The Chevrolet Silverado is one of the best-selling vehicles in America, so when it comes to redesigning such an icon, there needs to be enough of a fresh factor to bring in new customers, while retaining enough of the current model to keep a very large base happy. After spending a day with the updated full-size pickup truck, it seems that Silverado designers and engineers struck a balance, and this new truck should have something for everyone — current and new customers alike.
Larger and Lighter
The new Silverado is longer and wider than its predecessor, which means more passenger space as well as more cargo room. Through an extensive use of mixed materials, engineers were able to lighten Silverado by an impressive 450 pounds, with 88 pounds of that coming off the body. The doors, hood and tailgate are made from aluminum to make them easier to move, while the fenders, roof and bed are steel for durability.
Exterior styling, particularly up front, is the most noticeable change for the 2019 Silverado. The grille is larger, flanked by sleeker, narrow headlights. Silverado also gets signature LED running lights; however, in an unusual move, they are below the headlights rather than the typical wraparound. Chevrolet now uses the truck’s grille to differentiate among trims — some carry the bowtie, while others have Chevrolet spelled out.
In a move that seems a bit inconsistent, some trims have the Silverado name at the top of the front quarter panels, while others show either the trim name (High Country) or suspension package (Z71). At the rear, Silverado has the Chevrolet name embossed into the tailgate. Unfortunately, in some colors the name can be hard to see. The large gold Chevy Bowtie on the previous generation is easier to identify from a distance — a subtle quibble, but also a loss of instantaneous, subconscious brand recognition.
Chevrolet has endeavored to make the ordering process a bit simpler for 2019, but there are still hundreds of configurations available. Silverado offers eight different trims, ranging from the basic Work Truck to the luxurious and powerful High Country. Prices start at $29,795 for the 2WD Regular Cab Work Truck. Chevrolet has also added a few new trims for 2019: the Trail Boss and RST.
With the 2019 Silverado, Chevrolet introduces a new off-road trim called Trail Boss. Available as Custom or LT, the Trail Boss gets the Z71 Off-Road Package that includes a 2-inch suspension lift, a locking rear differential, skidplates, Rancho shocks, 18-inch wheels and Good Year Duratrac off-road tires. The Trail Boss is available with 4WD only and starts at $40,995.
For those who want a sporty look to their Silverado, Chevrolet offers the new RST variant. With a starting price of $40,295, the RST features body-color trim, full LED lighting and the truck can be equipped with 22-inch wheels.
Under the Hood
The Silverado 1500 is available with a variety of powertrains, ranging from a new turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant to V8 options with dynamic fuel management. There will also be a fuel-efficient diesel available; however, details about this new engine have not been released.
The 4.3-liter V6 powers the Work Truck, Custom and Custom Trail Boss. This proven engine carries over from the previous generation, providing 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque. Even though this is the most basic powerplant available, trucks equipped with this powerful V6 have tow ratings as much as 8,000 pounds. The 4.3-liter V6 is teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
New Turbo Engine
A new 2.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine powers the LT and RST, generating an impressive 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque. Fuel-economy numbers have not been released; however, this unit should be quite fuel efficient. This new four cylinder will be paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The LT Trail Boss and LTZ get the updated 5.3-liter V8 rated at 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet has introduced Dynamic Fuel Management on this powertrain, which not only shuts off half the cylinders while cruising (as it has in the past), but can now close down a varying fraction of the cylinders, all the way down to just two. We had a chance to monitor cylinder deactivation and were amazed to see how often and quickly the cylinder configuration can change under different loads, while the driver has no indication that anything unusual is happening under the hood — as it should be. Fuel-economy numbers are quite good for a large V8 truck: 17 mpg city / 23 mpg highway / 19 mpg combined. In our drive we regularly saw mid-20s on the trip computer.
Most Powerful V8
The top-level High Country gets the most powerful V8 Chevrolet offers — a 6.2-liter V8 boasting 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. This engine is also equipped with innovative Dynamic Fuel Management, rated as high as 20 mpg on the highway. The big V8 also provides Silverado with a 12,200-pound towing capacity. Chevrolet’s 10-speed automatic is standard with the 6.2-liter V8.
The new Silverado features a more spacious interior than its predecessor, thanks to the overall larger size of the truck. Front seats are big and comfortable with cloth or leather trim and — depending on the trim level — can be heated, along with the steering wheel.
