More than stick­ers and badges

Four Wheeler - - Contents - By Sean P. Hol­man ed­i­[email protected]­wheeler.com Pho­tos: Cour­tesy of the man­u­fac­turer & Sean P. Hol­man

More than stick­ers and badges

WHEN THE ALL-NEW ’19 CHEVRO­LET SIL­VER­ADO 1500 was re­vealed at the Texas Mo­tor Speed­way by he­li­copter way back in De­cem­ber 2017, it was the po­lar­iz­ing Trail Boss edi­tion that Chevy chose to de­but. Look­ing fu­tur­is­tic, the new Sil­ver­ado had its fair share of de­trac­tors, and lots of ques­tions lin­gered as to whether the ’19 ver­sion would be wor­thy of the Sil­ver­ado name­plate.

As we’ve found out more about the new truck, we’ve been in­cred­i­bly im­pressed, and we fi­nally had our op­por­tu­nity to get be­hind the wheel of the new Sil­ver­ado in Jack­son, Wy­oming. We drove the top-line High Coun­try, but fo­cused our seat time in the ex­cit­ing new Trail Boss trim.


The ’19 Sil­ver­ado is larger than the out­go­ing truck, with a wheel­base that has been stretched up to 3.9 inches and over­all length that has been in­creased up to 1.9 inches. The truck has been fully re-en­gi­neered with a mixed-me­dia strat­egy, com­bin­ing dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als de­pend­ing on need. For ex­am­ple, the bed floor is high­strength steel, while the swing pan­els (doors, hood, and tail­gate) are made of alu­minum. The new frame is fully boxed and is 10 per­cent tor­sion­ally stiffer, while weigh­ing up to 88 pounds less than the old frame. These changes al­low the truck to be up to 450 pounds lighter than a com­pa­ra­ble ’18 Sil­ver­ado.

Pow­er­trains are both well known and all new. The 5.3L and 6.2L small-block V-8s re­turn, matched with eight-speed and ten-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sions, re­spec­tively. Ad­di­tion­ally, buy­ers can choose a high-out­put 2.7L turbo four-cylin­der or a 3.0L straight-six tur­bod­iesel. A 4.3L V-6 will also be of­fered.

Both V-8s use an up­dated ver­sion of Ac­tive Fuel Man­age­ment, called Dynamic Fuel Man­age­ment (DFM). DFM gives the ven­er­a­ble pushrod V-8s the abil­ity to run on as few as one cylin­der, and on any com­bi­na­tion up to eight, de­pend­ing on load and needs. What is most im­pres­sive is the fact that these cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion modes are im­per­cep­ti­ble to the driver, de­spite qui­eter cabins. Auto Start/stop is un­for­tu­nately present, but all this tech­nol­ogy re­sults in a rat­ing of 16 city/22 high­way/18 com­bined mpg for the 5.3L 4WD and 16 city/20 high­way/17 com­bined mpg for the 6.2L 4WD.

A new bed de­sign, dubbed the Durabed, fea­tures up to 20 per­cent more bed vol­ume than the near­est com­peti­tor thanks to a bed floor that is up to 7 inches wider. The bed fea­tures 12 fixed tie-downs, as well as nine move­able ones, each of which has been strength­ened from the pre­vi­ous bed. Four tail­gates are of­fered: stan­dard man­ual, stan­dard gate with Lift As­sist, Power lock/re­lease with Lift As­sist and auto re­lease, and power up and down. Larger Corner­step bumpers that now ac­com­mo­date steel-toe boots, task light­ing, and a 120V out­let round out the bed up­grades.

Sus­pen­sion is a fa­mil­iar coilover IFS setup in the front and a solid axle in the rear, although a com­pos­ite sec­ond-stage leaf is used in some mod­els for weight sav­ings and im­proved ride. Wheel travel has in­creased 1.18 inches ver­sus the old truck.


The phi­los­o­phy of the de­sign team was to re-imag­ine the Sil­ver­ado as if the team were re­design­ing it for two gen­er­a­tions in the fu­ture. Im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent in the de­sign is a men­ac­ing face that says to on­look­ers that this truck means busi­ness. New body lines have more than a pass­ing re­sem­blance to late-model Chevy cars, and the re­turn of larger, rounder wheel­wells should make wheel­ers happy. The front bumper and fend­ers in­cor­po­rate air cur­tains, which aid aero, and the side mir­rors are re­motely mounted from the side glass down on the doors. This also im­proves aero, re­duces wind noise, and im­proves vis­i­bil­ity be­tween the mir­ror and the body.


