Yes, perhaps this will be viewed as heresy, declaring a large pickup as a PLC. Well, it is and it has what’s necessary to qualify. Large engine? 6.2L V8 so yes. Back seat? Yes but not as big as the sedan, er, Crew Cab version. Sumptuous fittings? Leather seats and lots of toys. Ah, but I spy more than two doors, you cry! If the Germans can declare four door coupes a thing, then America can play that game too. Just don’t point out the bit about needing a cut-down roofline to be a coupe, it’s no lower than the others but even if it was it’s so far up there you couldn’t really measure it anyway. But yes, this format is a great vehicle for one or two, and perhaps a few young’uns, just like back in the day. The best part? No vinyl roof, no brougham badges, no velour anything, no pillow soft suspension. But it does have all the modern accoutrements that the market demands and is far more useful to boot.
A funny thing happened on the way into 2020 – Chevy redesigned their cash cow, the Silverado, for the 2019 model year and was instantly overwhelmed (at least online) with remarks regarding its looks so we’ll start there, no need to beat around the bush; it seems many (or a vocal contingent anyway) didn’t like what they saw on their screens and formed opinions before even seeing any in the metal. Cutting further into it, the interior wasn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea either compared to the competition.
But in an odd twist, Silverado sales for the first quarter of 2020 were on an absolute tear until that weird little bug got out and started to ruin everything for everyone. In fact, January saw over 46,000 units leave dealers’ lots (that’s the biggest January since some time before 2005 and translates to almost 1500/DAY) and February accounted for over 60,000 sales which over the last fifteen years has only been exceeded once (2012); And then March which was seriously abbreviated in much of the country still saw over 36,000 sales. Combine that with the basically identical save for the costume GMC Sierra and General Motors as an entity shouldn’t be counted out of the pickup race at all.
Perhaps many buyers took a deeper look and liked what they saw beneath. From a personal perspective I’ve never really minded the looks, and now note that things like the scoops at the bottom side of the bumpers actually are open to the back and likely aid airflow although I’ll be the first to admit that RAM really knocked it out of the park both inside and out this time around and while the F-series is now somewhat dated (and plasticky inside), nobody is thinking it’s past its prime either; the outside is still handsome if more conservative which perhaps plays well in many parts. GM, to its credit, did get rid of the square wheel openings this time around.
As regards this Chevy, especially in this more monochrome RST (Rally Sport Truck, dontcha know!) in a darker color some of the parts that seemed to disturb people like the little corners that intrude on the grille around the headlights and I believe the little upkick at the rear door window edge are far less noticeable. Then again, I really like this thing in just plain white and especially with the large black grille available in the base W/T trim with the Chevrolet logotype punched out of it instead of the bowtie. Between that and this, there’s a million other different variations, if you approach a truck as a tool instead of just a toy then perhaps looking beneath the surface is warranted as well.
I did appreciate that this particular truck was built right here in the US; in Roanoke, Indiana as a matter of fact. The engine and transmission on this one are also listed as being built in the US as well. Total US/Canada content is 46%, Mexico contributes 38% and the other 16% isn’t identified as to origin.
While this particular truck is perhaps outfitted a bit more for leisure than the farmyard, one thing that most can agree on is that the 6.2 liter Ecotec3 V-8 is a fantastic block of metal. Backed by a 10-speed automatic (Hydra-Matic 10L80) it produces 420hp at 5600rpm and 460lb-ft of torque at 4100rpm.
This all-aluminum engine is an OHV design featuring direct injection as well as variable valve timing and is frankly everything you could want. Quiet, supremely powerful in all situations and actually fairly economical (relatively speaking) it’s an excellent companion. The Dynamic Fuel Management lets it run on as few as two cylinders (so still with an effective displacement of 1.55liters) or on any other quantity of cylinders as needed and in the 465 miles I put on this brand new example with just over 2000 miles when I got it, it returned an average of 19.6mpg on regular gas.
