2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: Phoning It In On A Flip Phone

While I didn’t attend the launch of the 2019 Chevy Silverado, several people I know did. One of the items that they all relayed from Chevy’s message was “This is the most important vehicle we’ve ever built.”  So it was with this context that I evaluated the vehicle.

Up for review was the 2019 Silverado 4WD LTZ Crew, with the 6.2-liter V8 and the 10-speed automatic transmission. With this new generation of Silverado, Chevrolet has made it taller, longer, and wider. It’s ok to comment here about how today’s half-ton pickup is the same size as the late-90s to early-2000s three-quarter-and-one-ton truck because it’s absolutely true.

The size of this truck is immediately apparent when you try to park it. For context, understand that one of the first vehicles I learned to drive and parallel park was a manual Ford F-250 3/4-ton. The length of the Silverado makes turning in to the widest of suburban parking lot slots an adventure. If you are OCD about parking straight between the lines it will take you two or three attempts. Once you are there, you will see that there is NO space between your doors and the parking lines.

This is all in suburbia where everything is supersized and wide when it comes to parking. Trying to drive this Silverado in the city, or through an older, pre-WWII neighborhood becomes its own challenge.

While I’m sure if you talk to the PR people at Chevrolet they would say that feedback from their customers was a desire for more room in the cab of the truck. That’s what they gave them. Henry Ford famously said, “If I asked customers what they wanted they would have told me a faster horse.”  Then again, this “64-oz Double Big Gulp” sizing is why “compact” pickups like Colorado (sized like an early 90s half-ton) are selling so well.

As for the styling of the new Silverado, while it has ruffled feathers, generally I think it’s attractive and it looks good on the job site. Truck buyers tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to the styling of their trucks.  So, any change from what they are accustomed to will be met with resistance. Overall though, this is good. It won’t be like the new Camaro where it’s all hands on deck for an immediate restyle of the front end.

On the road, the Silverado is comfortable and capable. One thing that GM does well is make large trucks and SUVs ride and handle better than expected.  With the Silverado, that trend continues. Running to the big box hardware store, kids to activities or between job sites, the Silverado is pleasant to drive. However, and this is the 800-pound gorilla in the cab, you have to live with the interior of the truck.

Chevy’s Silverado Trail Boss is …almost good

The polite term to describe the interior of the near-$60,000, 2019 Silverado is “disappointing.”  The honest term to describe it is two notches above “unacceptable.”

The materials used for the interior are more suited for the Cruze at $22,000. While the overall layout of the Silverado is okay, from a design point it looks like it has not evolved from the early 2000s.

Let me also take a moment to call out the stereo in my review unit. It may be the very worst stereo I’ve ever heard in my fifteen years of reviewing cars. The following statement is only slightly hyperbolic but is needed to illustrate just how bad it was.  The AM-only radio in a 1972 Nova with a single dash speaker may have better audio than this unit.

For those riding in the rear seats, you will have plenty of room to stretch out.  A six-footer can easily ride behind a six-foot-tall driver. With as thin as the rear seats are though, how long you’d want to be back there is another story. You do get a heated seat, along with a USB and micro-USB charger, as well as a 12-volt power port.

When a new model comes out, it generally has better fuel economy. Not the 2019 Silverado. Yes, it’s actually down one MPG across the board with the 6.2-liter V8. Even with cylinder deactivation, it clocks in at 16 city, 20 highway and 17 combined. Real world performance wasn’t close. Thirteen to fourteen in the city and eighteen on the highway were the best we got.

Truck buyers are extremely brand loyal, so people who like their Chevy trucks will keep buying their Chevy trucks. If Chevy/GM think they are going to get buyers from Ford, Ram, or Toyota to purchase one of these, that’s not going to happen. With Nissan, it’s hard to say; I don’t have enough time in a Titan to make a fair comparison against it. Head-to-head, the Silverado just doesn’t stack up at its price against the competition if you are objective about it.