Con­sumers will wel­come the eight trim lev­els that will be avail­able: the high-value Work Truck, Cus­tom, and Cus­tom Trail Boss; the high-vol­ume LT, RST, and LT Trail Boss; and the high-fea­ture (and top-of-the-line) LTZ and High Coun­try. Each trim was de­signed to ap­peal to a dif­fer­ent buyer, with dis­tinc­tive per­son­al­i­ties and looks. Whether fleet is your thing, or you are look­ing to have the fan­ci­est truck on the ranch, Chevy has you cov­ered.


The all-new in­te­rior will be a nice up­grade for those cur­rently in a Chevy truck. It is nowhere near as rad­i­cal of a de­par­ture as the ex­te­rior, in­stead fo­cus­ing on a thought­ful lay­out and lots of fea­tures that im­prove upon the cur­rent truck. While the look is fa­mil­iar, the dash fea­tures im­proved ma­te­ri­als and en­hanced er­gonomics with some no­table changes. The four­wheel-drive se­lec­tor is now on the left side of the steer­ing wheel above the head­light switch, while the trailer brake con­troller has moved to its proper spot on the cen­ter stack. Switchgear has a great tac­tile feel, and the next-gen­er­a­tion 8-inch touch dis­play houses the very lat­est sys­tem and fixes some legacy is­sues from the out­go­ing sys­tem with bet­ter Carplay and An­droid Auto im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Tech-savvy pas­sen­gers will ap­pre­ci­ate the co­pi­ous amount of USB-C and USB-A charg­ing ports and a wire­less charg­ing mat that has

moved from the con­sole lid to the con­sole and is com­pat­i­ble with the lat­est iphone. Driv­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate that Chevy cen­tered the steer­ing wheel to the driver seat and squared it to the driver, fi­nally end­ing decades of un­nec­es­sary en­gi­neer­ing ob­sti­nance. Other niceties in­clude im­proved cuphold­ers, hid­den stor­age cub­bies in the rear seat­backs, and a re­tained col­umn shifter that keeps the cen­ter con­sole open for stor­age. Strangely, the new truck lacks seat­belt height ad­justa­bil­ity for the front pas­sen­gers.

Cur­rent Chevy truck own­ers will find the in­te­rior rec­og­niz­able, use­able, very func­tional, and much im­proved in al­most ev­ery way. How­ever, Chevy played it safe, and even in its top trim, the Sil­ver­ado doesn’t rep­re­sent the nicest in­te­rior on the mar­ket. That crown re­sides with the re­cently in­tro­duced Ram 1500. We won’t say the in­te­rior is a miss for Chevy by any means, but it doesn’t raise any bars, ei­ther.

Trail Boss

By far our fa­vorite trim level is the Trail Boss. Avail­able as a Cus­tom or LT grade, the Trail Boss is much more sub­stan­tial of a pack­age than any­thing of­fered on the Sil­ver­ado to­day. Start­ing with a fac­tory-en­gi­neered 2-inch sus­pen­sion lift (which will also be avail­able from the dealer and can be added af­ter pur­chase to any four-wheel-drive Sil­ver­ado, re­gard­less of trim), the Trail Boss adds a re­shaped front bumper for an in­creased ap­proach an­gle, mono­tube Rancho shocks, 32-inch LT275/65R18 Goodyear Du­ra­trac tires, the ven­er­a­ble G80 Gov-lock me­chan­i­cal rear locker, trendy red towhooks, and full skid­plat­ing. Other fea­tures in­clude Elec­tronic Hill De­scent Con­trol and a heavy-duty air cleaner.

For those who don’t need such an ag­gres­sive tire, a 20-inch wheel and tire pack­age with 275/60R20 Bridge­stone Dueler A/T tires that mea­sure out to 33 inches is op­tional.


