There’s a lot of noise about trucks for 2019. Ford has an updated truck and Ram has an all-new 1500, but so does Chevy. The new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado brings a fresh new face, tech, and capabilities to the Chevy’s bowtie marquee. To demonstrate just how good the new Silverado is, Chevrolet flew us out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to drive its all-new full-size truck. Here’s what we think of the vehicle after spending a full day behind the wheel.
Why The 2019 Silverado Is Special
Chevrolet’s new Silverado may have some stiff competition, but don’t think for a second that it wasn’t improved enough. The Silverado is a serious force in the truck market, and the latest iteration moves the model right along the evolutionary line in just about every way.
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Silverado is that there’s more of it. Chevy made the truck longer and wider. The wheelbase is longer, interior space expanded, and cargo volume increased. Surprisingly, the truck is actually about 450 lbs lighter than the previous vehicle, depending on the configuration.
Chevy made this happen through the use of several different lightweight materials. The frame and body are comprised of seven different types of steel as well as aluminum. Don’t think these lighter new materials are weak, though. The truck is 10 percent more rigid. It’s more durable and tough than ever before.
Under the hood, you’ll find one of six engine options. There’s a 4.3-liter V6 that makes 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque, two different types of the 5.3-liter V8 both making 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque (one has Active Fuel Management and the other has Dynamic Fuel Management), a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder turbodiesel (power numbers not yet disclosed).
The engines either come with Active Fuel Management or Dynamic Fuel Management with stop/start technology. Chevrolet has offered Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology in many vehicles for years now. The Dynamic Fuel Management is an updated version of the system. It continuously monitors the accelerator pedal. From that information, it decides how many cylinders should fire. It does this 80 times per second. This can improve fuel economy by nine percent when compared to Active Fuel Management-equipped engines.
Transmission options start with an automatic 6-speed, then jump to an 8-speed automatic, and finally to Chevrolet’s 10-speed automatic. Two and four-wheel drive trucks are available, as it should be with any modern pickup truck, and you can get
From a technology standpoint, the Silverado does well with a long list of safety technology, including Head-Up Display, Rear Camera Mirror, Surround Vision camera system, Safety Alert Driver’s Seat, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
From an infotainment standpoint, you get Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, OnStar Services, and navigation. It’s an excellent system, though not changed much from the previous model years.
The design team at Chevrolet upped the ante, too, with improved aerodynamics. The Silverado is actually more slippery through the air with its tailgate up, thanks to the new small roof spoiler and the tiny lip spoiler on top of the tailgate. Speaking of tailgates, you can get a power opening and closing tailgate if you want it. This truck is full of interesting features.
On-Road, Off-Road, Towing? No Problem
Chevy let us take the new Silverado on both on-road and off-road drive routes. The on-road route weaved its way along the mountains and let us really test the Silverado’s handling capabilities. We first drove a 5.3-liter V8 LT Trail Boss, which is new for 2019. The model adds off-road equipment to the LT trim level, including a 2-inch lift, locking rear differential, skid plates, Rancho shocks, and 18-inch wheels with off-road tires.
Despite its off-road equipment, the truck was smooth and confidence inspiring on the road. The Chevy team took pains to make the off-road-tuned Silverado drive like any other version on the street by adjusting the damping in the suspension to be very civilized. The truck also had drive modes, an addition for the 2019 model year. There’s a significant change in behavior when toggling between Touring mode and
On the little off-road course Chevy set up was where we got to put the Trail Boss’s equipment to good use. We drove over a log pile, down and up steep grades, crawled over large rocks, and powered through some pretty deep water. Despite the course being on the short side, it did a good job showcasing just how capable the Trail Boss is off the beaten path. The truck is a true all-around vehicle, with poise on road and the goods to take on seriously tough terrain off-road. Its interior could be better, but even that was more than adequate in terms of comfort.
