With chief rival Ford setting sales records with its F-Series pickups and FCA’s Ram brand prepared to unveil an all-new Ram light-duty pickup at the 2018 Detroit auto show, Chevrolet answered by unveiling on the eve of the Detroit show the 2019 Silverado 1500 that Mark Reuss, General Motors executive vice president of Global Product Development, confirmed is “all-new from the ground up.”
That means totally new sheetmetal that telegraphs the Silverado’s larger footprint and taller profile, but also includes new frame that contributes to the 2019 Silverado’s claimed weight reduction of up to 450 lb (204 kg) compared with a V8-powered crew cab model from the existing Silverado lineup. Still aiming to parry Ford’s groundbreaking use of aluminium for the F-Series’ body panels—as well as its cargo bed—Reuss said the new Silverado’s weight reduction is the “direct result of our expertise in mixed materials and manufacturing technology.”
Larger but lighter
In what’s become something of a development mantra for fullsize pickups, the all-new Silverado lays claim to an expanded footprint yet less mass. At a media briefing prior to the Detroit auto show, Chevrolet engineers attributed use of 80% high-strength steels—of gauges varying between 2 mm and 5 mm—to a loss of 88 lb (40 kg) from the new truck’s fully-boxed frame that also gains 10% in torsional rigidity. Reuss said the truck also uses no less than seven different grades of steel for the cab’s structural safety cage.
Another 88 lb was chopped from the 2019 Silverado’s body panels. All hinged panels now are fabricated from aluminum. The fenders, roof and bed continue to be formed from steel. Meanwhile, forged aluminum is used for the upper control arm of the new-design short-/long-arm front suspension, replacing a heavier stamped piece. At the rear, the second-stage leaf of the solid-axle suspension on LT models is made of a carbon-composite material that cuts roughly 5 lb (12 kg) at each rear corner.
The new Silverado’s weight reduction comes despite a larger stance. Although Chevrolet had yet to provide detailed specifications, it said the truck’s wheelbase is increased by as much as 3.9 in (100 mm), while overall length is up by about 1.6 in (41 mm); most of the wheelbase increase translates directly to increased cabin space. And advanced forming techniques for the interior bedsides that delivered a significant 7 in (178 mm) of width mean an increase in bed volume for every available bed length. The increase for the short bed, for example, is 63 cu ft (1.8 cu m), a claimed 20% better than the nearest competitor. The standard-measure sheet of plywood now easily lays flat on the new Silverado’s cargo floor, Chevrolet said.
All-new diesel, skip-firing V8s
The 2019 Silverado’s powertrain story matches its materials progress, highlighted by a new Duramax 3.0-L inline 6-cylinder diesel available for all models. Prior to the Detroit auto show, Ford announced it will offer a new Power Stroke diesel engine for the first time for its F-150 (250 hp and 440 lb·ft) and Ram was expected to confirm it will offer a diesel for the new-generation model; Chevrolet did not offer detailed specifications or power ratings for the Silverado’s Duramax, but Reuss said, “I’m really confident we’ll have the best-performing diesel in this segment.”
The new Silverado’s carryover 5.3-L and 6.2-L V8s hardly are carryover: they will feature what Chevrolet said is the industry-first application of what it calls Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) that can shut down any of up to seven cylinders. Although engineers would not confirm it at the 2019 Silverado’s Detroit showing, it is believed is the production version of the Dynamic Skip Fire cylinder-deactivation system developed by Delphi and Tula Technology (see http://articles.sae.org/15485/).
With the system’s sophisticated software controls, the command to provide ignition to an individual cylinder is made immediately prior to each ignition event, with each event considered independently and in sequence. The Delphi/Tula system also provides for all-cylinder cutoff during deceleration.
The recently-developed 10-speed automatic transmission will back the Duramax diesel and the 6.2-L gasoline V8, but there was no further detail about other transmission options in what Reuss said would be a matrix of six powertrain variants.
Interior: don’t mess with success
Chevrolet designers admit, meanwhile, that the new Silverado’s interior—boasting increases of about 3 in (75 mm) of rear-seat legroom and a total of 43.8 in of legroom for the rear and 44.5 in in front—is not radically redesigned. Customer clinics and surveys revealed that users were largely pleased with the current Silverado’s cabin layout, so the 2019 model updates and upgrades on the existing design.
The interior features upgraded materials, “new safety and convenience features” that Chevrolet did not detail and a variety of new storage spaces.
The 2019 Silverado will be built exclusively at GM’s assembly plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the truck will go on sale in the second half of 2018.