If you don’t mind the flashy looks, it might just be the truck to have.
If you’re a regular reader here you’ll know that I have always had a bit of a love affair with GM trucks. I spent my youth riding around in one, and still trust a GM truck with my family to this day. When the all-new models were launched for 2019, I patiently awaited my time behind the wheel. Well, that time has come and I couldn’t have been happier to spend a week with a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss.
In my opinion, GM has built some of the best-looking trucks, period. They’ve always been purpose-built and tough looking, but Chevrolet trucks always seemed a bit more conservative and refined in their styling against their competitors. These were trucks that you could take to the office or a night out as well as the job site. The 2014 redesign recaptured that essence for me, and remains one of my favorite styles to date. As the years wore on GM took a few steps towards their competitors in terms of offering trucks that look downright aggressive and mean.
My tester came finished in Red Hot paint and with the Trail Boss package, which adds gloss black 18-inch wheels wrapped in Goodyear Duratrac all-terrain tires, an aggressive all black front fascia and red tow hooks. The additional $3,555 Off-Road Appearance package adds a bed mounted sport bar (which appears to be missing from our truck), big step bars and a soft roll tonneau cover. The configuration really accentuates the new Silverado’s in-your-face attitude, which contrasts with my preference for more conservative looking trucks.
Regardless, I have to admit that the truck looks better in person than it does in photos. Two call-outs though; the 275/65/R18 Duratracs look way too small for the aggressive stance on the truck, and while I appreciate the efforts made to integrate the exhaust tips into the bumper, the tips are obviously just for show rather than the pipes themselves like you’d find on a Ram 1500 (reviewed here).
Inside the new Silverado however, the truck is much more in line with my expectations. It’s extremely roomy and airy, moreso than the previous generation with loads of space for front and rear passengers to sprawl out in this crew cab configuration. The interior styling is toned down by comparison to the exterior, or even against competitors. Here, it’s all business; one of the cleanest and most informative gauge clusters in the business, a fantastic center console with massive cup-holders, a huge rubber tray and an under arm-rest storage bin the size of a small cooler.
The rear seating area is also filled with handy hidden storage and there is a large storage bin under the rear seats. That rear seat storage bin does mean that the floor under the seats is not flat, which may be an issue if you’re like me and often use the flat rear floor as a secondary cargo area – the F-150 stands out for this usage. The leather buckets up front are very comfortable, and heated, as is the steering wheel; but you will find some chintzy plastics mostly notable on the dashboard and door panels.
As expected, the 2019 model is the most technologically advanced Silverado ever. It has all the modern truck gadgets, including a trailer assist program where you can track tire pressure, mileage and the status of your connections all from the cab. Everything is laid out very logically inside, which makes even the fancy new tech simple to operate, including the eight-inch infotainment touchscreen which offers real knobs for high-frequency functions such as volume and tuning, though some of the wide center stack controls are a bit of a stretch to reach for the driver. The system supports GM’s 4G-LTE hotspot as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Another interesting new tech feature is that you can now see brake pad and air filter life as a percentage, on the LCD display in the gauge cluster – a pretty handy way to keep on top of basic maintenance. Our tester came with the optional ($1,325) power sunroof. It’s not necessary, but I found that popping it open to the vent position and opening the rear power sliding window provided a great light breeze through the truck with minimal noise; very nice on these warm early fall days.
The best part about any good GM truck is the powertrain. While you can opt for the basic 4.3L V6, or a new 2.7L turbocharged V6, the engines to have in my eyes will always be the time-tested LS/LT series small block V8s. These engines are widely regarded as some of the most reliable in the industry, and I’ve personally logged many thousands of kilometers on these engines all incredibly trouble free. Our tester has the popular 5.3L as opposed to the higher output 6.2L, but the 5.3L is the volume seller and maintains a very healthy 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft. of torque at 4,100RPM.
A traditional six-speed automatic transmission is available on lower trims, but our truck got the newer eight-speed unit. This drivetrain is just about perfection in a light-duty truck like this. It’s smooth, efficient, reliable, simple mechanically and has plenty of go-power when you need it thanks to the V8 torque. Our tester came with an optional ($3,195) Performance Package that adds a cat-back exhaust and a high performance air intake system.
The Silverado drives exactly like a pickup should. It’s responsive, quiet and comfortable, tracks dead straight and is surprisingly nimble in the city unlike its Ford rival. The Silverado does not ride as smoothly as the Ram 1500 with its rear coils and air ride, but it has more confidence on the road as it retains a feeling of direct connection to the road through the steering wheel. While the infamous “Chevy Shake” on sharp bumps is still present, it’s toned down to more of a fond memory than an actual distraction from the pleasant driving experience.
My week with the Silverado proved to be a busy one and I got the chance to not only run my usual rush hour commute with it, but also put it to work hauling a 1,000-pound pool table in one run, a hardtop for a project MGB in another, and a basement’s worth of junk in the third. I quickly discovered that GM’s claims about having the biggest beds in the business are the real deal. Even though our tester came with the short bed, the extra width available due to the bed walls being pushed out as far as possible allowed it to swallow a surprising amount of cargo with ease. The steps integrated into the rear bumper proved handy too, with easy access to the high bed.
Battling heavy traffic, and the odd heavy load, I averaged 14.3L/100km for the week. It’s not as efficient as I expected since we’ve seen mid 12s with this engine combination before, but these truck engines are much more efficient out on the open highway than they are in city traffic. The good news is that the truck is happy on regular 87-octane, so you can be a little thrifty at the pumps.
What’s not thrifty when you’re talking modern pickup trucks is the pricing. As is the case with trucks, the Silverado is available in an endless number of configurations from a $30,000 work truck with a regular two-seater cab and a long box, to an $80,000 luxury truck with acres of fine leather and all the latest creature comforts. Our tester came in at $70,030 based on a $54,500 base price for the LT Trail Boss, plus $15,530 in options. It’s really the options that get you on these trucks, and if you’re happy without many of them them you can have a very capable truck for a really fair price. If you need the options, wait for some incentives and go in ready to negotiate.
The popularity of today’s full-sized pickup trucks mean they have to serve as true all purpose vehicles, and that’s where the Silverado really shines. It offers all the capability you expect from a modern pickup truck, and does just about everything with grace. If you don’t mind the flashy looks, it might just be the truck to have. Personally, I’d struggle to choose between the new Ram, which looks great but may not have the endurance of the Chevy, or the Silverado that will carry the torch of reliability. We are in a fantastic era for pickup truck buyers, so much so that it’s difficult to make a bad choice.