Now, about 320 miles of that were freeway miles and conditions were excellent, i.e. minimal traffic and good weather, but another 80 or so miles were mostly city miles at low speeds, much in residential subdivisions and with traffic lights, stop signs etc. but generally lightly loaded. The balance was up in the foothills of this area, again, not steady throttle and lots of stops and starts for pictures etc. With an EPA rating of 16city and 20hwy and a 17mpg average, my 19.6 result seems to easily confirm that. The final drive ratio in this truck was 3.23, so fairly high, but with that stump puller of an engine you can have your cake and eat it too.
When the weather was good I just kept it in 2WD, but we did get a dusting of snow and some wet weather for a small part of the week, during which I just tapped the switch to move it into “Auto” so if additional traction was needed it would figure it out for me, I think for most people having an “Auto” setting makes lots of sense (4Hi and 4Lo are also available choices). My own somewhat older truck only has 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD Low, which makes it more challenging (and frankly a pain) in changing conditions especially considering it doesn’t have stability or traction control. In a lightly loaded pickup it takes minimal moisture to get the back end moving in an undesired direction, having the truck do a lot of the work to keep it under control is a godsend for most people.
While this Silverado obviously has traction and stability control, I was a little surprised that it was one of the relatively few recent testers to NOT have a full suite of safety software included, although it is available. So besides the backup camera (excellent resolution), I had to rely on myself to be aware of other traffic, cars in my blind spots etc.
This particular example had the very large trailering mirrors (new for this model year) with separate convex sections that are likely a boon for those with frequent trailering needs but the downside is that they are so big they are capable of hiding a heavy duty crewcab longbed truck at an intersection behind them if the angles are just right. Nothing bad actually happened as he moved into my field of view before I moved but it reminded me to move my head around a bit more while stopped and looking both ways. Not every option is necessary for every person, the best part of trucks is that you can get them exactly how you want them and what you would use them for.
One of the biggest surprises after realizing how fast this truck actually is (would you believe 0-60 in a hair over five seconds?) is that it actually corners very well. Now, of course it’s a truck, it’s heavy and tall, but going down a windy road or driving around the lake road is not an exercise in cornering frustration, it turns with far more aplomb than expected (certainly better than the PLC’s of yesteryear) and without untoward drama.
I wasn’t really expecting too much from the 18″ Michelin All-Seasons that are the standard fitment here although many other styles and sizes of both wheel and tire area are available. And they certainly provided a good ride with those useful sidewalls. However, it will keep up with any moderately driven vehicle on most roads and not be a chore to do so. At speed it’s quiet and stable, however when lightly loaded, bumps upset it more than they would a car or CUV, with a large bump at higher speeds resulting in multiple bounces, curiously more noticeable from the front end than the rear rather than just a one-and-done. Everything inside and out was solidly attached, nothing rattled, felt loose or less than durable.
The interior of the truck is spacious, comfortable, and almost instantly usable. The driver’s seat adjusts electrically, passenger manually, and they are plenty large enough for most people I can think of, legroom is abundant, all the controls on the dashboard make sense without reading the manual first, and this particular trim level even had that holiest of holies, a column shifter! Now, while the seats and the steering wheel were leather covered, the shifter curiously was not, instead it’s just a kind of squared off piece of plastic. Not a huge deal but it’d be a nice little thing to add given the other items’ main touch points already are.
The biggest shortcoming in the interior is likely the section of the dashboard ahead of the passenger. While there are two gloveboxes the design isn’t overly inspired and perhaps looks a bit cheap with what look like large gaps around those two doors. The passenger doors (as opposed to the glovebox doors) and the sides of the center console feature an attractive faux-wood strip with an interesting design on it, something like that could easily have been designed into the dashboard as well, at least for these more uplevel trims.
Plastics in general are more on the “truck” end of the spectrum, with the most plasticky pieces probably being the gear lever as well as the two very large and prominently placed grab handles on the A-pillars. Grabbing those revealed a fair amount of mold-mark edges on the inside. I totally get it, this same stuff is shared with the basic truck as well, perhaps the really-uplevel trucks get nicer stuff, however this kind of touch point is what leaves an impression, how much more can it really cost to improve this and wouldn’t it be worth it even on the most basic one?
