Buying pre-owned is something we do a lot in our lives. We may not purchase used underwear—at least not all of us—but purchasing something pre-owned, like finding great used trucks for sale, is a savvy way to get yourself on the road in as little time as possible while keeping as much money in your wallet as possible.
Used pickup trucks are a fool-proof way to greatness, but with all the available pickup trucks on the used market, you may be wondering which one you should consider buying. There’s no denying some pickup trucks—like the Sierra 1500, F-150, or Silverado 1500—are all high-quality automobiles rich in admiration. However, today, I want to focus only on the latter: the Chevy Silverado 1500. This is one of the best-selling vehicles—not just pickups, but vehicles—and, after spending some time with a Silverado, you’ll be reminded why Chevy is one of history’s greatest automakers.
If we’re to look at used Silverado 1500s, we should at least expand our horizons a bit, focusing not only on models from the last few years but on the experience you can expect from something much older. The Silverado has been in the market for nearly three decades, which means if you’re to visit a Chevy dealership, there’s no doubt you’ll find at least two dozen Silverado 1500s on their lot. (This particular model is not to be confused with its larger siblings, the Silverado HD series, which includes the Silverado 2500 HD and Silverado 3500 HD.)
Today’s discussion will focus solely on the Silverado 1500 because that’s what most people will likely find themselves driving, since it’s plenty powerful for day-to-day usage. Let’s take a deeper dive in, shall we?
Performance at the Right Price
For several reasons, the latest Silverado 1500 is a great proposition for buyers looking to own a brand-new truck, but if you want to save money, you can still secure similar performance by buying a used model. I’m not saying every pre-owned Silverado performs like the latest model, but there are numerous similarities between the newest 2024 Silverado 1500 and the others released in its generation.
The Silverado 1500s on this list include those between 2019 and 2023, though they have differed quite noticeably over the years. For instance, at the beginning of this spectrum, the 2019 Silverado 1500 comes standard with a 4.3L V6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission; this powertrain is also found on the 2020 and 2021 trucks. The 2022 Silverado dropped the 4.3L V6 engine, however, and replaced it with a 2.7L Turbo I-4 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Thanks to this new base powertrain, the maximum towing capacity of base Silverado 1500s was promoted from 7,900 to 9,500 lbs.
Does this leave a bad look for used Silverados that utilize the older V6 engine? Not at all, and that’s because these models can be found at lower and often less egregious prices owing to their age and smaller performance footnote. However, if you don’t need more than 7,900 lbs of towing and want to get your foot into the door, one of these older used Silverado 1500s is a recommendation I can confidently deliver.
However, if you disregard the 4.3L V6 engine, the older models are left with powertrains reminiscent of later and more current models, like the aforementioned 2.7L Turbo I-4 engine, along with 5.3L and 6.2L V8 engines. It’s easy to find a used Silverado 1500 that performs more similarly to the newer models with one of these upgraded powertrains. Given the price disparity between the base WT and the other trims, you’ll still be paying less than you would for a new vehicle because of the beauty—or curse, depending on how you look at it—of depreciation.
One last footnote before we move on to some older Silverado examples. How does an older Silverado 1500 within the current generation do when stacked up against the latest model in towing-related performance at the higher end of the powertrain scale? The 2024 Silverado 1500 can tow a maximum of 13,300 lbs with either the 6.2L V8 engine or the turbo-diesel I-6 engine. It’s worth noting Silverado 1500s north of 2020 offer a 3.0L turbo-diesel powertrain, which meets the higher-end V8 engines in regards to towing performance—as you can tell—but diesel engines are generally more fuel-efficient, which is the case here, too. Models before the turbo-diesel engine—like the 2019 model—were competent, too, with the 2019 Silverado 1500 achieving a towing capacity of 12,200 lbs.
Who Knew It’d Be This Easy?
As we progress further into the 2020s, some people may start to scoff at the idea of anything a decade or older. NEWS FLASH: Ten years ago wasn’t 2003, it was 2013. Placing yourself in the shoes of someone in 2013 shopping for a new Silverado, their perception of a ten-year-old Silverado 1500 is a truck that offers a 4.3L V6 engine, much like the newest model at the time, the 2014 Silverado. Unlike the 2014 Silverado 1500, the 2004 model’s V6 engine only outputs 200 hp, while if you wanted more, you had an optional 5.3L V8 engine that raised your output to 285 hp.
By the time the 2014 Silverado 1500 launched, the 2004 model was left in the dust for a few reasons—one being that the 285 hp previously only available to the 5.3L V8 engine was now hand-me-downed to the 4.3L V6 engine, while the 5.3L V8 engine saw an increase to 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The 2004 Silverado 1500 couldn’t tow more than 8,600 lbs, while the 2014 Silverado 1500’s towing capacity went on to push over 12,000 lbs. The disparity between the two is stark, so how does the 2014 Silverado 1500 compare against the newest 2024 model? Does a ten-year difference mean as much as it used to?
The difference between the 2014 and 2024 Silverado 1500 comes down to a few things, but the most notable differences are technology and base-level performance. The base 2014 Silverado 1500 pushes 285 hp, like I said, while the 2024 model’s 2.7L Turbo I-4 engine outputs 310 hp; this is only a 9% difference. The Silverado 1500 now comes with 430 lb-ft of torque, which is a stark upgrade over the 305 lb-ft of torque of the 2014 model; this was a change first seen in the 2022 Silverado 1500, while the 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque from the 4.3L V6 engine was also present until then.
The 2014 Silverado could only tow 7,600 lbs, which is 20% less than the base Silverado 1500 of 2024. However, this difference thins out once we bring in the 12,000-lb towing capacity for the 2014 model I mentioned earlier and compare it against the 13,300 lbs the 2024 Silverado 1500 can tow at max; this is only an 11% difference. So, really, if you go back ten years, you’d be saving a boatload of money while getting comparable performance specs—slightly smaller, sure, but of far greater value in terms of dollars to digits.
The Time to Shop
Now is a great time to purchase your used Chevy Silverado. Drivers on a budget who want something strong that doesn’t feel cheap are left with few options if shopping for a new vehicle, but pre-owned models allow you to step into the premium Chevy experience at non-premium prices.
Shopping for the higher-end models? I’ve mentioned that a ten-year difference only made 11% of a difference in maximum towing capacity, but it made a 39% leap between the 2004 and 2014 model years. This proves that saving some money on an older—but not egregiously older—Silverado 1500 while obtaining performance still in today’s ballpark performance estimates is becoming a better option as time goes on, and now is a better time to buy than it has been in a long time.