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Born in Buffalo: The Full-Size Truck You Can Feel Good About

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado has been completely redesigned but its heart is still  assembled close to home.

Pick-up truck owners tend to carry a high degree of pride for their functional, four-wheel-drive vehicles throughout the country, but what if we told you that there’s even more reason to be proud of owning a pick-up in Buffalo? Owning a truck–more specifically a Chevrolet Silverado in Buffalo means more than being able to tow and haul just about anything. It means more than being able to tackle whatever winter weather is thrown in your direction. It means that you own a truck with an engine assembled in the ‘716’ area code.

The 2019 Silverado has been completely redesigned, but the origin of four of the six available engines remains at the General Motors Tonawanda Engine Plant on River Road. If you currently own a Silverado with a V6 or V8, chances are extremely high that it was assembled in Tonawanda. The 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8, and 6.2-liter V8 engines that find their way into the Silverado are all assembled in Tonawanda.

If you haven’t owned a Silverado, don’t currently own a Silverado, or never plan on owning a Silverado you may be asking yourself, “why should I care?”. The answer is larger than just ownership. It’s about the impact that the GM Tonawanda Engine Plant provides for the Buffalo community.

With 3.1 million square-feet of floor space, the Tonawanda Engine Plant employs 1,583 WNYers that help produce award winning engines for General Motors’ most desired products. In addition to building engines for the Silverado and other SUVs, employees at the plant are tasked with assembling the 460-horsepower LT1 V8 that powers one of the most iconic automobiles of all time–the Chevrolet Corvette.

Community contributions don’t stop with just jobs and engines, though. GM foundation grants gave back $75,000 to nine local charities in 2017. The overall economic impact of the plant is staggering, with $143,915,740.23 in-state wages being paid out to employees last year. Furthermore, the plant was the 2017 recipient of Buffalo Business First’s Community Service Award and the 2018 recipient of Buffalo Urban League’s Community Service Award.

With its continued success, production shows no signs of slowing down. In 2016 GM invested $295.9 million for future engine production.

So How’s the New Silverado?

To the untrained eye, the Silverado may look like “just another Chevy truck”, but that’s far from the truth. It is larger in almost every dimension, but has somehow lost 450 pounds from the previous model. This is possible due to the use of mixed materials. Hinged body pieces including the hood, doors, and tailgate are now aluminum, but the bed retains high-strength steel that is 10 percent stronger for 2019.

Looks are always subjective, but we think that the trucks new styling is handsome. Gone are the massive squared-off wheel wells, replaced with rounded ones. Out back the Silverado ditches the big bow-tie on the tailgate and instead reads ‘CHEVROLET’ embossed in the upper third of the tailgate. The front fascia is the most obvious visual change. New headlights are slimmer and wider, and the gargantuan front grill is either black, body color matching, or chrome depending on the trim level.  

Overall, the Silverado is a proven winner, and its hometown roots make it worth rooting for. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s close. If you’re in the market for a full-size truck, this is one worth feeling good about. Below we’ve compiled a list of our favorite and least favorite things about the new Silverado. Read on to see the technical specs of the home-built engines, and other options in the market if the Silverado isn’t right for you.

The Good:

  1. With eight trim levels and six engine and transmission combinations for 2019 there is a different Silverado for every buyer. Models range from a no-frills Work Truck to the ultra-lavish High Country. New for 2019 is the TRAIL BOSS which comes equipped with a two-inch suspension lift, locking rear differential, skid plates, Rancho shocks, and Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires mounted to 18-inch wheels. Worth noting, the two-inch suspension lift is available on all trim levels. Gone are the days of voiding your warranty to ride higher.
  2. Silverado provides best-in-class cargo volume in their redesigned ‘Durabed’. The new Durabed features 63 cubic feet of volume in short-box models and 12 fixed tie-downs throughout the bed–three at each corner. For 2019 a higher-grade steel is used for optimal strength and mass. Additionally, there are more features than ever including task lighting, a 120-volt power outlet, and a power up/down tailgate.
  3. It’s a great time to be a passenger. Crew-cab models offer 43.4 inches of rear leg room, which is an increase of three inches from the 2018 model. Functionality is high with built-in storage in the rear seat backs, and a large storage bin under the rear seats. It sounds silly, but there are now climate vents for rear passengers–something that was not available in previous models. Riding in the back is no longer reserved for whoever draws the short straw.

