Next to a dusty horse corral, up a mountain overlooking a remote part of America that seemed frozen in time, a row of large angular objects from the future were basking in the morning light, hazy from distant wildfires. The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has descended upon us.
What the new T1XX Silverado gained in size and visual mass, it lost in weight – up to 450 pounds in some cases. Thus despite having more imposing dimensions, it drives much lighter than it looks. Not that it ever did too much before, but the body twitches and shuffles its weight far less than the previous model, which is still being built in Canada as the Silverado Limited. Over bumps, the ride is definitely a generation improved, and the added Sport Mode enhances the experiences with sharper pedal mapping and firmer steering effort. And it’s quiet as an apocalyptic bank vault. Which is no easy task given the larger frontal area punching through the air. But making vehicles quiet has become recognized as a GM core competency… the K2XX Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra were already the quietest trucks around.
Cutting through the mountain roads surrounding Jackson, Wyoming proved to be an ideal demonstration for the handling characteristics of the 2019 Silverado 1500. Again, despite the size increase, the truck shifts and jukes with a surprising and welcome sense of agility. But the brake pedal feel is neither inspiring, nor insufficient – it’s just sort of there. The steering feel is more removed than before, as well. But hey, the wheel mount is dead-center now, so that’s an evolution of sorts.
As for the powertrain, the experience will greatly depend on how much money 2019 Silverado customers shell out. We piloted two variants at the drive event that Chevrolet hosted. The first was a 2019 Silverado 1500 High Country Crew Cab with a 6.2L L87 V8 and 10-speed automatic transmission. The second was a 2019 Silverado 1500 LTZ Crew Cab with a 5.3L V8 and 8-speed automatic transmission. Both engines were equipped with dynamic fuel management. Neither the 2.7L TriPower turbo, nor the 3.0L Duramax six-cylinder engines were present on the drive. The base powertrain is a budget-conscious 4.3L V6 with a six-speed automatic, which we were also unable to sample.
The ride quality for both the 2019 Silverado LTZ and 2019 Silverado High Country are, as Mike Goldberg would put it, virtually identical. However, the only powertrain that really moves the needle here is the 6.2L with the 10-speed. It’s far quicker in shifting than before, feels smarter, and helps make the 2019 Silverado feel like a new truck. In the case of the 5.3L V8 with the 8-speed, it’s an all-too-familiar powertrain, and seems to behave the same as before. Unfortunately, the 10-speed can only be unlocked with the 6.2L option for the LTZ or High Country trim level. Which means shelling out at least $48,700 for a Silverado LTZ, and then opting for the $2,495 engine upgrade, according to our test Monroney label. We expect the 10-speed to trickle down into lower trim levels over time, but at the moment, this is what will be out of the gate.