2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD First Look: Easy Does It

For whatever reason, the powers that be at GM allowed the fancy-pants GMC brand to launch its Sierra version of the new heavy-duty pickups a few weeks ahead of the volume-selling 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD, but didn’t allow the “Professional Grade” folks to spill all the power, torque, payload, and towing beans. Chevy has just spilled them:

The 6.6-liter Duramax diesel, which has been lightly revised and retuned to work with an all-new GM/Allison 10L1000 10-speed automatic transmission, is still rated at 445 hp at 2,800 rpm and 910 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm, but thanks to further chassis and downstream powertrain reinforcements the max tow rating jumps by 52 percent to a best-in-class-for-now 35,500 pounds. That bests the 1,000-lb-ft Ram by one (400-pound) sumo wrestler. GM reps were also quick to brag that, although 910 is undeniably less than 1,000, at least the GM powertrain can put all 910 of its torques to the ground in first gear, thanks to the aforementioned driveline component reinforcements (subtly implying that the other brands’ trucks are torque-managed to some lower number in the lower gears—an aspersion we’ve yet to confirm).

Chevy’s new small-block-derived 6.6-liter gas engine produces 401 hp at 5,200 rpm and 464 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm—that’s predictably down on power but up on torque relative to Ram’s 6.4-liter Hemi (410/429), while Ford’s new 7.3-liter V-8 is likely to best Chevy in both measures once specs are released. Spinning through a revised 6L90 six-speed transmission the gasser can now tow 17,400 pounds and carry a 7,466-pound payload. The Ram 6.4 Hemi is rated at 18,210 pounds of towing and 7,680 pounds of payload, and the current 2019 Ford Super Duty’s puny 6.2-liter V-8 is good for 7,630 pounds of payload (the optional 7.3 will surely increase that). Clearly GM is not looking to win all the numbers games (though it IS willing to print VIN-specific payload and towing capacities on every truck it sells).

Rather, Chevy wants its heavy-duty trucks to be the easiest to live with—easy to load, to hook a trailer to, and to maneuver said trailer with. For loading ease, there’s the industry’s only power-up and -down tailgate, larger corner bumper steps, new BedSteps at the front sides of the bed (roomy and strong enough to handle a pair of size-12 boots and 500 pounds), and a lift-in height that drops by 0.9 inch, despite the truck’s height increasing by 1.6 inches. Similarly, the top edge of the box side is no higher than before, despite the taller front end. The DuraBed box, using technology (but not stampings) borrowed from the 1500 series, increases in size by 8.6 and 7.1 cubic feet for the short and long bed lengths, respectively, with the 83.5-cu-ft long box boasting best-in-class capacity. There’s an available 120-volt outlet, 12 tie-down rings, and the ability to add nine accessory tie-downs.

To ease towing tasks (and Chevy claims 90 percent of HD buyers tow), an Advanced Trailering System using accessory cameras that connect via dedicated coaxial cables provides up to 15 camera views including the typical 360-degree surround view, a “bull-view” that appears to be fed by a drone hovering in front of the hood, views of the bed and bumper hitch, close-ups of either front tire when maneuvering around curbs, shots of the trailer tires when turning, and—with cameras attached to a “learned” trailer, views of the inside of the trailer and the super-cool “transparent trailer” view that depicts the rear-view as if there were no trailer there. Sadly this cannot legally be displayed on the inside rear-view mirror, but instead shows up on the center screen. With all these camera views, Chevy reckons you shouldn’t need a knob to help you reverse your trailer. This system will also monitor pressure and temperature of up to six trailer tires and can be programmed to assist with a pre-trip checklist including a trailer-lighting test.

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