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Auto review: 2019 Chevy Silverado offers great engineering, but a modest interior

The easy-driving pickup is an emerging contender for the title of America's top pickup 

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — Remarkably quiet and easy to drive, the all-new 2019 Chevy Silverado makes a strong bid for the title of America’s best pickup.

Don’t plan the victory parade yet, though. Ram will unveil a mild-hybrid version of its own all-new full-size pickup shortly in the pitched battle for supremacy in the auto industry’s biggest and most profitable market segment.

The all-new Silverado, Ram and the soon-to-come GMC Sierra all aim to take a slice out of perennial No. 1 seller Ford F-150’s hide.

The Silverado weighs as much as 450 pounds less than comparable 2018 models, despite having much more cargo and passenger space. Chevy claims a Silverado with the short cargo box has more cargo capacity than the competition’s longer, standard-bed pickups.

That’s a big deal because it could also make the new Chevy relatively easy to park and drive in the suburbs and cities where many truck owners live and work. The added cargo capacity is thanks to one of the Silverado’s many innovations, a bed with tucked-in walls that fits the Silverado’s structure like a tailored suit.

I spent a day driving 2019 Silverado crew cabs through the mountains and high meadows of western Wyoming and eastern Idaho. Over mountains and into mudholes

The 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 pulled effortlessly up a 10 percent grade in the Teton Pass. The route included a short but challenging off-road course strewn with boulders and a mudhole. I also towed a 6,000-pound trailer. The Silverado passed all tests with flying colors.

GM’s new dynamic fuel management system seamlessly — and magically, if you know much about how engines work — lets the V8 engines switch from using all eight cylinders to one, and every combination in between.

That helps a four-wheel-drive Silverado get EPA scores of 16 mpg in the city, 22 on the highway and 18 in combined driving with the 5.3L V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission. The more powerful top 6.2L V8 rated 16 city, 20 highway and 17 combined with a 10-speed automatic.

The frame is also 90 pounds lighter, but strong and stiff enough to achieve the Silverado’s vibration-free ride without the electronic systems many other vehicles use.

Comfort benefits from new 20- and 22-inch tires with higher sidewalls — the equivalent of softer springs. The trucks weren’t inclined to bounce when driven empty, despite a 5 percent increase in towing capacity and 14 percent bump in payload, the amount of weight they can carry in their beds.

The 2019 Silverado will have the widest model range in Chevy trucks’ 101-year history: Eight distinct models from the luxurious High Country crew cab to two-door work trucks. Between the spacious crew cab and two-door regular cab, a "double cab" has smaller rear doors and back seat than the crew cab. Crew cabs are the best-selling model.

Other available features include:

  • Multiple cameras for hooking up trailers and towing
  • Blind spot alert
  • Memory settings for up to five different trailers
  • Head-up display
  • Rear-view camera mirror
  • Lane-keeping alert and assist
  • Low-speed automatic front braking
  • Pedestrian detection and automatic braking at up to 50 mph
  • Iffy interior

Chevy pulled out all the stops for the Silverado’s engineering and model range, but its most upscale interior clearly trails the luxury of top competitors from Ford and Ram. While those pickups offer leather fit for a hand-tooled saddle and detailing like saddle-bag style map pockets and barbed-wire pattern floor mats, the Silverado High Country’s interior holds no surprises.

Production of double cabs begins this fall. Two-door regular cab Silverados — the least popular and profitable models — are expected in the first quarter of 2019.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Starting price: $29,975

Price as tested: $62,535 (High Country edition)

Power: 6.2-liter, V8, 10-speed automatic transmission, 420 hp

Towing capacity: 12,200 pounds

Payload: 2,100 pounds.

EPA fuel economy: 16 mpg city, 20 highway

Bottom line: Contender for America's top pickup 

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