2019 Chevrolet Silverado Review

Brand new for 2019, the totally redesigned Chevrolet Silverado is all about more, except when it isn’t.

The latest Motown full-size truck to get a ground-up rework, following the comprehensively retooled Ram 1500, which debuted a few months ago and Ford’s aluminum-bodied F-150, which has been on the market since 2015, the bow-tie brand’s popular “half-ton” pickup is loaded with advanced engineering and thoughtful amenities that are sure to delight both commercial customers and commuters alike.

Compared to its predecessor, the new Silverado offers more cargo volume and tie-down points in its bed, has more interior space, more overall length, more wheelbase and it’s more aerodynamic to boot. There are more engine options, more durability, more capability, more luxury and of course more technology. But what there isn’t more of is weight.

A Mixed-Materials Strategy

Much like with the aluminum-intensive Cadillac CT6, Chevy took a measured approach with the new Silverado, rather than betting the farm on one material like a major competitor did (*cough* Ford).

Compared to its forebear, engineers have trimmed up to 450 pounds (204 kg) off this pickup’s waistline by optimizing as many of its systems as they could. From the body alone, they took out 88 pounds (40 kg) by using seven different types of advanced steel. This metallurgical mélange is all about putting the correct amount of the proper material in exactly the spot needed.

Like its body, the Silverado’s brand-new, fully boxed frame has dropped 88 pounds (40 kg) thanks to the extensive use of high-strength steel. Despite this significant weight loss torsional rigidity has increased by 10 percent.

Slashing still more weight, this truck’s swing panels, things like the hood and doors, are made of aluminum. Certain models also feature composite second-stage leaf springs, a move that saves about 12 pounds (5 kg) per side.

Ensuring this weight loss doesn’t translate into a quality decline, engineers doubled many key validation metrics, meaning this is the most rigorously tested vehicle GM has ever built.

Making the Silverado’s weight loss all the more impressive is that it’s grown. Crew-cab models, like the one tested here, are about 1.2 inches (3 cm) wider, 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) taller and 1.7 inches (4.3 cm) longer. Even the wheelbase has grown by 3.9 inches (10 cm).

Takin’ Care of Business

For many customers, a truck bed is where they earn their living, it’s their open-air office. And that’s why Chevrolet focused so much attention on this area of the new Silverado.

Providing a strong foundation, the floor is made from a much more robust grade of steel than before so it better resists dents and punctures. But beyond that, engineers have widened the box by as much as seven inches (17.8 cm), dramatically increasing cargo volume, handy if you routinely carry loose materials like gravel or mulch.

But if you’re hauling furniture or other bulky items instead, they’ve also got you covered. There are up to 21 tie-down points in the 2019 Silverado’s bed, 12 fixed hooks (that are twice as strong as before) and nine movable ones. Additionally, the corner steps in the rear bumper have been made larger to better accommodate steel-toe boots, while four different tailgates are offered including one that powers open or closed at the push of a button.

Six for the Road

Ahead of the firewall, there’s been a similar revolution. When the full Silverado range eventually becomes available you’ll be able to choose from six different engines. That’s nearly as many as the truck’s eight trim levels!

A 4.3-liter V6 is the first rung of the ladder, offering a stable of 285 horses. Beyond that, a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder will also be available, providing a respectable 310 ponies and likely superior fuel economy. Two versions of GM’s venerable 5.3-liter V8 will be on the menu, including one with a new efficiency-boosting technology called Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM), though both brandish the same 355 horsepower. Next, a 3.0-liter inline-six diesel will join the range at a later date. Finally, the top offering is a 6.2-liter small block equipped with DFM. And that’s the one I experienced in the High Country model tested here.

Depending on which engine you opt for, it’s bolted to either a six-, eight- or 10-speed automatic transmission, which could cause a bit of confusion. Keeping things simple, that 6.2-liter V8 is bolted exclusively to the 10-speed gearbox; four-wheel drive is standard.

That Dynamic Fuel Management is a new cylinder-deactivation technology. Rather than shutting down just half the engine’s pots under light loads, DFM enables the powerplant to seamlessly run on anything from two to all eight cylinders. This allows the engine to provide the exact amount of torque needed for each driving situation and nothing more, which saves fuel. DFM can calculate exactly how many cylinders need to fire at a rate of 80 times per second. Best of all, this system totally seamless. When it’s doing its thing you feel nothing, no uncouth vibrations or undesirable droning sounds.