Although not the largest screen in the segment, Silverado’s touchscreen display is clear and easy to read with an intuitive navigation. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, as is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
Most Silverados sold will be the 4-door crew cab configuration, which provides a rather spacious rear area for up to three passengers. The flat floor means plenty of legroom, and even the middle seat is usable. Outboard seats can also be heated. Two USB outlets are available for rear-seaters.
The 2019 Silverado possesses plenty of extra storage located within the rear seats. The seat bottoms can be raised to reveal a hidden storage bin, and additional storage is accessed through the rear seatbacks.
The paramount reason for buying a new pickup truck is the cargo bed, and Chevrolet has made a number of improvements in this area. “The bed is the heart and soul of any pickup, so we made several improvements to the bed of the all-new Silverado to give our customers an even better hauling experience,” said Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer of full-size trucks at General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent company. “We’ve added so many features and benefits that it deserves its own name – Durabed,” Herrick noted.
The 2019 Silverado’s bed has increased in size versus the previous generation, adding 10 cubic feet to the short and standard box, and 14 additional cubic feet to the long box, thanks to a wider bed with greater depth than before.
There are 12 fixed tie-downs in the truck bed, each capable of withstanding up to 500 pounds of force — double the previous generation. Nine moveable tie-downs can be added for additional flexibility. The bed can also be equipped with in-bed LED lighting as well as a 110-volt power outlet.
Even the tailgate of the 2019 Silverado receives a high level of innovation with an optional power lock as well as lift-assist, which make it easy to raise the tailgate with one hand. But if that still seems too difficult, Chevrolet offers the first power-operated tailgate that can be raised or lowered via the key fob or a touchpad on the tailgate.
One of the standout features on this new Silverado is its towing capabilities. The system includes cameras that allow the driver to not only line up with the hitch, but an HD top-down view of the hitch makes it possible to set the hitch perfectly without anyone guiding the driver. Cameras on the mirrors allow the driver to see around both sides of the trailer, and an accessory camera can be mounted to the rear of the trailer. The application also includes a checklist for towing that can be customized to specific trailers — five trailer profiles can be stored.
Anyone who has towed a trailer knows that hooking up and testing the lights is typically a two-person job (or a tiresome one-person chore). With Chevrolet’s new towing application, the whole process can be easily done by one person. Selecting “light test” from the menu runs the trailer lights through a complete sequence (turn signals, brakes, etc.) so the driver can get out of the truck once and observe the lights to confirm all work. The application will even inform the driver if it detects a light malfunctioning. This light test can also be activated from the My Chevy app on a smartphone.
The Silverado continues to monitor the trailer while in motion and will notify the driver if it detects a tire pressure or tire temperature issue. The system will also keep track of the trailer’s mileage. The trailer is also tied into the truck’s alarm system, so if the trailer is unplugged the alarm will be triggered.
On the Road
We had the opportunity to test the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado on roads around beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The new truck is impressively quiet with a very smooth ride — especially for an unloaded pickup. Our truck was equipped with the 5.3-liter V8 which proved to have plenty of power as we climbed up Teton Pass. Handling is quite good for a truck, owing in part to the lighter, stiffer chassis.
Chevrolet’s research indicates that trailer towing is a factor with 60 percent of Silverado buyers, so it made sense to test its towing abilities. With a 6,000-pound trailer behind, we set out in a 5.3-liter V8-powered Silverado. Acceleration is more than adequate when pulling into traffic, and ride remained quite stable in corners as well as while braking. The optional cameras made maneuvering much easier than is typical with a trailer. While towing, an alert appeared on the dashboard to warn us that one of the trailer tires was running a bit warm — not an emergency, but this will prove to be a great feature for those who tow a lot or for long distances.
To properly test the new Trail Boss, Chevrolet set up a varied off-road course for attending auto journalists to navigate. With the ZR2 off-road package, the Silverado climbed over logs without being too jarring, and the grip over rocks as well as through deep mud provided plenty of confidence in the truck’s abilities.
Right for You?
The full-size truck market is very competitive in that the three domestic-brand offerings — Silverado, F-Series and Ram Truck — are the top-selling vehicles in the country. Brand loyalty plays a big part in those figures, so as good as the Silverado is, it is unlikely it will pull many buyers from those other brands. But for the new truck buyer, the Silverado offers a wide variety of trim and powertrain levels, impressive towing features, a versatile cargo bed and a comfortable interior that should please any truck buyer. And the changes from the previous generation are sure to please those who are already fans of this popular pickup.
Pros: Quiet ride; improved versatility; innovative trailer-towing features.
Cons: Inconsistent badging; largest engine only on luxury trims.
Bottom Line: The 2019 Silverado will please both loyalists and brand-new customers.