Expert Reviews

Test Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado High Country

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This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

From the changeroom of my gym, the remote starter fired up my 2019 Chevrolet Silverado High Country tester (which I later named “Beastor”) from, oh, 100 feet away, every time I asked it to. And that’s through three cinder-block walls, a plate-glass window, and no shortage of morning gym-bros with sleeveless hoodies and work-boots, and traps that have to be blocking, like, half of the signal, too.

Hey winter! Screw you!

This triggers the heated steering wheel to fire up in advance of giving your fingertips a toasty greeting. It pre-heats the heated seats too. Moments later, this will make you happy to have a bum.

Power-deployable side-steps provide a welcome step-up for the shorter among us, and give everyone a place to kick off slushy boots without compromising the bodywork. The washer fluid jug has a great big mouth for quick chugging back of its washer fluid supply. The LED headlights (which are excellent and very bright) failed to ice up after hundreds of kilometres of snowstorm driving, contrary to the belief of many YouTube commenters.

And the ride and steering and feel of the Silverado beneath you is consistent, even down to, say 30 below. In many trucks, bushings can begin to squeak and squeal here, and the ride can feel stiffer because of the chilled shocks. But Silverado is a big, smooth, quiet softie – even at the sort of temperatures that disable public transit in parts of Canada.

Every year, after about 10 days of winter, I quickly realize that winter is the absolute worst. Hey winter! Screw you!

But really: having a vehicle brimming with little touches like these can help make winter suck that that tad bit less.

Weird face, though.

It grew on me after a week – and like it or not, it does pull off the very-important task of giving the Silverado’s brand identity away from even a mere and distant glance. Behind the chrome-blade mug, my tester got Chevy’s latest 6.2-litre V8 engine, good for horsepower and torque pegged at 420 and 460. New fuel-saving tech includes a cylinder-deactivation system that’s active (and therefore cutting your gas bill) more of the time, and the engine is teamed with a new 10-speed automatic.

Behind that, a 4x4 system with the usual settings. Included was a goof-proof 4X4 Auto setting, which enables set-it-and-forget-it operation, can be left on forever and ever, and works things like the AWD system in your neighbor’s Rogue. There’s instant four-wheel bite from the first touch of the throttle, traction galore, and nothing further for the driver to do.

Connecting it all to the road were a set of 22-inch optional alloys wrapped in a few thousand dollars’ worth of excellent Toyo Observe winter tires.

So, yes. I was nicely prepared to extend winter a particular finger that’s located about halfway across my hand.

As it goes with a new-generation truck, the 2019 Silverado is larger, smarter, more powerful, and more capable. It’s safer than ever, thanks to a full suite of outward-looking hazard detection systems. It’s more connected.

The bed and tie-down points have even been strategically reinforced, presumably in case a competitor spins up another one of those “let’s smash this pickup bed” commercials that are all the rage. The motorized tailgate opens and closes with a smooth and quiet motorized action, too.

This Silverado is also lighter than its predecessor, despite being physically larger. That’s because of the engineers getting big into the fancy lightweight materials and design.

So Silverado has largely advanced on all fronts – other than the interior.

Apparently, customers were so pleased with the design of the last-generation Silverado’s interior that designers decided not overdo the redo. Result? Those coming to this Silverado from a few-year-old unit will be familiar with the switches, interfaces, dials, and overall layout and shape. There’s some additional stitching and some upgraded materials to help liven things up – but it mostly looks a warmed-over version of the last-generation cabin. I figure many a shopper new to the brand may long for a little more flair, and a little less carrying-over of old displays, gauges, and switchgear.

The features and functionality are all there. No problems are notable in regard to space for passengers or items, large or small. At each seat, there’s generous room and a good view, even for larger occupants. There’s a comical amount of at-hand storage for smaller things, thanks to dual glove boxes, a centre console that’ll swallow a full camera kit with multiple lenses, a laptop, or whatever else, and a festival of cupholders and cubbies.

The rear-view mirror is also a camera feed, which works better than a mirror, but can also just be a mirror, if you think camera feed mirrors are a bit much sometimes.

There’s a slick head-up display (HUD) that’s big and clear. The central command system isn’t fancy to look at, but it’s logical, easily learned, and extremely responsive. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity and a household power outlet, ideal if you’ve got to pull over and do boss-things on your laptop. The wireless recharging pad for your smartphone is – get this – chilled from beneath to keep your phone battery from going thermonuclear if you use it for more than a few minutes, too.

