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A 4x4 truck, also known as a four-wheel-drive truck (4WD), is one in which the car's engine powers all four wheels evenly. The significant benefits of a 4x4 truck vs. a 4x2 trucks are good traction in rain or snow and the ability to drive off-road. Four-wheel-drive is similar to all-wheel-drive (AWD) because, in both cases, the engines supply power with the drivetrain to all four wheels. Four-wheel-drive differs from AWD in that AWD was created more for speed and handling, while 4x4 was designed for off-road use. Disadvantages of 4x4 may be a more complicated drivetrain system and increased vehicle weight, resulting in less fuel efficiency.
Is the Chevy Silverado a 4x4 truck?
Current model Chevy Silverado trucks offer buyers the option of a four-wheel-drive or a two-wheel-drive across all models and configurations. Those Silverados with 4WD operate in 2WD most of the time, allowing the driver to set the 4WD feature to engage automatically or to engage 4WD manually. So, the answer is that some Chevy Silverado trucks are 4x4, and those that are 4x4 operate in 4x2 until 4x4 is engaged.
The Longer Answer
The Chevrolet Silverado was first introduced as a light pickup truck in 1999. The second generation, which was introduced in 2007, was the first to offer either 2WD or 4WD.
Currently, the Chevy Silverado comes in three models: the 1500, 2500 HD, and 3500 HD. Both the 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 and Silverado 2500 HD offer an option for either 2WD or 4WD across all configurations. The Silverado 3500 HD also offers both options across all configurations. However, some configurations offer a choice of four drive types: 2WD with a single rear wheel, 2WD with a double rear wheel, 4WD with a single rear wheel, and 4WD with a double rear wheel.
For example, the Chevy Silverado 1500 offers four configurations: regular cab, long bed; double cab, standard bed; crew cab, short bed; and crew cab, standard bed. For any of these configurations, the buyer may choose 2WD or 4WD. Likewise, the Silverado 2500 HD offers these configurations: regular cab, long bed; double cab, long bed; double cab, standard bed; crew cab, long bed; crew cab, standard bed. With any of these configurations, the buyer has the option for 4x4.
The Silverado 3500 HD offers four configurations: regular cab, long bed; double cab, long bed; crew cab, standard bed; and crew cab, long bed. While all offer either 2WD or 4WD, the long bed options also offer choices of either double or single rear wheels. Dual-rear-wheels (DRW), also known as dually, provide more towing capacity.
Costs and Benefits
Because 4WD is a drivetrain system that directly powers all four wheels evenly, it is designed for those times when traction and stability are essential. Four wheels have twice the traction of two. 4WD is particularly useful in navigating snowy or wet roads, rocky terrain, or mud. Adventurers who want to use the vehicles off-road will find 4WD to be critical. In many cases, 4WD vehicles also have a higher resale value than 2WD vehicles.
Generally speaking, however, the 4x4 option in each configuration is more expensive than the 4x2 alternative. For example, a 2020 Silverado 2500 HD, crew cab, long bed with 4WD, V8 direct-injection engine, and standard options might cost $43,395, while the same vehicle with 2WD might cost $40,595. A 2020 Silverado 1500 with regular cab, long bed with 4WD, a V6 engine, and standard options might cost $29,195, while the same vehicle with 2WD might cost $24,595.
The 4x4 option adds some weight to the vehicle, which could affect fuel economy. Many insurers also charge more to insure 4x4 vehicles than 2x4 ones. Even though 4x4 vehicles provide more traction and stability insurers believe that drivers will count on this increased traction and operate the truck more recklessly.
In short, the benefits of a 4x4 Silverado over a 2x4 would be:
- better traction and stability
- better offroad capability
- better in bad weather
- higher resale value
To summarize, the disadvantages are:
- higher sales price
- higher insurance cost
- lower fuel economy
As with any purchase, a consumer would consider benefits and costs. Someone who lives in a Southern state and doesn't plan to drive off-road may find the benefits of 4x4 don't justify the extra cost. On the other hand, someone who lives in the snowy Northeast and also enjoys going off-road may discover that the benefits of 4x4 far outweigh the additional costs.
In those Silverados with a 4x4 drivetrain, the driver determines when to engage 4WD. Drivers that don't need 4x4 continually can set the truck to engage 4x4 automatically when required. The truck then will initiate 4x4 if the front-wheels slip to provide extra traction.
To engage the 4WD manually, drivers use a drive dial in the truck to change from 2WD to 4WD high or 4WD low. Drivers should use 4WD high only when absolutely necessary to get out of a rough spot because if left on too long, this mode can damage the truck. A driver must be going slower than 35 mph to initiate this 4WD high mode.
To switch to 4WD low from 4WD high, drivers change the gear ratio. They press down on the brake to shift to neutral and come to a full stop. They, then, remove the foot from the brake, but keep it off the gas while turning the dial to 4WD low. This change turns off traction control and gives the driver more control. To switch back to 4WD high, the driver completes the process again in reverse.
Future of the Silverado
The future of the automotive industry includes autonomous and electric vehicles. The Silverado is no exception.
General Motors will be adding its Super Cruise semi-autonomous system to full-size trucks, including the Silverado 4x4 over the next two years. Vehicles with this technology automatically change lanes once an opening is found after the driver has signaled, and adapt cruise control based upon maintaining the appropriate distance from the vehicle in front. Drivers also may take their hands off the wheel when driving on compatible highways. Currently, about 200,000 miles of roads in the United States and Canada are compatible with this technology.
General Motors also has confirmed that a full-size electric truck, like the Silverado 4x4, will appear soon, but the automaker hasn't decided whether to call it the Silverado or not. GM also has not determined how much of the Silverado's physical characteristics will carry over into the new model. The vehicle will have GM's BEV3 dedicated electric vehicle architecture and use Ultium fast-charging batteries. The truck is expected to retail for about $60,000. Although the timeline isn't firm, 2025 has been mentioned.
Replacing internal combustion engines with electric ones may make offroading more exciting. Electric 4x4 trucks provide instant torque at any speed in ways that can't be matched by conventional engines. Because electric vehicles do not have intakes, they can potentially drive through high water or even under a river. Solar-powered chargers, which are also expected to be available soon, could exist even in the desert. Electric 4x4 trucks, such as the Silverado or its descendant, could then be recharged even in remote areas.
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