2020 Chevrolet Silverado Review

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Jun 11, 2020

Introduction - Find the best Chevrolet deals!

In 2019, a redesigned Chevrolet Silverado 1500 arrived to defend its position as the second best-selling full-size pickup truck in America while mounting a new tactical offensive against the aging Ford F-150. What happened next was entirely unexpected.

Ram outsold Chevy, putting the Silverado in third-place in the U.S. market.

Also redesigned for 2019, the Ram 1500 combined attractive design, mild-hybrid powertrains, a quality interior, and high-tech infotainment and safety equipment into a single compelling package. This new truck, sold side-by-side with the old one (called the Ram 1500 Classic), and in combination with a thoroughly revamped heavy-duty lineup, took Chevy by surprise.

A United Auto Workers (UAW) strike that idled General Motors factories from September 15 to October 25 certainly did not help matters, hamstringing Silverado production during the final months of the year when it could have made up for lost ground.

For 2020, Chevrolet makes some changes to the Silverado. In addition to a new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 engine option, both the turbocharged 2.7-liter 4-cylinder gas engine and 6.2-liter V-8 engine are more widely available on different versions of the truck. Chevy also added new trailering equipment and technology, along with an adaptive cruise control system.

As was true last year, the 2020 Silverado comes in three cab styles, three cargo box sizes, and eight trim levels. For this review, J.D. Power evaluated a Silverado Crew Cab LT Trail Boss, which is the popular mid-grade trim plus standard 4-wheel drive (4WD), the Z71 Off-Road Package, a 2-inch factory suspension lift, and a blacked-out exterior appearance.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss Black front view

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

To this, the test truck added a 6.2-liter V-8 engine, a Midnight Edition Package, a Leather Package, a Convenience Package II, and an Advanced Trailering Package. The price came to $59,185, including the $1,595 destination charge.

What Owners Say… - Find the best Chevrolet deals!

Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the 2020 Silverado, it is helpful to understand who buys this large light-duty pickup, and what they like most and least about their vehicles.

As is true of all full-size pickups, most Silverado owners are male according to J.D. Power data (89% vs. 90% for the segment). Silverado owners are a little older, too, with a median age of 57 years (vs. 55). And they earn less in terms of median annual household income ($102,542 vs. $110,282).

Silverado owners are more likely to self-identify as Practical Buyers (33% vs. 28%) or as Hometown Retired (22% vs. 18%) and are less likely to consider themselves Performance Buyers (16% vs. 20%) or Working Utilitarians (8% vs. 13%).

Buying domestic is important to Silverado owners. J.D. Power data shows that 92% agree that they prefer to buy a vehicle from a domestic company (vs. 81% for the segment). Otherwise, people who own a Silverado demonstrate similar sentiments about vehicle ownership as all large light-duty pickup buyers, except when it comes to fuel economy and maintenance costs.

According to J.D. Power data, 54% of Silverado owners agree that a first consideration when choosing a vehicle is miles per gallon (vs. 46% for the segment), while 67% of Silverado owners strongly agree that they avoid vehicles they think will have high maintenance costs (vs. 60%).

Owners say their favorite things about the Silverado 1500 are (in descending order) the exterior styling, driving dynamics, engine/transmission, interior design, and visibility and safety. Owners indicate their least favorite things about the Silverado 1500 are (in descending order) the storage and space, seats, climate control system, infotainment system, and by a significant margin, fuel economy.

In the J.D Power 2019 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, the Silverado ranked fifth out of six large light-duty pickups.

What Our Expert Says… - Find the best Chevrolet deals!

In the sections that follow, our expert provides his own perceptions about how the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 measures up in each of the 10 categories that comprise the APEAL Study.

Exterior

When the redesigned Silverado first appeared, there was some controversy over its styling. Clearly, however, J.D. Power data shows that the people who own the new Silverado highly rate the design.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss Black rear exterior view

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Depending on the trim level and equipment, the Silverado offers different grille, wheel, and trim treatments, giving each version of the truck a unique look. The LT Trail Boss clearly conveys off-road readiness in its stance and with its standard all-terrain tires. The blacked-out trim is also popular, though with the test truck’s black paint and black wheels, it gets to be a little much.

