Trucks & SUVs

Why a 420-hp V8 Can’t Redeem the Chevrolet Silverado

A big pickup truck should warrant big displacement, or so goes a common line of thinking. And big displacement often means a powerful V8 engine. That’s what buyers can opt for with certain trim levels of the 2019 Chevrolet SilveradoJoe Lorio of Car and Driver took a closer look at what a massive V8 brings to this truck. 

But will impressive engine power be enough to give the Silverado an edge over the Ram 1500 and the Ford F-150? We don’t think so. The Chevy truck lacks features and characteristics that its rivals offer and that buyers want. Read on to learn why just a massive engine alone won’t be the saving grace of the Silverado. 

The Silverado’s beefy V8

For the 2019 model year, Chevy made only subtle refreshes to its half-ton pickup. It updated the Silverado’s chassis and suspension as well as its styling. The automaker also added a 2.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder for some models, but the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 are constants in the Silverado stable.

The naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8, in particular, is pretty much the same as last year, except for its new cylinder-deactivation programming. It’s available only as a $2,495 option in the LTZ and High Country trim levels that have 4WD. The latter is the truck that Lorio tested. Normally, these trim levels come standard with 5.3-liter V8 engines.

Producing 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque puts the High Country Silverado ahead of several trucks in the full-size segment, including Ford’s 5.0-liter, Ram’s 5.7-liter Hemi, Toyota’s 5.7-liter, and Nissan’s 5.6-liter engines. Not one of these engines can make 400 hp. The exception is the Ford Raptor’s twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 that churns out 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque.

The Silverado’s horsepower and torque make it quicker than almost all of the V8-equipped competition. In a 0-to-60 mph heat, the Chevy clocked in at 5.4 seconds. This result outpaces the F-150 Platinum V8 and the Ram Laramie by 0.5 and 0.7 seconds respectively. 

The leader among the V8s for the quarter-mile was also the Silverado at 13.9 seconds at 100 mph. The only other truck in this class that challenged it was an F-150 Limited with an EcoBoost V6. The Ford did the zero to 60 mph run in 5.1 seconds and the quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds at 102 mph.

Another advantage that the big V8 brings to the Silverado is its higher towing capacity at 9,300 pounds. If a special trailering package is added, it can tow up to 12,200 pounds, which is 600 pounds over the 5.3-liter engine Silverado similarly equipped.

But what about the rest of the truck?

Some deficiencies exist in the Silverado that a muscular engine just can’t offset. For example, Lorio described the truck’s 10-speed automatic transmission as muddling through extra gears during light acceleration and wandering even more when more gas is applied. The novelty of an old-school shifter on the steering column can’t compensate for the transmission’s indecision, though.

Driving the Silverado is also a comedown. Despite its high sidewall tires, the truck has a bumpy, side-slinging ride. Lorio compared driving it to operating a heavy-duty truck. Its bigger driving behavior leaves it short on the driving refinement found in the current Ram 1500 or the F-150. And this report is consistent with a recent review from Motor Trend that also criticized the Silverado’s bad ride.

Bigger isn’t better where the Silverado’s footprint is concerned, either. It’s a chunky block of a truck that is often too wide to maneuver in tight spaces. Lorio suggested that the multi-angle cameras that are part of an optional technology package for $1,625 would help a driver see parts of the front of the truck blocked by its enormous hood. But that means a buyer would have to pay extra for a package on an already high-end truck that has a base price of $60,290.

A lack of advanced safety features is another of the Silverado’s stumbling blocks, as Consumer Reports has also pointed out. To get driver-assist features such as forward collision, lane-departure warning, automatic emergency braking, and others, a buyer must shell out $3,440 for the High Country Deluxe package.

Finally, there is a chronic issue surrounding the Silverado’s interior. An AutoGuide reviewer has already complained about it at a lower trim level. The High Country trim level is rather pedestrian. It offers leather upholstery, a little bit of the obligatory faux wood trim, a two-tone color scheme and not too much else. The fanciness here is aspirational because upper-trim Fords and Rams are a bit nicer at the Silverado’s price point.

So can a brawny V8 save the Chevrolet Silverado and shore up its sagging sales? The short answer is no. Chevy will need to do much more than small refreshes to redeem the Silverado and win back buyers.