2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT essentials: Growing and shrinking

What is it: This Chevrolet Silverado pickup is a nearly 20-foot-long, full-size, light-duty pick-up truck with an available four-cylinder powerplant, built to break through another glass ceiling of smaller, turbocharged engine limitations. The LT lands in the middle of the vast Silverado line-up, ahead of the Work Truck (WT) and Custom, but beneath RST, LTZ, and High Country offerings. Only the LT and RST trims get the 2.7-liter four-cylinder; otherwise you choose between a V6 or two V8s.

Key Competitors: Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra

Base Price: $41,695

As-Tested Price: $49,365

Full review: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado first drive

Highlights: This new-generation Silverado pickup truck from Chevrolet uses a new engine made specifically for truck duties. And the numbers this engine, which is roughly half the size of the 5.3-liter V8, pumps out are awfully close to its double-the-cylinders counterpart. It makes 310 hp at 5,600 rpm and 348 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 – 4,000 rpm, which is just 45 hp and 35 lb-ft behind the smaller of the two V8s and actually far more powerful than the naturally aspirated V6. Both the V8 and this four-cylinder use an eight-speed automatic transmission. That’s enough to propel the full-size Silverado to 60 mph from rest in less than seven seconds, which hurts your brain if you think about it too much, so don’t. Just know that, yes, with modern engineering, a four-cylinder full-size pickup is not only possible, but pretty good too.

Our Opinion: Maybe you noticed this review hasn’t mentioned fuel economy yet. A big vehicle with a new, smaller engine…the numbers have to be epic, right? Well, no. Our double-cab, four-wheel-drive turbo-four Silverado LT manages 19 city, 22 highway, 20 combined fuel economy. Those are good numbers. In fact, they’re the best gasoline-powered combined numbers from the Silverado. Problem is, the 5.3-liter V8 matches the turbo-four on the highway and sounds a lot better while doing it. And Ford’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 option has the Chevy’s numbers beat straight up: The F-150, equipped with 4WD, achieves 19 city, 24 highway, 21 combined. Yes, the 2.7-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the fuel economy choice, but not by much. Now, let’s move on.

When I first drove the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, the civility of the experience impressed. This new engine ticks up that feeling one notch further. The four-cylinder engine is quiet, powerful, and plenty torquey at low rpm to completely forget about it. You just effortlessly go about your day. Its only limitation comes from many potential owners who will have a hang-up about engine size, an ill-conceived perception that this powertrain, “won’t have what it takes.” It will. In fact, turbocharged motors deliver better torque below 2,000 rpm than all but the largest and strongest naturally-aspirated (NA) V8s. And, modern materials and engineering help keep everything cool, even when heavily loaded with a payload or when towing. Furthermore, turbo engines better compensate for thinner air at altitude than NA engines.

Base Price: $41,695

As-Tested Price: $49,365

Drivetrain: 2.7-liter turbocharged I4, eight-speed automatic, 4WD

Output: 310 hp @ 5,600 rpm; 348 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,000 rpm

Curb Weight: 5,007 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 19/22/20 mpg

Pros: Handles all the truck stuff you need, drives more and more like a car

Cons: Fuel economy is not a reason to buy a truck, no matter the engine inside

Inside, the Silverado double cab is less spacious than the crew cab, but both offer four-door convenience and space in the second row is more than adequate. Besides, more often than not, it’s stuff back there instead of people. Up front is as roomy as an S-Class and plenty comfortable. Prices continue to creep up, and luxury features continue to creep in to these light-duty trucks. This Silverado’s standard 8-inch color touchscreen for the radio with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto didn’t surprise me, nor did the almost $42,000 base price.

Trucks, in my life, serve a specific purpose: to work. Therefore, I want low-cost and no frills. Nice interior materials will just get greasy anyway. But I also grew up in an age where best selling cars were midsize sedans with four-cylinder engines. These days, more and more people continue to choose trucks for daily driving, causing a meteoric sales (and price) rise in the U.S. market. And now they come with inline-fours too. Given their price point and placement in the lineup, expect these smaller engines to rise to the top of the sales charts. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

–Robin Warner, managing editor

Options: Convenience package including dual-zone climate control, power seat adjuster, seat heaters, front underseat storage, heated steering wheel, tilt/telescoping wheel, second row USB ports, rear window defogger, 12-volt power outlet, keyless entry and start, leather steering wheel, steering column lock, remote vehicle start, theft-deterrent system, tailgate with lift assist, LED bed lighting ($2,025); Convenience Package II including universal home remote, power sliding rear window, 120-volt power outlet, Chevy infotainment 3 plus with 8-inch diagonal screen, 2 USB ports, satelite radio, HD radio ($920); Safety Package with front and rear park assist, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert ($890); Leather Package ($760); black tubular assist steps ($725); bed protection package ($635); auto locking rear differential ($395); Trailering Package including trailer hitch, 7 pin and 4 pin connections, hitch guidance ($395); all-terrain tires ($350); 18-inch wheels ($300); trailer brake controller ($275)

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