1998 Chevrolet K1500 Review
Apple pie and hot dogs.
Chevrolet's C/K pickups are available in three sizes, or duty ranges: 1500, 2500 and 3500. Regular cabs and extended cabs are available in all three ranges, but the four-door crew cab is offered only in the 3500 size. Extended cab trucks can be ordered with a third door, which opens on the passenger side and allows easier access to the rear seat. There are two cargo bed lengths, 6.5 and 8.0 feet. The shorter length is available in Chevy's stylish Sportside body with a narrower bed flanked by protruding fenders and steps.
Three trim levels are available: bare bones W/T (for Work Truck), Cheyenne and Silverado. (GMC's are SL, SLE and SLT.) Four-wheel drive is available for all models. (C/K, by the way, stands for the drive configuration. A C1500 is 2WD, a K1500 is 4WD. Few people remember that, so the C/K designation is expected to be dropped next year.) For super heavy-duty hauling, dual rear wheels are available on the 3500 series.
Engine choices are plentiful. All the gasoline engines are called Vortec, for the technology applied to their intake, fuel injection and engine management systems. The base engine is a 4.3-liter V6 with a balance shaft for smoother running; it's a willing runner and makes an impressive 200 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque -- more than the V8s of just a few years ago. The next step up is a 5.0-liter V8, with 230 hp and 285 lb.-ft. of torque -- more than enough for most light- to medium-duty work. Then comes the 5.7-liter V8, a real worker with 255 hp and 330 lb.-ft. of torque -- this is probably the best all-around choice for most buyers, especially those who will be pulling medium-weight trailers. Above that is the big tuna, the 7.4-liter V8 with 290 hp and 410 lb.-ft. of torque -- if this big block, as it's known, doesn't get the job done, you don't have an engine problem, you have a personality disorder. There are also a couple of 6.5-liter V8 turbodiesels: The normal duty version is rated at 180 hp and 360 lb.-ft. of torque, while the heavy duty version is rated at 195 hp and a rock-hauling 430 lb.-ft. of torque.
Five-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions are available. All Chevy and GMC full-size pickups are fitted with anti-lock brakes (ABS) as standard equipment. All but the heaviest trucks (more than 8600 pounds GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) have GM's Next Generation airbags for both driver and front-seat passenger. The optional four-wheel drive is a shift-on-the-fly type that allows engagement from 2WD to 4WD while under way.
Our Chevy fell somewhere in the great middle ground: An extended cab 1500, with 2WD, 5.7-liter V8, automatic transmission and Silverado trim level. Not the biggest, not the smallest, but one of the more popular and we liked it. It offers a GVWR of 6800 pounds and a trailer towing capacity of 7000 pounds.
Most people choose the automatic transmission, which we recommend for full-size pickups. Modern automatics are smooth and reliable and eliminate the cost of replacing worn synchronizers, gears and clutches.
Facing the driver is an instrument panel that's easy to use and convenient. Ventilation is handled well, instruments are easy to read, and all controls are within reach and work logically. There are plenty of places for odds and ends and the clever cupholder doesn't get in the way of any controls.
Behind the driver is a bench seat that takes three, but they'll be happier if the trip doesn't cross too many state lines. The rear seat flips up, leaving a nice, flat floor for stowing an ice chest or tool box. Not all extended cab pickups offer the convenience of flat floors in the rear, and stowing a tool box in one with curvy floors is a real hassle.
The third door increases versatility and enhances access to the rear for tossing in things or giving access to passengers or pooches. It can't be opened unless the regular door on that side is opened first, a logical safety feature. The third door is one of those features of modern life that has caught on in a big way, like the fourth door on minivans, and now we can't imagine getting a full-size extended cab pickup without it.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 1998 Chevrolet K1500, click here: 1998 Chevrolet K1500.