Fresh off its debut earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show, The 2019 Chevy Silverado is looking to be the all-inclusive truck in an increasingly competitive segment. When it finally hits showrooms, the 2019 Silverado will offer eight different trim levels and six different engine and transmission options, something the automaker says is paramount.
“That allows every customer to get the exact truck they want,” explained Scott Damman, Lead Development Engineer, 2019 Silverado. “All these trim levels allow us to have a truck for every customer.”
In an effort to secure a position as that all-inclusive truck, the 2019 Silverado was subjected to GM’s most rigorous engineering metrics in history. The Silverado team essentially doubled their validation targets, performing over 475,000 tests and logging seven million miles of real-world testing in the interest of durability.
“It is pretty daunting,” Damman said. “Especially when you think about a vehicle that is redesigned from the ground up – brand new – everything is brand new.”
Each engine was subjected to repeat “torture testing” which included visits to the dynamometer cells. Inside, the engines would run for months on end – without stopping – to simulate a lifetime of maximum hot and cold cycles. From there, the Silverado team traveled to Davis Dam in Arizona where the truck hauled its maximum gross combined vehicle weight up a seven percent grade in 110-degree heat. The benchmark of this test was to incur no loss in performance even with the air conditioner running.
“By taking 450 lbs. out we can give that performance back to our customers,” Damman said referring to how the new Silverado is 450 lbs. lighter when compared to the current generation with a V8. “When that 450 lbs. is not being lugged down the road because of the truck itself, it gives you that capacity.”
Light & Tight
The 2019 Silverado’s actual body is 88 lbs. lighter and its fully boxed steel frame, despite being 88 lbs. lighter, offers a 10 percent increase in torsional rigidity. The live-axle rear suspension is also redesigned, including new carbon-composite, second-stage springs on LT models that cut about 12 lbs. (per side) over the steel springs they replace.
“The engineering team was actually tasked with going and looking at every single part for weight savings,” Damman explained. “To do that we actually went to our suppliers and our supply base to begin pulling on new technology, which included new processes for building things. We learned about what they have and by doing so, we were able to get lighter materials in the truck, but build it stronger so it will give that performance back to our customers.”
The doors, hood, and tailgate are made from aluminum while the fenders, roof, and bed utilize high-strength steel. The underlying safety cage uses seven different grades of steel. 80 percent of the frame consists of high-strength steel, varying from two to five millimeters in thickness, depending on location. Hydroforming, roll forming, conventional stamping, and tailor-rolled blanking are all performed during manufacturing.
“We like to call it our mixed materials strategy,” Damman added. “Where we could get away from high-strength steel we did, and that transfers some of that cost and weight savings back to customers.”
Corvettes & Customers
Another test was borrowed from the Corvette’s book, whereby the 2019 Silverado was subjected to sharp tilt angles. These “tilt stands” dip the truck at an angle of up to 53 degrees, and can simulate angles at a rate of up to 40 degrees a second, the equivalent of up to 1.4g. This test helps ensure proper engine and transmission lubrication.
“We have a lot of performance factors that we look into early on in the program,” Damman said. “There is a whole group of people that actually set those performance requirements as we look at our current generation Silverado.”
Among those groups of people are Silverado customers.
“We take our customer’s feedback and we try to figure out how to balance all of their requirements,” Damman added. “By doing that early on we have something to work towards.”
The evergreen 5.3 and 6.2 return to the Silverado lineup, this time equipped with Dynamic Fuel Management. The new system replaces the current Active Fuel Management and allows for 17 different modes of cylinder deactivation to boost performance and efficiency. Power figures, although unchanged from 2017, remain quite healthy: the 5.3 outputs 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft. of torque, contrasted to the 6.2 which creates 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft. of torque.
Chevrolet estimates about half of the new trucks will be equipped with one of these two engines.
“The 5.3 and 6.2, although they have been around for a while, have been redesigned and rebuilt for weight savings and better performance,” Damman said. “Our propulsion team had the same task as the rest of our engineering team: to figure out ways to make things stronger, save weight, and increase performance.”
The 4.3-liter V6 sees an increase in torque and fuel efficiency for 2019. The standard engine on the Silverado LT and new RST now creates 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft. of torque. Also in the mix is the new 2.7-liter Turbo with Active Fuel Management. The new turbocharged offering for the Silverado creates 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft. of torque.
Last but certainly not least, a Duramax 3.0-liter inline-six joins the lineup.
“It is an all-new engine developed by our propulsion team at GM,” Damman said. “It fits in nicely for a full-size truck, and all the performance factors were taken into account.”
Depending on engine choice, the 2019 Silverado will come with either a six, eight or 10-speed automatic.
Availability & Manufacturing
Assembly of crew cab V8s will begin in the third quarter, with double and regular cab models joining in the fourth quarter. Production of the 4.3-liter V6 and 2.7-liter Turbo are also scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter, with the Duramax being available in early 2019. EPA fuel economy estimates and towing and payload capacities are not yet available.
When it arrives, the 2019 Chevy Silverado will have eight different trim levels, including an off-road-oriented Trailboss.
“I think we can get a lot of new customers into these trucks,” Damman said. “We have the right team in place that can take it there and get it to the next level.”
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.