Review: The 2020 Chevy Silverado HD is a decent truck, but Ford and Ram have it beat
- The Silverado HD gets a full redesign for 2020, a year after the Silverado 1500 received its overhaul.
- Like the Silverado 1500, the new HD truck doesn't feel as fresh as we hoped an all-new truck would.
- It's plenty capable and a good evolution, but Ford and Ram best it in some important ways.
For 2019, General Motors released all-new versions of its volume-selling pickup trucks: the Chevy Silverado 1500 and the GMC Sierra 1500.
They're good trucks, but they've been somewhat overshadowed by Fiat Chrysler's stellar Ram pickup that was also new for 2019. Sales of the Silverado, typically the best-selling vehicle in the country after Ford's F-Series, fell behind the Ram pickup in the first quarter.
Even though GM trucks, including the Silverado and Sierra, outsell the Ram, the lead isn't as secure as it once was. More than that, GM's going to have to deal with a redesigned F-150 and Super Duty from Ford soon. It's a good thing, then, that they've redesigned the heavy-duty Silverado for 2020 to try to protect their market share. Unfortunately, it might not be enough.
Our tester was a relatively basic model Silverado 2500 4×4 Custom Crew Cab, equipped with the 6.6-liter gasoline engine and a $48,420 price tag. That's not cheap, but workhorse heavy-duty trucks never are.
And this thing does feel built to work. Though it doesn't offer the same low-end power or towing capability that a diesel engine — which is what you'd typically find in this segment — would, it's still plenty potent. Even in this low-towing configuration, the Silverado 2500 can still pull 16,600 pounds on a goose-neck trailer. That's more than even the brawniest 1500-class truck, so the premium is worth it if you need serious capability.
Of course, those buyers are probably better served by a diesel-powered truck. Option a Silverado 2500 right and you can tow up to 18,500 pounds. Step up to a 3500 truck configured for maximum towing and that number jumps to 35,500 pounds. Point is, these trucks are probably more capable than most buyers will ever need.
Chevy also offers some clever options to make hauling huge objects more manageable. The company's "transparent trailer" technology uses cameras to make your attached trailer appear see-through, while a slew of camera angles help you handle parking a truck this massive.
The Silverado 2500 also feels built to handle serious abuse. The controls are brawny and well-weighted, the interior is basic and the truck soaks up potholes and big undulations. Ours also had the optional front bench seat, which means it fit six passengers in its gargantuan cabin.
The truck is also very quiet for a heavy-duty truck, in no small part because of the increased refinement of the gas engine. Coupled with the intuitive infotainment system and the relaxed highway ride, it's a nice place to be when cruising on the highway.
The ride at lower speeds, though, is harsh. That's true of all heavy-duty trucks we've experienced, as the stiff suspension required to haul heavy loads tends to be unforgiving in daily operation. It comes with the territory, but we figured it's worth mentioning as many people use trucks for everyday driving.
For that reason, luxurious trims of pickups tend to sell a lot. We haven't spent time in the top-trim Silverados, but the cabin immediately looks more dated than the new Ram or even the older Ford F-250. If you really want a luxury truck from GM, the GMC Sierra looks and feels nicer inside.
Which brings up the larger problem with the Silverado. The pickup truck world is one of the most profitable and competitive segments, with all three American auto giants fiercely fighting for sales. The Silverado 2500 is a nice truck, but it doesn't seem like the knockout hit that an all-new truck from GM should be.
That's a problem for two reasons. First, because the new Ram did change the game. Whether you're looking at the standard 1500 model or the new Ram Heavy Duty, FCA's built a truck that offers serious capability while moving the segment forward in terms of refinement, interior quality, technology and value.
Second, the Silverado HD did beat the competition in one way: its 35,500-pound towing capacity was class-leading when the redesign was announced. But now, Ford's updated its Super Duty line of heavy-duty trucks to best Chevy.
As we noted, these capacities are so high that few buyers will ever need them. But much like the world of supercars, the world of trucks tends to focus on spec sheets and bragging rights.
If you've always been a Chevy person and want a new truck, take solace in the fact that the new Silverados are markedly better than their predecessors in every way, save maybe the new truck's polarizing looks. But for everyone else, it's a tough sell.
The interior isn't as nice as either Ford or Ram's heavy-duty trucks, it's not the segment leader in capability and it isn't the best driving truck out there. It's not a bad truck by any means, it's just not the one that we'd take home.
Driving Experience: 2.5
Price as tested: $48,420
Ratings out of 5.
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