You have to feel bad for electric pickup truck engineers. They don’t have it easy. Battery-powered vehicles have countless advantages over internal combustion ones, but those often fade when trucks enter the picture.

Trucks are already heavy, and adding lithium-ion batteries doesn’t help. Aerodynamics are key to great EV range, but most American pickup trucks are shaped like giant bricks. And electric range quickly evaporates when towing or hauling.

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

The new Chevrolet Silverado EV was engineered to solve those problems, all while convincing Chevy truck die-hards—a group that’s probably more electro-skeptical than most—that there’s a future beyond gas. This was our first chance to drive the more civilian-minded RST First Edition trucks after lots of experience with the Work Truck (WT) models.  

In this guise, the Silverado EV has a class-leading 440 miles of range, boasts mind-blowing levels of horsepower and torque and can tow up to 10,000 pounds. Oh, and it does that with what Chevy claims are range losses on par with a gas-powered truck. 

On paper, it seems incredible. In reality, it never justifies its nearly $100,000 price tag, which has already been discounted. And I’m not sure it does enough to persuade truck guys and gals that they can go fully electric.

(Full Disclosure: Chevrolet flew me to Detroit and provided lodging so I could test the Silverado EV and Equinox EV. Both are on sale as you read this.) 

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

Ultium Goes Trucking 

Compared to its perennial crosstown rival from Ford, the Silverado EV is pretty interesting for its construction alone. The F-150 Lightning is adapted from the gas truck platform to run on batteries.

But Chevy’s competitor rides on a unique architecture that’s neither body-on-frame (like most trucks) nor truly unibody (like most cars, or the Honda Ridgeline) but incorporates General Motors’ Ultium battery into the floor and structure of the vehicle. This setup has no name, but some of us in Detroit took to calling it “Ulti-body.” And despite using the Silverado name, the design is new and unique, unlike the F-150 Lightning. 

Silverado EV Cutaway

I think “Silverado EV” is a misnomer. This truck is the second coming of the Chevrolet Avalanche, and I don’t even mean that in a bad way; being from Texas, I know tons of folks who still miss that innovative truck.

Like the Avalanche—and boosted by the unique space-saving qualities of an EV—the Silverado EV has unique features like a pass-through midgate that expands bed storage to over nine feet, easily trumping trucks from Ford, Tesla and Rivian. There are also the things Chevy truck owners love, like the step built into the rear bumper, the Multi-Flex Tailgate that has several different configurations and a stopper bar that keeps your stuff secure when the gate drops. Give GM credit for this: those folks know trucks.

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

Its designers and engineers did an admirable job beating the inherent aerodynamic challenges. The relatively low roofline, front air vents and tonneau cover all make this quite a bit more slippery than your average pickup. 

"At [a drag coefficient of] 0.331, the Silverado EV WT has one of the lowest drag coefficients of any available production full-size pickup truck," a GM spokesperson told me. "The RST is just slightly higher, which helps enable its impressive range."

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

And the range is indeed impressive: an estimated 440 miles on the RST models I drove, which goes up to 450 miles on the Work Truck variants with smaller wheels. 

Anything over 400 miles is an incredible figure. It should do away with any range anxiety this potential customer has, as should fast charging at speeds up to 350kW. Find a charger at that speed, and you can add approximately 100 miles of range in just 10 minutes, GM says.

That handily trumps the maximum of 320 miles you get on the biggest F-150 Lightning battery, or the claimed 318 miles on a Foundation Series Tesla Cybertruck. And we've seen in other tests what a distance champ the Silverado EV WT is

The downside is how gigantic this battery pack is, and the weight penalty that comes with it. The Silverado EV packs a big ol’ beef boy of a battery at 200 kWh, nearly twice the size of the biggest Tesla battery. That’s a lot of lithium, folks, and it’s why the truck has a curb weight of about 8,500 pounds. Even by truck standards, it’s massive. 

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

The Silverado EV attempts to compensate with up to 754 horsepower and more than 785 lb-ft of torque when the “Wide Open Watts” boost mode is engaged (Chevy won’t say how much it puts down normally.) It also boasts four-wheel steering and the Super Cruise hands-free semi-autonomous driving system, which can be used during towing. With up to 10.2kW of onboard power and V2H (vehicle-to-home) bidirectional charging, the Silverado EV can also power your tools, your house and even another EV like the giant battery on wheels that it is. 