Our Trail Boss tester was equipped with the 355hp and 383–lb-ft 5.3L V-8, backed by an up­dated eight-speed au­to­matic and the op­tional 20-inch wheel and tire pack­age (Chevy saved the Du­ra­trac-equipped trucks for the off-road course). GM engi­neers put a lot of ef­fort into en­sur­ing that the new Sil­ver­ado is not only ca­pa­ble, but also com­fort­able on-road. The im­prove­ment in the chas­sis is im­me­di­ately no­tice­able from the first time you pull away from a park­ing spot. Whether driv­ing over smooth high­way or bro­ken pave­ment, the Sil­ver­ado re­mains com­posed and com­pe­tent, with lit­tle head toss or body roll.

We also must com­mend the Sil­ver­ado’s stel­lar steer­ing. The Chevy elec­tronic power-as­sist steer­ing sys­tem, or EPAS, is per­fectly weighted without any of the ar­ti­fi­cial feel of ear­lier sys­tems. Ben­e­fits in­clude the abil­ity to ad­just for cross­winds and road crown, and Du­ra­trac-equipped mod­els even get a dif­fer­ent “tune” to com­pen­sate for the re­sis­tance of the more ag­gres­sive treads. Chevy also nailed the brake feel with a short stroke and easy mod­u­la­tion to ac­cess the clamp­ing force of the binders on the 13.5-inch front and 14.1-inch rear ro­tors.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion is good, although we wish there was a gear ra­tio op­tion other than the stan­dard 3.23s. We think the 3.42s from the Max Trai­ler­ing Pack­age or even the 3.73s from the lower-trim 5.3L/six-speed auto trucks would liven up the Trail Boss quite a bit, al­beit at the ex­pense of fuel econ­omy—a trade-off we are will­ing to make.


We tested the Trail Boss over a spe­cially pre­pared off-road course com­plete with a loose hill­climb, wet logs, boul­ders, and mud. While it wasn’t any­thing we would con­sider hard core, it was still a good in­di­ca­tor of just how well the trac­tion aids, tires, and sus­pen­sion work to­gether. We even had a chance to test out the un­der­body pro­tec­tion, which we can tell you should be more than ad­e­quate for most users.

Be­cause of the in­creased chas­sis rigid­ity, the sus­pen­sion re­ally per­forms well, and the ex­tra wheel travel was ap­par­ent. The spe­cially tuned Rancho mono­tubes do a re­ally good job of con­trol­ling ride mo­tions, while the trac­tion con­trol seems to be very re­spon­sive, all work­ing in con­junc­tion with the G80 me­chan­i­cal rear locker to get the Sil­ver­ado up and over the course. And to be hon­est, there were ob­sta­cles on the course that 95 per­cent of Sil­ver­a­dos will never be taken over, but the Trail Boss han­dled them with ease.

We only had an op­por­tu­nity to test the Trail Boss in a trail set­ting but have no doubt the up­graded sus­pen­sion would be able to hold its own on a rea­son­ably fast desert trail; how­ever, don’t ex­pect the Mul­ti­matic-like per­for­mance that is found in the Colorado ZR2.

The Trail Boss comes equipped with Chevy’s Au­to­trac trans­fer case, giv­ing the truck an au­to­matic four-wheel-drive mode in ad­di­tion to 2-Hi, 4-Hi, and 4-Lo. While some Sil­ver­ado 4x4s can be had with a sin­gle-speed trans­fer case, thank­fully the Trail Boss is not one of them.

Our Take

Over­all, the Trail Boss is an im­pres­sive truck that has se­ri­ous off-road chops for the av­er­age con­sumer. While it el­e­vates the Z71 to a higher level and gives most con­sumers a re­ally com­pre­hen­sive off-road pack­age, we can tell you that Chevy left room for an even more po­tent truck to slot in above the Trail Boss. With an ex­cep­tion­ally well-en­gi­neered new plat­form, we’ve just be­gun to see where Chevy plans to take the Sil­ver­ado.

|> The ’19 Sil­ver­ado in­te­rior is up­graded with im­proved ma­te­ri­als and a log­i­cal lay­out.

<- The Trail Boss looks like it is ready to brawl with its sin­is­ter, blacked-out front end—some­thing it may have to do if a cer­tain crosstown ri­val takes ex­cep­tion to the red towhooks.

Chevy of­fers no less than eight trim lev­els of the Sil­ver­ado for 2019.

|> Op­tional 33-inch Bridge­stone Dueler ATS on 20inch wheels are avail­able for those who don’t need a tire as ag­gres­sive as the Du­ra­trac.

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