By on December 6, 2018

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD

Earlier this year, we asked if the current automotive styling trend of ever larger grilles had reached a peak of excess. Had automakers carried it too far? The vehicle that sparked the question was the new-for-2019 Toyota Avalon, a vehicle that saw fit to appropriate about 90 percent of its front-end real estate for the placement of a grille, some of it functional.

The trend shows no sign of abating. Lexus is still hard at it, as my current ES 350 tester aptly demonstrates. (Quite a spindle snout on the thing, which continues to remind your author of the controversial 1961 Plymouth.) Elsewhere in autodom, expansive maws proliferate like rabbits, some of them far subtler than others — though beauty always remains in the eye of the beholder.

However, slapping a daring face on a relatively low volume car isn’t the same thing as making over your company’s bread and butter. That brings us to a tale of two trucks.

This week brought us two pieces of eye candy, one of which might leave a bitter taste: the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD and the 2020 Ram HD. The former truck receives a radical makeover that catapults styling ahead by a decade, the latter undergoes a significant refresh while apparently maintaining the same basic platform as before. Fiat Chrysler likes hanging on to old bones for dear life.

To many, the Ram 2500/3500’s new face was just the soothing balm needed to remove the sting of the Silverado HD’s jarring front end. From a front three-quarter angle, the Silverado’s mug isn’t as alarming as when viewed head-on. From this angle, you can see what the designers had in mind — there’s a rakishness in the way the chrome crossbar thrusts its way forward. Arguably, the whole package works better than the similarly controversial 2019 Silverado 1500.

Can you imagine the Silverado HD with headlights placed up top? Youch…

FCA, on the other hand, provided a range of faces mimicking the well-regarded 2019 Ram 1500. Headlights are where our forefathers intended, as is the grille. The refresh updates the truck with a look that’s unlikely to anger any existing Ram HD owners.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD

That said, are people (us included) being too hard on GM for its styling decisions? You don’t move design forward by playing it safe, and GM is taking on a lot of risk by attempting to move the design needle in the stupendously lucrative large truck space. That deserves some kudos, even if the end result isn’t something you’d park in your own driveway. I’m reminded of the ’59 Chevy in this regard — a vehicle whose design inspired both Ford and Plymouth, albeit for a very short time.

What’s your thoughts on the matter? Does GM deserve accolades, or at least some measure of praise? Or is the Silverado HD just a mistake?

[Images: General Motors, Brian Williams/Spiedbilde]

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56 Comments on “QOTD: Dare to Design?...”


  • avatar
    Jackson the cairn

    Silverado HD reminds me of the Predator in the original movie…

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I like the Silverado HD face. Very masculine, which is what buyers of this vehicle want. Macho, even. The Ram nose as shown in the above photo looks bulbous and melted in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      Krivka

      I agree. But the front on look is not very appealing. The cross bar should end at lights and the headlights themselves could be a unvbroken verticle unit. Not hard to to and would make the truck more conventional and less insect looking.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Frankly, I like them all. From the Ridgeline to the Frontier all the way up to the F-350 and every pickup in- between. And don’t get me started on God’s Chariot, the Jeep Gladiator. We live in a pickup truck Golden Age. Manufacturers should be encouraged to take styling risks. The Dodge Ram “big rig” look was very controversial at one time. Now most people think it is pretty conservative. Go for it, Chevy. After all, Its face will never be uglier than a Lexus.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Frankly, I like them all. From the Ridgeline to the Frontier all the way up to the F-350 and every pickup in- between. And don’t get me started on God’s Chariot, the Jeep Gladiator. We live in a pickup truck Golden Age. Manufacturers should be encouraged to take styling risks. The Dodge Ram “big rig” look was very controversial at one time. Now most people think it is pretty conservative. Go for it, Chevy. After all, Its face will never be uglier than a Lexus.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    GM-hating drivel to ensue from akear in 3, 2, 1, …

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    As I’ve stated before, the Silverado’s grill could be good–IF you take away the top section and slope the hood down to meet the badge bar. The headlamps are finally in the right place and the grille width is certainly acceptable. But that top section has GOT TO GO!!!.

    The RAM, on the other hand, is at least acceptable. It flows smoothly and doesn’t look like it was a child’s ruler drawing with all those smooth lines and sensuous curves.

    If someone were to give me one of these two, on appearances alone I would take the Ram over the Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      forward_look

      The tailgate needs embossed brand lettering 8 inches high, painted white, to be sufficiently Manly. With testicles on the hitch.

      And a large dealer sticker, non-removable.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        If it’s a sticker, it’s removable; you just have to know how or know somebody who does.

        The white letters can be painted over.

        On the other hand, fixing the nose on this Chevy truck would require a good custom body shop to cut a wedge in either side to slope the hood down and probably re-shape whatever is behind that extra bit of grille. I certainly wouldn’t let it stay the way it is If I had one.

  • avatar
    gkhize

    My opinion of the Silverado HD is that it’s pretty ugly, even worse than the Ford Super Duty. I had a similar reaction back when the updated 2007 Yukon was introduced; that thing was ugly as he!!. It’s worth noting that I currently have a 2007 Yukon Denali in my garage that’s given us 165K trouble free miles. It actually looks pretty good from any angle but the front, and I don’t have to look at the front when I’m driving it. GMC sold a ton of those Yukons and I suspect the new HD will get a similar reception; functionality and reliability will help it sell well regardless of how it looks.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I have an 08′ suburban, i 100% agree on the yukon grill, eek. I also 100% agree that had the suburban i bought used in january 10′ been a yukon with the same equipment, miles, and price i would be heading into year 9 driving a yukon

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      “GMC sold a ton of those Yukons and I suspect the new HD will get a similar reception; functionality and reliability will help it sell well regardless of how it looks.”

