100 YEARS IN THE MAKING – Chevy’s New Silverado


We were lucky enough to attend the 2019 Silverado 1500 launch—which coincided with the 100-year anniversary of Chevy’s first customer truck deliveries in January of 1918—prior to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The new light-duty Silverado is going to turn a lot of heads, and more importantly excite a lot of diesel fans.

Sure, the styling of the truck is uniquely modern, yet consistent with its Chevy Truck DNA, and there is a lot more to this all-new truck than just pretty sheet metal. It has a 3.9 inch longer wheelbase and is 1.6 inches longer overall, which offers both increased room for cargo and comfort. With improved aerodynamics, new powertrain tech and overall weight reduced by up to 450 pounds the 2019 Silverado 1500 is sure to offer impressive performance and fuel economy.


We know the new 1500 will be offered with an all-new Duramax 3.0L inline-6 turbo diesel, which will be mated to a new Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission. What we don’t know is how many of the eight different Silverado models on offer will be available with this option. Out of the reported six engine/transmission configurations, so far we know about the new Duramax diesel and new 5.3L and 6.2L V8 gas engines, along with the new Hydra-Matic 10-speed auto trans. There is lots of speculation on the other options, but not much hope for another diesel in the lineup.

While the 3.0L diesel and 6.2L V8 will both be paired with the new 10-speed auto, we don’t yet know what trans options the 5.3L V8 will get. We can also only dream of the other options available with the diesel. Some of us dream of a 6- or 8-speed manual to go along with what will hopefully be a powerful little diesel powerplant. It may only be dreaming, but we’re going to hold onto that dream until they tell us otherwise.

Maybe we don’t all think of Chevrolet as the diesel king in America, but with the addition of the 3.0L Duramax in the Silverado 1500 the company really is. Chevy now offers more diesel engines in more segments and models than any other brand on American shores. Diesel engines are available in the Equinox, Cruze, Colorado, Express, Silverado 1500, Silverado HD and upcoming Silverado medium-duty models.

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More Options

Chevy built the new Silverado with the idea that each truck customer wants the perfect truck for him or herself, and not a “one size fits most” truck. That idea, which you can see today with the many model options on the Colorado, turned into offering eight distinct models of the Silverado for 2019. These various models fit into three categories: High Value, High Volume and High Feature.

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The High Value trucks are the Work Truck, Custom and Custom Trailboss. We admit that the simple front grille on the Work Truck, with a prominent “Chevrolet” stamped into it, looks really good and is probably something many customers will change out their higher trim level truck grilles for, or look to the aftermarket for a similar option. The durable vinyl or cloth seats are also a great option for a wide range of customers whether they’re transporting a construction crew or a family.

The High Volume models are the LT, RST and LT Trailboss. These trucks will make up a majority of Silverado sales and offer a great value. The RST package provides an aggressive “street-performance” look and features full LED lighting (foglights, headlights and taillights), body-color trim and up to 22-inch wheels. The LT Trailboss is the truck in this lineup which most interests us, as it is set up to venture off-road and looks the part. It adds a full compliment of quality off-road features to the well-appointed LT model, including Rancho shocks, a 2-inch suspension lift, locking rear diff, skid plates and 18-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch Goodyear Duratrac AT tires.

The High Feature models include the LTZ and High Country. These models offer a lot of bling and comfort straight off the showroom floor. The LTX offers a ton of chrome accents, including down the side of the truck, as well as folding and heated mirrors and a leather interior. The High Country is the top-spec truck and offers an exclusive two-tone interior, chrome and bronze finish, unique front grille, lots of color-matched accents, chrome assist steps and many other quality luxury touches.

Mixed Materials

Materials technology is advancing at an incredible rate, and while we might not think about it much when making a vehicle purchase it does make a huge difference in so many new vehicles. The new Silverado is all about a high-tech mix of materials that optimize strength, improve rigidity, reduce weight and increase usable volume, both in the interior and cargo box.

All exterior swing panels (doors, hood and tailgate) are aluminum while all fixed panels (fenders, roof and bed) are steel. This keeps weight down, making the truck lighter by 88 pounds, while lowering cost, retaining functional durability and improving rigidity for driving performance. The integrated cabin safety cage utilizes seven different grades of steel to create a perfectly tailored (for safety and rigidity) cabin structure. The fully boxed steel frame is not only lighter but also offers 10% greater torsional rigidity. On LT models there are composite second-stage rear leaf springs, which save 12 pounds over their steel counterparts.