After putting the Trail Boss through its paces, it was time to do the towing demonstration. Chevy has some fantastic towing technology, including a multi-view camera system that makes hooking up and pulling at trailer simple even for someone who’s not experienced. The company has also devised features in the infotainment system that will walk you through the towing setup process. The system has trailer profiles you can set, too. This means you can calibrate the sensors and electronics to a specific trailer. All you have to do is hook it up, select the proper profile and all of your previously set towing settings adjust automatically.
We only did a short towing drive, and the truck pulled 6,000 lbs with no issues whatsoever. If we were towing regularly would like larger side mirrors. Chevy told us new options for side mirrors would come at a later date, but an exact date was not yet known. When properly equipped, the Silverado can tow over 12,000 lbs, so we didn’t even come close to the truck’s capacity. Speaking of capacities, Chevy now includes a VIN-specific sticker on every Silverado that shows just how much your truck can tow and haul so you never have to guess.
The other version of the truck we drove for an extended period of time was the top trim High Country. This 6.2-liter V8-powered beast is the top dog of the Silverado lineup. It gets a special chrome and bronze finish, body-color accents and chrome assist steps between the wheels. It also has Chevy’s new power tailgate standard.
The High Country also gets an interior that’s several notches above the other trim levels. The cabin is well-appointed with high-quality leather materials and improved trim pieces. While Ram’s truck has the best interior, the Silverado, especially in High Country trim isn’t too far off. There’s still some cheaper looking plastics and the wood trim is fake, but otherwise, we liked the interior a lot. The seats are comfortable and offer plenty of space, and the crew cab offers more than enough room for the whole family.
On the road, the High Country feels more refined than the LT Trail Boss. Short of Ram’s air suspension on its 1500, this is probably the smoothest full-size pickup out there. The 6.2-liter, too, was a real treat. Powerful when you need it, the V8 also has Dynamic Fuel Management technology. That allows the engine to cut down to only using some of its cylinders, maximizing fuel economy on the highway. It's a smooth operation and you don't even know it's happening. That tech should make the Silverado good for 16 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined. While we didn’t keep track of our tester’s mileage, flipping through the menu screen on the dash showed an mpg of 21.4 mpg, which is better than EPA estimates.
Is the Silverado Good Enough?
We talked extensively with Chevrolet’s PR folks about the truck market as a whole. They said Chevy is seeing more customers upgrading from a crossover or SUV to a pickup truck for lifestyle reasons. We were also told that customer brand loyalty is extremely important for truck buyers, meaning people don’t tend to bounce from brand to brand.
That means Chevy is targeting buyers as they get into the market. One thing we heard from multiple Chevy folks is, “the best way to keep someone from buying a Ford is to never let them in one.” Chevy also wants to see movement up and down the lineup as customers get older. The company wants to see movement up from a car or a crossover to a pickup as families grow, and then as the customer ages and downsizes Chevy wants them back in a car or crossover. It’s a kind of “keep it in the family” mentality that addresses the customer’s entire life, and it’s smart.
In that context, the Silverado is a fantastic vehicle. It’s a smart upgrade from a car, crossover, or even the Colorado midsize pickup. It drives well, provides plenty of power, and has the best interior of any Silverado before it. The model is without a doubt the best it has ever been. If you’re in the Chevy family, the choice is a no-brainer, but the competition from other brands is fierce.
Ram, Ford, Toyota, and Nissan all have fantastic trucks. Ram and Ford will be Chevy’s biggest adversaries. While Chevy will sell boatloads of 2019 Silverado pickups, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of non-loyal truck buyers consider other automaker’s trucks. Ram’s truck, in particular, is the most modern, smoothest, and sleekest on the road, and Ford has an excellent reputation and a quality, modern product. Chevy’s new Silverado is good, but it might not be quite good enough to woo all the buyers Chevy hopes. Time will tell. Until then, we’ll be configuring out Silverado Trail Boss and looking up the best off-road trails to drive it on.