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By William Maley
The news about the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra have been constant barrage about how they aren’t doing so well in the sales charts. In fact, Ram has taken second place in overall truck sales from the Silverado. General Motors is quick to point that Ram has been increasing amount of money on the hoods of the 2019 Ram 1500, along with the last-generation model being sold alongside. But could there be more to this slump? What if the new Silverado and Sierra didn’t move the needle as far as the competition?
The new Silverado and Sierra continue to separate from one another in exterior design. The basic shape may be the same, but it is the details where the two begin to develop their own identities. On the Sierra, it goes for some polarization with its gaping maw of a grille and c-shaped headlights. Chevrolet is a bit more restrained with the Silverado featuring a split bar grille and separate headlight housings. More differences can be seen turning to the side as the Silverado has slightly more pronounced fenders than the Sierra.
Both trucks arrived in their off-road trims: Trail Boss for the Silverado and AT4 for the Sierra. This is denoted by two-inch lift for the suspension, blacked-out trim pieces, and meaty off-road tires featuring some sharp-looking wheels. I tend not to like off-road models as they go overboard with the “LOOK AT ME” bits placed on it, which I get why a number of buyers absolutely love it. But the Trail Boss and AT4 find that nice point where they look the business without being too shouty about it.
GMC is also trying to set itself apart in terms of the tailgate. My Sierra AT4 tester came equipped with the MultiPro tailgate which offers “six functions and positions.” They include,
Primary Gate (Full Tailgate) Primary Gate Load Stop: Panel that holds longer items in the bed Easy Access: Flip the inner part of the tailgate to allow for better access for items in the bed Step to allow for easy entry and exit from the bed Inner Gate with Load Stop Inner Gate as a work surface You will not find a physical tailgate handle. Instead, there are two buttons that sit between the backup camera. The top button releases the inner gate, while the bottom allows the full tailgate to open. Opening the inner gate wasn’t as smooth as the full tailgate, feeling like it was sticking at points. A lot of this I would attribute to cold temperatures during the week. Despite this issue, having the inner tailgate give way to allow for better access to the bed and a step does give a unique selling point. I do wonder how will this tailgate design hold-up in the long run.
Moving inside, GM is still focusing on functional and practical aspects. This is evident with the large knobs and buttons controlling various functions, and a comprehensive gauge cluster. But this approach does put both trucks behind the pack in terms of interior design and materials when compared against Ford and Ram. I had to do a double-take getting inside the Silverado for the first time as the dashboard really didn’t change that much aside from the colors and slightly altered buttons. This isn’t helped by some of the material choices which look and feel out of place in trucks that carry price tags that are around the $60,000 mark.
But the Silverado and Sierra’s interiors do claw some points back in terms of overall comfort. No one will have any issue trying to find a position that works thanks to a generous amount of power seat adjustments and a steering wheel that finally provides tilt-telescope adjustment. Space in the back of crew cabs is massive with loads of head and legroom.
Both trucks came with an eight-inch screen (lesser trims get by with a seven-inch screen) and new software - Chevrolet Infotainment 3/GMC Infotainment. The interface looks like a simplified version of MyLink/Intellilink with simpler graphics and easier to read fonts. Moving around the system is easy thanks to the simple menu structure and quick responses for any command. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration comes standard. Both trucks were able to find my iPhone 7 Plus and bring up the CarPlay interface within seconds of plugging it in.
There are four different engines on offer, including a new 2.7L turbo-four. There’s also a turbodiesel V6 that will be arriving for the 2020 model year. Both of my test trucks came with the V8s - Silverado packing a 5.3L and the Sierra using the 6.2L.
The 5.3L V8 has not been my engine of choice for the last-generation trucks. Not because of the power on offer, but more of the tuning of the throttle pedal. It made the V8 feel very sluggish and would make the driver push further down on the pedal to get it moving a decent clip. Thankfully, GM has addressed this issue and 5.3 now feel likes it has 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. You can lightly press on the accelerator and V8 doesn’t feel artificially overwhelmed. A new eight-speed automatic (standard on higher trims) helps keep the engine right in the sweet spot of power and provides smooth shifts.
As for the 6.2L V8, it is a monster. With 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet, it moves the Sierra at a surprising rate. Making a pass or merging on to a freeway is no problem as there is an abundance of power waiting to be unleashed. A new ten-speed automatic (jointly developed with Ford) helps keep the engine right in the spot of power. Unless you need or want all of the power, the 5.3 is the engine I would recommend for either truck.
EPA fuel economy figures for the V8s are 15 City/20 Highway/17 Combined for the 5.3 and 15/19/17 for the 6.2L AT4. My averages for the week were 16.1 for the 5.3 and 15.2 for the 6.2.
