Big, bold grill notwithstanding, the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado doesn't look all that different than the model it replaces. Look under the skin though, and you'll see that it's all-new from the wheels up. The 2019 Silverado 1500 is a full-size pickup that's available as a regular cab, extended cab and crew cab, each with different bed dimentions. Model-to-model it is slightly larger and significantly lighter than the outgoing truck. Competitors include the Ford F-150, Nissan Titan, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra. The Silverado is mechanically similar to the GMC Sierra, which is also all-new for 2019.
Current Silverado 1500 powertrain choices include a 4.3-liter V6 that makes 285 horsepower and mates to a 6-speed automatic. Also available is a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 that pairs with an 8-speed automatic. Topping the engine lineup is a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 that gets a 10-speed automatic. Both V8 engines get General Motor's cylinder deactivation system that's designed to help improve fuel economy. Coming soon are a 310-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder and a turbodiesel V6. As before, there are rear-drive, 4-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive options.
Changes for 2019 include a substnatially larger bed on all models, class-exclusive power tailgate and 120-volt power outlet. Prices range from $29,796 to roughly $60,000. Trim levels include the Work, Custom, LT, RST, Custom Trail Boss, LTZ, LTZ Trail Boss and High Country.
The Silverado's line-topping 6.2-liter V8 might just be the best all-around engine in the class. It's smooth, powerful and impressively efficient. It also mates very well to the new 10-speed automatic transmission. Chevy boasts of a 0-60 MPH time of about 5.5 seconds, though that is likely unloaded. Still, the engine provides ample get-up-and-go as it moves this 5000-pound truck smartly away from stoplights. Passing punch is also quite good and the transmission instantly responds to throttle input when called upon.
A key consideration for pickup buyers should be the drive wheels. Most pickups are still sold with rear-wheel drive. That's fine on dry roads, but throw in some rain or, worse yet, snow and the back tires lose traction quickly. All full-size trucks offer 4-wheel-drive systems with 2-speed transfer cases. A few, like the Silverado offer 4-wheel-drive systems that can be left engaged on dry pavement (auto mode) and that's a solid plus to consider when shopping.
Fuel economy is also high on pickup-truck shopper's lists. The AWD Silverado with the 6.2-liter engine is EPA rated at 16 MPG city and 20 MPG highway. That's pretty typical for the class, but you can get better fuel economy if you are willing to give up a bit of power and opt for the smaller V8. Both V8s run fine on regular-grade gasoline. In routine suburban commuting you will likely average about 18 MPG overall. In straight highway driving you can average close to 20 MPG.
Styling aside, perhaps the biggest change in the Silverado, generation-to-generation, has been a vast improvement in overall ride quality. Where the outgoing model bounced and bobbed down the road, the new Silverado rides with the smoothness of a typical sedan. The suspension provides excellent bump absorption and good rebound control. Opt for the off-road package or the Trail Boss and you'll find there's a bit of the traditional bump/rebound, but its certainly at an acceptable level.
The steering was substantially reworked as well. It offers great on-center feeling and tracks true on the highway. Turning radius is huge, as you'd expect, but the Silverado is fairly easy to maneuver in tight spaces. Brakes have good stopping power and an easy-to-modulate pedal. Interior noise levels are impressively low. Trail Boss models have off-road ready tires that hum a bit at highway speeds. Overall, Silverado rides and handles substantially better than every competitor save the Ram 1500 -- and even that's a toss-up.
Inside is a familiar but all-new interior that places function ahead of design. Controls are conveniently placed and have a solid and substantial feel. Materials are appropriate for the price point and get nicer as you move up in trim. Unlike some competitors, Silverado still puts the gearshift on the steering column. That's a huge plus in terms of space savings.
Front seats are wide and flat and, though extremely comfortable, don't offer much support. Head and leg room are exceptional. Rear seats on the crew cab are quite nice with great head and leg room and plenty of width for three abreast seating. Step in is quite high, bordering on excessive on Trail Boss models. Outward visibility is excellent.
Model-for-model, Silverado's bed is the largest in the class, up to 20-percent larger claims Chevy. In addition, the floor is stronger, there are 12 fixed tie-down points and 9 movable tie-down points. Also available is the industry's first power up-down tailgate. Interior storage is great with twin glove boxes, a huge center console and plenty of open bins throughout. Crew cab rear seats have ingenious storage bins in the seatbacks.
Bottom Line -- Susssh! Don't tell anyone, but there's a pickup war going on. Chevy, Ford, GMC, Ram are falling all over themselves in an effort to build the perfect pickup truck and this new Silverado is, perhaps, the best yet. It offers a great blend of comfort, ability and technology. The 6.2-liter V8/10-speed automatic pairing is easily the best combo in the class. The interior is awash in surprise-and-delight features. Towing and payload capacities match all competitors within a few hundred pounds. Unfortunately, all this joy comes with a downside -- price. As pickups get better and better, the price inevitably goes up. That's evident in the Silverado and its competitors as the price of entry is north of $30K, $40k if you want anything other than a work truck. Throw away your brand allegiance and take them all for a test drive, there's never been a better time to buy a pickup.