The Bad:

  1. Ride quality is okay, but not excellent. The truck is ‘floaty’ on the highway when cruising between 65 and 75 miles-per-hour. A soft and smooth ride is what many truck buyers desire, but a ‘floaty’ ride is borderline nauseating on less than perfect New York State roads.
  2. The interior has technically been completely redesigned for 2019 but its changes are minor. If you’ve spent time in previous models it will look very familiar–which could be a good thing if you don’t like change, or having to learn how to operate new controls.
  3. The sound deadening in the new Silverado leaves something to be desired. There is quite a bit of wind noise that enters the cabin at highway speeds. It’s easily covered up by increasing the volume on the stereo, but a quieter ride would help the Silverado be more livable for customers that spend a majority of their time on the interstate.

Under the Hood:

Engine:

The 2019 Silverado 1500 will be available with six engine and transmission combinations to suit individual customer needs. The 5.3-liter V8, 6.2-liter V8, and 4.3-liter V6 engines are all produced at the GM Tonawanda Engine Plant. A 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is also available and a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder Turbo Diesel will come in the first quarter of 2019.

Transmission:

Six, Eight, and 10-speed automatic transmissions are available depending on the customers engine choice. Six-speeds are available on 4.3-liter V6 and 5.3-liter V8 models, eight-speeds are available on 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and 5.3-liter V8 models, and 10-speeds are available on 6.2-liter V8 models and the aforementioned 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder Turbo Diesel engine.

Drivetrain:

Two-wheel-drive with 4-L and 4-H shiftable through controls adjacent to the steering wheel.  

Power:

4.3-liter V6: 285-horsepower, 305 pound-feet of torque

5.3-liter V8: 355-horsepower, 383 pound-feet of torque

6.2-liter V8: 420-horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque

2.7-liter turbocharged I-4: 310-horsepower, 348 pound-feet of torque

3.0-liter I-6 Turbo Diesel: TBD

Fuel economy:

4.3-liter V6: TBD

5.3-liter V8, six-speed automatic: 14/21 miles per gallon city/highway

5.3-liter V8, eight-speed automatic: 16/22 miles per gallon city/highway

6.2-liter V8, 10-speed automatic: 16/20 miles per gallon city/highway

2.7-liter turbocharged I-4: TBD

3.0-liter I-6 Turbo Diesel: TBD

Also Consider:

RAM 1500:

The new 2019 RAM 1500 offers more comfort and refinement than any other truck in the segment. It features a massive 12-inch touchscreen that occupies the center console and a better overall interior compared to Chevy and Ford. The styling is more rounded than the angular Silverado, and may appeal to new truck buyers without any previous brand loyalty.

Ford F-150:

The Ford F-150 is not just the top-selling truck in America, but also the top-seller of any class of vehicle. Ford sold nearly 900,000 F-Series trucks in 2017 with projected sales up two percent for 2018. If popularity is a determining factor when shopping for your next truck, look no further.  

Lead image: The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado TRAIL BOSS displays its articulation skills while off-roading at Monticello Motor Club. –Todd Plitt for Chevrolet

Written by Austin Rexinger

Austin Rexinger

Austin Rexinger was born in Amherst, NY and is a graduate of Canisius College. Austin is completely obsessed with cars, especially the tremendous innovation in today’s automotive market. Austin has driven everything from electric cars to six-figure exotics. Upon learning to drive a manual transmission in a 2012 Mini Cooper S, any doubt that Austin may have had regarding his passion for automobiles completely disappeared. He was absolutely hooked. If it has four wheels, a seat, and a steering wheel, you can count on Austin being interested. When Austin isn't writing about the auto industry you can find him racing go-karts, competing in time attack events, or autocrossing his Ford Focus ST.

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