2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Review
Chevrolet fully redesigned its Silverado 1500 just last year, giving it improved fuel economy, a roomier cabin, and new styling to help it stand out from the crowd. For 2020, you might think that Chevy would just stand pat. Instead, the 1500 gets another round of updates that include a new diesel engine option, added technology features, and a new trailering system to support all your towing needs.
On top of the other engines already on offer — a turbocharged four-cylinder, a V6 and one of two V8s — there's a newly available turbodiesel. Chevy was a bit late to the game in adding a diesel to its full-size light-duty pickup truck, but what it did add is a totally likable option. This 3.0-liter straight-six diesel provides smooth acceleration, impressive towing capability, and a significant increase in fuel economy compared to the Silverado V8s.
On the safety front, the Chevrolet Silverado now gets adaptive cruise control as an available feature. Just about every truck in this class offers it, but it was oddly missing from last year's options sheet. Combine that with the user-friendly infotainment system and the new trailering package — which can display up to 15 different camera views all around the truck and trailer — and you've got a thoroughly capable towing rig.
In daily use, however, the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 still has a few flaws. For one, the cabin design looks like it came from 2010 rather than 2020, and the quality of some of the materials is lackluster. While we might be inclined to give Chevy a pass on this — trucks are traditionally more about capability than looks — Ram has upped the game with its premium cabin in the Ram 1500. Is this a deal-breaker for the Silverado? Hardly. All the same, we recommend test-driving the Ram and the Ford F-150 before making up your mind.
The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 represents the status quo for a full-size light-duty truck. Its acceleration and braking performance are pretty average, while comfort and interior appointments are nothing special — at least not special enough to attract new buyers who currently own competing trucks. The Silverado's draw will likely be at the upper trim levels, which benefit from tech upgrades such as adaptive cruise and automatic emergency braking, and there's also an industry-first power up/down tailgate.
How does the Silverado 1500 drive?
We tested a Silverado crew cab (High Country trim) with the 5.3-liter V8, 4WD and eight-speed automatic. Acceleration and braking are average but totally sufficient for daily driving or for towing. Our test truck covered 60 mph in 7 seconds from a standstill at our test track. An equivalent F-150 is a little quicker, but there's nothing wrong with the Silverado's power. Around town, the transmission shifts smoothly and makes the most of the engine's low-end torque.
The truck tracks straight on the highway, but the steering effort is a bit too light. Handling is secure, and body roll is held nicely in check as you drive around turns. But midcorner bumps can upset the Silverado pretty easily. Going off-road? A regular 4WD Silverado will do OK, but consider getting the Z71 off-road option package or the Trail Boss trim level to enhance its potential.
How comfortable is the Silverado 1500?
The Silverado's seating isn't quite as plush as what you'll find in the F-150 or Ram 1500, but there's enough padding and support to keep you comfortable on long drives. The ride is relatively smooth on the highway, and the truck ably absorbs most small impacts. But the truck can get bouncy when you drive on roads that have a lot of bumps and dips.
The climate system can easily heat and cool the cabin, but operating it can be a little tricky because a lot of the control buttons are small. We really like the optional ventilated and split-heated front seats (separate settings for the seatback and seat cushion), a GM-exclusive feature. Engine noise is nicely muted until you get hard on the throttle, at which point it gets a bit unpleasant.
How’s the interior?
The Silverado crew cab has plenty of space for four or five adults, even tall ones. The back seat is absolutely massive and offers lots of legroom. Getting in and out is relatively easy, but the rear doors don't open as wide as we'd like. The power-adjustable seats have enough range of motion to accommodate almost any driver, and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel offers plenty of adjustment range.
There's a familiar look to the layout of the controls; it's the same basic design Chevy used in the previous-generation Silverado too. They're easy to use but don't give off a particularly modern vibe. Another demerit relates to visibility — the tall and broad hood plus thick windshield roof pillars impede your view ahead.
How’s the tech?
The Silverado is available with a lot of high-tech features. But the key word is "available." Systems such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist can only be had from the LTZ trim and up.
Considering the Silverado's size and weight, the adaptive cruise system follows the vehicle ahead at an unusually close distance in the shortest setting. The surround-view parking camera system is helpful, though the display could stand to be sharper. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. We were able to connect phones quickly and easily access music.
As for the High Country trim's power up/down tailgate, most of our test team thought it little more than a novelty.
How’s the storage?
We tested a 5.3-liter V8-powered, short-bed 4WD crew-cab truck that had the standard 3.23 axle gearing. This configuration provided an impressive 9,600-pound tow rating. The payload capacity for this truck was a similarly strong 2,020 pounds. As for the bed itself, it's a bit longer, deeper and wider than its rivals, and it has more tie-downs.
The Silverado's boxy center console contains multiple pockets, but we'd expect more space given that this truck has a column-mounted gear shifter. For family duty, the crew cab's back seat has two sets of lower car seat anchors and three top tethers, so child safety seats will fit in any of the three positions. But loading the seats, not to mention the kiddos, might be difficult due to the truck's ride height.
How economical is the Silverado 1500?
The Silverado High Country we tested had the 5.3-liter V8 mated to a 10-speed automatic and 4WD, which earns an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in combined city/highway driving. We found that number to be reasonably achievable in the real world. The best fuel economy for the Silverado comes from the available diesel-fueled six-cylinder.
Is the Silverado 1500 a good value?
The Silverado isn't outrageously expensive, but it is priced higher than its key rivals without offering any advantage in features, style or interior quality. The buttons and dashboard plastics are similar to those in the previous-gen truck: sturdy but somewhat cheap-looking. Chevy's warranty coverage is average, though you do get the first scheduled maintenance for free.
Full-size trucks such as the Silverado aren't necessarily fun to drive. But with its commanding view of the road, lots of towing power and a brutish front-end styling, the Silverado can put a smile on your face. However, the interior looks dated and borrows many pieces and design cues from the previous generation. It may or may not be a personality you want.
Which Silverado 1500 does Edmunds recommend?
While we like several of the lower trim levels for their more reasonable prices and pick-and-choose approach to available equipment, the LTZ and the High Country are the only two trim levels that offer the optional 6.2-liter V8 and Chevy's full suite of safety features. The optional Safety package II available on both those trims includes this year's new feature, adaptive cruise control, and items such as blind-spot monitoring and parking sensors.
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Chevrolet Silverado 1500 models
The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is a full-size pickup available in eight trim levels: Work Truck (WT), Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ and High Country. Like most full-size trucks, the Silverado is available with varying cab and bed configurations such as two-door regular cab, the four-door extended (Double) cab, and the crew cab with four full-size doors. Depending on cab selection, the three available bed sizes are an 8-foot-long bed, a 6.5-foot bed and a shorter 5-foot-8-inch bed.