Can the 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ 3.0L Duramax Handle Off-Road Trails?
Fun on the road, more fun in the dirt.
The platform received the 3.0L Duramax mill, and we were itching to test its capabilities during the 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year showdown.
- 600-plus miles of range
- Plenty of passing power
- Meager ground clearance
- Suspension overtaxed quickly in the bumps
2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ 3.0L Duramax New Features
Packing its 460 lb-ft torquey punch right at 1,500 rpm, the 3.0L Duramax inline-six engine is only half of the secret sauce qualifying the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ for this year's test. The oil-burner sends its torque and 277 horsepower to the Hydro-Matic 10-speed transmission, bringing an entirely new on- and off-road experience to the half-ton Chevy. Our Silverado came with the LTZ trim level, affording it chrome on the bumpers, front grille, mirror caps, door handles, and side windows; that's in addition to tech goodies like adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera mirror, and a head-up display projected to the inside of the windshield.
Flexing the Diesel Silverado
The Silverado scored 398 on the 22-degree RTI ramp, giving it the third-best score of the lineup. This was less flex than the Sierra 3500 dualie, as a fun comparison.
With its Duramax 3.0L I-6 turbodiesel under the hood, the Silverado 1500 pulled off the line and reached 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, the fastest time of the half-ton trucks in the group. When it came to stopping the 4,940-pound Chevy, the 13.5-inch front discs with four-piston calipers and the 14.1-inch rear discs with single-piston calipers got the job done in 120 feet flat, the best score of the week. How fast did the half-ton Silverado cover the quarter mile? The answer is 15.8 seconds with a top speed of 87.8 mph.
How's the New Silverado Look?
Judges were not shy about their collective disdain for the chrome package on the Chevy Silverado 1500's exterior; however, they appreciated the looks of the rounded wheelwells. Although the Silverado's mild all-terrain tires and 20-inch aluminum wheels were benefits on the track and highway, we wished for something a bit more aggressive with more sidewall rubber rather than multi-spoke bling. Perhaps more polarizing than the design of the front grille were the steps molded into the rear bumper. Some judges couldn't pass an opportunity to wedge their boots inside, but others folded their arms and demanded that the steps instead fold down and remain out of sight when not in use.
"Something about the tan and brown inside doesn't mesh with the blue paint," wrote a judge on the Silverado's interior color scheme. We found the fit and finish to be familiar for the brand and "intuitive but also not exciting." Making up for that was a hearty dose of spaciousness both up front and in the passenger quarters, making prospects of hauling the family down the road or trail that much more appealing.
With the 3.0L Duramax's grist mill of torque with the 10-speed transmission known for handing the power of the ZL1 Camaro, judges had all the ingredients they needed for spirited dirt road driving and zippy pulls in the passing lane. "It's just a flat-out fun combo," wrote one judge about the Silverado's powertrain, "I almost wish it was louder!" We found the diesel to be well-behaved in regard to noise and harshness on the freeway stretches. Wind and tire noise were at a distinct minimum, and the truck delivered a combined fuel economy of 26 mpg during the course of our weeklong test.
2020 Chevy Silverado LTZ 1500 Off-Road
The engine and transmission did their job at routing power to all four corners without a hitch; it was the tires that held the Silverado 1500 back off the pavement. When recalling our time traversing the rocky canyons one judge left the comment, "I have sidewall paranoia" referring to the mild all-terrain rubbers.
When the terrain became softer than it was jagged, the Autotrac transfer case did its job of directing power to the front and rear differentials such that we almost always had the traction we needed. We attacked the hillclimb section of the test in both 4-Lo and 4-Hi and, despite the tires, blazed our way higher on the hill than some arguably better-equipped vehicles. Judges noted, however, that the truck's air dam and plastic fenders hindered travel in the deeper mud and snow. Judges carefully observed how the Silverado performed over washboards and whooped-out terrain, noting that the suspension's response was "just a bit more unrefined and unpredictable than the other half-tons." We also marked down our desire for skidplates and rocker protection, as well as front recovery points that could be used without risking damage to the front fascia.
Our Take: Can the Silverado Handle Itself Off-Road?
Duramax diesel power and 10 gears keep the Silverado exciting no matter what's beneath the tires, but off-roaders with more than gravel tracks or snowy roads in their plans need more than the LTZ has to offer.