Interior

Look at the test truck’s near $60,000 price tag, then examine the interior, and you’ll wonder where the money is going aside from into GM profit margins. Compared to its competition, it lacks sophistication, refinement, and quality.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss interior dashboard view

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

An all-black interior isn’t helping in this regard, and it’s the only color you can get in the LT Trail Boss. A lack of color contrast coupled with blatantly plastic silver trim and numerous evident panel seams imparts a downmarket look and feel to the Silverado. The only evidence that the test truck ought to cost as much as it did was the leather wrapped around the seats.

Seats

If the Silverado’s cabin lacks visual and tactile rewards, know that the driver’s seat is comfortable thanks to available 10-way power adjustment. However, the test truck, at almost $60,000, did not have a front passenger’s seat height adjuster.

Rear passenger room is generous, with tons of space for legs and feet, and the back seats are dished for good thigh support. However, you do sit low in relationship to the cabin. Chevy provides rear air conditioning vents and USB ports for the folks who come along for the ride.

Climate Control System

The test truck’s black-on-black color scheme is like a heat sink, especially under the high, direct sunshine of early June. And yet, the Silverado’s powerful air conditioning cooled the cab fast, though it’s worth pointing out that Southern California doesn’t have the same muggy, humid air found in other parts of the U.S.

Temperature and fan speed controls are simple and straightforward knobs, but secondary function buttons are small, making it harder to find and activate the defrost and air recirculation functions than it should be. The test truck had heated front seats including both the cushions and backrests, as well as a heated steering wheel. Ventilated seats are available for some Silverados.

Infotainment System

Aside from fuel economy, the Silverado’s infotainment system ranks at the bottom of owners’ lists of their favorite things. And I suspect the issue is a matter of screen size. Standard equipment includes a 7-inch screen, while an 8-inch display is available as an upgrade. Either one looks lost on the Silverado’s huge, modular, busy dashboard.

This matter aside, every Silverado includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Chevrolet Connected Services via OnStar (subscription required), a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot (subscription required), and USB ports. The test truck also had SiriusXM satellite radio and a Bose premium sound system capable of fairly significant volume, but it sounded best with music with heavy bass because the highs sounded tinny and distorted.

Because the test truck did not have a navigation system, I did not run the voice recognition technology through my usual battery of test commands.

Storage and Space

There is no shortage of storage space inside of a Chevy Silverado. From its dual glove compartments and small bins hidden behind the rear seatback cushions to the huge door panel bins and large center console with rails for hanging file folders, if you’ve got something to stash in this truck, you’ll find a place for it.

As far as the cargo box is concerned, Chevrolet touts the deep, high-sided bed as the roomiest in the class as far as volume is concerned. Add the remote locking and power-operated tailgate, handy bumper corner steps, a spray-in bedliner, 12 standard tie-down hooks, and a power outlet in the side wall of the bed, and this Silverado is ready to work.

Maximum payload capacity measures 2,250 pounds, depending on configuration. And when properly equipped, a Silverado 1500 can tow as much as 13,400 pounds.

Visibility and Safety

Speaking of towing, a Silverado is available with numerous cameras that make trailering easier. New for 2020, they offer up to 15 different views. Chevy is also offering a new bed-view camera and new trailering mirrors for the 2020 Silverado 1500. 

Aside from these driving aids, the near-$60,000 test truck did not include any advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). That’s because Chevrolet inexplicably reserves most of them for LTZ and High Country trim levels, which are the highest-priced versions of the trucks. If you want forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, you’ll need one of these pricey versions of the Silverado.

More widely available in a Safety Package, a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic and lane-change warning systems is offered for many versions of the Silverado. The package also comes with front and rear parking sensors. But the test truck did not have this option.

Every Silverado includes a rear seat reminder system, which is designed to prevent drivers from accidentally leaving a child or a pet in the vehicle. Teen Driver technology is also standard, providing parents of young drivers with a report card showing how they drove the truck while it was in their possession.

In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Silverado earns Good ratings in all evaluations except for front passenger protection in a small overlap frontal-impact collision. That test produces a Marginal rating. The IIHS also says the Silverado’s headlights rate Poor.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Silverado a 4-star overall rating, one notch down from the top rating of 5 stars.

