2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax: 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year Contender
A Refined Engine in a Luxurious Package
Chevrolet introduced an all-new Silverado 1500 for the 2019 model year. At first glance, there was a lot to love about the truck. The suspension was dialed almost perfect for long highway slogs, its cabin was whisper-quiet, the new suite of drivetrains was impressive, and aside from polarizing exterior styling and a frankly disappointing interior, it seemed destined for the top spot in our annual Pickup Truck of the Year testing. However, because of the way we tested last year, the stiff competition, and the fact that one of the versions we tested ultimately failed to finish the test, the Silverado found itself at the back of the pack. Fast-forward to 2020 and the Silverado is back for redemption.
New for this year is the addition of GM's stunning 3.0L I-6 Duramax diesel engine. Mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, this engine churns out 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Even better still, it's rated at 29 mpg highway in 4x4 trim. Honestly, it was this engine that stole the show. All of our judges spent the week raving about how smooth and quiet the inline-six was. Whether through great engine tuning, transmission tuning, or a combination of both, turbo lag was nearly nonexistent. The truck quickly shot out of the hole and ran off with fervor. Despite clocking in mid-pack in unloaded track testing, the Silverado 1500 was among the best performers when loaded down with its maximum rated payload and with a 7,000-pound trailer in tow.
Because the Silverado shares a drivetrain with the Sierra 1500, it should come as no surprise that it shares similar complaints. Towing a load uphill proved to be a non-event, with the truck easily surmounting the 6-percent grade of our test hill. However, many judges noted they wished for a little more aggressive shifting from tow/haul mode, and the lack of a selectable exhaust brake led our staff to use the truck's service brakes a bit more than would be desirable to keep the load in check when descending the grade.
On the highway, the Silverado LTZ is a road trip machine. The cabin was well appointed, with nearly every available option selected. However, there were three features that divided the judges: the head-up display, rearview camera mirror, and adaptive cruise control. Not everyone cares for a head-up display, but the fact that it's offered in a pickup at all is still impressive. Same goes for the rearview camera mirror. Those who liked it, loved it, and those who didn't simply turned it off. Both are features not found in any other pickup (save for the GMC Sierra) as of yet. Adaptive cruise, on the other hand, which is new for 2020, polarized the crowd for a different reason: its ease (or lack thereof) of use. Activating adaptive cruise simply wasn't as intuitive to command as the systems used by Ford and Ram, leading most judges to simply not use it.
Exterior styling seems to have grown on people over the course of the past year, as GM's designers were certain it would. We think it gained adoration in light of being compared to the new Silveardo HDs, but that's a topic for another day. The interior is still substandard, and this year saw many complaints about seat discomfort.
Much like the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4, this truck is held back from realizing its full potential simply due to its lackluster interior. Pricing is relatively on par with the competition at $62,000, even coming in a little cheaper than a comparably equipped Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. When we look at the scoring, the Silverado 1500 Duramax appears to be an interior redo away from the top spot on the podium.