The auto industry is a global industry and highly competitive. But few segments of the business are anywhere near as competitive as the pickup truck market in U.S. where Ford, Ram, Chevrolet and their respective corporate managers are engaged in intense contest for sales and bragging rights.
The contest of has gotten even more intense lately as all three manufacturers have introduced new trucks.
I recently got to drive the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – a four-wheel-drive RST Crew Cab Silverado to be precise – and it is far cry from the old trucks that have helped make the American pickup into something of a legend and the object of enormous affection and desire.
The 2019 Silverado has the latest technology, plenty of power, handles well on the highway and is impressively quiet. But they do keep getting prices for new Silverado to start just under $30,000 but the Silverado I drove with the V8 engine was priced at $58,590.
(GM adds Silverado ZH2 to military-ready line-up. Click Here for the story.)
Walking around the exterior of the Silverado, General Motors designers working in the Chevrolet design studios in Warren, Michigan, revised the grille, retaining the family resemblance to earlier versions of the Silverado but with LED head lamps, fog lights and day-time running lights.
The Chevrolet Bow-Tie insignia on the grille is large and when you walk up to the truck, especially at night, it seems to pop out from the front of the truck. The rear of the Silverado and its tailgate also has been reshaped, making it more angular. The straight lines carry though the sides of new Silverado, separating it from the previous version of the Silverado.
However, the exterior of the trucks matters less than what in it and the inside of the Silverado is load for figuratively and perhaps literally.
A while back, the cabin of any pickup truck was a rather Spartan affair. But times have changed, and the cabins are now more spacious as the full-size pickup truck has grown taller and more luxurious. The interior of 2019 Chevrolet Silverado has comfortable seats, soft touch points and a layout that put controls for heating and entertainment within easy reach. It’s also quieter, which relieves stress.
Overall, the Silverado has been stretched in multiple directions. The wheelbase was extended 3.9 inches, making way for more for the bench seat in the crew cab. The Silverado’s overall length grew by 1.6 inches, creating more space for cargo volume but making it more difficult to find an adequate parking space even in the suburbs.
In addition, the cab – and the truck as whole – is stuffed with feature and technology, ranging from convenient storage space in the center stack and the doors as well as an Infotainment system with an 8-inch-diagonal color touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone projection compatibility, advanced voice recognition, in-vehicle apps and personalized profiles as well as 4G hotspot.
The Silverado also is equipped with push-button start and remote start – an increasingly popular feature on all kinds of vehicles – is also available. There are also USB ports, rear-vision camera and full-complement of driver assistance features such as forward collision warning and low-speed emergency braking, blind spot detection, lane keeping assistance and automatic headlight control are also available on the 2019 Silverado.
(Click Here for more about truck sales leading GM to quarterly profitability.)
A power tailgate and bed-mounted 120-volt power outlet are also available.
General Motors has made a number of different power train configurations available on the 2019 Silverado and the truck that I drove, Silverado RST with four-wheel drive was powered by a 5.3-liter engine with an eight-speed transmission, a genuine transfer case and a selector that allows the driver to select the driving mode and move it as conditions change.
The 5.3-liter EcoTech engine can produce 355 horsepower and 383 foot-pounds of torque so the truck has more than enough power to get up to speed quickly. I didn’t have a chance to load to the truck with bales of hay, but I suspect the low-end torque was more than adequate for carrying or pulling a load.
The shift by the eight-speed automatic transmission was timely and virtually invisible. The 2019 Silverado is also equipped with a stop-start system to save fuel and the fuel-economy is 16 miles per gallon in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 18 miles per gallon, which isn’t great if the price of gasoline ever jumps but a considerable improvement from previous generations of Chevy pickup trucks equipped with V8 engines run on gasoline.
I had an opportunity to drive the Silverado on a variety of roads in the countryside outside Detroit and the driving dynamics and overall ride quality was impressive on all sort of surfaces, including on a long stretch on a muddy dirt road, broken pavement of various kinds, suburban streets and the freeway.
The ride quality wasn’t quite up to that of a luxury sedan, but it seems to be getting close.
GM also found ways to improve the underlying structure of the 2019 Silverado by adding a higher-strength steel floor and front and rear suspensions that incorporate lightweight components.
(To see more about the new Chevy Silverado turbo-four nabbing the top fuel economy rating, Click Here.)
Pickup trucks have come a long way since they began displacing mules and the horse-drawn wagons more than a century ago. But truck like the 2019 Silverado underscore why they remain so popular. They just keep getting better.