The Breakdown

Chevrolet takes its new and improved truck up a notch by offering a diesel, adding a high-torque and fuel-sipping engine mated to a 10-speed transmission to the Silverado lineup.
Overall
Pros
Smooth, quiet engine / Plenty of power / Thrifty with fuel / Comfortable and easy to drive / Good infotainment system
Cons
Interior’s not as good as competitors / Exterior styling isn't for everyone

Note: At the original time of the writing of this review fuel economy numbers had not been released. They are as follows: 23 mpg city / 33 mpg highway


Chevrolet redesigned the Silverado 1500 for the 2019 model year, giving it a new body, new tech, new capabilities, and more. I drove the 2019 Silverado 1500 at the reveal in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last August and came away impressed with the vehicle.

What’s surprising to me about the Silverado is it still manages to be a notable and standout machine despite the fact that Ram upped its game with its own pickup truck, making it leaps and bounds better than ever before.

Ford still sits at the top of the heap in terms of sales, but with Chevy and Ram making so much progress that could shift eventually. The Blue Oval likely has big plans for the model in the future, but we’ll worry about that when it comes.

Right now I want to discuss the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado Duramax Diesel. When I attended the Silverado at the event last summer I knew a diesel model was coming at a later date.

Recently, Chevrolet flew me out to Bend, Oregon, to test the latest iteration of their pickup and the Silverado HD (I’ll have a review of that at a later date). While I didn’t get to spend all the time I wanted with the new Silverado 1500 Duramax, I did get to drive it around the Bend area and see what the machine could really do.

What Is It?

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Diesel

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax is the diesel version of the truck. The Silverado 1500 is Chevy’s Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 fighter. It’s a formidable opponent and comes in three cab lengths (regular, double, and crew), three bed lengths (short, standard, and long), eight trim levels, and six powertrain options, including the diesel.

In the new generation of the truck, Chevy made the Silverado longer, wider, and lighter weight. The company improved the gasoline engines used in the truck, and the 3.0-liter variant I drove in Bend, Oregon, is an all-new engine mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission.

All in all, the Silverado is the best its ever been, and the diesel version is the best version and the one that most people should buy.

The Engine to Buy

Truck owners know that diesel engines are a smart choice if you’re towing regularly. The new 3.0-liter inline-six Duramax turbodiesel pairs high torque numbers and good fuel economy into an engine that will be pretty enticing for many drivers.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Diesel

The 3.0-liter inline-six turbodiesel manages to make 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. All that torque comes at a low 1,500 rpm, making it good for towing. Peak horsepower comes in at 3,750 rpm, which means you’ll still get good acceleration in most circumstances.

With the 3.0-liter Duramax under the hood, the Silverado can tow up to 9,300 pounds, which is not the most the Silverado can tow, but Chevy said that more than takes care of 90 percent of the market.

 

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 duramax
Image provided by Chevy

When it comes to fuel economy, Chevrolet has not yet released the official EPA numbers. This is because the EPA hasn’t released them. However, Chevy didn’t leave me high and dry when it comes to fuel economy. The company had all of its journalists compete in an mpg challenge.

The highest any journalist in my group go was around 45 mpg. Now, those are not real world numbers. We were purposely trying to get the best fuel economy possible. However, I managed to get around 34.5 mph according to the vehicle’s mpg tracking software. I drove conservatively, but not wildly slow.

I would imagine if you drive the diesel truck regularly, it will get high-20s. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see you manage 30 mpg fairly regularly. Obviously, if you have a led foot, you’ll be stuck in the low-20s or worse. Still, I think most people would be able to see very respectable fuel economy numbers out of the diesel Silverado.

An Exterior That Gets Noticed

2020 Chevrolet Silverado Duramx diesel profile

One of the complaints chevy had about the previous generation Silverado was its looks. Customers wanted the truck to look different than previous generations. Chevy delivered on this front.

Each of the eight trim levels of the Silverado has a distinct look. I’m not the arbiter of what vehicles look good and what ones don’t. Some types of styling speak to some people but not others.

In general, though, I find the Silverado’s face an ugly one. It’s mostly all grille and the headlight design Chevy has gone with isn’t my cup of tea. With that said, I know there are people out there who think the new Silverado looks badass. If you do, great.

An Improved But Not Class-Leading Interior

2020 chevrolet silverado 1500 duramax
Image provided by Chevy

When you climb up into the Silverado, you’re greeted by a very GM interior. There’s a fair amount of cheaper looking plastics. However, in the higher trim levels, Chevy did a good job of making everything you touch out of higher-quality materials.

Ram and Ford both beat the truck here, but then you could make the argument that a high-class interior isn’t as important in a truck. You’d be wrong, but you could make that argument.

In terms of comfort, the Silverado 1500 offers some good seats that provide plenty of support and space. There’s plenty of adjustment for the driver and the front passenger. When it comes to the rear seats, Chevy did a pretty good job.

In the double cab version of the truck, the rear seats don’t offer a ton of legroom with a little over 35 inches. The seats also have a very upright seating position. I imagine they would do okay on shorter trips, but wouldn’t be much fun for long hauls. In the crew cab, though, you have over 43 inches of legroom to use. That’s plenty.

