- Heavy Duty Chevy Silverados now have HID headlamps standard on all trim levels.
- New color options introduced
- Low-speed mitigation braking is added to the Silverado’s Driver Alert Package
Another year of fairly minimal changes for a truck that’s already one of the best!
2018 Chevrolet Silverado
2018 saw virtually no changes to the Silverado, but it does mark an important milestone for Chevrolet! In addition, 2018 marked the 100th year anniversary of their first truck, the Chevrolet One-Ton! In honor of 100 years of amazing trucks, Chevrolet releases the Centennial edition Silverado this year. But it was mechanically and functionally the same as the 2017 model.
Fourth Generation (2019-Present)
They introduced the latest generation of Chevrolet Silverado in a grand fashion. They airlifted the truck in front of a crowd of excited Silverado enthusiasts and owners at the Texas Motor Speedway in celebration of Chevrolet’s 100 years of making trucks.
Some added features to the new generation of Silverados include:
- New, sculpted exterior design
- New front headlamp design that integrates them into the front grille
- The LED daytime running accent lamps added to the front headlamps
There are eight trim levels for the 4th generation Silverado:
- Custom Trail Boss
- LT Trail Boss
- High Country
In 2018, the Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association convention introduced the RST Off-Road and RST Street trim levels.
In addition to the various trim levels, the 4th generation Chevy Silverado also has 6 available engine options. All at various trim levels:
- 4.3L EcoTec3 FlexFuel-Capable V6 gasoline engine
- 2.7L Turbocharged Inline Four-Cylinder gasoline engine
- 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 gasoline engine
- 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 gasoline engine
- 3.0L Turbocharged I6 diesel engine
- 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 gasoline engine
The Chevy Silverado Body Style Timeline: 4 Generations of Great Trucks
There are few companies that have as much as history with trucks as Chevrolet. They’ve been in the business for over 100 years. So when they release a new model, you better believe we’re paying attention! Certainly, the Silverado has been one of our favorite trucks since it first hit the pavement in 1999. And it’ll stay that way as long as Chevrolet continues to produce them.
So, if you think you might love a Chevy Silverado as much as we do, consider visiting one of our 11 locations to pick one up for yourself!