Any time you sell 585,000 of anything in a year, it’s a pretty big deal. But when you’re talking full-size pickup trucks, you’re talking about something that’s ‘mission critical’ to not just the company that builds it, but the auto industry as a whole. That’s why there’s a whole lot of eyeballs on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado tonight. The new truck, which rolled out at an off-site media event ahead of the , is General Motors’ cash cow, and irrefutably its most important product.
Arriving in time for Chevrolet Trucks’ centennial, The new Silverado looks more substantial, yet it thanks to increased use of mixed metals, it’s actually lost a lot of weight — some 450 pounds. The new truck features a longer wheelbase and its frame offers 10% greater torsional rigidity, yet it’s 88 pounds lighter. A lot of the weight savings likely came from the all-aluminum “swing panels” — automaker speak for doors, hoods, and tailgates. That type of weight drop should pay dividends in everything from fuel economy to handling to component wear and tear.
In a not-so-subtle dig at Ford’s aluminum-bodied, Chevrolet is taking great pains to note that the new Silverado features a roll-formed, high-strength steel bed floor. Likening the bed to “the head of a hammer” because it takes all the abuse, Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president, said, “I don’t think you’d get much work done with an aluminum hammer.”
The new bed is wider inside by nearly seven inches to net best-in-class space, plus it features optional LED lighting and will be available with new lockable storage bins that mount over the wheel wells. If you needed any further confirmation that full-size trucks have become lifestyle accessories as much as work implements, the Silverado will also be offered with an industry-first power tailgate that raises and lowers using the key fob.
But it’s not just about what goes in the bed, it’s about what’s under the hood. GM will offer no fewer than six different engine and transmission combinations, including a new 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder Duramax diesel paired to a 10-speed automatic gearbox. Naturally, gas engines will still command the lion’s share of sales, with Chevy’s 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 engines picking up Dynamic Fuel Management, a new system that will allow for running on between one to seven cylinders, depending on load demand. That’s right, this truck can sip fuel on just one cylinder.
Thus far, GM remains coy on output figures, payload and towing capacities and fuel economy.