As much as North Americans may love their SUVs and crossovers, the upper reaches of the sales charts are well represented by light-duty pickups.
The Ford F-150 was number one in Canada and the U.S. in 2019, and its primary rivals – Ram 1500, GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado – were firmly in the top 10, a zone they’ve occupied for years. In fact, Ford, Ram and Chevy swept the top three, in that order, in the U.S. last year.
The focus here, the Chevrolet Silverado, ranked eighth overall in Canada in 2019 (45,837 sold) and offers a number of trims, engines, cabs and box lengths in two-wheel and four-wheel drive to meet the needs of every truck consumer.
On a macro level, the Silverado was all-new as an eighth-generation model for the 2019 model year, which introduced new styling, engines and technologies. Eight trims are available featuring six engines and three automatic transmissions.
For the purposes of this review, General Motors Canada loaned me a range-topping Silverado High Country tester finished in Northsky Blue Metallic with a black leather interior.
Powering my tester is a 3.0-litre Duramax turbo diesel inline six that produces 277 horsepower at 3,750 r.p.m. and 460 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 r.p.m. The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels.
The main advantages a diesel engine offers are improved fuel economy for towing, plus the lower cost of diesel fuel versus gasoline. While I didn’t tow anything during my time with the Silverado, the 3.0-litre does have an impressive 9,300 lb tow rating. The one thing intenders should bear in mind, however, is the Duramax will add $3,245 to the price.
In terms of performance, I was struck by how smooth the 3.0-litre engine is, both off the line and at speed, and its quiet operation. While some diesel ‘clatter’ can be heard, it’s at a much lower volume than in other diesel trucks I’ve driven. Acceleration is decent for a full-size pickup and I found its handling to be reasonably responsive in everyday driving situations.
As mentioned, my tester is a 4WD model, that offers several settings via 2-speed transfer case. In terms of driving modes, there are six: tour, sport, off-road, terrain, tow/haul and snow/ice. On an off-road, undulating trail that has a mix of gravel, packed dirt and mud the Silverado handled the changing terrain with ease.
I’ll say this for the Silverado’s interior, it has all of the stuff you’d expect to find in a vehicle with a near $80,000 price tag. Leather seating, check. Heated steering wheel and seats. Check. Cell phone charge pad. Check. Infotainment display with navigation. Check.
It’s pretty much all there, but the important caveat is my experience is drawn from a press vehicle that’s loaded with more than $12,000 worth of optional equipment. A lot of stuff shown here quickly balloons the High Country’s $66,398 base price. Items such as head-up display, rear camera mirror and sunroof are all available through various option packages.
In terms of design, comfort and space, the Silverado earns high marks overall, despite an aesthetic that is more functional than cutting-edge. I like functional, personally, because I don’t want search for buttons and switches, but given the gauntlet Ram threw down with its interior and with an all-new Ford F-150 due out later this year, I think dull but functional might hurt GM pickups when they’re being cross-shopped. And as much as I like GM infotainment systems, the 8-inch touchscreen in this truck looks tiny. It must be addressed in future updates.
The Silverado is much more on the mark regarding comfort, space and storage. I’m really impressed with this truck’s seating position, seats, visibility and general comfort. The High Country is the top-level trim, so all these things should be well executed, and they are in this case. Console storage space is vast, the cell phone charge pad is an open bin you just drop your phone into, and there are plenty of USB / 12-volt ports to charge up various devices. Front and back seat areas offer a cavernous amount of space for passengers and / or cargo.
On the safety front, the High Country comes with some advanced kit (rear-cross traffic alert, lane change alert with blind zone alert, etc.), but a lot of items, like forward collision alert and front pedestrian braking are socked away in the High Country Deluxe Package which costs $7,020. Honestly, I’m surprised more of this stuff isn’t standard considering the trim.
In sum, the Silverado High Country impresses overall as a luxury truck. The interior is exceedingly well-equipped, even if the aesthetic isn’t the shiniest, and it offers a lot of space, storage and a high degree of comfort. And with the 3.0-litre Duramax diesel, it offers good everyday performance that can really haul. If the truck is going to be used as a towing workhorse, the Duramax is worth the extra cost, but if not, the standard 5.3-litre V8 is fine alternative.
Personally, I’d save myself some money and opt for the LT Trail Boss, but to each their own.