In effect, it’s a supercar of a truck. That’s why the Silverado EV RST First Edition trucks we drove in Detroit cost $96,395, including the requisite destination fee. 

Woof. We all know trucks are crazy expensive right now; this one’s especially asking a lot.

Interior and Tech

The interior especially doesn’t help my pricing gripes. Inside, you get the standard Ultium fare, so the software suite, the display screen, the interior controls and so on are similar or identical to cars like the Chevy Blazer EV and Equinox EV. 

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

The problem is that it’s somehow not as nice as either of them. The Silverado EV is rife with hard, industrial-feeling plastics on the dashboard, doors and beyond. While not as brutally basic as the Work Truck, the RST never rises above its workmanlike origins and never feels like a near-six-figure vehicle inside. Maybe this would be fine on a truck in the $60,000 price range, but that’s not what the Silverado EV is.

The good news is that not having as many mechanical components as a gas truck makes for an especially spacious interior, with tons of legroom and headroom in both rows. Also, GM’s new Android Automotive-based OS has tons of potential, with quick, intuitive Google Maps applications, information that can be sent from the center screen to the driver display on the fly, and seamless voice assistant help for navigation and other functions.

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

It does, however, mean sacrificing Apple CarPlay, which requires faith that GM can somehow make software better.

Unfortunately, only time will tell if it works right; we’ve had serious problems on this front before. My tester even had its screen blank out before rebooting right as we started our drive, although no other issues were encountered during that test, or that of the Equinox EV later. GM swears that it’s made strides in getting this stuff fixed. We’ll be keeping an eye on that.

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

On The Road (And Towing)

I started the day with a battery at 88% and 414 miles of range, which is a nice thing to see in the morning, battery size be damned. Unfortunately, that’s what holds the truck back from feeling as quick as that “up to” 754 hp figure would suggest. 

Even on full-blast WOW mode, which we tried on a closed runway, it’s quick, but not neckbreak-fast like many EVs are. In its sportiest settings, the Silverado EV can’t overcome that weight. My tester was also quite loud for an EV, both with road noise from those huge 24-inch wheels and various creaks and rattles throughout the cabin. 

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

So how does that new Ulti-body feel on the road? It’s… interesting. It drives more like a car than the Lightning and other trucks do, but still has that truck-like jounce to it thanks to the duty-oriented suspension; it’s a little less car-like than, say, the unibody Ridgeline. Above all, it feels heavy and large on the road, although the four-wheel steering makes for an incredibly tight turning radius. 

One-pedal driving is activated via a panel on the main touchscreen, and like the Chevy Bolt before it, a steering wheel paddle toggles regenerative braking on demand. Here, it's useful for going down hills, but the Silverado EV is so large and heavy you can't use it to modulate your speeds before a corner like the nimble Bolt can do. I didn't find it too useful. 

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

Towing is, for sure, a strong suit here. We got about 20 minutes to pull a 6,000-pound (electric!) boat and trailer, and the Silverado EV handled it well. I felt the occasional jerkiness when I wasn’t smooth on the throttle, but when I was, the experience was seamless and backed by plenty of usable power.

In towing mode, I saw my range drop down to 121 miles at 63% battery, which is to be expected, but not bad; being able to fast-charge at 350 kW stations (if you can find one) should help with long-distance hauling. For its size, the Silverado was easy to control and navigated two roundabouts extremely well. While towing, efficiency dropped way down to just 1 mile per kWh, sometimes less; again, not shocking. 

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

I was consistently impressed with the latest version of Super Cruise, GM’s eyes-on, hands-off automated driving system. This was my first experience with its automatic lane-change feature, which kindly alerts you with a seat vibration before it moves over. It also navigated complicated situations like freeway construction zones far better than expected. On a 60-mile drive from a Michigan farm to downtown Detroit, using Super Cruise much of the time, I only had four interventions, mostly when it was waiting too long to move into an exit lane. 

Ditto for towing with Super Cruise, something you can’t do wt all ith the F-150 Lightning’s BlueCruise system. On that back road, it ping-ponged in my lane a bit more than I’d like, but overall it was competent enough for me to trust it. it got the job done with no issues. Still, I recommend sticking to interstate highways if you’re letting an ADAS system handle towing something of that size; less room for error. 

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

If you’re going to trust an ADAS system with towing something of that size, I do recommend you stick to the interstates. But Super Cruise still works on more than 400,000 miles of mapped roads across the U.S. and Canada, which should rise to 750,000 next year.

