Car Reviews Truck of the Year

How the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Has Improved (and Where it Still Falls Behind)

A few changes earn the 2020 Silverado 1500 finalist status at 2020 Truck of the Year

A few changes earn the 2020 Silverado 1500 finalist status at 2020 Truck of the Year

Pros:

  • Phenomenal powertrains
  • Responsive steering
  • Good pulling power

Cons:

  • Lazy interior
  • Seats not comfortable
  • Horrible backup camera

The powertrain is the beating heart of a full-size pickup. A functional bed, interior accoutrements, and ease of pairing a phone all impact how livable a truck is. But if the key criteria are how the truck accelerates, sounds, shifts, and tows, you can’t go wrong with the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with a gas or diesel engine and automatic transmissions smartly tuned to take advantage of the torque.

It’s hard to believe the 2.7-liter is a four-cylinder; most judges said they would take it over any other gas engine in the Silverado lineup. This compelling engine, which generates 310 hp and 348 lb-ft, may not sound stirring. However, it’s a torquey engine at low rpm, which is where it mostly lives, as road test editor Chris Walton noted. And it hustles, powering the 5,022-pound (2,278-kg) truck to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds and covering the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds. It cruises well at highway speeds and produces little body roll on winding roads. Shifts are smooth and efficient.

Read about Car, SUV, and Truck of the Year contenders and finalists HERE.

Attach a 4,000-pound (1,814 kg) trailer, and the RST 2.7 is fastest off the mark of our test field, scooting to 30 mph (48 km/h) in 3.5 seconds, while its 0–60 time of 14.1 seconds is second only to the Ford Rangers. Walton was impressed on the Davis Dam; the 2.7 towed with slick upshifts and held cruise speed with ease on the downhill grade. The weight savings with the I-4 provides a stunning amount of extra payload capacity, able to carry almost one ton.

Or opt for the 3.0-liter Duramax, a sweetheart of a diesel with excellent sound and feel, fuel economy, power off the line, payload, and towing. “This is probably the best of the light-duty diesels,” guest judge Mark Williams said.

The RST Duramax is nimble, handing twisty roads like a large sedan. Chevy’s suspension upgrades make it feel like a new truck. “I don’t know if I’ve driven a truck that rode that well,” Walton said. MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina noted how easily it drifts for fun. Features editor Scott Evans said he could tow with it every day: “It drives beautifully and reverses just as well, even without all the optional cameras and trailering apps.” Brakes require a heavy foot but work well. Technical director Frank Markus said the pedal feel seems quite linear in its relationship to braking force.

We had an issue with the shifter getting stuck in park on the Duramax. It seems to be an isolated problem; our GMC Sierra with the same powertrain had no issues.

More on the Silverado: Since when to Silverados have three axles and a nearly $400,000 USD price tag?

Features editor Christian Seabaugh felt the trucks struggled in the dirt; to clear moguls, the Silverado required off-road mode, which turns off traction control and creates wheel slip before the brakes engage and arrest an airborne wheel from spinning.

After awarding high marks for the powertrains and wide bed, we had to dock the Silverado points for the quality of its interior, which pales against the competition. The design isn’t as fresh, and the materials, like the hard plastic and uncomfortable cloth seats, aren’t as upscale. The wood substitute on the doors could have spiced up the plain dash. Our RST 2.7 tester with the bench front seat featured one regular USB port and an AM/FM radio. Unacceptable. Don’t get us started on the horrible backup camera and grainy screen.

Markus liked the information presented on the center screen. A four-wheel-drive display provided stats on pitch and roll, trip information, fuel range, oil life, tire pressures, air filter life, and even brake pad life, as well as engine hours, a timer, and instant fuel economy bar graphs.

Overall, the Silverado 1500 is an improved but still ordinary truck with great powertrains. “Whereas Ford and Ram are focused on how to build a better truck,” Seabaugh said, “Chevy seems focused on building a better Silverado.”

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 RST (CrewCab 4WD 2.7L) RST Duramax (DoubleCab 2WD)
Base Price/As Tested $46,095/$49,235 $46,135/$48,685
Power (SAE net) 310 hp @ 5,600 rpm 270 hp @ 3,750 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 348 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm 460 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 7.1 sec 7.0 sec
Accel, 0-60 mph (loaded) 8.7 sec* Not tested
Accel, 0-60 mph (towing) 14.1 sec** 16.4 sec#
Quarter Mile 15.3 sec @ 90.8 mph 15.4 sec @ 90.7 mph
Quarter Mile (loaded) 16.5 sec @ 83.3 mph* Not tested
Quarter Mile (towing) 19.3 sec @ 68.7 mph** 20.8 sec @ 66.6 mph#
Braking, 60-0 mph 124 ft 126 ft
Braking, 60-0 mph (loaded) 129 ft* Not tested
Double Lane Change Time 3.5 sec 3.7 sec
Davis Dam Frustration 8.9 sec @ 591 ft*** 17.9 sec @ 1,200 ft##
Cruise Control 65-mph Overrun 1.2 mph 2.4 mph
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 19/22/20 mpg 23/33/27 mpg
Key
* 1,500-lb payload | ** 4,000-lb trailer | # 7,500-lb trailer
35-55-mph uphill acceleration with ***3,160-lb ## 7,750-lb trailer