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I drove a $57,000 Chevy Silverado to see if the all-new pickup can take on the Ford F-150 — here's the verdict

Matthew DeBord
  • FollowingFord's new flagship F-150 pickup, Chevy has rolled out the Silverado full-size hauler for 2019.
  • There are now updated versions of the three bestselling full-size pickups on the market: the Silverado, the F-150, and the Ram 1500.
  • The stage is set for an old-fashioned truck war in 2019 - and the the new Silverado is more than up to the challenge, even though it's not as heavily improved as the F-150.

Americans buy millions of full-size pickup trucks every year. And over the past four, they have shown an especially robust enthusiasm for the vehicles, as the US economy has roared and gas prices have remained low.

This is good news for Detroit because pickups are huge profit drivers. But here's the thing: Although a carmaker can stick with a pickup design for a decade, it's critical to update when the competition does.

That's the cycle we're in at the moment. Ford revamped its legendary F-150 a few years back, so it was only a matter of time before Chevy and Ram followed. That's happened, so consumers can now choose from three new full-size pickups.

The pitched battle is between Ford and Chevy, of course, as it has always been. Chevy is now bringing an all-new Silverado into the action. We've driven the previous generation of the truck, and we've sampled the F-150 in various guises. So I was excited to get my hands on the new, fourth-generation Silverado for a week.

Here's how it went:

This is the great "Summit White" 2019 Chevy Silverado. It's the fourth generation of the nameplate, but it's a full-size pickup that can trace its lineage back to the early 1960s.

What has changed? Well, the third-gen truck had been around since 2007, so despite updates, it was getting long in the tooth.

Plus, Ford rolled out its new F-150 in 2015 ...

... and Fiat Chrysler introduced a new Ram 1500 in 2018, so ...

... it was imperative for Chevy to stay the pace in the full-size pickup-truck war.

And full-size, the Silverado is! It tips the scales at 5,000 pounds — but that's several hundred less then the outgoing generation, thanks to lightweight steel and aluminium.

Our $US57,000 Silverado LTZ Crew Cab ...

... came with a short bed, but a larger box is available. (The base work truck is just under $US30,000.)

There are helpful, recessed steps to assist in climbing in and out of the bed.

Each side of the rear bumper gets one.

Our test truck came with a tonneau cover.

It can be folded back to reveal the bed in all its glory. The spray-on bedliner is a $US500 extra.

The cover is secured with adjustable straps.

The Silverado easily swallowed my family Christmas tree.

The liftgate on my tester, by the way, was powered.

My hitch-equipped Silverado could tow 12,000 pounds in its ...

... four-wheel-drive crew-cab trim level.

This Silverado isn't a huge departure from the previous generation. But with that massive grille and bow-tie badge, it retains road presence.

All Chevy, all the time.

Is it just me, or are those headlights a bit too small?

Maybe they are, but the LED reflectors pack a lot of illuminating power.

The nameplate is rendered in silvery chrome, naturally.

The 18-inch wheels aren't enormous. You could get 20s and 22s as options.

The side-view mirrors are huge, however.

This step runner makes ascending to either the front or rear seats much less challenging.

Engines! The Silverado could be outfitted with a 2.7-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, a 4.3-litre V6, a 5.3-litre V8, a 3.0-litre inline-six-cylinder diesel — or, in the case of my tester, a 6.2-litre V8.

The V8 motors have a cylinder-deactivation feature that can drop the engine down to a fuel-sipping two, if all you're doing is humming along at highway speeds. (Chevy calls it "Dynamic Fuel Management.")

At full bore, the 6.2-litre V8 makes 420 horsepower with a whopping 460 pound-feet of torque. That's 65 more ponies than the 5.3-litre V8 mill. It can propel the truck to 60 mph in about six seconds, sending the power through a 10-speed automatic transmission. The MPGs are actually respectable, at 16 city, 20 highway, and 17 combined.

The "Gideon/Very Dark Atmosphere" interior is oddly named, but still quite pleasant, if a bit on the utilitarian side.

The rear bench seat is roomy and comfortable, and legroom is ample.

The heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and the fairly classic Chevy instrumentation isn't a major change from the previous generation.

Perhaps controversially, Chevy stuck with the column shifter. I find it oh-so-cool — much cooler than a shifter mounted between the seats.

The old keyed ignition has given way to a push-button start-stop.

The drivetrain controls are located to the left of the steering wheel.

There's storage galore, starting with ...

... the dual glove boxes and continuing with ...

... the center arm rest, which sports a smartphone cradle ...

... and enough space underneath to contain a power drill and some extra cowboy boots.

There's also this clever compartment, which allows for a smartphone to be perched at a viewable angle.

I richly enjoyed my time tooling around in the near-luxury LTZ trim level. The front seats are heated and cooled, a nice extra. The rear seats are merely heated.

The eight-inch center touchscreen isn't huge, but it is responsive, with a few buttons and knobs to fall back on.

There's SiriusXM radio, plus a full array of USB and Aux ports, and even a 120-volt outlet.

The system offers a full suite of apps and ...

... Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The venerable OnStar system provides 4G LTE wireless connectivity, along with navigation and emergency communications.

The Silverado is also crammed with driver assist features, including parking aids, lane-change alerts, blind-spot monitoring, and a cross-traffic warning when backing up.

So how does the Silverado stack up against the competition?

It is worthy! But the ultimate verdict is that it might not be quite new enough to turn a lot of heads away from the F-150.

I last drove the Ford F-150 as a high-performance Raptor, and I haven't yet sampled the new RAM 1500. I've also driven the normal F-150, and I've even checked out the Toyota Tundra.

The Silverado is often the number-two-selling full-size pickup behind the F-150 - although if you add in the Chevy's mechanical sibling, the GMC Sierra, the platform is neck-and-neck. It is therefore critical that GM not allow the Silverado to fall behind.

With the new 2019 model, it most certainly hasn't. But while the revamped F-150 had a storyline that involved the risky use of much aluminium to lightweight the old warhorse, the new Silverado is more of an incremental improvement. When I first hopped inside, I thought to myself, "Huh? This sure seems familiar."

Some of those reservations vanish when, rather than cranking an ignition key, I punched the start button and fired up the volcanic 6.2-litre V8. Yank the column shifter into drive like you're the Lord of the Ranch and feel the power disgorging itself as if from a bottomless well of fire. Sweet mercy!

The V8 is a monster. All I did was lug around a paltry Christmas tree in the bed - no challenge. In fact, I'm not sure a challenge could be found. I suppose I could have tried to tow my house. But I think the Silverado would have laughed at me.

Chevy is part of General MOTORS, after all, and this V8 reminds you of what that means. The F-150's available 5.0-litre V8 tops out at 395 horsepower, giving up 25 ponies to the Chevy's 6.2-litre V8. OK, the Chevy clearly doesn't obtain that additional oomph efficiently. But it does obtain it. And boy! Is it sweet.

The Silverado handles well, rides smooth, and with a robust 4x4 system, should be able to absorb anything that an owner throws at it. The cabin is spacious and comfortable, and in the LTZ trim, close to luxurious. Although I should highlight "close" - it could be better, and perhaps should be, as pickup-truck customers have moved far beyond using their vehicles just for work.

The infotainment system is among the best in the business, so no issues there. The addition of 4G LTE wifi connectivity makes the Silverado a fine family hauler, as well as a helpful multi-device hotspot on job sites.

As for all-around toughness ... well, the Silverado certainly looks and feels like you could beat the crap out of it. The styling hasn't undermined that quality. What we have here is a handsome truck.

Chevy took a conservative path with the new Silverado, and on balance, that was a wise call. Why mess with success? The big question now is whether the moderately ambitious update will be enough to keep longtime Chevy owners from flirting with Fords and RAMs. It probably will, but 2019 will be the year that tells that tale.

Obviously, I couldn't find anything substantial to dislike about the Silverado. And I found plenty to enjoy. The truth is, American pickup-truck buyers now have three excellent choices, proof that Detroit knows better than ever what it's doing in this segment.