Top Quality Technology

Chevrolet has one of the best infotainment systems out there. The Silverado features an 8-inch infotainment screen and comes with a long list of features, including 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless phone charging, and OnStar safety features. If you get the top-notch system, you’ll likely not be wanting for features the entire time you own the truck.

Paired with all that is the trailering technology that Chevrolet has added to the Silverado. You get an in-vehicle trailering system that tracks things like mileage, fuel economy, trailer tire pressure, and electrical connections.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 duramax
Image provided by Chevy

There are also numerous cameras showing plenty of views including views down the side of the truck and a hitch guidance view that allows you to hook up the trailer without having to have a person guide you back. Ford and Ram offer similar views, but having driven their trucks, I have to say Chevy offers more views and more trailering technology in general.

Also, a big boon for the truck is that its systems are connected to the MyChevy app. This app interfaces with your vehicle to give you reminders, let you test your trailer’s lights and see a towing checklist so inexperienced towers can be sure they’re doing everything they need.

How Big Is It?

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Diesel

Full-size trucks these days are big. The Chevy Silverado 1500 is no exception. The truck measures a whopping 231.70 inches long (over 19 feet in crew cab form) and 81.24 inches wide. and 78.35 inches tall.

That’s in line with but a little different than the Ford F-150. Ford’s pickup is actually longer at 243.7 inches (crew cab form) in but it’s shorter and not as wide. Ram’s pickup is close, too, with height and width measurements very similar to Chevy’s, and an overall length measurement of 241.8 inches (crew cab form) that sits between Ford and Chevy’s measurements.

Driving the Silverado, I didn’t notice it felt all that different than the other trucks. Yes, it’s a little wider and taller, but it doesn’t feel all that different on the road. Don’t let the size of the truck be the deciding factor here. It really doesn’t matter all that much. They’re all pretty big trucks.

Does It Work?

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Diesel

You bet. The 2020 Silverado 1500 is the best the truck has ever been. Chevrolet has made the vehicle stronger, larger, lighter, more technologically advanced, and more powerful and capable than ever before.

In terms of just the diesel engine. The 3.0-liter Duramax delivers. In my relatively short time with the truck, I could tell that not only was the engine thrifty with fuel, but it was strong. Acceleration was good off the line thanks to the gobs of torque available at a mere 1,500 rpm, and the 10-speed automatic transmission always seems to be in the right gear at the right time.

When it comes to towing, you’ll not find a machine that attempts to make it this easy. All of the towing technology in the truck is designed to make it as easy as possible for people who have never towed or only towed occasionally.

Chevy even includes a sticker inside the door of each and every truck that’s VIN specific and tells the driver how much his or her particular truck is rated for. That’s an industry exclusive feature. It’s a small addition that makes a big difference.

The max towing for the Silverado when properly equipped is over 12,000 pounds. Many of the Silverados sold will only be able to tow a little over 9,000 pounds, some less. With this sticker, you’ll know exactly how much the truck you bought can tow. This is a seriously important thing to know if you’re buying a box trailer, boat, or RV.

Does It Justify Its Price?

2020 Chevrolet Silverado Duramax Diesel rear shot

The Chevy Silverado 1500 starts at $28,300 excluding taxes and destination fees. When you compare that to the immediate competition, it’s a reasonable price. The Ford F-150 comes in at $28,155. The Ram 1500 starts at $33,190.

It’s important to note that those prices are for the base model with the base engine. If you look to the diesel variants of these trucks, then you’ll have to add some money to the equation. The diesel in the Silverado will add $3,890 to the base price of the 2.7-liter four-cylinder model of the truck. This means the diesel costs the same as the top-of-the-line 6.2-liter V8.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Diesel

However, the fuel economy savings of the diesel engine may tips the scales here in favor of the inline-six. When the EPA announces that information, you’ll be able to determine if that’s truly the smarter move.

If you compare the price of the Silverado’s diesel to that of the Ford F-150’s diesel, then you’ll see that Ford actually charges $4,000 more over its 2.7-liter Ecoboost engine, which means, Chevy’s diesel engine is a less expensive jump.

Whether or not the engine really justifies its price comes down to the cost versus the towing and fuel economy numbers. While the verdict is still officially out on the fuel economy, I would imagine the diesel would easily beat the 6.2-liter’s EPA number of 20 mpg highway. The only thing that would keep me from getting the diesel was if I needed more towing capacity than it could offer.

What’s The Verdict?

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Diesel

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado is the best the model has ever been, and the diesel engine is the best engine to get. You’ll get the best mix of horsepower, torque, towing capacity, and fuel economy. It’s not exactly cheap to equip your Silverado 1500 this way, but if you want the absolute best Chevy full-size pickup, it’s the engine to buy.

Chevy’s truck may get beat by Ford and GM when it comes to the exterior styling—though that’s subjective—and interior materials. However, if you want a truck that’s easy to live with and tow with, then the Silverado is a smart choice.

Specifications

  • Base Price: $28,300, diesel adds $3,890 (excluding tax and destination)
  • Price as Tested: Not provided
  • Drive Type: 4×2 (4×4 available)
  • Engine: 3.0-liter inline-six turbodiesel
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Power Output: 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque
  • EPA: 23 mpg city / 33 mpg highway 
  • Optional Equipment: Not provided