If this is truly the most important vehicle for Chevrolet, and given the sales volume and the profit levels, that is a fair mission statement.  Heads should roll for whoever is responsible for letting this out the door as is. When you spend multiple billions of dollars rolling out an all-new flagship vehicle, it should not be third or fourth best in class from the start.

27 Comments

  1. I like big trucks and I cannot lie….
    However, GM may have pushed too far this time. I parked my 2012 F150 SuperCrew long box (which is no small truck) next to a new Silverado just the other day, and it absolutely towered over my widdle-babysized pickup twuck. With such a minimal hood slope, I can’t image you’d be able to see anything less than 5-6 feet in front of you.
    I also realize that styling is very, very subjective – but – this thing is absolutely putrid. The weird ‘cut-outs’ on the front grill and taillights and the strangely scalloped fenders gives this thing absolutely no flow or continuity. It looks like they had 3 different design teams and then just took bits and pieces from each. I’m a GM fan, but lately I just can’t understand what they’re trying to do or where they’re going. The Camaro mess, this truck, the proposed HD trucks that are coming, the Blazer. I just, um, yeah….

    1. I thought the close up shot of the front grill/fender above showed accident damage at first. Then I looked more and realized it was made that way.

  2. Kudos for calling out a mismatch between ambition and reality. But do you guys think the truck market is really only asking for ever bigger vehicles? Even the Ranger is quite large to my mind. Also, can we get an underhood shot? It looks like there should be enough space to rent out an apartment between all the motory parts.

    1. Completely agree. I looked forward to the new Ranger (I had a ’97 that I really liked) until I saw how big it had grown.

      I heard last month (?) that Ford was seriously considering an entry-level pickup to slot below the Ranger, but that it would (unfortunately) most likely be based on the Focus platform. While this makes sense, I was never a big fan of FWD pickups of any make.

      1. Doesn’t the platform allow for some modularity, FWD, RWD and AWD? Is Ford alone in pursuing a significantly smaller pickup?

        1. Could be AWD like the Focus RS, but your engine would still be transverse most likely if using the Focus parts bin. Even the RS with it’s drift mode shenanigans is largely a front biased car with the rear end trickery provided by GKNs twister diff. What Ford don’t tell you is you can find the same diff in a RR Evoque, just that the Evoque isn’t set up for the same hooliganism. Though of course, one would have to ask why anyone needs a focus based “truck” when a perfectly good Focus based commercial vehicle already exists. It’s called the Transit Connect. It even has a “bed” cover that keeps stuff you put in the back dry. I know, crazy right? What will they think of next… 😉

          1. Dude, did you just attempt to treat the car market…with rationality?
            https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2596/3326/collections/Egress_large.jpg?v=1525072162
            Srsly though, pickup trucks are a very weird idea of “practical”, but you can’t treat this in a brainy way. Car companies need to capitalize on perceived differentiation. If even a hundred people know that a Focus-based truck is RWD based on some techno-shenanigans, that doesn’t mean anything to the pickup buying public – I would assume.

    2. Under hood storage will probably be the next feature touted on trucks. My 2011 Silverado with a gas V-6 has a space for a second battery that is used on the diesel. A nice storage box could fit there.

    3. Also, there is a large percentage of new truck buys, that will take their giant new truck and install a lift kit, jacking it up another 3-8″.

      1. But that’s for aesthetics, not purpose, right? Underhood storage seems reasonable if the manufacturers insist on creating city-sized blind spots anyway. Also a first step towards accepting EV layouts.

          1. I live in Dallas Texas where the pickups roam the earth like they did in the days of the dinosaurs. It is very rare to see one with anything in the bed. Ever. One of the guys I worked with commuted to the office in an F350 Dualie. His parking place was near mine and I walked by it every day. In two years there was never a single scratch in the bedliner.

            He also liked to back into his parking place thus terrorizing the people with spaces on either side of him. I have had it repeatedly explained to me that it’s easier to back into a space than to back out…. but I’m not buying it. Nose in, you can clearly see the cars on either side. Backing out, you are backing into a much wider space.

