Auto123 reviews the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500.
Given the financial stakes for auto manufacturers, mistakes are not allowed when renewing a pickup truck. This segment is not only the most competitive in North America, but also the most popular and lucrative for GM, just as it is for Ford and RAM.
Chevrolet completely revamped its lineup last year. For 2020, the Silverado is adding a couple of updates. Some versions are equipped with a 10-speed transmission, and Chevrolet has added a new diesel engine option. Camera-based adaptive cruise control is also available.
Finding the porridge that’s just right
That's the great strength of American trucks: near-infinite variety. You can purchase a simple work tool with the Work Truck (WT) version, or slowly climb the hierarchy with the Custom, LT, Trail Boss, RST, LTZ and High Country.
Let's be honest, the interior decor is quite disappointing in the lower end models. In the WT model, still equipped with the old 4.3L V6 with 6-speed automatic transmission, you're reduced to the bare minimum. Though that minimum does include cargo area lighting, locking tailgate, 12-volt power outlet, two-speaker audio, manual front seat adjustments, Bluetooth technology and a 7-inch touch screen infotainment display. Also included are manual door locks, crank windows, vinyl floor and seats, tilt steering wheel and a tire pressure monitoring system with USB input.
Even the LT version, which goes for over $50,000 depending on the options you put in, doesn't really impress. This version offers the new 2.7L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine with 8-speed transmission, automatic engine start/stop, 17-inch aluminum wheels, body-coloured door handles, chrome bumpers and mirror caps, LED headlights, easy-lift tailgate, colour driver information display, compass, OnStar, single-zone semi-automatic climate control and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
The LTZ trim is where you start to benefit from interesting technologies and features. This version runs on a 5.3L V8 engine (one of the most on-point V8s in this segment) and includes an advanced towing system, locking rear differential, transmission and engine oil cooling systems, chrome door handles, bumpers and mirror caps, and auto-dimming and power-folding sideview mirrors.
Inside, the LTZ comes with power-adjustable front seats, 120-volt transmission-mounted power outlet, 8-inch screen, dual-zone automatic climate control, HD radio, heated front seats and steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, tilt/telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel, perforated leather upholstery and satellite radio.
Finally, the High Country version gets the 5.3L/10-speed powertrain, two-speed transfer case, 20-inch off-road wheels and tires, chrome recovery hooks, upgraded LED headlights, power tailgate, Bose stereo, navigation system, front and rear parking assist, heated rear seats, lane departure warning with blind spot monitoring, power sliding rear window, rear cross-traffic alert, ventilated front seats and a wireless smart phone charging system.
You also can pick models to look your best in, like the RST with its silver-painted wheels, black front-grille logo, body-colour rear bumper, LED fog lights and taillights, painted mirror caps and power tailgate locks for cooler styling. Or, there are the Trail Boss off-road packages that add a two-speed transfer case for 4WD, locking rear differential, hill descent control, skid plates, 18-inch wheels with off-road tires, recovery hooks, receiver and pre-wire for trailer hitch and a raised suspension.
Which engine to choose
We've had the opportunity to test drive all the engines available for the Silverado over the last year, and our choice is the 5.3L engine, which has proven reliable over the years and is quite economical for a V8. Our favourite among those that come only in the high-end versions is the 6.2L with a 10-speed transmission that is both flexible and powerful. Surprisingly, it doesn't really consume more than the 5.3L powertrain. There are 420 hp on hand instead of 355, with a wider power band.
But, if we had to choose a model based on a realistic budget and decent equipment, we’d go for an LTZ model with the 5.3L. We tested the 2.7L turbocharged engine and it doesn’t exactly lack for power with its 310 horses, but a 4-cylinder isn't a good fit in a truck this size. You can feel it working hard whenever the truck has to put in some concerted effort. The V6 is a little overwhelmed by events and the diesel does a serviceable job, but the higher price for it, combined with the higher cost of diesel compared to regular gasoline, means it take several years before you see real savings.
On the road
The front seats aren't very comfortable – they’re firm and flat, with minimal support - but the lumbar adjustment will almost save the day, and your back. The back bench is huge and can easily accommodate three adults. The biggest difference with the previous generation is in terms of ride comfort. For the 2020 model, various modifications to the suspension have considerably improved the truck’s performance on this front. It isn’t yet on the level of the Ram 1500, but it’s better than the F-150.
Handling is good, and even if you push it a little bit, the pitch is controlled and the steering response is good considering the size of the vehicle. We like the fact that the 4WD system has an automatic mode that can be left on indefinitely, so the driver doesn't have to think about it.
The noise level in the passenger compartment is well contained and the diesel engine noise is almost imperceptible. Braking is efficient with short, well-controlled stops - except for the Diesel.
Depending on the options and towing packages, you can tow close to 10,000 lb with the 5.3L engine and nearly 13,400 lb with the 6.2L. Chevrolet offers some optional towing packages with hitch guidance and additional sensors for monitoring trailer tire pressure.
When it comes to a pickup model, the question that comes up is always the same: Which is the best version? The simple answer is: the one that suits your needs. There are a lot of choices in the Silverado product offering, just like at Ram and Ford, and that's a big part of the reason why they're so popular. If it's your only vehicle and you want a minimum of comfort, the LTZ is without a doubt the recommended choice.
In general, keep in mind that you have to be willing to put $65,000 to $70,000 on the table to get something good. So take the time to shop around.
Good road holding
Plenty of interior space
We like less
Bare-bones base versions
Braking performance (diesel version)
High cabin access