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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm getting interested in purchasing a new Chevy Silverado SWB regular cab for moderate off-road - no jeep trails, but ranch rutted ranch roads in northern Mexico and national forest service roads in the Appalachians. I'm just a few years away from retirement so big expensive crew cabs are out, both for price and size.

Chevy SWB here in Texas are selling new for around $23,000 - that's with AT, 4.3 liter V-6, locker and skid plate. The question is - does the small six have enough stuff for what I want to do? I owned a SWB 2wd six, standard, about 10 years back and it was great, but a lighter vehicle. Should I go to the 4.8 liter V-8? The 4.8 liter with towing package goes for $25,000-26,000. Are there reliability issues with either engine? I've never owned an automatic - how will it work for slow speed rutted dirt trails?

An alternative - there's a 6 cyl SWB 5 spd, year 2007, low miles listed for sale in NC, $16,500. I still prefer new to get the warranty. FWIW I already have a Jeep Liberty 4wd with 6 spd.

Thanks for all your comments and suggestions.

Gene,
Brownsville, Texas
 

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First of all, I have to say I have no experience with the new Chevy's but anyhow here goes...

WARNING : Long rant ahead!

I've done a bit of off-roading with my '88 SWB stepside Chevy. The first year with the IFS. It's been converted to the old 6.2 l diesel engine, but otherwise stock. It does have the "off-road kit" Z71. (Two small skid plates.)

I've gotten it stuck a forest trail once in a fearly easy conditions. And with that run I also got my exhaust bent and transmission lines cut. So, so much for that Z71 kit... ...but as for power? There never was a lack of that, even with the old 6.2 l diesel. - And that is NOT a powerful engine. It is quite fuel efficient and reliable, but not powerful.

But that was with the old "bus tyres". I got a new set of Bridgestone A/Ts (I drive mostly on road, so no M/Ts for me thanks), and that made ALL the difference! The tyres are a bit larger than stock (285/75 R 16), but thats all. I drove the same trail in similar conditions with no problems at all.

So, my point is that yes the V6 will have power enough for off-roading. It's propably not as good for pulling loads or drag racing off the lights as a V8, but for off-roading yes. Specially with automatic transmission. With manual, you might concider lowering gearing ratios, specially with larger tyres. - And on the subject of tyres. THEY make or brake the off-roading experience. I've actually tried the same trail with Jeep Wrangler (TJ) with no success on regular GoodYear Wranglers, even with anything semi-decent like BFGoodrich M/Ts it was no problem.

Back on the subject of transmissions. Automatics are GREAT for off-roading. You can apply power very smoothly to climb a small obstacle. The trade off is going downhill. Some automatics don't give you enough engine braking even on 4WD-LO. But that shouldn't be an issue on new automatics. Also you might want to concider a proper transmission (oil)cooler if you're doing any serious off-roading. It is heat that kills an automatic. I have one in my Chevy, as it was used for towing heavy boats before I got it. The Jeep Wrangler I had was manual, and it was a pain crawling in the forest with it. Even with regular sized tyres and 4WD-LO, you still had to smoke the clutch if starting agains an obstacle.

As for your choises. I'd go for the newer V6 automatic, definately. It will have enough power! The stock skid plates are a joke, and stock lockers are usually just friction thingies. BUT my Jeep didn't have any skid plates (and never broke anything under the car), and my Chevy doesn't have any locker (and never got stuck, that a locker would have prevented). So even the stock ones are nice additions.
 

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that was a nice rant there tug :thumbsup:

I agree, I have a 4.3l in my buggy and its a very solid motor

FYI a stock chevy locker is mechanical and not a limited slip
the down fall is they take a rotation to lock but when they do its solid like a spool, if you have one tire off the ground it will still give 100% power to both
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the comments.

Tug and Double Duece,

Thanks for the comments. It sounds the the v-6 would be my engine, as I want this for slow speed off-road travel. The main issue right now, just like everyone else, is scraping together enough cash for a good downpayment. The are a lot of 2009 v-6's SWB on dealer lots right now. I noticed the 4.3 v-6 has 3.73 rear end, and the 4.8 3.42. So I'm favoring the v-6. The step up to 5.3 v-8 is usually around $3,000 as they tend to be have more upscale options.

One more question, for anyone - how is the ground clearance on the newer Chevy SWB? The front end looks quite low, but the air dam can come off.

Thanks for the comments.

Gene,
Brownsville, Texas
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
New (old) 2004 SWB Silverado v-8 5 spd

A long time in between posts. Just took delivery of a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado 4.8 V-8, 5 spd. It has skid plates, G80, and 3.73 rear drive ratio. The vehicle came from Pennsylvania, I'm in South Texas. It does look like I'll have to clean some rust off the frame. Body sheet metal is in excellent condition. Here's a pic:

http://www.pbase.com/lahuasteca/image/145307446.jpg
 
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