August 18, 2018

Chevrolet’s next-generation 2019 Silverado will be here soon. Anytime there’s an overhaul of a major combatant in the intense pickup truck war, millions of dollars and umpteen jobs are on the line.

The 2019 next-gen Silverado packs major improvements in amenities, comfort, and capabilities. The more refined light-truck, which is also easy on the eyes, also gets some new and/or revised engines.

Media pundits got an up-close look at the full-size haulers in the wide-open spaces outside Yellowstone National Park last week. Here are the takeaways serious Silverado shoppers should note.

First and most importantly, know which 2019 Silverado you’re looking at. That’s because Chevy will initially offer a version based on the older “K2” platform called the Silverado LD alongside the next-gen 2019 Silverado that’s built on GM’s spanking-new T1 full-size pickup platform.

To help keep its Silverado offerings sorted out, Chevrolet is calling the legacy platform K2-based trucks Silverado LD. The LDs are only offered as double cabs powered by 5.3-liter V8s and available in WT, LT or LT Z71 trim.

Sizing up the Silverado

The next-gen 2019 Silverado grows in every key dimension. The ever-popular crew cab short box, for example, spans 231.7 inches bumper-to-bumper, a gain of 1.7 inches. It’s also 1.2 inches wider (81.2) and 1.5 inches higher (75.5). The 147.5-inch wheelbase goes a long way toward providing rear passengers 43.4 inches of legroom — 3 inches more than the previous crew cab Silverado. (Driver and front passenger have 44.5 inches to stretch their legs.)

It’s not just passengers benefiting from more room. The volume of all three cargo boxes offered goes up. The short box, for example, comes in at 62.9 cu. ft. Chevy says that’s more than some competitors’ regular beds and credits most of the gain to increasing the maximum width of the bed in key areas by almost 7 inches.

Higher-strength steel is also used for the bed floor of the next-gen 2019 Chevy Silverado. And to keep things buttoned down, there are a dozen fixed tie-downs and nine movable tie points.

Since we’re going over the business end of the next-gen Silverado, shoppers should know that that, depending on configuration and optional equipment, there are four possible tailgates: a lockable manual gate; an easy-lift tailgate that’s manually locked; a power lock/release tailgate that has lift assist, automatic release and powered locking or an easy-lift, powered-closing tailgate that has automatic release and power locking.

Eight is enough?

The 2019 Silverado will be offered in eight flavors to cover the spread from the value shoppers, the high-volume mainstream buyers as well as those who want luxury-grade appointments and technology.

The Silverado lineup starts with the Work Truck or WT. Available with regular cab and long bed, double cab and standard bed or crew with short bed, the work trucks have vinyl or cloth seats, blacked-out grille and trim and 17-inch steel wheels. The standard engine is a 285-hp 4.3-liter V6 with six-speed automatic transmission. Users needing more oomph can go for the optional 5.3-liter V8. The WT models start at $29,795.

The Custom is the next step up at $36,095 and is signified by body-color trim, 20-inch painted aluminum wheels and LED taillights.

New to the next-gen 2019 Silverado lineup is the 4WD Custom Trail Boss. With double cab and standard bed, the off-road themed pickup has an MSRP of $40,995, which includes as standard Chevy’s Z71 off-road package, locking rear differential, skid plates, heavy duty air cleaner and Rancho shock absorbers. With Goodyear Duratrac tires on 18-inch wheels and standard 2-inch suspension lift, the Trail Boss stands 78.4 inches high.

The traditional LT trim is where Chevy upgrades the interior to an 8-inch color touch screen and starts to pour on the chrome. LEDs are used for daytime running lights and reflector headlamps. Leather is optional. Prices start at $38,395 but it’s important to note that that’s with a new 2.7-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine and eight-speed auto transmission, which will be standard.

Next up is the RST which debuts with a muscle-truck look, full LED treatment, body-color trim, and wheels up to 22-inches in diameter. The 2019 Silverado RST starts at $40,295.

