The Car Connection Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Overview
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is the full-size pickup from the bowtie brand. It's locked in a perennial dogfight with crosstown rivals Ford and Ram. Although related to the GMC Sierra 1500, the Chevy pickup is a workaday hauler between the two.
Competition for the Chevy Silverado includes the Ram 1500, Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.
MORE: Read our 2021 Chevrolet Silverado review
Variety is the hallmark of any good pickup, and the Chevy Silverado keeps pace. It's available in a wide number of configurations that include work-based models all the way up to high-dollar High Country versions. It was redesigned for 2019 for the first time since 2014, and lost up to 450 pounds in the process thanks to GM's mixed materials strategy. The changes make it safer and more controlled, and give it a bigger and more versatile bed than it ever had. For 2020, Silverado got a turbodiesel-6 that is the most fuel-efficient of all the full-size trucks. For 2021, new trailering technology rolled down the line from the Silverado HD series, advanced safety features are finally available on all trims, and the Silverado can be had with a 6-way 3-piece power tailgate first employed on the GMC Sierra AT4.
The new Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The powertrain lineup expands to seven for 2020, thanks to the new turbodiesel inline-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission. The 285-horsepower 4.3-liter V-6 and 355-hp 5.3-liter and 420-hp 6.2 -liter V-8s return. The 5.3, however, is offered in two varieties. A base version uses the old Active Fuel Management system that shuts down four cylinders when cruising to save fuel. This engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission like the V-6. The new version of the 5.3 gets GM's new Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) system that can shut down one to six cylinders under light load conditions. It comes mated to an 8-speed automatic or available 10-speed auto. The 6.2 also has DFM and pairs with a 10-speed auto. Both V-8s are strong and burble with American pride, but we haven't driven the other models yet.
The other two new engines are a 348-hp 2.7-liter turbo-4 and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6, both mated to the 10-speed. Fuel economy ratings peg the diesel at 23/33/27 mpg combined, making it the most fuel-efficient full-size pickup as of 2020.
Chevy made the Silverado longer, wider, and taller, and the wheelbase is 3.9 inches longer. That gives the Crew Cab body style 2.9 more inches of rear leg room. Also offered are double cab and regular cab body styles. Buyers can choose from 5-foot-8, 6-foot-6, and 8-foot bed lengths.
The bed gets 1 inch taller and 1 inch longer, but it adds 20 percent more cargo space by growing almost 7 inches wider at the bed floor. The bed step is also larger. The largest bed in the segment has 12 fixed tiedowns that won't bend until 500 pound of force have been applied to them, and nine moveable tiedowns. A spray-in bedliner and task lighting are offered, and the aluminum tailgate is offered with or without lift assist and as a power up/down unit.
Maximum towing capacity is 13,400 pounds in 4WD Double Cab versions with the 6.2-liter V-8 with 10-speed auto. The 2019 Silverado's payload capacities are up 300-400 pounds. The 4WD system has an automatic mode that lets it work on dry pavement.
Inside, the Silverado is quiet, but not as luxurious as top rivals. The infotainment is easy to use and the controls are plainly laid out for ease of use. The infotainment system uses Chevy's MyLink software, which can stream audio from Pandora, connect to Bluetooth phones, and accept voice commands or inputs through its 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreen.
The model lineup expands from six to eight, consisting of Work Truck, Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, LT Trail Boss, RST, LTZ, and High Country. High Country is decked out, while the Work Truck is based, with vinyl floors and vinyl or cloth seats.
In safety testing, the Silverado trailed the competition. The IIHS rated its headlights "Poor" and it received a "Marginal" rating on the small front overlap crash test on the passenger side. Other trucks earned "Acceptable" or "Good" ratings. The NHTSA gives the 2019 Silverado a four-star rating overall; the Ram 1500 and Ford-150 got five stars.
Chevrolet added more safety equipment, but most of it went to top models. Standard on LTZ and High Country are front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts, but at least Chevy offers those items on LT and above. Available only for LTZ and High Country is Safety Package II with forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with active lane control, automatic high beams, and GM’s Safety Alert Seat.
