• Car Review

Driven: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Review

By David Undercoffler | October 19, 2018

Autolist rating: 2/5
But would we buy it? If you’re a Chevy fan
Price range: $29,795 - $54,495 not including destination or options

Key takeaways

  • All-new generation of Silverado trucks for 2019.
  • Offers a variety of engine options including a four-cylinder turbo, three V8s and a diesel.
  • Interior is way behind competitors from Ram and Ford.
  • Good on- and off-road driving dynamics.
  • Will appeal to Chevy traditionalists but likely won’t pull new buyers to the brand.

What is it?

The Silverado 1500 is Chevrolet’s long-standing full-size pickup truck. It’s larger than the midsize Colorado truck and smaller and less capable than the company’s heavy-duty range (which starts with the 2500 HD).

Paired with General Motors’ other full-size truck family members (GMC Sierra) that are essentially cousins to the Silverado, these are some of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. The Silverado competes against the Ford F150, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.

The Silverado was completely redesigned for the 2019 model year. This new generation of 1500 models offers a range of engine choices including a base 4.3-liter V6, two versions of a 5.3-liter V8, a new 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a range-topping 6.2-liter V8 and an upcoming 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel engine.

Transmissions include a six-speed automatic on the base V6 and the base 5.3-liter V8, an eight-speed automatic on the four-cylinder turbo and the higher-end 5.3-liter V8 and a ten-speed automatic on the high-end 6.2-liter V8 and the 3.0-liter diesel.

Rear-wheel-drive is standard on most trims, and four-wheel-drive is optional on most trims.

The 2019 Silverado comes in the following trims, from base to range-topper: Work Truck, Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ and High Country.

As you might imagine, the Trail Boss models have a lifted and retuned suspension for better off-road handling while the RST is a more street-oriented model. The LT and LTZ are the volume sellers and do-it-all champs while the High Country is the fully-loaded, luxury-oriented trim.

There are three cab styles to choose from: regular cab on the base Work Truck and then Double Cab (four doors but the rear ones are smaller and legroom in the rear seats is smaller) or Crew Cab (four full-sized doors and acres of space in the rear seats). On Custom through LTZ trims, the Double Cab is standard and the Crew is optional; the High Country only comes in Crew.

What’s good

TLDR: Looks good, drives good, bed good.

  • Tough looks. Chevy gave the exterior of its new Silverado a tough-guy makeover that’s at once rugged and handsome but also modern and dynamic. Plus, lower trim levels like the Custom, Custom Trail Boss and the LT all look good too -- whereas lower-end trim trucks from Ford, Toyota, Ram and even earlier Chevys make it obvious you opted for a cheaper version.

  • Easy cruiser. Though the new Silverado is huge -- much like all of its peers -- it’s a great daily driver. The ride is comfortable, wind and road noise are practically non-existent and its handling is on-point for such a large vehicle. Though it’s built for work, it’s tuned for everyday play. We like that.

  • Big bed. Chevy worked hard to design the Silverado’s bed to have more capacity than the Ram 1500 or the Ford F150: the short box version of the Chevy has 63 cubic feet of space compared to 53 for the Ford and 54 for the Ram. If you’re going to have a cookie, have a cookie -- get a truck that maximizes the bed space.

What’s bad

TLDR: This is your new interior?, best powertrain is the priciest.

  • Weak interior. This is an all-new truck right? One that’s supposed to keep up in the brutally competitive truck wars against Ram and Ford? You wouldn’t know it from the interior. Very little about it says “next generation,” particularly the miniscule infotainment touchscreen in the dash (Even the fully-loaded High Country has a paltry eight-inch screen compared to the Ram 1500’s massive 12-inch screen). The rest of the cabin’s materials and design also leave a lot to be desired...they feel subpar and out of date already. This was a big opportunity to move the Silverado forward and Chevy missed it.

  • Powertrain slacking. We tested both the higher-end LTZ model with the 5.3-liter V8/eight-speed transmission combo and the fully-loaded High Country model with the 6.2-liter V8 and the ten-speed automatic. We weren’t as impressed with the 5.3-liter combo as we had hoped: the power is fine though not overwhelming and the transmission wasn’t as responsive as we would like. And this was in normal driving without anything in the bed and without towing anything. The 6.2-liter setup was stellar but in our mind, you shouldn’t have to jump to the highest-end trim level to get a powertrain you’re happy about.

5 stars of execution

Safety features? NO

  • We were disappointed that the Silverado doesn’t come standard with features like pre-collision alerts and braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist or blind-spot monitoring. Trucks like the Silverado have some of the highest profit margins in the industry so it’d be nice to see their makers include features like these -- features which are now standard on other vehicles in the industry that cost half as much.
  • These active safety features aren’t even available on most Silverado trims; they’re only optional on the LTZ and High Country models.

Value? YES

  • At each trim level, the Silverado offers you a good amount of capability, style and amenities relative to its peers.
  • We especially liked the Custom Trail Boss -- a model that looks far more expensive than it is.
  • The only downside to this new generation of Silverado is that you’re getting a lesser interior for your money than you would on the new Ram 1500.