Again, you might not go shopping for these features, but they translate greatly into how the truck feels and performs. The material upgrades on the Silverado are sure to be felt in the seat of your pants, savings at the pump and if you ever find yourself in a collision scenario.

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As with all things styling, you’re going to have to form your own opinion on the new looks of this truck. We like the modern, aggressive front end and muscular yet clean side treatment. We’re also quite keen on the rear end treatment of this truck, which features integrated dual exhausts and “Chevrolet” stamped on the tailgate, a throwback to the trucks of the ’50s and ’60s.

One design element of the new Silverado that is truly going to be a love-it-or-hate-it thing is the front air curtains on each side of the new front grille. They are inspired from the 6th-gen Camaro and improve aerodynamics by routing air around the front wheel wells. Aero is important on this truck and is further enhanced, 7% overall, by the integrated spoiler at the rear edge of the cab and tailgate lip design.

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The Big Box

At the back of the Silverado you’re going to find an all-new cargo box designed to do work. A class-exclusive power up/down tailgate is probably the most trick new feature, as it is a well-executed system. Also not seen on other pickups are GM’s CornerStep rear bumpers, which now feature larger cutouts designed to accommodate steel-toed work boots. For further truck bed utility there is task lighting and a 120-volt power outlet on offer.

Again, materials matter, and in this case the bed is constructed of roll-formed high-strength steel. During the unveiling, Mark Reuss, VP of Global Product Development, took a direct shot at Ford when he said, “I don’t think you’ll get much work done with an aluminum hammer.”

The new box design and material choices also allow the box floor to be widened by nearly 7 inches, making the new Silverado the class leader in cargo volume in every bed length, with 63 cubic feet in the short bed. To secure your cargo there are up to 21 tie-down points, 12 fixed and nine movable. The new fixed points are also twice as strong as the current truck’s, now taking 500 pounds of force before bending.

One way to maximize the usefulness of the new box on the Silverado is to buy the new Chevy Accessories storage bins, which perfectly fit over the wheel wells and into the bed sides. The new bins offer nearly 7 cubic feet of lockable storage for short box models while still accommodating a 4×8 sheet of plywood flat on the box’s floor.

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Honestly, the interior improvements are a bit lackluster, but the Silverado interior is already a pretty nice place to spend time, and already full of industry-leading integrated tech. Overall there is a ton more interior volume, which can especially be felt in the rear legroom and improved headroom for all passengers. Rear seat storage options are also much more plentiful, with optional in-seat cubbies behind the center cushions on each seat and an under-seat storage bin. While some may not be fans of the chunky center console styling, it is extremely functional and easy to use.


The three biggest upgrades this truck will need, especially for those of us who like to take our trucks off road, will be a new front bumper, a lift and better suspension. A new bumper won’t be easy to integrate cleanly but should help improve the entry angle. A lift will greatly improve the break-over angle, which will probably suffer as a result of the longer wheelbase.

It will also be interesting to see what the aftermarket offers for things like fender flares and grille inserts. While these items are sure to be offered, they will be challenging to integrate well into the lines of this truck. Flares will probably be the hardest, as the sides of the truck are very flat, which will make it hard to make flares look like they belong.

Coming Soon

We believe Chevrolet knocked this one out of the park and has created a truly competitive full-size light-duty truck, both on paper and in the real world. GM has sold more trucks than any other company for four years running and they hope to continue that trend with the new Silverado. They also hope that the new diesel offering in this category helps to grow those numbers as it has for the company in the mid-sized truck market.

The styling will of course be polarizing, but with eight different models to choose from most buyers should be able to find a Silverado that is perfect for each individual’s style. Now we hold our breath and wait for the final specs on the powertrain configuration options and performance numbers. We have high hopes for the 3.0 to be a quality diesel option, which will hopefully be very tunable and durable, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

This is an exciting time in the lighter duty truck market, as in the next two years there should be a lot of new diesel options. Besides the new Silverado 1500, there is already the Ram EcoDiesel, Titan Cummins, Colorado/Canyon Duramax, and the just-launched F-150 Power Stroke. Probable options on the horizon are the new Ranger and Wrangler pickups.

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