The fact that the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is a more capable truck than the one it replaces shouldn't be a surprise. After all, Chevy knows the guys and gals who buy it demand continuous improvements to better tow and haul things to job sites or around farms in the heartland of America. However, the half-ton pickup's job no longer ends there. It now has to be more efficient, ride better on-road, have a family-friendly interior, and be stylish enough to garner some street cred. Fittingly, those are all things Chevy addressed in the latest Silverado.
Completely changing the appearance of a pickup is a challenge, but Chevrolet deserves credit for trying to liven things up a little bit. The front end is busy with a big grille, split light housings and aero elements mixed in for an interesting look. Some on the Roadshow staff find it OK, while others who believe the truck was beaten badly with an ugly stick. Regardless, on my new-for-2019 RST trim, all of the truck's chrome is replaced by body-color pieces on the bumpers, grille, mirrors and door handles for a slightly more aggressive look that grew on me.
Things on the inside adopt a more evolutionary approach with a layout that will be familiar to owners of the previous model. The interior is built from middle-of-the-road materials that are better than those in the Ford F-150, but falls well short of the finishes in the Ram 1500. Space is plentiful with the backseat gaining 3 inches of legroom to accommodate long-legged passengers in high comfort. Storage isn't a problem, either, with dual glove boxes, a mammoth center console, door pockets and trick seat-back compartments in the rear.
All of that is in cabin that stays nice and quiet on the expressway for the most part. At 75 miles per hour, wind ruckus is never an issue, but the 20-inch Bridgestone Dueler A/T all-terrain tires do make a little bit of noise with their bigger tread blocks.
The Silverado's technology arsenal receives a welcome upgrade. The Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system has an 8-inch touchscreen featuring crisper and more vibrant graphics. Response to commands is immediate, making for quick menu changes and selections to control the seven-speaker Bose audio setup, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. Overall, I really like the system for its intuitiveness and appreciate the shortcut icons at the top of the screen make it easy to get to the most used menus like audio and phone. The physical home button below the screen is also appreciated.
To prevent kids -- and possibly adults -- from fighting over power outlets to charge up phones, the Silverado is littered with them. Up front there are two USB Type-A ports, two fast-charging USB Type-C ports, a three-prong 120-volt socket and 12-volt outlets. Since my tester is outfitted with an All Star Edition package, backseat passengers also have access to one standard USB and USB Type-C port in addition to a 12-volt power source on the rear of the center console.
For safety, an available $890 Safety Package adds blind-spot monitoring with lane-change alert. And then to help not hit anything or anyone in parking lots, it adds front and rear parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert, all of which are great when I have to maneuver the big fella around in an insanely tight parking structure.
As for traditional truck improvements, the Silverado's frame gets beefed up with more high-strength steel. To keep weight in check, the body adopts aluminum for the hood, doors and tailgate, which is just part of the truck's diet that sees up to 450 pounds cut from Crew Cab models over the outgoing model. Unlike Ford, which went crazy with aluminum throughout its F-150, the Chevy's deeper, wider and stronger bed is formed with higher-grade steel and new stamping methods. Sadly, I didn't get to move any serious loads with the Silverado, but I did transport a king-size mattress and a large mirror from Home Depot with ease.
The 5.3-liter V8 powering the Silverado's new RST variant is a sweetheart, making 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Together with a slick eight-speed automatic transmission, it offers excellent off-the-line grunt and is capable of towing 12,200 pounds. Maybe the most impressive thing about the engine is the new Dynamic Fuel Management system that lets it run on anything from two to eight cylinders depending on load requirements. The system is seamless, only being noticeable when you pay really close attention. Kudos to the stop-start system, too, that's quick to refire the engine. Normally, they annoy me, causing me to deactivate them, but the Silverado's was so good I left it turned on.
The fuel-saving efforts help the four-wheel-drive Chevy net EPA estimated fuel economy of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway, which is respectable to better the comparable 2018 model's 15 miles per gallon city and 20 miles per gallon highway ratings. After a week of mostly city driving and a lot of idling during a video shoot, I managed to observe 16.8 miles per gallon.
The ride is truck-like, with some jiggle over bumps when unloaded, but the Silverado is still a comfortable rig -- not as comfortable as an air-suspension Ram 1500, but it's certainly better behaved than the Ford. Navigating around the city is easy with responsive and hefty steering, while body lean in corners is nicely controlled. Really, it feels like a more refined Silverado that should please the Chevy truck faithful.
At the moment, only 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8 crew cab models are on dealer lots, with the base 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder trucks slated to arrive in December. My ideal Silverado begins with the four-wheel-drive RST trim like my test truck because I contend with Midwest winters and prefer body-color pieces over chrome. The RST begins at $45,995, including $1,495 destination. Upgrading to the 5.3-liter V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management bumps things to $47,390.
From there, a $2,445 All Star Edition package adds towing equipment and interior niceties like heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and rear USB ports. I'll also take the $1,420 Convenience Package II, mostly for the Bose audio and sliding rear window. The $890 Safety Package I is also a must for blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Side steps to make getting in and out easier, plus a spray-on bedliner and folding tonneau cover complete my truck. All of that brings the price tag to $54,030, which includes a $500 All Star edition discount to be slightly more bank-account-friendly than this $56,590 tester.
With no shortage of updated truck offerings on the market, the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado makes a strong showing with better capabilities, comfort and technology, but its polarizing design may turn some toward its more traditionally styled 2019 GMC Sierra cousin. The 2019 Ram 1500 is still tops when it comes to ride quality and available tech, especially with an available 12-inch touchscreen. Then there's the refreshed Ford F-150, which is showing its age but remains the only game in town offering a diesel engine at the moment.
Which one would I pick? Ultimately, the Ram's stellar ride and downright cushy interior win me over. After that, it's a toss-up between the edgier-looking Silverado and more traditional Sierra, which are basically the same truck. In the end, I think I would take the Chevy over the GMC for the extra styling flair.