Big Three keep on truckin' in Detroit

The 2019 Silverado 1500 has been totally redesigned, with rounded wheel wells, a taller front grille and a more aggressive overall appearance. It also weighs 450 pounds less than the 2018 model.

The 2019 Silverado 1500 has been totally redesigned, with rounded wheel wells, a taller front grille and a more aggressive overall appearance. It also weighs 450 pounds less than the 2018 model.

DETROIT— Despite predictions electric and autonomous vehicles would dominate this year’s North American International Auto Show, if the buzz around the show was any indication, it was a trio of trucks from Detroit’s Big Three auto manufacturers, General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, that stole the show.

On Saturday night, Chevrolet hosted a raucous reveal party for its all-new 2019 Silverado 1500.

When the smoke cleared, it was apparent the new Silverado is visually quite different from the outgoing model, with rounded wheel wells, a taller front grille with functioning air curtains similar to those found on the Chevrolet Camaro and a generally more aggressive overall appearance. It also went on a diet — when comparing Crew Cab models equipped with a V-8 engine, the new truck, despite being slightly larger, is actually 450 pounds lighter than the 2018 model. That weight savings was achieved with a lighter steel frame and the use of aluminum on the doors, hood and tailgate.

Many of the notable changes aren’t simply for appearance. Chevrolet claims to have reinvented the cargo bed, and improvements include an available power tailgate, which can be operated by the key fob, from a switch inside the truck, or by hand; more than 20 tie-down anchors in the slightly wider cargo bed; and optional locking storage bins fitted over the rear wheel wells. The corner steps on the rear bumper have also been made slightly larger, to allow more clearance for work boots — or winter boots for us northern truckers.

The 2019 Silverado will be available with six engine/transmission combinations. This includes new 5.3L and 6.2L V-8s equipped with GM’s Dynamic Fuel Management, which actively shuts off any number of cylinders required to optimize fuel economy — meaning it can idle efficiently on a chilly job site while running on a single cylinder.

Perhaps the biggest news with the new Silverado was the announcement of an all-new Duramax 3.0L inline-six turbo-diesel engine. Both the 3.0L diesel and 6.2L engines are paired with a new Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission.

The interior is also totally revamped — and stretched. Crew-cab models now offer three additional inches of rear-seat legroom. Additional optional interior improvements include a pair of small but nifty storage bins integrated in the rear seatbacks for holding tie-down straps or keeping valuables out of sight, and a storage tray under the rear seat large enough to store your tackle box and fishing rod. The current Silverado features 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, wireless phone charging and OnStar, so it’s a sure bet the 2019 will offer all these features and more. The current Silverado offers a comfortable and useful interior, and, if first impressions are any indication, it appears Chevrolet designers and engineers have taken a really nice interior package and made it even nicer.

Silverado fans will have no shortage of offerings to choose from, with a number of packages already announced, ranging from the utility minded Work Truck trim to a pair of Trailboss editions with beefed up suspension, a new RST with street-performance styling and a fully loaded High Country package with an exclusive front grille design.

 

All-new 2019 Ram 1500

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Ram brand may lag third in full-size truck sales behind Ford and General Motors, but that certainly hasn’t stopped FCA from continually improving on a good truck with a solid following.

The reveal of the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 generated plenty of buzz in Detroit, with weight reduction, increased towing capability, a new Uconnect 12-inch touch screen display and active systems promising improved fuel efficiency leading the charge.

Appearance chages are also dramatic, with a totally new forward leaning front end with a raised hood, which appears more aerodynamic while still retaining the big-rig styling Ram truck fans have embraced since 1994. A number of lighting options and improvements, including available LED headlights that also sharpen up the Ram’s overall appearance.

The new Ram is also slightly larger, but, when compared to outgoing models, is more than 200 pounds lighter. Offering the largest cab in the segment,

Ride comfort has always been a hallmark of Ram trucks and the combination of new independent front suspension components, aluminum lower control arms and Ram’s exclusive rear five-link coil suspension design promise to improve on the already superb ride found in the outgoing truck.

Ram’s new aluminum tailgate features damping during opening and closing thanks to a nitrogen/oil-charged strut. The latch-and-lock mechanism is now electronic, meaning the tailgate can be dropped with an interior switch or remotely with the key fob. Another thoughtful Ram option is a segment-exclusive lockable tri-fold tonneau cover that adds security and weather protection for bed storage.

FCA has also added a 4x4 off-road package for the Ram 1500 on nearly every trim level, with features including a one-inch suspension lift, electronic-locking rear differential and 32-inch tires.

The three available engines in the Ram 1500 are the base 3.6-litre V-6, the 5.7-litre HEMI V-8 and the turbo-diesel 3.0-litre V-6 EcoDiesel. All three powerplants are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Ram interior is also totally new, and, with the largest cab in the segment, the most powerful audio system available in a pickup truck and a touch screen on the dash bigger than an iPad, the future looks bright for Ram.

willy@freepress.mb.ca

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado's interior.

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado's interior.

The 2019 Ram 1500 is more than 200 pounds lighter than previous models, and promises improved fuel efficiency and increased towing capability.

The 2019 Ram 1500 is more than 200 pounds lighter than previous models, and promises improved fuel efficiency and increased towing capability.

The Dodge Ram interior contains a new Uconnect 12-inch touch screen display

The Dodge Ram interior contains a new Uconnect 12-inch touch screen display