Chevrolet has come out swinging to begin their second century of truck building. They have magically made the all-new 2019 Silverado 1500 pickup bigger, with more passenger space and more cargo volume, yet reduced the weight by 450 pounds, and increased the aerodynamic efficiency by seven percent. The 2019 Silverado offers eight distinct models, six engine/transmission combinations, an all-new three liter Duramax diesel, and the most functional bed of any full-size pickup, so customers can configure their perfect pickup. With three bed lengths and regular, extended and crew cabs, the new Silverado 1500 leads Chevy trucks into the next century.
2019 Silverado offers more space and less weight
Design engineers are used to making compromises in their assigned tasks, such as the perennial question, “Do we make the vehicle bigger, or do we make it lighter?” The Chevrolet Silverado team said “Nuts!” to that question and made the 2019 Silverado bigger and lighter. Making it bigger was the easy part. The wheelbase is four inches longer, the cab roof is higher to allow the front seats to be moved up and forward without lessening front leg room, and the new slimmer rear seats rest closer to the cab rear wall, to give ample rear seat knee room even when the front seats are fully rearward.
Increasing the bed cargo volume without making the truck wider required some “outside the box” thinking. In the old Silverado, the inner bed walls and floor are stamped as one piece with a U-shaped cross-section which limited how deep the steel could be drawn without tearing, mostly around the wheelwells. By making the inner walls, wheel wells, and floor panel three separate stampings, Chevrolet increased the useable bed width by almost seven inches, giving the new Silverado short bed 63 cubic feet of volume, up to 20% more than the competitors. Available storage bins that fit over the wheel wells offer nearly 7 cubic feet of lockable cargo space, and still allow a standard 4×8 foot plywood sheet to lie flat on the cargo floor.
Making the 2019 Silverado lighter also required some creative thinking. The answer was making extensive use of mixed materials, such as high-strength steel, aluminum, and composite – the right material for every application – and advanced manufacturing processes. The body was made 88 pounds lighter by using aluminum for all moveable panels, like doors, hood, and tailgate, and steel for the fixed panels, such as the fenders, roof, and bed. The underlying safety cage uses seven different grades of steel. The chassis frame also lost 88 pounds by using high-strength steel and advanced manufacturing techniques, such as hydroforming, roll forming, and stamping. The resulting new frame has ten percent greater torsional rigidity than the old frame. Even the suspension was lightened, with forged-aluminum upper control arms and composite rear springs.
Silverado’s improved aerodynamics
It may sound foolish to talk about the aerodynamics of something as big and ungraceful-looking as a full-size pickup truck, but, as the Silverado demonstrates, the operating efficiency can be improved by paying attention to the design details and their effect on airflow. In fact, aerodynamics was a key focus in the Silverado development, with the design team spending more than 1,000 hours in wind tunnel tuning. The result was the reduction of aerodynamic drag on the Silverado by seven percent.
A key element in the Silverado’s drag-reduction is a spoiler integrated with the upper rear edge of the cab, which directs air towards a lip spoiler on the top of the tailgate to minimize the airflow into the bed. The cab spoiler is molded plastic and incorporates the required center high-mounted stop light. By making the spoiler of plastic separate from the cab roof structure, the spoiler shape can be easily changed and tailored to each individual cab style to maximize its performance.
The front-end design of the new Silverado was given particular attention when it came to improving airflow and reducing drag. The air dam of the previous Silverado had to be removed for off-road driving clearance. For 2019, the Chevrolet team moved the front wheels two inches forward, reducing the front overhang and maintaining the air dam’s effectiveness, while greatly improving the approach angle without the necessity of removing the air dam. Air flow around the Silverado was also improved by front air curtains located at the front corners of the truck to smoothly route the air across the rotating front wheels to further reduce drag.
