The bond between Isuzu and GM continues to be pretty strong and the companies still share rebadged trucks and pickups between them. Even is the success of this business isn’t brilliant and Isuzu’s rebadged i-Series pickup didn’t managed to conquer a lot of hearts, the companies are ready to move one.
Unfortunately, the Chevrolet W-Series medium seems to share the same bad karma with the Chevrolet T-Series whose unsuccessful lead to its premature death in 2009.
With only two months after the N Series was launched in Japan, Chevrolet introduced the W Series in US but shortly after, in January 2009 the American company decided to wind-down its medium-duty truck operations.
The Chevrolet W Series was offered with both single and crew cab configurations in Class 3 (W3500), Class 4 (W4500), Class 5 (W5500), and class 5 (W5500) versions.
The Chevrolet W Series shares the same exterior design with the Isuzu N Series. Unlike most of the American trucks which come with a conventional cab configuration, the Chevrolet W Series features a cab over engine construction which helps it deal better with the narrow city streets.
The overall design is pretty modern and we like the unique radiator grille which comes with a nice shiny treatment.
The front lights are placed vertically and the upper part is slightly raked forming a sharp design which gives the vehicle a distinctive look.
The bumper comes with a basic design, but has a solid construction, being able to resist to small impacts without breaking down.
The cab is fitted with a wide, panoramic windscreen and the lower part of the lateral windows is sloped to improve the side visibility.
The doors are fitted with large grab handles and you can climb inside easy using a set of convenient footsteps.
The 2008 cab was completely redesigned and the new generation W Series has moved to a much boxier structure, which offers more interior space.
All Chevrolet W Series trucks now come standard with power steering, power windows, and power door locks.
Thanks to the low ground clearance and the wide opening doors (90 degree). Once inside you are “welcomed” by a pretty rugged and rudimentary design.
Needless to say that the plastics are part of the hard class and the materials are also pretty cheap. Fortunately, the build quality is better than expected and the cab is ready to endure the punishment of harsh jobs with dignity.
Most of the controls are placed within easy reach and we also like the instrument cluster which is fitted with big, easy o read gauges.
The dashboard is flat permitting you to store various items on its neat surface. There is also a convent glove box and a set of useful door pockets. Other storage compartments can be found above the head and behind the seats.
Vision from the driver’s seat is good in all directions, and the elevated seating position that the Chevrolet W Series has to offer allows a far superior view in traffic.
We also like the standard jump seats, which come with a host of useful adjustments and features such as three-point seatbelt, adjustable vertical shock-absorbers, integrated heat restraint and dual-stage air lumbar with lateral support. For enhanced comfort the steering wheel features tilt and telescopic adjustments.
Engines and performance
The 2008 Chevrolet W Series was available with a new Isuzu 5.3 liter inline four cylinder turbocharged diesel engine.
The new engine provides a maximum output of 205 hp @ 2900 and 441 lb.ft @ 1850 of torque, meeting the 2007 EPA emission standards. The 5.2L diesel unit is equipped with a standard fuel/water separator that is heated with returned fuel and features a dash-mounted warning lamp. This separator warns the driver when water is present in the fuel filter and needs to be drained, which helps prevent vehicle downtime and supports a more efficient operation.
To reduce emissions, the diesel engine uses an advanced exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system and a variable geometry turbocharger.
When equipped with the 5.3 liter engine, the truck was offered with either a standard Isuzu 6-speed manual, or an optional Aisin six-speed automatic transmission.
Besides the new Isuzu engine, the Chevrolet W Series was offered with GM’s 6.0 liter gasoline V8 engine which is available for the W3500 and W4500 models. The V8 cranks out 325 hp and 360 lb.ft of torque and is mated on a Hydra Matic four speed automatic transmission. For increased efficiency, the V8 unit can be also modified to run on either LPG or CNG.
Ride and handling
The Chevrolet W Series comes with front multi leaf springs suspensions with double acting shock absorbers and rear multi leaf springs.
The truck offers a pretty forgivable ride even when it’s unladen, but it can be felt a pretty accentuated floating effect at higher speeds.
The handling however, is fairly predictable and the standard power assisted steering offers a decent road feedback and permits you to maneuver the truck well at both low and high speeds.
The standard safety features include ABS, Anti-Skid Regulator (ASR), Hill Start Aid (HSA) and driver airbag.
The upgraded Chevrolet W Series was more spacious than the old model, but the revamped cabin was still a half step behind, when it comes to comfort.
The materials were also pretty cheap, but the build quality was strong and the safety features were almost at par with what you’d usually find in this segment.
The ride was also fairly good and the steering offered enough feedback to keep you satisfied. We don’t have any significant complains about the diesel engines either, and even the V8 gasoline unit was pretty efficient for its time. The main advantage however was the relatively low price, as the truck offered a lot of value for its money.