In terms of efficiency, we ended the day—which included highway, around-town and WOW mode driving—at 1.9 miles per kWh. Not great, obviously. Of course, towing reduced that to about 1 mile per kWh, but that was to be expected.

We stopped with 52% battery and an excellent 226 miles of range remaining, but that precluded any fast-charging tests; we expect to conduct those, including a 70 mph range test, when we have more time with the Silverado EV.

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

Early Verdict 

So what’s good here? The innovative design that plays the Avalanche’s greatest hits, Super Cruise, the range and the lack of apparent sacrifices for towing and hauling all get high marks. But I still have a hard time figuring this thing out.

The day before I drove the truck, I caught up with GM President Mark Reuss. In an interview, he told me how excited he was for the new Equinox EV and upcoming revised Bolt EUV; cars that target the middle of the market, and affordable electric options for everyone. No more high-end spaceships. The world doesn’t need more of those. 

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

Yet the Silverado EV RST is a high-end spaceship. Technologically, it’s a rolling showcase of all that GM can do, from big-range batteries to Super Cruise for towing to the unique packaging that EVs can bring and much more. 

I am not sure that’s all enough to assure traditional truck owners and Silverado loyalists that it’s worth paying tens of thousands more for the EV over a comparable gas version. I can’t tell you what the “killer app” is here that makes this the obvious choice for truck fans, or why you simply must consider the EV instead. 

Chevy’s strategy of doing EV equivalents of all the cars you know and supposedly love (Silverado, Blazer, Equinox and so on) is predicated on offering people a “choice.” But it also assumes they’re interested in EVs, to begin with. Does the Silverado EV make a strong enough case to go that way, for someone who’s not into it? 

Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive Photos

I’m not convinced it does. Certainly not at this price tag. The Silverado EV proves that electrics can tow and haul with the best of them, but at a tremendous cost, for now. To me, it feels less like what the broader market needs, and more like something designed to secure a future for GM’s copious truck profit margins. The Work Truck variant, starting at $75,000 for much less content, is no better. 

As it stands, the Ford F-150 Lightning still wins the day in my book for being the better value and better truck. New examples can be found between $50,000 and $70,000, or less at many dealers. Though it loses on range and towing, it still feels like a better execution overall of what an EV truck should be, and it’s what I’d rather drive. 

The good news is that more Silverado EV variants are coming, including LT and Trail Boss editions. Hopefully, some will be cheaper too, even if it means a smaller battery and a range sacrifice or slower charging speeds. Chevy proved a great concept with the Ultium platform in truck guise. I’m eager to see more in a way that won’t break the bank. 

Sorry, Chevy Nation. Your decal of Calvin peeing on the Blue Oval logo doesn’t quite make the electric transition. Not yet, at least.

Gallery: 2024 Chevrolet Silverado RST EV First Drive


What charging is included with the Chevrolet Silverado EV?

Silverado EV First-Edition RST reservation holders who converted to an order get a free bidirectional 19.2 kW Level 2 GM Energy Powershift charger. That's a $1,699 value. When paired with the GM Energy V2H Enablement Kit and the correct home equipment and grid connection, the Silverado EV provides bi-directional charging. 

A GM spokesperson told InsideEVs: "Through the My Chevy brand apps, EV customers may be offered certain incentives, such as reservations and discounts for public charging. This is variable and unique to each customer, their market, their vehicle, and other factors."

Will a Silverado EV power my house?

Yes, but only with a properly equipped home and proper grid interconnection, as GM puts it. With the GM Energy PowerShift and GM Energy Vehicle-to-Home Enablement Kit, a fully charged Silverado EV can power a home for "up to 21 days" depending on electricity use, home size and other factors. Contact GM Energy for more details. 

Does the Silverado EV have Apple CarPlay?

No, it does not. GM's new in-house software for EVs no longer offers that feature, but instead provides native integration for Google, Spotify and other popular apps. 

How fast does the Silverado EV charge?

A true InsideEVs fast-charging test is coming soon. GM claims the truck can add 100 miles of range in 10 minutes on a 350 kW fast charger, but the automaker does not specify what battery level it would need to start from for such a charge. However, independent testing has revealed the Silverado WT EV to be one of the fastest-charging vehicles available right now, taking just over one hour and 15 minutes to take the Silverado EV’s 200+ kilowatt-hour battery from flat to full.

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