Silverado is, therefore, well thought out. Also, it will function nicely as a mobile office, a luxurious towing rig, a comfy highway cruiser, or anything in between – and in any weather.

Much of the way the Silverado conducts itself is also an asset.

The big and highly effective 6.2L V8 is as peaceful or racy an engine as you’d like. Light into the throttle, there’s barely a peep from through the firewall, as 460 pounds of torque glide things up to speed from under 1,600 revs.

Ford’s big EcoBoost does low-end torque better, but if you don’t care for twin turbochargers in your pickup (a possibility) then Chevy’s big V8 will cover you well.

Boot down hard, it’s a tastefully restrained growl that sounds like something from a Hollywood movie car chase. Full throttle thrust in a relatively unloaded truck bordered on “a little much”, which the enthusiast drivers will get a kick out of.

The idea of a 10-speed automatic freaks some of those enthusiasts out, though. But fear not: in 99.8 percent of driving, you don’t even know it’s there because it’s so smooth, and because it is expert at skipping multiple gears in each direction, to eliminate excessive shifting. Further, the 10-speed unit never feels like it’s having any trouble finding the right cog for the job.

Steering is usually “just-right” light for the situation, and requires minimal wrestling in parking situations. These are supported by 360 degrees of parking camera coverage, with custom view angles called up on screen at the driver’s request. There are also parking radar sensors. When they go off, your seat vibrates to warn you they’re going off. If you manage to strike another vehicle while parking this one, go buy a lotto ticket.

On the highway, I find Silverado’s steering to feel bang on: mostly because at the fingertips, it’s a little more precise than the F-150, and a little heavier (and therefore more easily operated with smoothness) than the Tundra or Ram. Further, brakes come online with higher-than-average precision at the pedal, which imparts added confidence when a fast stop is needed. It’s not a BMW 3 Series or anything, but the Silverado’s brakes help drivers more easily dole out the right amount of stopping power for the situation. They bite urgently, but without feeling difficult to work smoothly.

Interestingly, the sensation of any ABS action at the pedal is non-existent. With no pulsating or clicking or buzzing while stopping on ice or snow, this seems to have necessitated a light-up “ABS Active” message in the instrument cluster. This is the first time I’ve used ABS brakes that don’t feel like ABS brakes (but they perform just dandy).

Also interestingly, if one or more wheels is struggling for traction on snow and ice, the same display even advises you of which ones are at a loss for traction. Helpful? Maybe. But yet another clever little touch nonetheless.

My tester’s biggest asset was probably its ride quality. The telltale pickup ride sensation (rigid, jouncy, bouncy, and jiggly) is kept very nicely in check. You still feel like you’re in a pickup, but the ride rarely sees occupants getting tossed, jostled, or elasto-kinematically manhandled by the goings-on beneath. On smooth highways, ride quality is in the same ballpark as a big comfortable sedan. On nasty in-town roads dotted with cracks and holes, Silverado maintains a comfortable ride, more consistently, and more of the time, than many.

Little upsets the Silverado’s ride – except for the one thing that does.

You know those sharp, short dips in the highway that cross an entire lane and are always followed by the slush-boulder debris they knock from cars and trucks that hit them? These can be problematic. Whack one at highway speeds and the Silverado’s rear-end has a bit of a shindig, dancing, and squiggling around until it finds traction again. This can be startling, and with winter tires and a fast-acting stability control system, I was back at ease in a quick moment. Keeps you awake, in any case.

Still, some information suggests that skipping my tester’s monster 22-inch wheels may help mitigate this problem.

Aside from the occasional case of the squiggles, and a cabin that won’t blow the stockings off of any aficionados, your writer found Silverado to be an expert long-haul, winter-weather cruiser, with plenty of tech and touches that were easy to appreciate.

If you’ll drop $75,000 for a unit like mine, expect the most value for your buck when priorities include slick gadgets and tech, a luxury sedan ride, and a long list of winter-busting touches, more than interior design.

Engine Displacement 6.2L
Engine Cylinders V8
Peak Horsepower 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Peak Torque 460 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
Fuel Economy 15.0/12.0/13.7 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 2,018 mm / 6'7" bed
Model Tested 2019 Chevrolet Silverado High Country 1500 4WD
Base Price $65,800
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,795
Price as Tested $79,575
Optional Equipment
$11,880 – 3LZ Equipment Group $4,995; 6.2-litre V8 with 10-speed Automatic $2,895; Technology Package $1,995; Power Retractable Steps $1,440; Rear Under-Seat Storage $305; Black Hood Emblem $175; Wheel Locks $75