            Short Version: not a huge fan of huge commuter trucks

          2. I live in Dallas Texas where the pickups roam the earth like they did in the days of the dinosaurs. It is very rare to see one with anything in the bed. Ever. One of the guys I worked with commuted to the office in an F350 Dualie. His parking place was near mine and I walked by it every day. In two years there was never a single scratch in the bedliner.

            He also liked to back into his parking place thus terrorizing the people with spaces on either side of him. I have had it repeatedly explained to me that it’s easier to back into a space than to back out…. but I’m not buying it. Nose in, you can clearly see the cars on either side. Backing out, you are backing into a much wider space.

            Short Version: not a huge fan of huge commuter trucks

          3. I do commute to work in a full size 2011 Silverado (extended cab, short bed, work truck package). I bought it because I was going to buy a new vehicle. Also, I was going to buy a GM vehicle (wife’s grandfather retired from GM, we get his discount). I bought it just before my daughter was born. It was the cheapest GM vehicle with a usable rear seat that I wanted to own. Shortly after getting it I hauled several tons of scrap metal with it. I occasionally use it for truck things. It has a soft tonneau cover on it. Most of the time the bed is at least 1/4 full of assorted crap just riding around back there.
            Did the guy with the F350 tow a big camper or something on weekends at least?

          4. Interesting digression. In Europe, you learn to park your car by backing in. I guess the reasoning is that you see everything from every angle once you arrive, but have less of an overview once you leave. Thus it’s safer to reverse into a spot than to reverse out of it. Alas, I told my wife once and she promptly split the Camry’s rear bumper on a random fence post.

          5. He’s right about the backing in though. It has nothing to do with the view and it’s all about the geometry of the steering. By backing in, your steered wheels run a larger arc outside of the arc of your fixed ones, meaning you can much easier align your vehicle with your slot without cutting the corners of neighbouring slots. This effect is much more pronounced on vehicles with long wheelbases.

            Its also the reason forklifts have rear wheel steering, much better for precision maneuverability. The reason cars are front wheel steered ist stability at speed.

  3. Why do Chevy trucks have to look like toy trucks? I know the answer, but, since originality, please.

    1. They realized they could save money by letting Mattel make the Hot Wheels first, then scale up.

    2. They realized they could save money by letting Mattel make the Hot Wheels first, then scale up.

  4. I am looking at Nokia 8110 4Gs these days (KaiOS has WhatsApp but no podcasting app?!), but the interior is lacking a bit of “Matrix cool” indeed…

  5. GM interiors are part of the reason I prefer Ford trucks. Granted the 2018 GMC I rented from U Haul was pretty nice, but it appears that the 2019 is a retrograde move. Failure to execute was major factor in the 2008 bankruptcy, let’s see if they can at least fix it in the first service pack. Also what possessed GM management and styling to produce the most arrogant vehicle this side of a chromed out Hummer H2?

  6. Reporting from rural Manitoba: you’re certainly right about one thing; Chevy Guys will NEVER drive anything other than a Chevy, and Ford Guys will NEVER drive anything other than a Ford. It goes by family too, you never see mixed brands in one family, pretty much. So these things don’t have to be good, they just have to be new, and preferably more expensive than the last generation.

    Ram/Toyota/Nissan, no one much cares.

    Also as a road cyclist, I’m not sure anymore whether to be worried that these drivers have a blind spot directly in front of them the size of a city bus, or be worried that the ever increasingly aggro design and height-induced societal alienation will rub off on the drivers even more than it already has.

    1. Very true. I grew up in WV, and it’s the same way there– brand loyalty rules. I’m the product of a Ford/GM marriage, though, which may explain why I’ve owned so many AMCs and Jeeps.

  7. It does look like a good candidate for a new TRANSFORMERS movie. I never liked chevy trucks due to the cheap plastic interiors, but you can’t fix stupid ……… ( mike drop) I’m out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here