Efficiency? NO

  • Despite shaving hundreds of pounds from the previous generation of Silverado, this new lineup doesn’t impress when it comes to fuel economy.
  • Neither the four-cylinder nor the range of V8s beat any competitors by a meaningful number and most of those powertrains offer better driving dynamics.

Driving experience? NO

  • We loved our time in the loaded High Country model and its 6.2-liter V8 and ten-speed automatic transmission.
  • So what’s the problem? That combo is only available on the High Country and LTZ, so be prepared to pay around $50,000 for it.
  • Unfortunately, the 5.3-liter V8 paired with the eight-speed automatic -- the duo that will be on a majority of the Silverados Chevy sells -- is much less engaging to drive. Especially when compared to refinement and power of Ford’s EcoBoost V6 turbocharged options and Ram’s V8.

Execution? YES

  • Overall we liked the Chevy Silverado. It’s easy to drive on a daily basis, the exterior styling is bold and it has all the capabilities (hauling, towing, interior functionality) that you’d expect in a full-size truck.
  • Our main complaint is that it plays it too safe; pickup truck wars are as hot as they’ve ever been and Ford and Ram are setting a vicious pace for advancements and innovation.
  • This was a missed opportunity by Chevy to move forward its truck line and grab new buyers; Silverado traditionalists will love it and that’s clearly who Chevy was hoping to please with this generation.

Total Rating: 2 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

The base 2019 Silverado Work Truck starts at $29,795 before destination (for the regular cab, long bed version). It includes the 285-horsepower V6, a six-speed automatic transmission, a seven-inch color touchscreen infotainment system, a six-speaker audio system, tire-pressure monitoring system, and a backup camera.

The Work Truck is also available in Double Cab for $33,695 and Crew Cab for $36,095.

The Custom starts at $36,095 in Double Cab form and adds higher-grade interior and exterior trim, LED taillights, heated outside mirrors, 20-inch wheels and keyless entry. The Crew Cab version starts at $38,495.

Next up is the Custom Trail Boss, one of our favorite versions of the Silverado because it gives you a rugged, off-road ready truck right out of the box for a reasonable price.

It starts at $40,995 for the Double Cab (Crew Cab is $43,395) and adds four-wheel-drive as standard plus a two-inch lifted suspension with Rancho shocks and Goodyear tires, hill descent control, locking rear differential, skid plates for the oil pan and transfer case and a heavy-duty air filter.

The more basic version of the 5.3-liter V8 (remember there are two version) with 355 horsepower and a six-speed automatic is optional on the Work Truck, Custom and Custom Trail Boss.

Then comes the LT model -- one of the volume-sellers in the Silverado lineup. It starts at $38,395 in Double Cab form and it comes standard with the 310-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic, plus a 4.2-inch color display in instrument panel, OnStar connectivity, wifi hotspot and engine start/stop.

Next is the street-oriented $40,295 RST model in Double Cab form. This truck is much like the LT but color-keyed bumpers and exterior trim gives it a more performance-oriented look. Other standard goodies include a power locking and release tailgate and remote start.

The more sophisticated 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission is optional on the LT and RST versions.

That same powertrain is standard on the LT Trail Boss, LTZ and High Country.

The LT Trail Boss is much like the Custom Trail Boss -- off-road oriented upgrades and all -- but it uses the newer 5.3-liter V8 as a standard engine rather than the Custom’s standard V6. This LT Trail Boss starts at $47,395 for the Double Cab (and four-wheel-drive is standard).

Next is the LTZ -- another volume seller for the Silverado. It starts at $44,495 for Double Cab form and comes with dual-zone climate control, Sirius satellite radio, 120-volt power outlets in the dash and bed, heated steering wheel, heated 10-way power seats for driver and front passenger, leather seats, chrome exterior trim and a trailering package that includes an app with theft alert and trailer tire pressure monitoring system, trailer lighting test system, hitch lighting and camera guidance and auto electric parking brake assist.

Finally, at the top of the lengthy trim lineup of Silverados is the luxury-oriented High Country model. It starts at $54,495 for Crew Cab only and adds some active safety features including lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a Bose sound system, eight-inch color digital instrument panel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, LED exterior lighting, a power up/down tailgate, a power-sliding rear window and wireless smartphone charging.

The 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 and the ten-speed automatic transmission are optional on the LTZ and the High Country.

So what were our favorites? On the cheaper end, we love the idea of the Custom Trail Boss with the optional 5.3-liter V8. This truck gives you plenty of off-road ready toughness from the moment you drive it off the dealer’s lot. Plus it looks far more expensive than it is. A win-win.

On the higher end of the Silverado family, we’d choose the LTZ with the optional 6.2-liter V8. It packs all of the features and capability you’d ever want (or need) plus the best powertrain combo in the Silverado lineup.

See Current Silverado 1500 Listings

Also consider

  • Ram’s 1500 is the current innovation leader in the full-size truck world so if you’re open to the brand, absolutely check one out.

  • Ford’s F150 is getting a little long in the tooth at this point but Ford has done an admirable job keeping current many elements of the truck (powertrains, capabilities, features and design). Only the interior materials and construction are starting to look at little dated. But the F150 is still absolutely worth a test drive if you’re in the full-size truck market.

  • Skip Toyota’s Tundra and Nissan’s Titan -- both are good but outclassed by this American trio.