The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado offers world-class ride and handling characteristics. But how did GM engineers deliver this refinement without sacrificing durability or capability?
Well, let’s start from square one. The truck features a brand-new, fully boxed steel frame that’s about 88 pounds (40 kg) lighter with 10 percent greater torsional stiffness than the one underpinning its predecessor. Comprised of 80 percent high-strength steel, it forms an ultra-rigid foundation that allowed engineers to really dial in this rig’s driving dynamics.
But that’s not all. Jeff Scott, lead ride and handling engineer for the 2019 Silverado said, “We have new front-end sheet-metal structure, which yields a stiffer front end,” something that provides greater tuning options for the suspension components.
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Further quelling unwanted harshness are new body mounts. Scott explained there are four tie-down points on each side of the frame. Toward the rear of the body, he said, “We use a hydraulic, fluid-filled body mount,” something that not only reduces vibration and harshness but also improves ride quality.
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“You know, when the pickup truck goes over a rough section of road you kind of get that vertical busyness in the rear. We call it ‘pickup shake’ or ‘freeway hop.’ If you’re going down the freeway and you get through some sine waves, you’ll get that bouncy motion,” explained Scott. But believe it or not, he said the Silverado’s specially tuned, fluid-filled body mounts help eliminate those undesirable up-and-down motions.
Unlike one major competitor, GM engineers decided to continue employing leaf springs on the latest Silverado instead of switching to coils. “If it’s not broke, why change it?” asked Scott. “We can get more lateral stiffness than a five-link rear coil [setup],” he added.
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Beyond that, certain models feature composite second-stage leaf springs that save about 12 pounds (5 kg) per side, a significant reduction in un-sprung mass, something that further helps improve ride quality. Engineers also focused on reducing the friction of those leaf springs, yet another way to eke out more comfort.
Beyond all this, they’ve also opted for tires with taller sidewalls, which provide more cushiness. Of course, the truck’s significant weight reduction, up to 450 pounds, means they can go with softer springs, furthering enhancing its over-the-road smoothness.
Even something as seemingly blasé as the engine and transmission mounts received special tuning and engineering work. Scott explained, “[This is] because when you go over imperfections in the road the powertrain is going to move and vibrate at certain resonant frequencies, and you want to tune your mounting system to isolate that from the interior of the cab.” Scott said this is nothing new; they’ve done the same thing on the outgoing Silverado, though the powertrain mounts have been completely redone for the new model and its various powertrains.
Without having conducted a proper comparison test it’s impossible to say for certain, but this new Silverado could be the best driving full-size truck available today. It’s likely smoother than the Ford F-150, which always seems a bit stiff-legged; it could even surpass the Ram 1500, though its optional air suspension does provide an exceptionally smooth ride.
In any case, GM engineers have a lot to be proud of with the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado. “We were aiming for a car-like ride,” said Scott. “That really was our goal,” and it’s one they’ve mostly succeeded in achieving.
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