My father, who has owned seven General Motors pickups, meets me in the driveway. It’s hard to miss my big red Silverado as I roll up for a visit. He takes a walk around, looks at the big gnarly schnoz, peers inside, then asks the question I know is coming: “What’s under the hood?” “A turbo-four,” I reply. A skunk dropping its stench during a family picnic would have elicited a less disgusted look. This is going to be a tough sell!
Unlike me at first, Dad likes the exterior styling – reminds him of a Camaro nose on a Colorado body. I think it also recalls the ‘60s Chevy pickups, which weren’t exactly Chevy’s most elegant. The truck is big and bold with thin headlamps set over Chevy’s trademark twin-port grille and air blades in the lower facia sides. Bodies have chiseled fenders with swooping lines that give the truck a tough look. Out back, CHEVROLET is spelled out in a raised stamping across the tailgate. Place it all over 18-inch wheels for tough, sleek attire. Look close and you’ll realize our truck is the Double Cab, which replaces older extended cabs, and not the roomier Crew Cab.
I’ve driven way too many pickups lately that cost $70,000 or more, but this one is optioned much like most truck buyers would choose. Cloth seats are standard, but our truck sported heated leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A flip up front console allows six passenger seating. Dual-zone automatic climate control, and power sliding rear window add convenience – as do keyless entry/starting, in-dash trailer brake controller, household electrical plugs in the dash, and a bed with LED lighting and additional outlet. A large touchscreen includes access to iThings via Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and 4G Wi-Fi.
That is all nice, but then Dad drives the truck to lunch. Putting digits to it, the 2.7-liter engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, delivers 310 horsepower and 348 lb.-ft. of torque - 22% more torque than the V6 it replaces. It’s not weak, able to tow up to 7,200 lbs. and carry 2,280 lbs. of payload. Toss off the heavy stuff to zip from 0-60 mph in just 6.8 seconds. The front feels a little bouncy, likely from removing a couple hundred pounds and half an engine, but handling is much more responsive compared to V8-powered models.
Smooth, Swift Power
Jet into traffic and the engine pulls the big truck up to speed quickly and smoothly. Traditional truck buyers may question whether the little engine will stand up over time, but the specs work in its favor. My only real question is fuel economy. Chevrolet rates the truck at 18/21-MPG city/highway. I know, not stellar – especially when you realize the available 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque is rated 16/22-MPG. Even the whopping 6.2-liter V8, with 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque, achieves 16/20-MPG city/highway. While both of us enjoy driving the turbo-four, its benefits elude us. Get the V8 and enjoy!
Chevrolet slipped to third place in pickup truck sales behind the best-selling Ford F-150 and Ram 1500. This is a very nice truck, but probably not the one to kick either competitor down a notch. Driving the turbo-four is a joy, but without real benefits. And, styling is a personal choice. A base price of $28,300, or $43,960 as-tested, still seems like a pretty good deal for all that’s offered. Beyond those already mentioned, competitors include the Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra, and similar GMC Sierra.
2019 GMC Sierra Takes You Almost Anywhere
Let’s decide you’re over all of this frugality and want a fully-packed, off-road capable beast of a luxury truck. You’d do no better than the 2019 GMC Sierra AT4. It’s currently one of the fastest-selling Sierras and with good reason. It can take you almost anywhere.
You’ll notice the AT4’s 2-inch factory lift, black chrome exterior trim, body color grille surround, 18-inch wheels, off-road tires, and red vertical recovery hooks from the curb. There’s even GMC’s Multi Pro tailgate that can be configured six ways including a workbench, wide step, or bed extender. You might also admire body color door handles and bumpers, but you’ll have to slide behind the wheel to really appreciate all the AT4 offers.
Big V8 Power
Behind the black grille insert is a snarling 6.2-liter V8 engine delivering 435 horsepower and 469 lb.-ft. of torque – all connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Choose the optional performance exhaust system and stomp the throttle often for big giggles. Engineers also conjured standard four-wheel-drive with two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential, skid plates, and Rancho monotube shock absorbers. Hill descent control and GMC’s traction select system take it to the trails.
When pavement turns to rugged dirt, you’ll really appreciate the AT4. In virtually all off-road conditions, the big truck feels nimble, absorbs rough trails, and never puts a wheel wrong. Passengers can check their e-mail with 4G Wi-Fi, crank up heated seats, sync up to two phones via Bluetooth, and do so in a hushed cabin. A 15-inch diagonal widescreen head-up display includes speed and vehicle inclinometer.
Advanced Crash Avoidance
It does all that, and comes with an advanced suite of crash avoidance tech that includes surround vision cameras, lane change alert, side blind zone alert, front pedestrian braking, and low speed automatic braking. A camera in the nose even helps you maneuver through tight obstacles – whether in a downtown parking garage or threading through boulders and trees. The AT4 adopts GM’s Rear Camera Mirror that places an obstacle-free video screen in the rearview mirror.
GMC needed an all-capable pickup and this is it. Despite its considerable capability, the AT4 feels quiet and smooth, no matter the road. Drive it to work, or haul its acrobatic tailgate across some of the roughest trails you can find, and the Sierra AT4 will feel at ease. Prices rise from $50,800.
2019 Chevy Silverado LT
- 6 passengers, 4WD Pickup
- Powertrain: 2.7-L T4, 8-spd auto trans
- Output: 310 hp/348 lb.-ft.
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Solid axle
- Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Comfort, Capability
- Fuel economy: 18/21-MPG city/hwy
- Assembly: Ft. Wayne, IN
- Base price/As-tested: $28,300/43,960