2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax First Drive Review: Now With Diesel Power

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2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Photo Gallery
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The new Duramax diesel engine option for the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado will cater to those who travel far and wide, and typically with a trailer in tow.

Bend, OR. – At this launch event, GM inadvertently showed how insecure they are. To be fair, it was one individual but he did stand before us and repeat the same thing at least three times. What did he say? When discussing the competition, he referred to “Fiat-RAM” when pointing something out about the RAM 1500 or RAM HD. This was frustration talking.

The frustration likely, or in part, stems from the fact that the RAM has outsold the Chevrolet Silverado so far this year and by roughly 10%. True, RAM sales are a mix of the RAM Classic (the previous generation) and the new one however there are no rules stating that this is wrong. What is wrong is attempting to belittle the competition by trying to make them sound un-American. My ears are still hurting.


Losing ground

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Photo Gallery
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Truth be told, the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado has not been as well received as expected. The main issues are aesthetic-related which are key elements when shopping for anything. In an odd twist, the new 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD’s front fascia is so horrendous that the ½ ton 1500 truck now looks palatable. As I stated in my HD review, this is what HD buyers wanted – a physically different truck. In fact, the only panel shared between the two is the roof. Perhaps concessions should have been made for the front grille…

The other design issue relates to the cabin. I noted the same lack of inspiration in the center-stack’s design and layout both in the Silverado HD and the top-line 1500 High Country. Crew cabs remain extremely spacious and comfortable for all aboard. As I’ve said, I’m predicting a 12-inch or so touchscreen to land in the middle come the mid-cycle refresh within 24 months from now.  


Finally, a Duramax for the 1500

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Photo Gallery
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Among other frustrations in the truck game at GM is being the last automaker to introduce a diesel engine in its ½ ton full-size truck. I recall being at a GM HD truck event in 2010, somewhere in the Carolinas if I’m not mistaken, and discussing a shelved plan for a Duramax engine specifically designed for the 1500. Had they not tangoed with bankruptcy at the time, they probably would have been first.

But all that is in the past now. On the heels of an all-new series of Chevrolet Silverado for 2019, 2020 finally ushers in a dedicated turbo-diesel 3.0-litre inline-6-cylinder which produces 277-horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,500 rpm. These numbers are respectively 27 and 20 greater than those of Ford’s Power Stroke V6 and 37 and 40 over the 2019 RAM 1500 Classic’s EcoDiesel V6.

The engine itself is a high-tech piece of kit. It features a variable-geometry turbocharger, dual overhead cams and is composed entirely of aluminum. Another impressive component is the assorted 10-speed automatic transmission, a similar unit to the one found mated to the 6.2-litre V8.

When properly set up, the Silverado 1500 Duramax can tow a maximum of 9,300 lb. As for fuel economy, official numbers are not yet known however some auto media managed to hyper-mile the 1500 to well over 40 mpg or well under 6L/100 km.


Drives well, should tow equally well

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Photo Gallery
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

On the road, the tested RST handled itself well. The truck rolled on 18-inch wheels shod with Michelin Primacy LTX tires which displayed decent handling and importantly did not suffer the road surface’s imperfections as did the 1500 High Country on 22-inch wheels. Like the HD, the Duramax proved to be smooth and quiet even when under full load, throttle load that is. Unfortunately, I was not able to tow with the 1500 however I’m convinced that the 10-speed automatic and the straight-6’s torque will make light of the trailer.

On the quick drive route, the 2020 Chevrolet 1500 RST Duramax performed well. The Duramax’s power is wonderful and remains steady when the throttle closes in on the firewall when climbing. Here too, the 10-speed is perfectly adapted to the job at hand.


The cost of Duramax

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Photo Gallery
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The job at hand is the one that needs to be carefully evaluated when thinking about purchasing a 1500 with the Duramax option. Pricing for the Duramax option will run between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on selected trim, much like the Power Stroke and EcoDiesel. The catch is that it automatically includes a number of packages and options, whether you want them or not. It is offered from the LT on which starts at $47,730 with the Duramax and packages.

It’s important to note that the 6.2-litre V8, which delivers as much torque, has a higher 13,400 lb tow rating and will make its way down the trim pyramid to the Custom Trail Boss. Pricing is not yet known but should retail for roughly the same amount, between $45,000 and $50,000. The V8 will consume more fuel but maintenance costs will be far more affordable.

In my opinion, I’d stick to the 6.2-litre V8…


2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Photo Gallery

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Photo Gallery
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Photo Gallery
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax Photo Gallery
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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