The full-sized truck market is not a Big Three pissing contest. It is the Big Three pissing contest. These are America’s best-selling and most profitable automobiles. Manufacturers pour extraordinary amounts of time, energy and engineering nous to produce updated and innovative vehicles. Ford, Chevy or Ram, the next generation will be a great leap over what came before. It needs to be. Jobs depend on it.
That competition yields quality vehicles. But, it makes distinguishing them tough. Every truck incorporates the latest and greatest options and features. Whatever distinctions arise are often too trifling to override entrenched brand loyalty. It’s hard for manufacturers to alter the paradigm.
I drove a sampling of 2019 Silverado offerings in Wyoming and Idaho. I use the term “sampling” because it would have been impossible to drive every iteration. Chevy purports to offer “unlimited choices” with the Silverado. That claim is not technically correct, but the sentiment is not far off.
The Silverado stable for 2019 includes eight different trims with unique styling, ranging from the humble Work Truck to the loaded High Country. The Silverado can have six different engines with three different transmissions depending on the trim. There are two different fuel management systems. There are RWD and 4WD versions. There are three different cabs and three different box lengths. There are four different types of tailgates. Toss in multiple convenience, towing and off-road packages. That’s just for the 1500 edition.
Chevy will give you the exact truck you want with the Silverado. Knowing exactly what you want beforehand is imperative.
The Good: The Silverado is up to 450 pounds lighter than the previous model. You feel it opening the aluminum doors, hood, and tailgate. You feel it in the handling which was agile, responsive and not boat-like for a full-sized pickup. Two-lane highways during vacation season weren’t optimal for hard driving. But, the 5.3L V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management and an eight-speed (355hp, 383lb-ft) transmission handled normal driving, overtaking and a steep, winding hill without much fuss. Visibility is good. The ride was quiet. The crew cab interior is cavernous. Even above average-sized adults should have no issues with leg room. Chevy also added at least ten cubic feet to every variation of the cargo box.
Who It’s For: Without being too glib, the longtime Chevy Silverado owner. Chevy has a massive customer base for these trucks. They cater to whims both great and small to keep them in the family.
Watch Out For: The seats felt stiff, even in the luxury trims. Chevy touts its “brutal” durability testing for driver seats; withstanding your butt and supporting it are two different things. Riding in the back of an LT Trail Boss during an off-road test was also “brutal.” Informing prospective mates you are a “6.2-liter type of guy” may be an undoubted concern. But, the badging for manufacturer, style, trim, engine volume and off-road packages can be a little much. The LTZ trim gets quite aggressive with the chrome.
What We Want To Know: Chevy has not released the EPA estimate for the four-pot 2.7L turbo. A capable (310 hp, 348 lb-ft of torque) four-cylinder, full-sized truck getting a legit 30 mpg highway on gasoline could attract a different and younger customer. We don’t have any data from the 3.0L I-6 Turbo yet, which could offer tremendous torque.
Towing: Chevy aimed to make towing easier with the Silverado. The fully loaded package includes up to four cameras, custom trailer profiles and trailer theft alert and tire pressure sensors. A trailering label in the door job removes any guesswork. There is a Trailering App to go with it. Frequent towing may be the rationale for upgrading to the 6.2L V-8 (420 hp, 460 lb-ft) with the 10-speed and DFM.
Value: As with features and capabilities, the Silverado’s price points will be similar to competitors from Ford, Ram (Ramm 1500 from $31,695) and GMC (GMC Sierra, price TBD). These trucks aren’t cheap to buy. The lesser of my testers, a 4WD LT Trail Boss Crew Cab, priced at $54,095 with options, and that was a mid-level trim. They aren’t cheap to operate. The 5.3L V-8 w/DFM gets about 17 mpg combined, meaning you pay about $18 per 100 miles. Saving a few hundred here or there won’t be the decisive factor. The real choice is whether to buy a full-size truck.
Verdict: I would select the Silverado LT or the RST trims. You get more comfort and features than the base truck. Paying extra for not so opulent High Country and LTZ trims does not seem worth it. GM offers a better lux truck with the Sierra Denali. The Trail Boss sounds and looks cool. Even with the off-road additions, it’s decent on the road. But, it’s paying for off-road capability you may not use, and it locks you into the gas guzzling V8. The LT/RST trim gives three engine choices – 2.7L, 3.0L Diesel, 5.3L V-8 w/DFM – and more modern and understated black bow tie styling.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT
Engine: 5.3-liter V8
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Torque: 383 lb-ft
Towing: 11,600 pounds
Chevrolet hosted us in the Grand Teton National Park to experience the new Silverado.
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