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Anyone who has tried to finesse a full-size truck through a thick forest, down a twisting trail or even around a crowded parking lot will appreciate the new Quadrasteer option available on some 2003 Chevrolet Silverado pickups. A steering rack on the rear axle controls the direction of the back wheels, steering them in a direction opposite the front wheels at low speeds, and in the same direction at highway speeds. The low-speed operation cuts the Silverado’s turning circle to a compact-sedan-like 37 feet, while the high-speed function increases stability during lane changes and other maneuvers.

A Trailer Puller’s Dream
We found the low-speed mode particularly helpful, as the smaller turning circle made this long-wheelbase truck more nimble than it used to be. If you pull a trailer, you’ll like how the rear-steer feels on the highway, but be prepared to practice backing up to get the hang of how the rear-steer moves the trailer tongue around. Great innovations usually come at a price, however, and Quadrasteer is no exception. The “4-Wheel Steering Package” on the Silverado pickup we drove cost $5,715. Granted, that included heavy-duty trailering gear, a limited-slip rear differential and other equipment, but it’s still a lot of money.

Quadrasteer’s expanded availability (an option on 1500-Series extended-cab and Heavy Duty crew-cab models) is one of 40 changes Chevrolet made for 2003. Many of them-dual-zone climate controls, extra radio and computer buttons on the steering wheel, optional XM Satellite Radio-make driving easier and perhaps more comfortable, but they raise the truck’s price without really improving its functionality. Luckily the truck’s basic equipment doesn’t need a lot of improvement.

The 5.3-liter Vortec V-8 is strong. Chevy’s Autotrac transfer case offers a wide range of drive modes, including 2WD, full-time 4WD, and part-time 4WD in either high or low range. The independent front suspension gives the truck a smooth highway ride, and it does a good job of soaking up the bumps off-pavement.

In fact, one of the Chevy truck’s strongest attributes is its ride comfort. GM’s chassis engineers have tuned the truck’s ride and handling to be tops in its class, making this a favorite for long-distance traveling.