Chevy Silverado history
The Silverado has been on sale since 1999, when General Motors gave the name to its C/K pickup trucks developed under the code name GMT800. In that first generation, the Silverado carried on with the rugged look and capability that GM's trucks used to battle the Ford F-150, their sales arch-rival. From the 1999 to the 2006 model year, the Silverado was sold in hundreds of configurations—nearly all of them powered by a V-8 engine teamed to a four-speed automatic transmission. A 5-speed automatic came later, as did GM's first hybrid—which in this case was a very "mild" hybrid which simply stored some recouped energy to feed electrical systems, including a power point in its pickup bed.
In 2007, GM introduced the first of the "GMT900" trucks—the project was accelerated as GM hoped strong sales would lift it back into profitability. While that didn't quite pan out, the GMT900s were an instant success, receiving good reviews for their more upscale styling, rich interiors, and improved drivetrains. The Silverado remained one of the best full-size trucks for its seemingly endless variety of configurations: three body styles that offered seating for up to six in front of a bed that came in short and long variants.
This Silverado shared its running gear with many vehicles across the GM brands. The Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche, Suburban, and Tahoe all were related, as were the heavy-duty versions of the Silverado and Suburban. GMC's Sierra, Suburban, and Yukon were almost identical to them, spun from the same architecture, as was the Cadillac Escalade. The Hummer H2 was also a distant cousin of these trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
This Silverado also offered a plainer and a quite nice interior design; a choice of four gas engines and a Two-Mode Hybrid model; and rear- or four-wheel drive. The most powerful, 403-hp V-8 Silverado had fuel economy of 12 mpg city, 19 highway, but the Hybrid edition earned ratings of 20 mpg city, 23 highway, according to the EPA. Towing topped out at more than 10,700 pounds. While the Silverado's rear seats were a little too vertical, the interior was as comfortable as the competitors', save for the Ram 1500. Advanced features ranged from a trailer-sway mode in the stability-control system, to dealer-installed wireless internet access.
Changes were minimal going through 2013. Powertrain Grade Braking—to improve stability on hills, when towing—was included for 2013 in all models with the 6-speed automatic.
The Chevy Silverado was extensively refreshed for 2014, with an upright, chiseled look inside and out; a stronger yet more fuel-efficient lineup of engines; quieter, more refined cabins; and a noteworthy set of safety and infotainment technology. The beefier visage was a nod to the looks of Chevy's HD trucks while adding a luxury-car feature set to the top of the lineup.
Under the hood, the Silverado was fitted with a new generation of GM V-6 and V-8 engines, all with a common architecture, direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable valve timing. Gas mileage, power, and torque were all improved. The base engine was a 285-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6, the mid-level a 5.3-liter V-8 good for 355 hp, and the top choice a 6.2-liter V-8 making 420 hp. All used 6-speed transmissions at the beginning, though the 6.2-liter was upgraded to a new 8-speed auto for 2015, and high-line versions of the 5.3-liter V-8 got it in 2016. The new trucks proved truly modern and very competitive with their domestic counterparts.
Chevy added several active-safety features as options, including lane-departure warning and collision warning. For 2016, it also got IntelliBeam headlights and active lane control. The infotainment processor was upgraded for 2016, and a version with a 7.0-inch touchscreen was added for lower line models. The extended-cab trucks switched to front-hinged short doors, with longer doors available and tied to more rear-seat room on Crew Cab models. The tailgate was damped for a soft landing when opened, Chevy offered lights in the cargo bed, and the rear bumper had small steps integrated into its corners for easier access to cargo.
Updates were few for 2015. In addition to the new transmission, they included available LTE connectivity for OnStar, which could also be used as a wi-fi hotspot. Chevy also offered a Black Out package for WT (work truck) models, which did exactly what you'd expect to the trim and wheels. The Silverado Custom was also added as an LS double cab with 20-inch wheels, chrome bumpers, chrome mirror caps, and a few other dress-up items, creating what can be referred to as a special-value package.
Other 2016 changes included the addition of wireless phone charging for models with front bucket seats, new power-articulating side steps for the High Country, and an available remote locking tailgate.
For 2017, automatic emergency braking was added to top trim levels, and a teen driver safety feature was added to all trims that can notify parents if teens are speeding, driving too far, or triggering automatic safety systems.
For 2018, the Silverado eAssist mild-hybrid became available nationwide on both LT and LTZ trim levels and a rearview camera was newly standard.