There’s something alluring about a base-model pickup—maybe it’s all the old Chevy C-10s, Ford F-100s, and assorted Dodge trucks we troll the internet for, or maybe it’s that modern trucks are pricier and more tech-laden than German luxury sedans. A 2015 Ford F-150 we ran through our How We’d Spec It online configurator test was a moderately equipped four-door that cost nearly $50,000. Having already rebelled against ever-climbing truck prices with our stripper F-150 build (under $30K!) and built a near-fifty-grand Silverado 1500, it’s time again for some cheap subversive action. Enter our latest base-model truck fantasy build, a 2015 Chevy Silverado Work Truck.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Regular Cab Short Box 2WD (base price: $27,300)
For just under $30,000, Chevy’s base Silverado comes in regular-cab “Work Truck” form that, like Ford’s base F-150, rocks black-colored plastic trim, steel wheels, and a standard vinyl bench seat. GM’s all-new 4.3-liter V-6 is included, and it makes a healthy 255 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque and even features cylinder deactivation and direct fuel injection. The cabin is austere but not a complete penalty box, with a four-speaker audio system with USB and auxiliary ports; a center fold-down armrest; a 3.5-inch driver-information display; power door locks; cruise control; and air conditioning. Sure, the floor is vinyl and the windows are manual windup types, but looking at it from a glass-half-full perspective, the thing’s easy to clean and you burn calories at every tollbooth and drive-thru.
Summit White ($0)
Dark Ash cloth seat upholstery with Jet Black accents ($0)
5.3-liter V-8 engine ($1095)
3.42:1 rear axle ratio ($0)
Trailering package ($770)
Rear window defogger ($175)
Borla cat-back exhaust ($1249)
If you’re a little confused looking at our choice of options, let us explain: Base trucks are awesome, and the base-er they are, the better. Also, being the lightest and most compact members of their respective families, short-box regular-cab pickups hold the greatest dollar-per-speed potential. Of course that ratio doesn’t make any sense at all, but what we’re trying to say is that there is a lot of performance to be had for not a lot of money when dredging the depths of the trim-level hierarchy.
As such, we immediately checked the box for the Silverado’s optional $1095 5.3-liter small-block V-8. The engine packs 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque—a hearty bump over the V-6’s 255 ponies and 305 lb-ft—and it sounds great. Next we grabbed the no-charge 3.42:1 rear axle ratio (stock is a taller, fuel-economy-oriented 3.08:1) for better off-the-line acceleration, as well as the $770 Trailering package for its trailer wiring harness, hitch, and automatic locking rear differential.
For some beautiful reason we won’t question here, Chevy offers an array of Borla cat-back exhaust systems on the option sheet. We selected the $1249 dual-side-outlet setup, which clusters a pair of tailpipes near the stock exhaust location. As enticing as dual exhausts poking out from below the rear bumper would be, we decided to keep our low-spec speed machine as sleepy-looking as possible. As such, we stuck with the oh-so-commercial Summit White paint; as cool as it is that the Silverado comes with a vinyl bench, we prefer not to stick to things in hot weather, so we swapped it for a cloth unit for no charge. Oh, and because we like to see out of our windows, we opted for the $175 rear window defogger.2015 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost 4×4 SuperCrew Tested: Ford’s Aluminum Gamble Pays Off 2015 Chevrolet Colorado V-6 4×4 Testing: Little Big Truck Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Research: Full Pricing, Specs, Reviews, Photos, and More
The Ford-versus-Chevy guys out there may have noticed that our unicorn base Silverado’s price tallies up to $30,778—a little over $1K more than the stripper F-150 we built to similar spec. The two are literally the same truck—V-8, rear-drive, manual crank windows, towing package—meaning the Chevy’s Borla exhaust is the difference-maker. Leave off the exhaust, and the Silverado Work Truck’s price dips below $30K. That said, the exhaust probably sounds sweet, and given how even a crew-cab, four-wheel-drive Silverado with the same V-8 we tested hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, the lightweight, cheater-axle-equipped Silverado pictured here should be even quicker. We just wish the manufacturers’ press fleets had trucks equipped this way, because we’re thinking a cheap-truck comparison test is in order . . .