Ram is still the gold standard when it comes to ride quality due to its rear coil spring setup. But GM isn’t so far behind with its solid rear axle setup. Most bumps and imperfections become mere ripples. Larger potholes didn’t upset either truck, but I would put that towards the off-road suspension. The standard trucks may bounce around. Handling is quite surprising as both trucks feel agile around bends. Noise isolation, for the most part, is excellent, though the knobby tires fitted to the Trail Boss and AT4 do ruin some of the tranquility.
My feelings are mixed on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500. GM has either fixed or improved various problems that I have talked about in previous reviews. But it feels GM hasn’t done enough to fully set their trucks apart from the competition. I think this line from my journal says it all.
“If General Motors wasn’t touting various aspects of these new trucks such as the aluminum body panels or multi-pro tailgate, I would have thought both models went through a dramatic mid-cycle refresh.”
This could give the full explanation as to why the Silverado and Sierra are currently getting beaten out by Ford and Ram Trucks in the sales chart. Buyers may not see any real changes for both trucks when compared against the competition. GM has been on the offensive, saying to be patient. But that approach may not work and may cause the automaker to draw up some drastic measures.
That’s the thing about the full-size truck market, you need to show up with the best. Anything less and you’re in danger of losing.
How I would configure a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500.
There are two options I would consider with the Silverado. First is the RST. I would order a 4WD crew cab with a short and opt for the 5.3L V8. From there, I would add the Convenience Package with Bucket Seats, Convenience Package II, Safety Package, and Trailering Package. That brings the final price to $52,745 excluding any discounts I could get. Second is the Trail Boss which gets the 5.3L V8 as standard. Options would mirror the RST and bring the final price to $54,285.
If I was to order a Sierra 1500, then I would start with the SLT Crew Cab 4WD with a short bed. This comes with the 5.3L V8 as standard and I would only add two options; Dark Sky Metallic for $495 and the SLT Premium Plus Package for $6,875. This package combines a number of option packages such as the SLT Preferred Package and the two Driver Alert Packages. The final price comes to $60,460 with a $1,000 discount for ordering Premium Plus Package.
Alternatives to the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500.
2019 Ram 1500: Ram's redesign on the 1500 has helped make it a real challenger to both Ford and GM. The interior raises the bar of what a truck can be with an impressive design and high-quality material choices. It also boasts an impressive list of safety features such as adaptive cruise control. Ride quality is still class leading. What may put some people off is the styling as it looks a bit plain. 2019 Ford F-150: Bestselling for reason, Ford has constantly improved the F-150 to keep it one step ahead of the competition. It features one of the largest selection of powertrains that help give it some impressive towing numbers. A number of trims also gives buyers different options to build their F-150 the way they want. But Ford trails Ram and GM when it comes ride quality. Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the trucks, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
(*Author's Note: Unfortunately, I lost the window sticker to the GMC Sierra 1500 I drove. I have built the truck as close as possible to my memory to get an approximation on price. -WM)
Model: Silverado 1500
Trim: LT Trail Boss
Engine: 5.3L VVT DI V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 355 @ 5,600
Torque @ RPM: 383 @ 4,100
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/20/17
Curb Weight: 5,008 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Roanoke, Indiana
Base Price: $48,300
As Tested Price: $55,955 (Includes $1,495 Destination Charge)
Convenience Package with Bucket Seats - $1,805.00
Convenience Package II - $1,420.00
Off-Road Assist Steps - $895.00
Safety Package I - $890.00
Bed Protection Package - $635.00
Trailer Brake Controller - $275.00
Advanced Trailering Package - $240.00
Model: Sierra 1500
Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start
Driveline: Ten-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5,600
Torque @ RPM: 460 @ 4,100
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/19/17
Curb Weight: 5,015 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Roanoke, Indiana
Base Price: $53,200
As Tested Price: $64,955 (Includes $1,595 Destination Charge and $500 discount for the AT4 Premium Package)*
Off-Road Performance Package - $4,940
AT4 Premium Package - $3,100 with a $500 discount
Technology Package - $1,875
Driver Alert Package II - $745
By Drew Dowdell
MONTH OF JUNE
By Drew Dowdell
At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform. Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level. The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package. Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment. Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard.
On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands. Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is. It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level.
Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors. The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree. While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors. Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids.
My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles. Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway.
The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6. Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment. Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system. The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading). If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined. The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating.
Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds. Engine noise is hushed and refined.
One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable. The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs. That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well. The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension.
Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one. That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard. If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list.
Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6
Driveline: All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
Curb Weight: 4482 lb.
Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
Base Price: $31,690
As Tested Price: $45,815
Destination Charge: $1,045
SX Prestige Package - $2,000
Carpeted Floor Mats - $210
Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115
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