Another addition to the Silverado family is the LT Trail Boss, which has the newest 5.3-liter V8 with more sophisticated fuel management and 8-speed auto as standard. MSRPs start $47,395.

The Silverado LTZ includes the same 355-horsepower powertrain as the LT Trail Boss but throws in standard leather, power-folding and heated outside mirrors and chrome accents. The 420-horse 6.2-liter V8 and 10-speed auto combo is optional. The 2WD double cab version starts at $44,495.

The 2019 Silverado High Country is aimed at high rollers who expect all the goodies. It’s distinguished by a two-tone chrome and bronze front grille, wheel-to-wheel chromed step rails and the new power tailgate. It’s only available as a crew cab with short bed and with the 5.3-liter V8 starts at $54,495. The 6.2 is a $2,495 option.

Engines overhauled

The stalwart 4.3-liter V6 and 5.3-liter V-8 stick around for 2019 paired with GM’s venerable (quaint?) 6-speed automatics in the lower trim levels. But the 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8s in LT trim and higher get more sophisticated electro-mechanical fuel management. Instead of switching from just eight- to four-cylinder modes, the new dynamic fuel management (DFM) mixes things up tremendously, allowing as many 17 cylinder-firing combinations. Chevy said that in industry-standard testing, the torque-sensing DFM permitted the 5.3-liter V8 to run on fewer than eight cylinders more than 60 percent of the time.

Cylinder deactivation is just one of the powertrain developments for the 2019 Silverado. The aforementioned turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and 8-speed auto will be standard in the LT and RST. The four-banger, which won’t be available until later this year, makes 310 horsepower and 348 lb.-ft. That’s 25 horses and 25 lb.-ft. more than the 4.3-liter V6 it replaces managed. The four won’t be available until the fourth-quarter and Chevy wasn’t ready to get into the turbo four’s gas mileage, but the lighter pickup should exceed the 18 mpg city and 24 highway racked up by the V6-powered two-wheel-drive Silverado.

The other new engine is a Duramax 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six. It’s not set to land until early 2019 so about all we can tell you now is that the diesel will have start/stop technology and be teamed with a 10-speed automatic.

Mass and materials

The new Silverado is stiffer, stronger and lighter thanks to optimizing the mix of aluminum, steel, high-strength steel and advanced high-strength steel. For example, the hood, doors, tailgate and upper control arms are aluminum. Replacing steel springs with composite units on some models saves 24 pounds.

In the real world, that means a Silverado crew cab short bed with 5.3-liter V8 and max towing package is as much as 450 lbs. lighter than the outgoing 2018.

Towing, payload and fuel efficiency, of course, depend on powertrain, weight, configuration, trim and options. A consumer-friendly move long overdue is Chevrolet’s decision to slap a sticker on the driver’s doorjamb of every Silverado listing the payload and towing data specific to that truck. Here’s hoping other pickup manufacturers follow Chevy’s lead.

Looking at the V8s, in general, the 2019 5.3-liter V8 with dynamic fuel management is rated to tow up to 11,600 lbs. and a payload as high as 2,190 lbs. Fuel economy for 2WD is 17 city/ 23 highway and 19 combined.

The 6.2-liter’s maximum payload rating is 2,100 lbs. and can trailer up to 12,200 lbs. EPA gas mileage is 16/20/17.

A 4WD LT Trail Boss crew with 5.3-liter V8, its heavy-duty running gear and higher stance is rated at 15 mpg city, 20 highway and 17 overall. The 6.2-liter High Country with its 10-speed transmission scores slightly better in the city at 16 mpg but is otherwise identical to the LT Trail Boss. The 4WD RST crew comes in at 16 mpg city, 22 highway and 18 mpg combined.

The all-new Silverado also has a load of new safety and trailering technology which we’re looking forward to testing and reporting on in the coming weeks.

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