I had to deliver an item to someone, socially distanced of course, and because I’m always in a different vehicle, she asked how to spot my arrival. “Believe me,” I said, “you’ll know.”
After all, it is hard to miss a truck this big, clad in what GM calls “Red Hot” paint and with some oddball tailgate graphics I’d leave in the showroom, but which certainly make a statement nevertheless.
The Silverado was remade into an all-new truck for 2019, along with its mechanical twin, the GMC Sierra. Changes on the 2020 version are minimal, involving mostly some tweaking of what features go on what trim. For 2021, an optional Multi-Flex Tailgate is added; it’s the same as the MultiPro unit initially introduced on the Sierra, with a small gate-within-the-gate that can be flipped out for two-tier storage, or transformed into a bed step.
You can get the Silverado in Regular Cab and base engine for just over $31,000, but my Crew Cab 4×4 RST started at $50,798, and with its long list of options, climbed to $68,673 before freight and taxes. Part of that was my engine upgrade: My truck’s base engine would have been a 2.7L turbocharged four cylinder, but the person at GM who ordered this truck figured there was no replacement for displacement, and so I got a 6.2L V8. It’s newly available on the RST for 2020, and it added $3,135 to my truck.
I also got the Rally Edition package, at $10,465, which added such stuff as a 10-way power driver’s seat, heated steering wheel, automatic dual-zone climate control, rear-seat storage (which are bins cleverly hidden in the seatbacks), spray-in bedliner, towing package, and auto-locking rear differential, as well as the over-the-top rally stripes, 22-inch black wheels, and black side steps.
That wasn’t all, of course, and I also had such add-on extras as an advanced trailering package with numerous camera views, premium stereo, sunroof, blind spot monitoring, and park assist.
All three of the Detroit pickup-builders are offering numerous engine choices, and with a careful eye on fuel economy – which becomes especially important as they drop their more-fuel-efficient small-car offerings but must still meet corporate fuel averages. In GM’s trucks, you can get that turbocharged four-cylinder and my ride’s 6.2L V8, as well as a 4.3L V6, 5.3L V8, or 3.0L inline-six turbodiesel.
The gasoline engines use cylinder deactivation, which shuts off the gas to certain cylinders under light load for extra fuel savings. On some engines, it shuts off the same ones each time – dubbed Active Fuel Management, or AFM – while others use Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM), a more sophisticated system that shuts off various cylinders in patterns, right down to leaving just a couple of them powered if that’s all that’s needed. That DFM is on the 6.2L, and it’s seamless; even though I knew it was there, I never noticed it working its magic. There’s also auto-stop, which shuts off the engine completely when you idle, such as sitting at a light, which also helps to reduce emissions. Should you prefer to stay running, you can tap a button to temporarily disable the system.
My big V8 makes 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, and it’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s officially rated at 13.7 L/100 km in combined driving, while I averaged 14.4 L/100 km in my week with it. Depending on the configuration and model, the Silverado’s towing capacity ranges from 6,600 lbs to 13,400 lbs. My truck was rated at 12,000 lbs for towing, plus 2,285 payload capacity.
The Silverado is a big truck – needlessly oversized, as all trucks are these days – and falls about halfway for handling. It’s far more agile than the Toyota Tundra, but not as sharp as Ford’s redesigned F-150, which I think has edged ahead of the competition for its quick response and doesn’t-drive-as-huge-as-it-is feel. The Chevy’s ride is smooth and it feels well-planted.
My truck’s 4×4 system includes an “Auto” setting that allows it to be driven in four-wheel on hard pavement, which you shouldn’t do if you only have 4Low and 4High, because it can bind and damage the system. I live in a rural area, where it’s common for the wind to blow over the fields and leave deep, snowy patches with dry asphalt between them, and that automatic setting is very good for that.
The cabin is handsome, if not quite up to the standard of design and materials set first by Ram, and now by Ford’s all-new truck, with Chevy adding comfortable seats and lots of space. I like the simplicity of the controls, with dials for the stereo and temperature, and large icons on the touchscreen. There’s also a lot of small-item storage, with a deep console box, two gloveboxes, and a big centre cubby.
Odds are that if you’re a truck person, you already have a favourite – pickup people tend to be among the more brand-loyal buyers. But you should still cross-shop, because most manufacturers are making frequent upgrades, and something might be enough to switch you over, or at least give you some ammunition for your haggling.
At the GM store, I’d probably go for the GMC Sierra over the Silverado, just because I think it’s the better-looking of the two; and my wallet would probably steer me to something smaller than the 6.2L, which is more than I need. But that’s the point: This is a very good truck with lots of choice, and it definitely merits a look.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020