At one time, GM offered two very different dash designs for the basic vs uplevel trucks, I feel that this RST level is more uplevel than not and as such these touchpoints could be easily improved. The dashboard itself might be more difficult but there does seem to be some chatter that perhaps GM will upgrade the interiors sooner than usual, having been caught out a bit by RAM’s large step forward. I didn’t take issue with the driver’s portion of the dash though, and the door panels were decent as well.
Gauges were easily legible and comprehensive enough with various menus in the center display to toggle through in order to see all kinds of information (idle hours, total hours, trans temp, oodles of stuff…). If you look at the rpm gauge (it’s currently idling), if you turn the engine off the needle descends all the way down but if the stop/start system is enabled it moved down halfway to “AutoStop”. The stop/start system works fine, it fires back up with minimal vibration or noise and probably saves a decent amount of fuel. Defeating it is a matter of pushing a toggle on the center stack or if it turns off and you let your foot off the brake just a hair it comes back on and stays on.
Even though there was a column shifter there was still a center console between the seats but now with even more room for all the various stuff that people take with them. The center bin between the seats was like a mini-trunk, easily able to swallow whole gallon containers of packaged liquids, the large open tray area in front of it was perfect for the phone, pens, notepads, and perhaps even a Sunday morning buffet.
The HVAC controls were easy to decipher/program, the A/C was ice cold (yes it hit 70 degrees outside for a brief spell), and many will be pleased to hear that there were virtually no button blanks at all save for the outermost sections of the lower toggle-type switches near the bottom of the center stack, however that was fairly subtly done. One thing that GM has done for a while now on their truck platforms at least is to have the heated seats available in two modes; one can either heat the whole seat or just the back section and not the seat bottom with separate buttons for each. Either way offers three heat settings. And the steering wheel was heated on this one as well, activated by its own button right on the steering wheel.
Rereading what I wrote, it’s frankly quite astounding at how far GM truck interiors have come since my old ’98 Tahoe with its Play-Skool like knobs and dials and far fewer ergonomic considerations. In this current truck everything appeared to be in a logical place and even the steering wheel buttons weren’t that rubbery one-piece multifunction pad like in some of the cars, but rather real, individual buttons. A small thing, to be sure (and how pretty much everyone else does it, admittedly) but it’s far better than the other.
I climbed into the back seat as well and while there was plenty of headroom I was forced to man-spread in order to be comfortable back there. A short ride would be fine but an hour or more wouldn’t be welcomed. Of course that’s what the full-fat crew-cab version is for and just like back in the day, the back wasn’t really made for lounging, or at least not lounging in the normal position.
Still, there is a lot space back here and if there is a passenger at least they have a couple of USB ports to help them plug in, turn on, and tune out. After re-reading the specs on the sticker a few times, I realized that the back seat likely isn’t actually leather, but feels very much like the front seats do and look the same. Either that means that vinyl in back seats has gotten much better or that leather in front seats is more like vinyl than I thought. Probably both.
The seats do fold up, leaving enough room for large plastic bins (which I tried but failed to take a picture of) once you navigate them around the short(er) back doors. I’m sort of conflicted on this; while the real (if short) doors are likely safer in an accident, and are more convenient for actual passengers as well as probably being easier to manufacture/install/adjust, the clam-shell arrangement that used to be more en vogue makes it far easier to load the back seat area assuming that there is ample space next to the vehicle.
At first I thought the interior was black and gray, it took a bit of time to realize it’s actually really dark brown and light gray. Not a bad combination at all, even if the name they chose for the interior hues “Gideon / Very Dark Atmosphere” gives you zero clue as to the actual colors. The outside of this truck was Shadow Gray Metallic and while in the overcast photos it comes across as simply charcoal, once the sun hits it there is a very large amount of blue that comes out and makes for a very attractive shade. The combination of exterior and interior works quite well, someone at GM is pretty good at this, they’ve had a long run of interesting color combos across all of the lines (car and truck) for some time now.