Engine/Transmission

Chevrolet expands availability of its 6.2-liter V-8 engine for 2020, making it optional with Custom Trail Boss, LT Trail Boss, and RST trims in addition to LTZ and High Country models. It makes 420 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 460 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm, increases of 65 hp and 77 lb.-ft. over the more common 5.3-liter V-8. It is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

This powertrain combination, a $2,495 upgrade, is worth the extra money. Strong, smooth, and emanating a seductive sound, it makes the LT Trail Boss feel effortlessly capable in any situation. The transmission never gets a gear wrong, either. At no time did I discern harsh shifting, improper holding of a lower gear, or premature upshifting in the name of fuel efficiency.

The Trail Boss’s standard 4WD system includes an Auto mode that I used at all times. This allowed me to exit my suburb onto the busy road that leads to the freeway without spinning the truck’s rear tires, and to rapidly accelerate from a dirt surface onto pavement to join fast-flowing traffic on a local mountain highway.

Fuel Economy

According to the EPA, my test truck should have returned 17 mpg in combined driving. I averaged 16.8 mpg with the truck’s 4WD system in Auto mode. While that’s not great in the overall scheme of things, at least the official fuel economy estimates appear to be realistic.

Driving Dynamics

As is true of any vehicle with all-terrain rubber, the Silverado’s LT275/65R18 Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires whir incessantly, a sound that buyers of this type of truck no doubt enjoy just as much as the aggressive rumble of a V-8 engine.

They’re no good when it comes to cornering on pavement, though. Even at higher speeds, when bending the truck into a curve, it seemed to respond a moment or two after I applied steering, putting the Silverado wide in its lane of travel. You get used to this and learn to account for it, but at first it can be unsettling.

On dirt, the tires are in their element, and the Trail Boss’s standard Z71 Off-Road Package’s Rancho shocks help the truck to scramble across scarred terrain with greater ease.

On the arrow-straight 2-lane farm roads of Ventura County, the Silverado tracked straight and true, effortlessly gobbling up miles. This truck has no trouble leading traffic on a freeway on-ramp, either, or soaking up cracked and crumbling urban pavement, or powering up mountain grades. Perhaps due to its squared-off design and comparatively narrow feel from behind the wheel, the Silverado is also easier to place on narrow mountain roads than other full-size trucks I’ve recently driven.

Final Impressions - Find the best Chevrolet deals!

Based on what Silverado owners tell J.D. Power, Chevrolet has some work to do in order to make its full-size half-ton truck more appealing. In 2019, the year it received a full redesign, the only truck that ranked lower in the J.D. Power APEAL Study was the Toyota Tundra. Meanwhile, the redesigned Ram 1500 ranked second, just one point behind the segment-leading Ford F-150.

From my perspective, most of the needed fixes are not easy. A quick win would be to make the ADAS more widely available across trim levels. Harder, but not impossible, is to rework the dashboard for improved aesthetics, controls, and a larger infotainment screen. Potentially challenging are structural modifications to improve the Silverado’s crashworthiness. 

Chevy also needs to improve the Silverado’s value equation. Incentives and rebates appear to be baked into the truck’s price, so providing more than a single free service visit and expanding free trial periods to features such as connected services, Wi-Fi, and satellite radio can help buyers to better justify the numbers.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience test-driving vehicles. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2020 J.D. Power

Explore new car previews
2020 Subaru Outback Preview
2020 Subaru Outback Preview
Introduced at the 2019 New York International Auto Show, the 2020 Subaru Outback has been optimized to offer better fuel efficiency, a quieter and safer ride, boosted technology, and turbocharged power, which is something Subaru hasn’t given its Outback in over ten years.
Read the full review
2022 Hyundai Tucson Preview
2022 Hyundai Tucson Preview
A redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson is coming soon, replacing a compact SUV that led its segment in quality according to the J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality Study (IQS).
Read the full review
2021 Ford Bronco Preview
2021 Ford Bronco Preview
Designed and engineered for maximum off-roading capability, the 2021 Ford Bronco is a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner. Available in 2-door and 4-door body styles complete with removable doors and roof, the new 2021 Bronco adopts a “Built Wild” ethos.
Read the full review
Read all articles
Scroll to the top
New Car Preview
2021 Cadillac Escalade Preview
Most Dependable
2019 Vehicle Dependability: Most Dependable Luxury Coupes and Convertibles
Most Popular
10 Most Popular Midsize Cars
New Model Update
New for 2019: Ford Trucks, SUVs, and Vans
New Car Preview
2021 BMW 3 Series Plug-in Hybrid Preview
More related
articles