The 2020 Silverado HD

From the August 2019 print edition

When it comes to ordering your next truck—half-ton or HD—what do you consider first? The job it has to do, right? However, jobs that trucks do are as varied as the people who buy them and to match the truck to the job you need a wide variety build options. Ford has always been really good at offering multiple choices in every aspect of truck building. Still, the General is not far behind and for 2020 they are adding significantly to the build-sheet options by offering two brand-new engine choices.

Here are the high-notes: For 2020 Silverado HD will offer best-in-class towing of up to 35,500lbs. Its traditional 6.6L Duramax turbo-diesel will make 445hp and 910lbs-ft of torque and this year it’s matched to a segment-first 10-speed automatic transmission, built by Allison. But there are customers who don’t want the Duramax option. Most are owners who need capacity but don’t rack up that many kilometres. GM has a new option for this buyer.

Completely new for 2020 is a gas engine option for the HD—a 6.6L gas V8 that makes 401hp and 464lbs-ft of torque and is much cheaper to buy than the diesel. This engine is well matched to the new load limits of the next-gen HD. Past this innovation, whether you choose diesel or gas, here are some of the other highlights on the 2020 HD that will come standard.

There are new sub-systems crucial to road-manage these increased weights. Among these is an Auto Park Brake that holds the truck in place while hooking up. There is also Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. Controlling speed on hills is also a function of the Auto Grade Brake and the Diesel Exhaust Brake. Enhanced Digital Variable Steering assists the driver at highway speeds as well as during low-speed parking lot maneuvers.

The new Silverado HD comes with an advanced camera system with 15 views—all seen on the centre stack consol screen. These include off the nose of truck, a hitch-view, in-bed view and a camera mounted at the rear of trailer that creates a view called “transparent trailer”—yes, you can see exactly what’s behind your trailer.

There is also a new one-person trailer light test and trailer light diagnostics system. Everything is aimed at making one-person operations easy. Another feature extends coverage to the trailer and includes trailer-tire pressure and temperature monitoring right in the truck cab.

The other new engine is a new Duramax turbo-diesel that displaces 3.0L. It will go into the 1500-series pickup. With its arrival, all the popular American built half-tons now have a diesel option. This 3.0L is GM designed and built. Its straight-six long-block design sets it apart from Ford and Ram as they use V-block designs for their 3.0Ls.

This aluminum powerplant uses a variable-geometry turbo and a low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation system that adds to its efficiency. Thanks to its in-line design, it’s vibration-free and the power comes on smoothly. This 3.0L makes 277hp and puts out 460lbs-ft of torque at a low 1500rpm.

A feature of diesel is fuel efficiency and GM wants its new turbo-diesel to be known for this. So, they’ve paired it with a new efficient transmission. A light-weight, 10-speed automatic manages this diesel’s power—with a design emphasis on overdrive gearing.

Chevy’s stated goal for the 3.0L Duramax is an estimated fuel target of 40MPG at a steady 50mph (which is 5.8L/100km at 80km/h). Note: this engine has not received EPA fuel economy certification yet. To show this was not just a boast, GM asked me to drive a 30-mile (50km) loop while trying to achieve the best fuel economy number on the truck’s digital readout.

I managed a top-scoring run of 44.1mpg (5.3L/100km). I was hyper-miling—mirrors folded in, AC off, feathering the accelerator, never touching the brakes and driving below speed limit. Still, it’s impressive and shows the potential fuel savings of this 10-speed diesel powered combination.

While fuel economy is a high note, a curious stat is Chevy’s max-tow rating for the 3.0L diesel equipped Silverado: 9,300lbs. This is considerably lower than the Ram 3.0L diesel rating (12,560lbs) and what Ford has pegged its 3.0L Power Stroke at—max 11,500lbs. Is Chevy being conservative? Are the others boasting? These questions remain to be answered.

However, conversely, for 2020 Chevy 1500 is claiming the towing high ground in the weight wars with a new max rating of 13,400lbs—with the 6.2L V8 gas engine providing the propulsion. Of note too is that this max number has been boosted from a (what was then) high of 12,200lbs on the 2019 Silverado 1500. This kind of jump in just a year is what this level of competition causes.

For 2020, with the diesel engine included, you now have five powertrain options available to you. Silverado 1500 is also offered in eight unique trim packages—Work, Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ and High Country. The content is already high, but Chevy felt that it needed more. FM/SP