But what am I doing, this is a truck and I haven’t even touched on its defining feature, the bed! This one, being the double cab, comes with the middle sized bed as standard and frankly it’s the only size bed I’d want with a longer cab like this, that extra foot over the shorty on the regular crew cab makes all the difference. I moved this toilet as well as a sofa, the sofa by chance happened to fit perfectly while still allowing the tailgate to close and sandwich it in place, but that’s more a coincidence.
The party trick on this tailgate is that it’s electric. However, that only works in the down position, you have to lift it back up manually although it’s weighted or assisted such that it’s a one-hand or perhaps two-finger affair to do so (the HD line also has an auto-up option). One can either push the button on the tailgate where the handle would normally be or push it on the keyfob like a trunk opener. The lights flash and it lowers. Most useful when your hands are full but you can still reach the button, kind of like trying to turn on the garage lights with your hands full of grocery bags. Doable with a little effort, but far better than setting everything down first. With empty hands it’s obviously easier, but in that case opening the tailgate manually wasn’t ever any great hardship either.
The camera set into the tailgate was cool in that there are different settings and views with the best one probably the top down one for lining up a trailer to the hitch. Without that you either need an assistant and a lot of yelling or practice or if solo a lot of jumping out and back in to get it lined up. To change the desired view you just select one of the buttons below the screen.
What else is standard on this trim? Well, there’s a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and OnStar available for subscription, LED lights in every exterior position front and back, Keyless Go, Remote Start, a reminder to check the back seat for sleeping babies, a very handy step built into each side of the rear bumper (everyone else should just swallow their pride and do the same), and some other basic stuff.
So what’s this little rascal gonna set you back if you want one just like this one? We all know that sticker prices are for comparison purposes only, especially in trucks they have little reflection on real out the door prices. But as a benchmark, this truck in this configuration starts at $42,100 with everything that is NOT listed next. Those next items start with the biggie, the 6.2l engine at $2,495. Then for $1,655 there’s the Convenience Package with Bucket Seats (Bucket seats with center console, Dual-zone climate control, 10-way power driver’s seat -manual passenger, Heated front seats, Leather covered and heated steering wheel, Tilt and telescoping column.
For a further $1,420 there is the Convenience Package II which is comprised of: Universal home remote, Sliding power rear window, 120V instrument panel and pickup bed outlets, Chevrolet Infotainment 3 plus 8″ HD color touchscreen with voice recognition, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android-Auto, Bose premium sound, and an HD rear vision camera. $760 gets you the leather front seats, $395 covers an auto-locking rear diff, the Trailering Package for $395 takes care of the hitch, 7 and 4pin outlets as well as the hitch guidance system, Power heated trailering mirrors run $345 and the Integrated trailer brake controller rounds things out at $275. Oh, destination is $1,595 for a grand total of….$51,435.
Noodling around on the Chevy website let me build this same exact configuration but the website deducted $4,500 in discounts right off the bat from the above total. No doubt your local dealer would kick a lot more in as well as is usually the case. There isn’t a lot of that above stuff I’d want to do without if I was looking for a fairly fancy truck although if I was really buying one I’d probably either get a regular cab with a long bed and go really basic (white, W/T with the small wheels etc) or whole hog with the larger Crew Cab but still this size bed. And as great as the engine is (and it is!) I’d want to at least try the rest of the options as well before paying the extra cost for this one.
I don’t tow enough for work or play (or even remotely big loads) to really need the mirrors but would probably still get the other towing stuff just in case. I’ve been seeing a fair variety of these on the roads, especially lately, and with the numbers they’ve been selling that’s not likely to change any time soon, although the current health situation is obviously putting a damper on what was starting out as a great sales year. Let’s hope we can all have the ability and health to go back to shopping for trucks, be it a smaller one, a larger one, or a “PLC” just like this one soon.
Disclosure: Chevrolet provided the truck for a week along with a full tank of fuel.