Towing can feel pretty hellish if you don’t do it somewhat regularly. There’s a lot to account for, preparation steps, and driving adjustments you need to make. Well, unless you like crashing. Thankfully, new trucks, like Chevy’s recently redone Silverado, can help towing noobs so that (hopefully) doesn’t happen.
(Full disclosure: Chevy invited me and one of our trusty video producers to Lime Rock Park to thrash the new Silverado in the snow. The automaker provided lodging, food, and a gassed-up Silverado for the trip from New York City and back.)
Chevy Performance Engineer Aaron Pfau, who specializes in “slip and stability controls and related features for all full-size trucks” at GM (thanks, LinkedIn!) ran down the 2019 Silverado’s fancy new towing features to make this kind of work easier and less intimidating. You can see what he showed us in the video above.
That truck doing the pulling on camera is a 5.3-liter V8 LT Trail Boss model with Chevy’s Hydra-Matic eight-speed automatic transmission. Though we didn’t get a ton of time in it, from what we experienced, the truck had no issue pulling an enclosed snowmobile trailer with two machines inside up hills or through snow.
Chevy promises 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque from this engine, and a four-door Crew Cab 4WD Silverado like this one is rated to pull 12,200 pounds behind it. Our trailer and its contents were probably less than a quarter of that.
But this little demo is really about towing convenience features and techniques, not stump-pulling capability. So you should still get a good idea of what you’d be working with while tugging things with a Silverado.
Similar to a feature that Ford’s had for a while, the new Silverado has a “towing connection checklist” feature that will run you through everything you should be checking when hooking up a trailer. Also! You can access the checklist through the myChevrolet app on your phone, if you want to go down the list while outside the truck.
Chevy’s rearview camera on the new Silverado has a hitch view with an on-screen line icon that moves with your steering inputs. It’s the easiest rearview system I’ve used for hitching trailers and it works a heck of a lot better than using the camera’s normal parking guidance lines.
Additionally, when using this mode properly, it’ll automatically engage the parking brake when you put the truck in park after it’s positioned. This helps prevent any annoying movement once the truck is stationary.
During the checklist process, the truck runs through a trailer lighting checklist process and will let you know if there’s something that isn’t working.
With the new Silverado, you don’t have to worry about your truck and its load rolling back on a hill, or putting unnecessary stress on the drivetrain while stopped on a hill. With the truck’s new electro-hydraulic braking system, the Silverado can hold itself on a hill, without you holding the pedal down, for as long as you please. This was especially nice to have when we tried it on a snow-covered uphill grade.
While behind the wheel of the new Silverado at the track, Pfau provided a solid explanation on how Chevy’s new braking system can help with towing in bad conditions. As he explained:
“The system responds and builds brake pressure quickly. In a straight line braking situation—in an emergency type maneuver—it’s going to be helpful, but even also in a trailer sway type event…the vehicle has the ability to recognize it and attempt to mitigate with this new electro-hydraulic system,” Pfau told Jalopnik. “It actually has the ability to build that brake pressure quicker than any conventional system can to help mitigate that swaying trailer. The trailer brakes will also work with the system.”
We’re still a ways off from autonomous trucks, I think, but half-ton hauling has gotten a lot more computerized with the current crop of pickups on the market. And unlike manual transmissions or hydraulic power steering, I don’t think anybody’s going to miss the days when you had to work a lot harder to tow things.