Eight distinct Silverado models
“Truck customers told us they want the perfect truck for them and not a ‘one size fits most’ truck, compromised for the masses,” said Mike Simcoe, vice president, Global Design, General Motors. “That insight shaped our design strategy with eight distinct models, each with a unique personality to fit different customers, from the affordable Work Truck to the luxurious High Country.” For the ultimate customization, each of the distinct models is available with a short, regular, or a long bed, as well as a regular, extended, or crew cab.
Silverado’s trim levels are designed for three distinct buyer profiles: High Value customers who want full-size capability at great value; High Volume customers who require full-size capability with the comforts of a passenger vehicle; and High Feature customers who want luxury-car refinement and appointments without sacrificing capability or durability. The Silverado offers models in each of the profile categories. The Work Truck, Custom, and Custom Trailboss make up the High Value category, while the High Volume category includes the LT, the RST, and the LT Trailboss. The High Feature category, which is the fastest-growing market segment, includes the LTZ and High Country models.
Silverado models will be available with six engine/transmission combinations to best suit the customer’s needs. The engines include 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter gasoline V8s with industry-first Dynamic Fuel Management, which actively shuts off any number of cylinders in a variety of combinations depending on immediate needs to optimize fuel economy. Also offered is a new Duramax 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder turbo diesel. This engine and the 6.2-liter V8 will be paired with the new Hydra-Matic ten-speed automatic transmission, as well as start/stop technology to improve fuel economy. Other powertrain details have not yet been released by Chevrolet.
Creative features set the Silverado apart
Chevrolet’s design team reexamined pickup truck aspects that we tend to take for granted and came up with some creative improvements.
Power tailgate: Over the years, pickup truck tailgates have remained pretty much the same. The 2019 Silverado has a tailgate that’s made of aluminum to reduce weight and includes a power up/down system that can be actuated by the key fob, an interior button, or by hand. The system includes a sensor that prevents raising the tailgate if something is resting on the tailgate in the down position.
Corner bumper steps: The Chevrolet design team took a look at the corner bumper steps with a an eye toward practical working environments, and made the step openings taller and longer to accommodate steel-toed work boots and to give a user a better reach into the bed from a more forward position. The larger corner steps also house the blind-zone sensors, removing them from the taillights as in other trucks. Work trucks may operate in a hostile environment in which the taillights may often be damaged. Relocating the sensors from the taillights makes taillight replacement much less expensive.
Rear cabin storage and comfort: Many consider the second row of seats in an extended or crew cab as just a place to store items that aren’t immediately needed. The 2019 Silverado eliminates such haphazard rear storage with two ten-liter bins integrated into the rear seat backs to accommodate smaller items, while keeping them out of sight and giving the rear seat passengers a comfortable place to sit. The second row seat pivots upward to reveal a 24-liter storage tray for larger items. All 2019 Silverados now have rear air conditioning ducts built into the center console for improved rear cabin cooling.
Reduced turning radius: Increasing the wheelbase would normally make the truck turning radius larger, increasing the maneuvering difficulty. Chevrolet engineers actually reduced the turning radius of the new longer-wheelbase Silverado by redesigning the front suspension control arms and locating them above the front wheels, to allow larger front wheel turning angles.
Can the new Silverado outduel the F-150?
It’s apparent from all of the features of the new-from-the-ground-up Silverado: Chevrolet intends to begin its second century of truck-building by making a serious run at leadership in the full-size pickup market. It will be a prodigious undertaking as the Ford F-150 has dominated that market for many years. Much has been made by Ford about its extensive use of aluminum in the F-150, but Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, isn’t impressed. Defending Chevrolet’s use of mixed materials and using the right material for the right job instead of relying on just aluminum to reduce weight, and also taking a verbal shot at the F-150, Mark said, “I don’t think you’d get much work done with an aluminum hammer.”
It sounds like Chevrolet has thrown down the gauntlet. Let the games begin!
Photo and video credit: Chevrolet
Collins English Dictionary – https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/nuts