I can still remember as a teen the common belief that pickup trucks were for people who couldn’t afford cars. Perhaps they really were more utilitarian back then, lower priced and without any frills, but in reality, I spent almost no time in pickups as a kid, so it’s entirely possible I was completely wrong even back then in 19<cough>. In any case, just as all cars have advanced in their technology and creature comforts, so have pickup trucks gone from heavy-duty vehicles for workers to hybrids that offer a surprising – sometimes startling! – amount of luxury features and tons of towing and cargo space too.
Enter the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 4WD LT TB Crew, which I got to drive for a week through two, count ’em, two different snowstorms. With icy roads, poor visibility and roads that hadn’t yet seen a plow, turns out that the truck was a great option and we safely and confidently haded through the worst of it with nary a slip. But let’s be clear, this is a big, heavy, rugged vehicle. In fact, one of the greatest challenges was parking. I’m used to a more modest size vehicle – a Mazda CX-5 compact SUV – and not only was it hard to fit the Silverado into parking spots, but it was surprisingly difficult to get it to be straight in the spot. I figured out what all big truck drivers know, however: Park away from the prime spots and you’ll have a bit more room to maneuver.
To start, a pic of the truck. It’s a nice looking pickup!
You can see that I parked away from everyone else. Also notice how high the vehicle is: It’s darn hard to estimate the front edge of the vehicle from the driver’s seat so without a few months to master this skill, I relied on my over-the-hood sense of depth, which didn’t do very well. Even above, notice how far back I am from the front line of the spot. Tricky.
The Silverado does have a front radar system to help, as you can see in the center of this gauge pic:
No, it’s not a tiny version of Breakout, though of course that was my first thought. Just trust me, you don’t want the lowest tier to ever be displaying red. 🙂
With a vehicle this wide there’s plenty of space for gauges and controls, as shown above. A modern car doesn’t really need to display oil pressure or battery level, but hey, why not when there’s real estate for the gauges?
Zooming back a bit, here’s the entire front dash driver’s display in all its complicated glory:
Surprisingly functional, with controls spread all over the place. I had the most challenge with the controls on the steering wheel and it took a while to figure out how to change the mini-display on the gauge area with the right thumb controller. Not so intuitive, but, as with everything in a vehicle, once you’ve had it a few weeks, you’ll have mastered the controls and set it to your favorite display. Notice above the two glove compartments too. Again, with this much space on the dash, why not offer a bit more storage too?
It’s a testament to how much car designers have worked on creating optimal control flow while driving a vehicle that you can probably look at the above picture and figure out where just about every single major control is located. Easy for us to forget just how much engineering and design goes into a modern vehicle, actually, but for a vehicle that’s in an entirely different class, designed for a completely different type of driver than a compact SUV, it was remarkable how easily I slipped behind the wheel and was able to just drive off into the storm.
Speaking of the mini-screen, my favorite setting was what I call the pitch, roll, yaw because of my enduring fascination with the Apollo missions, though realistically it’s just pitch and roll (I know, you can’t have yaw on a truck? go figure 🙂 )
This is how I learned that my driveway is at a 6-degree pitch. You can also see that it shows 2WD vs 4WD high vs 4WD low. Those are all controlled on a console to the left of the steering wheel which you can kind of see in the above dash photo. When the weather turned rough, I was very glad to be able to switch from 2WD to 4WD while in motion too; in 2WD the truck did have some traction issues on the icy roads.
And how bad was the snow? Well, here’s another exterior photo:
You can see on the ground that there’s enough snow that the parking lot has completely vanished!
You can also see that the “Crew Cab” edition of the Silverado trades off back cargo space for interior space: The Crew edition turns out to have plenty of space for five adults to sit comfortably in the vehicle. It’s basically like a big SUV with a pickup bed on the back, actually. Here’s a glimpse of the back leg room:
Quite comfortable and you could really stretch out and sleep comfortably on the back seat too, if you were on a really long drive and needed a break. Notice also that the center console is huge. Here’s another angle so you can see just how wide it is:
I’m used to center consoles that are barely wide enough for a pair of sunglasses, and this was enormous! Notice also the great smartphone indented area on the armrest; it’s the perfect place to have your phone sit. If only they’d added wireless Qi charging, but that’s another story…
One other piece of the electronics that was a bit curious was the entertainment center. The surprise? No navigational system. Have a closer look at this “home” screen view:
The icons along the bottom tell the story with their lack of any mapping or navigation. Plug in an iPhone or Android phone, however, and it’s immediately obvious that the Silverado supports both CarPlay (Apple) and Android Auto, including the mapping features. *phew* It does highlight that if you don’t have a smartphone, you end up missing out on a feature, but how many people are going to be buying a truck that’s more than $50,000 and not have a smartphone or two?
Driving the Silverado was fun too; it’s a big vehicle, but it’s a big engine too, a 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 with 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s got a whole lot of get up and go, regardless of driving conditions, that’s for sure. The down side? Fuel efficiency is, well, if ya gotta ask, this is probably not your truck. It’s EPA rated for 15/20, but our experience was far worse, with an average fuel efficiency of 13.5mpg. That’s pretty miserable considering I didn’t have the vehicle loaded down with cargo and passengers nor was I towing a 7,500 pound boat. Add a few adults, a ton of supplies and a trailer of equipment and you could be finding that you underestimated the cost of driving to that job site over the state line after all.
But just as the issue of tucking this big truck into a small parking spot isn’t relevant to its target owner, fuel efficiency seems to be less important to big truck owners than towing capacity and power. In ten years I expect this will all change, but it does seem a bit of a pre-CAFE standards throwback to be getting 13.5mpg in a vehicle in 2019.
With that said, fi you’re someone who needs the capacity and capabilities of a big truck, whether it’s towing – it’s rated for 12,500 pounds of towing capacity – or people, there’s a lot to admire with the 2019 Chevy Silverado. It’s a fun, rugged drive that definitely offers a more testosterone-fueled experience than a tiny EV sedan or compact SUV. If that’s your thing, this is definitely a truck to check out before your next purchase!
AS DRIVEN: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 4WD LT TB CREW in Cajun Red Tintcoat with a Jet Black interior. Engine: 5.3L ECOTEC3 V8 with 8-speed automatic transmission. Optional packages: Convenience Package, Convenience Package II, Leather Package, Safety Package I, Bed Protection Package, Trailer Brake Controller and Advanced Trailering Package. Base price: 48,300.00. As driven: $57,285.00.
Disclosure: Chevrolet loaned me the Silverado for a week in return for this review. Thanks, Chevy!