If you’re in the market for a pickup truck, you’re likely evaluating a new versus used Chevy Silverado. We compare the pros and cons of both options.
The Chevy Silverado is the Bowtie brand’s workhorse, on the physical and financial front. With myriad configurations, the Silverado can do just about any job required. It also represents almost 600,000 sales annually, for Chevrolet, over the last five years. With volume like that, buyers have a deep pool to dive in and decide if a new or used Chevy Silverado is the best bet.
2019 ushered in the fourth generation Silverado lineup with new powertrain offerings like a 10-speed transmission, turbocharged 4-cylinder and Duramax diesel for the light-duty 1500. Improved tech, freshened sheet metal and roomier passenger accommodations rounded out the updates. The prior gen was produced for five years starting in 2014 and, at the time, offered an array of useful tech, strong towing and burly engines. This all begs the question of which one to choose. Should you buy the new current gen or stick with shopping for a used Chevy Silverado?
The third-generation light-duty Silverado has a – for the pickup universe – straightforward powertrain lineup. A base 4.3-liter V6 making 285 horsepower or a choice of two V8s. The 5.3-liter version put down 355 horses while the honking 6.2-liter produced 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. While initially only available with a 6-speed automatic, an 8-speed was added to the mix in 2015.
If you’re looking at a new Silverado, you’ll find a dizzying array of engine and transmission options. An all-new 310 horse, turbocharged 4-pot is a bold move given its sporting half the cylinder count of the traditionalist fave V8. Another new addition, to the 1500 series, is a turbodiesel, Duramax inline-6. With a stump pulling 460 lb-ft of torque, this is a great option for those who regularly pull a trailer and want decent fuel efficiency. The V6 and two V8’s are carry overs from the last generation but offer improved cylinder deactivation tech.
Available on the 8-cylinder motors, Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) will shut down up to six of those cylinders based on torque needs, to boost efficiency. However, according to the Chevy website, you need to select the new 10-speed transmission to access DFM that is only available on higher-level trims. Comparing the 5.3-L V8 in a used Silverado to the same motor in a new one equipped with DFM and the 10-speed yields a slight improvement in EPA city/highway mileage figures. For a Crew Cab configuration with the short bed, the estimate increases from 15/20 for a used model to 16/22 on a new Silverado.
As far as pickup trucks go, the Silverado is known as a comfortable highway cruiser that doesn’t love broken pavement. Much of that can be chalked up to the solid rear axle, which has a tendency to make the vehicle feel like it’s skating over rough roads. This configuration remains that same whether you’re looking at a used Chevy Silverado or a brand-new one.
That being said, the latest Silverados actually lost weight compared to the previous iteration – which is almost unheard of in the automotive industry. Across the board of cab and powertrain configurations, there is a roughly 200-pound drop in curb weight, much of which can be attributed to more precise use of steel and increased use of aluminum. This offers more, relatively, spritely handling and firm brakes in the new truck. Reducing vehicle weight is certainly a contributor to both of these aspects.
Pickup trucks and towing go together like bread and butter. Though the new Silverado is lighter on its toes, it does have a higher tow rating compared to a 2018 model. The larger V8 power plant, in both generations, is the trailering champ. A used model maxes out at 12,500 pounds while a new Silverado with the 6.2 can pull up to 13,300 pounds. The new Duramax diesel maxes out at a lower 9,300 pounds but can deliver up to 33 highway miles per gallon (without a trailer) making it a great option for owners that have lighter trailering needs.
If you’re looking for a cavernous vehicle interior, it’s hard to beat a Crew Cab configured Silverado – new or used. With four full-sized doors, it’s like driving a Tahoe with a pickup bed. And over the years, all that space has become a more pleasant space to be. Given its utility roots, Silverados of any generation are not renowned for their opulence. In fact, they have a reputation for plenty of hard plastic bits. However, you will find plenty of simple comforts throughout.
New Silverados bring tons of interior storage like compartments within and beneath the rear seats. It has also grown in size, which translates to almost 2 ½ extra inches of rear legroom. Luxurious touches like heated and ventilated leather seats can be had at higher price points but cloth and vinyl are the name of the game on entry-level models.
This is much the same when it comes to used Chevy Silverados. The third generation introduced the ritzier, High Country trim with saddle leather. So, depending on what model year you’re considering, features like heated seats, under seat storage and power adjustable pedals can be found.
You could write an entire encyclopedia dedicated to parsing the engines, transmissions, cab configurations, drivetrains, special editions and trim levels available on a Silverado. But the high-level version is that you can opt for a stripped-down basic work truck (in fact, the WT model stands for Work Truck). You can opt for a mid-level Silverado LT that happily performs commuting and family duties during the week plus weekend construction projects. Or you can pull out the checkbook for a $60,000 High Country lux-barge.
And the tech feature list has certainly grown and improved from gen-three to gen-four Silverados. In the 2014-2019 model years, Silverados offered a touch-screen infotainment display, Bluetooth connectivity, and inputs for your smartphone. Lane keep assist and backup cameras were the basic driver aids. Fast forward to the new generation for wireless Apple and Android capability, heated rear seats, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Driver assistance is far more robust on the new Silverados with options for lane change alert and blind spot monitoring, low speed automated braking, and 360 degree surround view cameras. A used Chevy Silverado does include functional features like USB ports, 12 volt, and 110-volt outlets. But the newer trucks also offer new tech like a jack-knife alert for towing and a head up display.
So, do you go for the used Chevy Silverado or a shiny new one? My money would be on a certified pre-owned 2017 Silverado LT with a crew cab, 4WD and the 5.3-sized V8. For around $35,000, this spec brings a strong warranty, less of a hit on depreciation and those classic, butch looks of the third-gen Silverado. A new version with that setup stickers for about $45,000 – before you add any options. Plus, the edgier new sheet metal may not be for everyone. The 4-year-old version may have about 40,000 miles on it, but these trucks are renowned for their durability with basic maintenance and you still get a fairly high level of technology and creature comforts.