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A Weekend with the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado: A Fine Door Runner

It does what trucks are supposed to do.

Todd Lassawriter, photographerThe Manufacturerphotographer

MOUNT PLEASANT, Michigan — General Motors' long-awaited launch of its all-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra has been rather anti-climactic. First, the equally all-new Ram 1500 pickup, which arrived earlier in the year, upstaged the GM twins with more interesting, better quality interiors and a 48-volt hybrid powertrain standard with the V-6 and optional with the V-8. It doesn't help that the new Ram pickup has a more handsome shape with the sort of side surfacing that Chevrolet stylists reportedly were going for.

Then the reviews that might be called "lukewarm" started pouring in late last summer. Our own Aaron Gold struggled to find any significant differences between the new GMC Sierra 1500 Denali and the old one, and we found the new Silverado to feel more akin to a major facelift than anything. And GM's mixed-use materials strategy, with aluminum body panels and a steel bed, didn't have the same "wow" effect on the industry as Ford's all-aluminum F-150 a few years earlier, despite resulting in up to 450 pounds of weight shaved from a pickup that already was significantly lighter than the old steel-bodied Ford.

It looked even worse when Chevrolet (and Ford) in October skipped this year's Texas Truck Rodeo, handing all the Texas Auto Writers Association's awards to that new Ram 1500, despite Chevy having used the 2017 Rodeo to unveil the '19 Silverado. For the '18 Rodeo, it was somewhat akin to the NFC champion deciding to sit out the Super Bowl.

With all that in mind, I took temporary delivery of a 2019 Chevy Silverado 4WD LT Crew Cab pickup for a weekend. My task was to drive, with my wife, about 145 miles northwest of Metro Detroit to pick up a storm door at a home-improvement store and take it to our summer cabin another 30 miles or so distant.

In case I haven't made this clear; I'm not a truck guy. Even just a mile and a half north of the Detroit border, our neighborhood's century-old streets are too narrow for parking such behemoths, and our 89-year-old driveway is too short and narrow. Unless you're towing something heavy, I don't understand the advantage in our modern world of a full-size truck over the midsizers (Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, Toyota Tacoma, et al. ), and I figure that if you're towing a race car or a big, long Airstream, you probably want a 2500 anyway. All I needed was a bed long enough for a door, which any midsize truck could handle.

But back to the Silverado. The first thing I did when I drove it home Friday evening for the Saturday morning trip north was to remove the hard tonneau cover. There is a way to flip up the back sections of the panel to accommodate a door that's longer than the crew cab's base, five-foot, eight-inch bed, but I was in a rush, and didn't want to find out it wouldn't work at the Menards 30 miles from the final destination. So I hauled off the heavy tonneau, awkward in my arms, and stored it in my garage, wondering how many suburban cowboys drive around in expensive pickups and use such truck accoutrements as an excuse to not help their friends move sofas.

The tonneau removed, the Silverado LT, especially its interior, spoke to me the way no cowhide-slathered High Country Rancho Deluxe ever could. While dull-looking in a sort of Walmart gray, the interior with its cloth seats and rubber floor mats had good fit and finish and all the stuff I needed for the drive and was ready for almost any sort of work. I flipped up the Crew Cab's rear seat to fit another big box for drop-off at the cabin. Phones were easy to plug in and recharge and the radio comes with volume and frequency knobs, so I could switch from NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" to XM 67 Real Jazz—both no doubt staples among pickup-truck owners—without taking my eyes off the road, much.

On the freeway, the Chevy Silverado is smooth and quiet, though the V-8 and eight-speed automatic combo sounds, like most modern trucks progressing through the gears, like a jet taking off and sucking in fuel at a prodigious rate.

Like all its competitors except the Ram 1500 pickup with its coil-spring rear suspension, the Silverado's rear leaf springs sometimes judder and bounce, especially with an unladen bed under quick takeoff. But the 5.3-liter V-8's dynamic fuel management was utterly seamless. With no indicator on the dash, I was unaware of how few cylinders I might be running on the freeway.

We didn't need the navigation system until we got to Mount Pleasant. It got a bit confused finding the store, and we lost maybe 20 minutes circling the area. After we finally found the Menards there, we tossed the door, in its box, in back. No fussing with a tonneau cover, and the door was secure enough angled from the floor by the cab to rest atop the closed tailgate.

I have no dramatic finish for this story. The door didn't move around at all for the last 30 miles of our task, and made it to our destination in one unbent piece.

See? That's what pickup trucks are for.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Specifications

PRICE $44,095/$52,700 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 5.3L OHV 16-valve V-8; 355 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 383 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT front-engine, 4-door, 5-passenger, 4WD pickup truck
EPA MILEAGE 16/22 mpg city/hwy
L x W x H 231.7 x 81.2 x 75.5 in
WHEELBASE 147.4 in
WEIGHT 5008 lb
0-60 MPH 5.9 sec (est)