When the 2019 Silverado 1500 officially revealed itself, there was a lot of hype, and expectation, surrounding the potential fuel economy numbers of the all-new breadwinning truck. With up to 450 lbs of weight lost, a lower drag coefficient, loads of subtle aerodynamic body work, Dynamic Fuel Management, and the introduction of a 10-speed transmission, all signs pointed to massive gains in fuel economy. Something that was highly prioritized during the truck’s development, as General Motors needed to find ways to meet the extreme 2025 CAFE targets originally mandated by the Obama Administration, which have now been rolled back by the Trump Administration.
We routinely scoured the EPA’s MPG site to see if the fuel economy numbers for the 2019 Silverado 1500 were finally reported. And when they finally manifested themselves, we were both surprised and confused to see almost nothing changed. During the 2019 Silverado 1500 test drive hosted by Chevrolet, we finally were able to get some answers.
There’s drag coefficient. Then there’s drag coefficient of area (a multiplication of the drag coefficient value by the surface area). Chevrolet touts that the 2019 Silverado has a drag coefficient that’s seven percent improved over the outgoing truck, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Without getting too scientific, the drag coefficient of area is where the 2019 Silverado 1500 is more challenged than before. Because while there’s less drag coefficient, the fascia of the truck has significantly increased, forcing the truck to punch a bigger hole through the air as it moves down the road at speed. This in turn creates more resistance, and thus requires more energy to move forward.
That’s why, despite all of the aerodynamic efforts, cylinder deactivations, gurney flaps, and extra gears, the 2019 Silverado 1500 in managed to improve its EPA fuel economy numbers by one mile per gallon in the city.
However, there are more efficient models coming. An all-new 2.7L turbo four-cylinder engine with 310 horsepower will be available on the 2019 Silverado 1500 in the coming months, and is expected to return better fuel economy numbers over its V6 and V8 counterparts. There’s also a 3.0L six cylinder Duramax diesel coming, and that might just prove to be the most efficient engine of the lot.
All of this fuel-saving effort may have been to offset the increased visual mass of the 2019 Silverado – because truck buyers can’t seem to have them big enough. Then again, who buys pickup trucks for the fuel economy?