JACKSON, Wyo. — Aside from Tobacco Road allegiances or Hillary vs. Trump, you’d be hard pressed to find people who display the sort of brand loyalty that truck buyers have. Ford truck owners love Ford trucks, Chevy truck owners love Chevy trucks, and nothing will convince them otherwise. As I slip behind the wheel of the new 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500, I find myself wondering who I’m writing this review for.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like the new Silverado, just like I really liked the new F-150 when it debuted a few years ago. The new Chevy is far better than its predecessor, featuring a much-improved frame (fully boxed versus a C-channel previously), far better in-cabin tech, clever towing features, added comfort, a roomier bed, and quite a lot more besides.
No, the problem is that the truck comes in a mind-boggling eight different trim levels, which Chevy kindly lined up for us in a luxury residential airpark in Alpine, Wyo. (where houses started far into the seven-digits and included a free small plane). There’s the base Work Truck, which includes a V8, a truck bed, and very little else — and then it rises all the way to the ultra-lux High Country, with leather everything, an enormous touch screen in the dash, and flashy rims. In between are six more trim levels that vary depending on how much capability and fancy features you want.
Overkill? Perhaps, but it’s easy to see how each one fits in the lineup. The Trail Boss has a factory-installed 2-inch lift kit and off-road chops that will satisfy all but the hardest of the hard-core off-roader. The LT is the volume play, a middle-of-the-road variant with everything you need and nothing you don’t. Chevy has been selling trucks for a very long time and they know what they’re doing.
Luxury trucks are a thing these days, with Rolls-Royce and Bentley selling SUVs that run well into the that-would-buy-a-really-nice-house range. But Silverado marketing folks wouldn’t take the bait when I pressed them on whether they would be chasing dollar signs. Don’t expect Chevrolet to break the $100,000-barrier when it comes to half-ton pickups.
But regardless of trim, the Silverado is a nice place to be. I spent most of my day with the Trail Boss LT, and even with the lift kit and off-road friendly tires, it was quiet and smooth and comfortable. The 5.3-liter V8 had more than adequate power in the mountains of western Wyoming and eastern Idaho, and the trick Dynamic Fuel Management system — which can reduce the engine down to a single cylinder when you don’t need the extra power — was imperceptible.
Clever tech abounds too, with a 4G LTE hotspot (unlimited data available for $20/month through AT&T) and GM’s OnStar communications suite included and a trailering app that gives a preflight checklist to drivers who might not be towing experts. There’s also a clever feature that automatically cycles through the different light modes to allow one person to hook up a trailer safely, verifying that turn signals and brake lights work correctly. Every truck needs this. It’s brilliant. In all the consumer-focused trim levels, push-button start is standard, though the weirdly low placement of the start button leaves something to be desired.
Awkwardly, considering the massive ad campaign GM ran criticizing the aluminum in the Ford F-150 a few years back, the new Silverado includes aluminum bodywork on all “swing metal” — basically, anything that moves. The hood, doors, and tailgate are all lighter than before, helping save weight and making all-of-the-above easier to open and close. Luckily for GM, Ford already did the heavy lifting on rolling out aluminum to the truck-buying masses and the Silverado can just follow their lead. The bed, Chevy eagerly points out, is still made of steel, and thanks to some fancy stamping tech, is roomier than before. Corner-step bumpers make getting in and out easier too. Though I only got to try the 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8’s, a fuel efficient 2.7-liter, four-cylinder turbo is coming, as is a 3-liter V6 diesel. The old 4.3-liter V6 sticks around too, for the especially price conscious fleet buyer.
I liked the new Silverado a lot. If you’re a Chevy truck guy, you will too. But if you’re a Ford or a Ram fan, don’t worry — Chevy hasn’t run away with the trophy. The American truck rivalry is as alive as ever.
The all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is on Chevrolet dealer lots around N.C.