Not every truck is born to be an off-road beast. Some are more at home on the road. That doesn’t make them any less of a working truck, it just means that they transport people’s furniture down highways rather than bails of hay on a farm.
GM recognizes the fact that the great majority of pickup trucks have never been driven off-road a day in their lives. That’s why they’re offering the new 2019 Silverado 1500 RST.
RST stands for Rally Sport Truck, but don’t get the idea of taking this truck rally racing. It’s more to add some sportiness into the design, which mostly involves removing the chrome of the LT trim (which the RST is based on) and replacing it with body-colored trim and some black-painted B-pillars.
Besides that, the RST benefits from all the improvements that next year’s Silverado all get. The switch from steel to aluminum (something that most truck makers are doing these days) has made the new Silverado up to 450 lbs lighter than the outgoing version. Depending on the trim, it can also haul an extra 300 lbs of stuff.
The big news for the RST is Chevrolet’s brand new engine: a 2.7-L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that replaces the older 4.3-L V6 (although you can still find it on some other trims if you really want it). The new engine gets 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque and comes mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
To prove the RST’s “sportiness”, Chevrolet even gave us the truck’s zero-to-sixty time: 6.8 seconds. That’s not particularly impressive, but it still beats some entry-level sedans and smaller compact cars.
Chevy’s new turbocharged engine is a direct response to Ford’s twin-turbo V6 and follows a larger shift in the pickup industry towards more fuel efficient motors. Turbocharging the engine provides great efficiency and power than a large, naturally aspirated engine, which shows in the 2.7-L’s fuel efficiency. Start-stop technology helps bring city mileage up to 21 mph, while highway mileage is rated at 23 mpg.
Even though it’s far more fuel efficient, there is still plenty of power to tow with. Max payload is 2,280 lbs, while maximum towing capacity is 7,200 lbs.
For those desperate for a big V8 engine, the RST does have an optional 5.3-L V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management. This provides 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, but not all the time. The engine will only provide you with as many cylinders as you need, deactivating between 0 and all 8 cylinders depending on what the truck is doing. Coasting downhill on a highway may require only one cylinder active, while starting from a standstill at the bottom of the same hill will require all eight.
Along with the other Silverado trims, the RST enjoys Chevy’s new DuraBed, which provides greater durability and volume than either Ford or Ram pickups. The short box holds 63 cubic feet, while the standard box holds 72 cubic feet (the RST is not available with a long box). And thanks to the use of high-strength steel rated up to 500 MPa, you never have to worry about whatever you throw in your RST’s bed.
On the inside, the RST continues Chevy’s push towards greater technology. An 8-inch touchscreen serves as the infotainment center with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard features. Six-speaker audio can be upgraded to a Bose Premium 7-speaker setup, while the optional safety package provides the RST with front and rear park assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The RST starts at $40,295 for a double cab and a standard bed, while a crew cab with a short bed will put you back $42,695. Which can be hard to justify when both Ford and Ram offer somewhat more luxurious trucks at roughly the same price point.
Ram offers the 1500 Laramie, a chrome and leather-appointed pickup for $42,595 with a double cab and a standard bed. Under the hood is FCA’s old standby, the 3.6-L Pentastar V6, but it’s been mated with a mild hybrid system to give it some extra mileage--better than the Silverado’s turbocharged engine. It also comes with more standard features such as dual-zone climate control.
On Ford’s F-150, the Lariat trim can be acquired for $41,700 and it too offers chrome trim, leather seating, and an engine that produces more power and has greater mileage. The 2.7-L EcoBoost V6 produces 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, and while city mileage is worse than the Chevy at 20 mpg, highway mileage is better at 25 mpg and combined the Lariat gets 22 mpg.
But both trucks are for someone who wants a chrome grille and leather seating. The RST is aimed at the truck buyer who isn’t after a flashy exterior or sitting on a dead animal whenever they go for a ride. The RST is something different: the sporty truck with just enough luxury to satisfy the discerning pickup purchaser.
Although you have to admit, spending just $1,000 for more truck from either Ram or Ford seems like a good deal when you’re already spending $40,000.