The year 1999 was a major one for Chevrolet . In this year, the company has launched on the market its completely redesigned C/K pickup and gave it a true identity.
The first generation Silverado was born from Chevrolet’s desire to come up with a better pickup, but the main problem was that the old truck was already a hot seller, so the new one needed to be at least as good as its processor.
In the end, Chevrolet ’s gamble with the Silverado paid off and the new truck was a huge success. It had stronger engines, a better ride and also superior handling abilities. For its time, the Silverado was among the most luxurious trucks from the streets, yet its exterior design was still a half step behind the main rivals from Ford or Dodge.
Between the 1999 Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra was a strong bound as Chevrolet and GM offered parallel lineups and except for a few exterior details and some unique features, the two models were basically the same.
The old Chevrolet trucks look more or less the same and the exterior modifications between generations are pretty limited. The Silverado makes no exception and comes with a conservative look that won’t win you any beauty awards.
Yet the purposeful stance of the vehicle copes great with its utilitarian nature and in this regard, the 1999 Chevrolet Silverado’s style won’t disappoint anyone.
Thanks to a shiny horizontal bar that traverses the radiator grille and the headlights, the Silverado’s front end looks pretty unique.
The rest of the body is pretty clean without any spectacular side creases to break up the monotony. Yet, the hood received a few shy cresses which manage to make the Silverado look less dull.
The front bumper continues the conventional style initiated by the rest of the body and it’s fitted with a small air intake and a pair of chunky fog lamps.
Compared to the old models, the 1999 Chevrolet Silverado’s bodies were about 9 inches longer, while the wheelbase grew by 1.5 inches for regular-cab models and 2 inches for extended cabs.
The vehicle was also offered with a standard right side third door and both body styles were available with 6 foot or 8.1 foot load beds.
In the late 90s, the pickups interior design wasn’t exactly at its peak. Hence the Silverado’s cabin was pretty dull, looking shockingly close to the one of its predecessor. Most of the plastics were also part of the hard class, but some quality materials still surfaced, making the Silverado’s cab, one of the most welcoming environments in its class. There were also a lot of amenities designed to make your life on board easier such as power windows and other useful features.
The cabin offers plenty of space with enough head and leg room for both the front and rear occupants. The vehicle is fitted with a standard third door on the latter which helps you to get in and out of the rear seats easier.
The instrument cluster and the center dash are all part of the same block, which is slightly wrapped around the driver, offering easy access to the wide sea of controls.
Most if the switchgear is located fairly intuitive, but we find the cluttered instrument cluster a bit confusing.
The driver’s seat comes with a wide range of adjustments and offers proper back and under thigh support, being comfortable for both long and short trips. The rear bench is also pretty comfortable and can be folded to offer extra storage space. On the other hand, the steering wheel looks pretty dull and is too thin to offer a confident grab.
As most pickups of its type, the Chevrolet Silverado rewards you with an excellent road visibility, thanks to the generous glass area that surrounds you. The plate sized door mirrors are also up to the task and keep you well informed at any time.
Storage was at par with what you’d usually get in this segment, with enough cubbies and consoles to make justice to the utilitarian nature of the truck.
Engines and performance
The entire range of engines was upgraded and the 1999 Chevrolet Silverado came with a new family of Vortec V8 units which develop more power and torque over a flatter curve. Chevrolet has also kept the old 4.3 liter V6 and the 6.5 liter V8 turbo, but added a few tweaks to make them more performant.
The base engine was the old a 4.3-liter V6, while the previous 5.0 liter and 5.7 liter V8 units were replaced with 4.8 and 5.3 liter V8s which offered extra 25 hp and 15 hp, respectively.
The 1999 Chevrolet Silverado was offered with both manual and automatic transmissions. To cope better with the utilitarian nature of the truck, the automatic transmission was fitted with a Tow/Haul mode that reduced shifting under heavy loads.
Moreover, the 1999 Chevrolet Silverado was the first pickup to offer an optional Autotrac four wheel drive. This system could’ve been engaged and locked in 4WD at any time, also offering the possibility to automatically engage when the wheels needed a better grip.
Ride and handling
Viewed from outside the Silverado may not look like much of a deal, compared to its predecessor, but under the skin the truck’s upgrades shine like a gem.
The 1999 Silverado received a new three section frame which is lighter and stiffer that the one from the old C/K. It’s also safer and offers a quiet drive combined with a more comfortable ride. Another innovative system offered by the Silverado was the adjustable ride control, which allowed the driver to switch between two levels of shock-absorber firmness. However, don’t expect to any plush driving experience, as the Silverado still remains a true work horse, especially engineered to deal with heavy jobs without whining.
The old C/K’s steering was also revised and a new rack and pinion system was available on models with GVWRs (gross vehicle weight ratings) smaller than 6500 pounds. The stopping power was nothing short of excellent, as the vehicle was fitted with standard four-wheel disc antilock brakes.
The first generation Chevrolet Silverado brought a lot of new things on the table and thanks to its wide range of technological upgrades it managed to occupy a leader position among pickups. Though, the exterior design wasn’t something to rave about and the cabin looked pretty dull.
The engines however, were fairly capable and the ride was one of the best in its class. Overall, the truck had pretty civilized road manners and was also a decent off roader.