But what does this cutting-edge fuel-saving technology, a significant loss in weight, enhanced aerodynamics and brand-new transmission get you? Unfortunately, only about one mile per gallon in urban driving. The 2019 Silverado tested here stickers at 16 mpg in city driving and 20 on the highway. Combined, it should average 17, exactly the same as a similarly equipped 2018 model.

A Big Disappointment

Matching its advanced new engineering, the 2019 Silverado also brandishes a fresh interior. Thanks to its upsized dimensions, crew-cab models gain an extra three inches of rear-seat legroom, making the aft accommodations absolutely palatial. Another important highlight is push-button start, which is finally offered.

Extra storage cubbies are integrated into the backrests of those rear seats, offering a pair of hidden pockets to stash valuables. The lower cushion also lifts up, revealing extra storage compartments. Making it easier to load items into the back of the cab, the floor is just about flat, so items can slide right in.

Despite these noteworthy improvements, the Silverado’s interior is ultimately a disappointment, even in top-of-the-line High Country trim. The plastics and textures employed are workaday at best, the leather is vinyl-like and even the various switches and knobs feel a bit chintzy. Nothing is egregiously low rent, but this Silverado’s cabin is clear step down from what you get in a similarly equipped Ford or Ram truck. Perhaps engineers spent more of their budget in areas that the customers can’t see, than these rivals did with their latest pickups.

The Drive

At least partially making up for its lackluster cabin, this new Silverado drives like a dream, providing world-class refinement over practically any road surface.

For starters, the structure feels incredibly rigid, absolutely unyielding, even while traversing war-torn pavement. There are no creaks or judders to cheapen the experience, with the entire rig feeling as if it’s hewn from stone.

Despite having old-fashioned leaf springs and a live-axle at its rear, the Silverado’s ride quality is buttery smooth and free of the jiggles you might expect in a pickup. This is one area it clearly beats the starchy F-150 and might even equal the creamy Ram 1500, which of course offers standard rear coil springs and can be fitted with an adjustable air suspension system.

Steering is likewise precise and nicely weighted. The wheel’s rim could stand to be a bit meatier, but the Silverado feels light on its feet and agile through corners. Surprisingly, despite sitting so high up there’s minimal body roll, even when you push this truck hard. The 2019 Silverado provides a refined ride and well-controlled body motions; what more could you ask for?

Well, how about a smooth powertrain? Luckily, it’s got that, too. GM’s venerable 6.2-liter V8 is quiet, silken and free of drama. Its 10-speed dance partner is also an exemplar of smoothness, never stuttering or slamming, though it does seem reluctant to downshift, preferring to let the engine dig into its deep torque reserve, rather than zip to redline.

Performance is never lacking with this powertrain, though in testing didn’t feel quite as fleet as something with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque should, though in Chevy’s defense the drive program took place at altitude, about 6,000 feet (1,830 meters) above sea level in the mountains of Wyoming and Idaho, so that could have certainly blunted its performance.

It’s impossible to say without performing instrumented testing, but I suspect a comparable F-150 equipped with the excellent 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 would outrun even this top-tier Silverado. The Ford’s twin-turbochargers help provide buckets of torque from idle to redline and make it immune to altitude sickness; the only downside is it’s nowhere near as aurally pleasing, but then again, neither is the LS as snarly as a Hemi-powered Ram 1500, which offers a muscle-car rumble.

The Verdict: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Review

By far, this is the best Silverado ever. The folks at Chevrolet have done their homework to create an even more capable, refined and useful pickup, a rig that’s sure to give their counterparts in Auburn Hills and Dearborn fits for years to come.

But it’s also a truck without any revolutionary attribute. There’s no “military-grade” aluminum bodywork or adjustable air suspension system to crow about. Instead, the 2019 Silverado befits from a host of smaller innovations spread throughout, a range of features that add up to something just as significant, if not as flashy.

The most affordable Silverado offered (a regular-cab, long-bed model) will set you back about $30,000, though the High Country example tested here checked out for a princely $64,030, including $1,495 in delivery charges.

Trucks are arriving at dealerships as you read this review, with high-volume V8 crew-cab models leading the charge. Examples with smaller double-cab bodies or the 2.7-liter turbo-four will launch later this year. If you want a diesel engine or regular-cab Silverado, you’ll have to wait until early 2019.

a version of this review first appeared on AutoGuide

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