This year, Chevrolet celebrates its 100th anniversary in the truck business, as the first Chevy truck rolled off the assembly line in 1918.
Since then, Chevrolet has produced more than 85 million trucks, and today, the Chevrolet Silverado and Colorado pickups continue the automaker’s dominant presence in the pickup truck market.
In observance of this milestone, Chevrolet kicked off a centennial celebration at the 2017 State Fair of Texas, and introduced the 2018 Silverado and Colorado Centennial Special Edition models.
Besides rolling out these special models of the full-size Silverado and midsize Colorado, Chevy also is honoring owners who have made these Chevy trucks a part of their lives for the past century.
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That includes the national rollout of the Truck Legends customer loyalty program and the introduction of branded merchandise featuring the Chevrolet heritage bowtie logo, the signature of this iconic brand.
As for the 2018 Silverado and Colorado Centennial Editions, they’re designed with elements “inspired by Chevy Trucks throughout history,” including unique Centennial Blue paint and exclusive heritage bowtie emblems.
They also feature 100-year badges inspired by colors and design cues found on early Chevrolet trucks, the automaker said.
That brings us to our test vehicle of the week, the Silverado 1500 Centennial Edition LTZ Z71 Crew Cab four-wheel drive model. Base price for this Silverado is $49,190 plus $3,480 for the Centennial Edition package and $1,295 freight.
The Centennial Edition Silverado has all of the features available on the LTZ Z71 Crew Cab, plus the special Centennial Blue exterior paint, front and rear heritage bowties, 100-year door badges, spray-in bed liner with heritage bowtie emblems and accessory floor liners with those same bowties.
It also includes 22-inch painted wheels with chrome inserts, all-terrain tires, chrome tow hooks and a chrome bowtie on the steering wheel.
The Silverado 1500, GM’s best-selling vehicle overall, got a more-muscular appearance just two years ago.
For 2018, changes include the availability of the eAssist mild-hybrid package on LTZ models, in addition to LT trims; a tire-fill alert for the tire-pressure monitoring system; and a rear-vision camera system standard on all models.
The Silverado is offered in Regular, Double and Crew Cab versions, with Double and Crew models both featuring rear doors that swing out to the rear. All trim levels are offered with standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive. The Silverado’s four-wheel-drive system includes low-range gearing through the two-speed transfer case, and an automatic-locking rear differential.
Three cargo-box lengths are available: 5-foot-8, 6-foot-6, and 8-foot. The longer 6-foot-6 box is offered on the Crew Cab as an option over that model’s usual 5-foot-8 box, which was the one included on our Centennial model. The 6-foot-6 box is standard on the Double Cab models, while the Regular Cab versions, with no back seat or rear doors, can be fitted with the 6-foot-6 or 8-foot bed.
Engine choices include a 4.3-liter V-6, 5.3-liter V-8, and 6.2-liter V-8.
Our Centennial Edition -- the Z71 off-road model – came with standard four-wheel drive, the 5.3-liter V-8 engine, short cargo box, and the Silverado’s new eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 5.3-liter engine is the Ecotec Flex-Fuel V-8, which comes with an aluminum block, cylinder deactivation, and ratings of 355 horsepower and 383 foot-pounds of torque. Cylinder deactivation cuts out four of the cylinders during level highway cruising to improve gas mileage.
The Silverado Crew Cab’s full-size rear doors open to the rear to allow for easy passenger or cargo access to the rear seating area. The rear seat has a 60/40 split-folding arrangement so it can be moved out of the way to accommodate cargo that you might want to carry inside, out of the weather (such as your groceries, or the box carrying your new big-screen TV).
High-tech safety features were included on our truck with the Enhanced Driver-Alert Package ($945), which brought front and rear parking assist, Intellibeam headlights, lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, and a safety-alert seat that vibrates to warn of a potential forward collision.
Among standard features were moveable cargo tie-downs; LED lights for the cargo box; chrome exhaust tip; an underbody shield to help protect components from rocks and other off-road obstacles; front tow hooks; power/heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals; hill-start assist; front and rear body-color bumpers; and the EZ-Lift locking tailgate.
GM’s CornerStep bumper and built-in hand grips are included, to make it easier to step up into the bed. The EZ-Lift tailgate is better balanced to make it easier to raise or lower.
Also included were four-wheel antilock brakes with GM’s DuraLife brake rotors; electric power steering; a fully boxed hydro-formed frame; electronic stability control; a 4.2-inch color driver-information screen and 8-inch touch screen for audio/navigation ($495 extra); rearview camera system; and LED front fog lights.
OnStar is standard, and offers turn-by-turn navigation.
The cab is made of high-strength steel, and standard safety features include trailer-sway control and roof-mounted side-curtain air bags with rollover protection.
Our truck also came with the LTZ Plus Package ($800), which added power-adjustable pedals, a Bose audio system and a heated steering wheel; the power sunroof ($995); heated and vented front seats ($650); and a leather package ($510), which gave us leather-appointed front bucket seats and center console with USB ports and wireless phone charging. We had a jet-black leather interior.
A trailer brake controller ($275) was also included. Towing capacity is 11,700 pounds.
Also present were the updated Chevy MyLink connectivity system with built-in 4G LTE hot spot, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability.
The Enhanced Driver Alert system includes the GM Safety Alert Seat, which shakes under the driver to warn of an impending potential collision or other emergency situation. It’s rather disconcerting the first time the seat starts vibrating, but it’s a great safety feature.
Our truck included GM’s new dash warning and audible alert reminding the driver to check the back seat for babies or pets before getting out of the vehicle.
The Z71 package also includes an off-road suspension, two-speed transfer case, hill-descent control, auto-locking rear differential, and monotube Rancho shock absorbers.
The tester was configured for five passengers, and there was ample leg, knee, and headroom for adults in all of those seating positions. The front bucket seats were particularly comfortable.
There was no lack of power from the 5.3-liter engine, and the transmission shifted seamlessly. The suspension insulated us fairly well from road faults – including some light off-road trails with stream crossings.
Silverado’s overall safety score from the federal government testing program is five stars, the highest rating. It also received five stars for frontal and side crashes, and four stars for rollover protection.
Total sticker price for our 2018 Z71 Centennial Edition Crew Cab was $58,635, including freight and $8,150 in options and accessories.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Crew Cab LTZ Centennial Edition
The package: Full-size, Five-passenger, four-door, four-wheel-drive, V-8 powered, special edition, light-duty pickup truck.
Highlights: This is the special 100th anniversary edition of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab model, celebrating 100 years of Chevy trucks. It comes with a variety of standard features and a long list of options, including special “100” badging.
Negatives: Hard for short people to get into because no running boards are included.
Engine: 5.3-liter V-8.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 355 HP./383 foot-pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Length: 230 inches.
Curb weight: 5,299 pounds.
Cargo capacity (payload): 2,120 pounds.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain both rows.
Towing capacity: 11,700 pounds.
EPA fuel economy: 15 mpg city/20 highway/17 combined.
Fuel capacity/type: 26 gallons/regular unleaded.
Base price: $49,190, plus $1,295 freight and $3480 for the Centennial Edition Package.
Price as tested: $58,635, including freight and options (Z71 LTZ Crew Cab 4WD with Centennial Edition Package).
On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.