Heavy Chevy: Giant Silverado HD debuts

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
The 2020 Chevy Silverado Heavy Duty brings a bold new face with lower headlights, a mesh grille, and LED "eyebrow" running lights.

Here come the trucks. General Motors Co. may be scaling back its sedan offerings, but pickups are booming and its Chevrolet brand is slicing and dicing the market to keep the customers coming.

Chevy gave a sneak peak Tuesday of its latest monster, the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty — the biggest, baddest truck the General has ever made.

Forged at Flint Assembly and built on the same bones as the steel Silverado 1500 Light Duty truck introduced at this year's Detroit Auto Show, the HD brings a new face, more interior room, and a stump-pulling diesel engine with 910 pound feet of torque when it goes on sale in mid-2019.

Where the 1500 populates corporate fleets and the driveways of daily drivers, the HD delivers the brawn for heavy payloads, long-distance hauling, and, well, stump-pulling.

The 2020 Chevy Silverado Heavy Duty anchors the third leg of GM's truck strategy with a mid-size Chevy Colorado, light duty Silverado 1500, and Heavy Duty 2500 and 3500 pickups.

“We know the needs and priorities of heavy-duty customers are different than those of either light-duty or medium-duty customers,” said HD Chief Engineer Jaclyn McQuaid. “We built a heavy-duty, truck tailor-made for them that has more differentiation than ever before from light-duty models.”

Chevy says the HD will benefit from the Silverado’s new, high-strength steel architecture — bucking the aluminum trend of its chief competitor, Ford which introduced its F-series Super Duty for the 2017 model year. The new chassis allows three more inches of rear legroom.

But where the lean-looking light-duty takes its grille design cues from the Camaro, the Heavy Duty's front fascia is bolder, more upright with big, lower headlights topped off by LED "eyebrows" where the 1500's thin lights are located. Already a leader in pickup bed access with its corner step innovation, the HD introduces a new, side bed step for easier, forward-box access.

From stem to stern the HD battleship shares only a roof with the light duty 1500.

All-new. The 2020 Chevy Silverado Heavy Duty shares only a roof with its Silverado light duty sibling.

“We set out to make a statement with the 2020 Silverado HD and wanted to visually capture the power and capability of the truck,” said designer Brian Izard. “The result is a truck that looks like a piece of heavy machinery with modern, chiseled finishes and customer-focused details.”

Chevy is coy about engine offerings, promising a new gas engine "with direct injection," as well as its ol' reliable Duramax, turbo-diesel V-8 — now mated to a 10-speed transmission.

The big Silverado is the latest salvo in a GM truck onslaught. Since re-entering the mid-size truck market in 2015, GM has brought all-new versions of the middie Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks and full-size Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra. The Silverado light-duty now spans eight different models from the fleet Work Truck trim to the luxurious High Country, while the Sierra has been moved upscale with an emphasis on the premium Denali and all-new, rambunctious AT4 off-roader.

The Silverado HD comes on the heels of Chevy's introduction of a more-extreme, off-road Colorado Bison to compliment its veteran ZR2 dirt-kicker.

All told, GM's holy trinity of midsize, light-duty, and heavy-duty trucks has made the General the best-selling truckmaker in the United States — outpacing Ford Motor Co. (which boasts the best-selling light heavy duty Ford F-series) by some 600,000 units from 2014-2018.

Look for more details of the 2020 Silverado HD in February.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.