      Agreed. Add in brand loyalty, and grill styling probably means little. Camry buyers are Camry buyers regardless of styling and pickup buyers are pretty brand-loyal as well. Screaming for attention is probably a strategy to convert customers from rivals.

      I did not particularly care for the styling of my pickup when I bought it, but I got it for features, functionality and price.

      Unless you are Lexus, and you want to discourage women from buying your products, grill styling is mostly just conversation.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        A lot of women want something that looks tough and aggressive, hence why they love pickups and Jeeps so much. And crossovers to a lesser extent.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Agreed, lots of women love Jeeps and pickups, Suburbans, Tahoe’s, etc…

          My own wife and daughters love my pickup and dream of a G-Wagon.

          However, I doubt many women like the Lexus. I have heard many a comment from women on this style. Not too butch, too ugly. Anecdotal, I know. I would love to see the data.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    I like the damned Chevy. I see heritage in the head-on design from the 60’s. I really like it from the side. I grudgingly give a nod to FCA for gaining so much traction in the market, but I have always been a GM guy even though I was raised on Chryslers. With the last redesign Chevy (and GMC) were faulted for playing it too safe. Now they are being vilified for going too far. Let the market decide.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t like the design of the HD Chevy, but I’ll need to know the specs on the new gas engine before I form an opinion on the truck as a whole.

  • avatar

    Is that a face only it’s Mother could love? Yikes!
    GM keeps trying to chase down Ford… it never can and never will.
    Is Mary Barra not looking closely enough at these awful new products… or, scary, maybe she is it’s Mother!

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Yuk! A deal breaker. No rebate is big enough for me to buy it. The Aztec stylist is alive and employed at GM!

  • avatar
    SkiDad

    With all this macho posing, it makes me wonder how long it will be before Truck Nutz are standard equipment…

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    These two trucks are two sides of the same coin, both front ends are large and imposing, but I guess that’s just the way Americans like their trucks. The thing that gets me is putting 4-bangers in those huge engine bays (not on the HDs, but lesser models)and having all that wasted space. I know, easier to work on, but do you really need to be able to stand in the bay with the engine to work on it?

  • avatar
    mjg82

    Automakers are pushing extreme grilles now so that consumers get sick of them completely, allowing them to then break free from slapping fake grilles on their EVs for eternity.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I suspect in 6 months people will accept the change, as it’s not Aztec level of ugliness. I do like the fact that the rear door doesn’t have that weak, fey twist to the window line found on the standard truck. The front doesn’t look like it is assembled with 112 parts, which is a sign of progress for GM.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      By comparison, the Aztek is beautiful. This thing is Predator-level ugly… kindergarten-kid-drawing-level ugly. It’s a two-story false front on a single-story building. It has simply gone too far to say, “HEY! Look at me! I’m BIG!!!”

      Even a baleen whale is prettier than this thing.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        I hired a guy from North Carolina to service accounts in the SE (NC, GA, TN). So I need to take a road trip with him and introduce him to some clients, so he picks me up at the Charlotte airport.

        Damn if he was sporting an Aztec! I just about fired him on the spot for “bad taste” (jk), but I will never forget the length between the top of the dash to the bottom of the windshield. It had to be over 3 feet! I remember setting my flip phone on the top of the dash and we had to stop to be able to reach it when it slid towards the windshield.

        He loved that POS, but he also loved the 12-pack of Mountain Dew he drank every day. To each his own.

        Maybe Chevrolet made that big-a** nameplate on the grille so it gets taken out if you’re parking near a light pole at the mall ,you just rung up a $1500 tab to start. They should have stuck all of the front end sensors on that sucker and tripled their $$ at the body shop.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The design is awful. Period.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    GM Full Size HD pickups really are the new “Family Trucksters”. The new design is most assuredly Bro-Dozer approved. What GM does not understand is that Bro-Dozer types are not buying these new. They are buying these from an independent used car lot where a Chinese made lift kit, wheels and tires were installed and all rolled up into a “72-month financing package” One year later these will have a dented body from doing things off-road that they should not have been doing with bald tires and coal rolling exhaust.

    See it everyday here on the Front Range.

    My bet is GM will be #3 in HD sales next year. RAM will be the most to benefit.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      But will people that buy brand new HD trucks really defect over styling? Its still got a big Duramax, its still got an Allison, and it still isn’t a Ford or Ram.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “But will people that buy brand new HD trucks really defect over styling?”
        — Yes. I bought a Colorado over a Toyota exactly because of that… and the transmission.

        “Its still got a big Duramax,…”
        — Irrelevant to me.

        “…its still got an Allison,…”
        — Irrelevant to me.

        “… and it still isn’t a Ford or Ram.
        — I’d still take the RAM first.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          As usual you fail to understand that you are not like other people. The Duramax and Allison are relevant to people who actually buy HD pickups. Many of them don’t give a rats ass how it looks either because they won’t be driving them, employees will.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Oh, I don’t “fail to understand” anything, Sd. I clearly stated that they were irrelevant TO ME. Not everybody needs or wants a diesel with Allison transmission; not even in a super-heavy-duty truck like a 4500. Sure, they have their advantages but those advantages tend to be greatest in long-haul towing, not shorter-ranged uses.

            Where I live, the big diesels are used for towing massive trailers filled with cars or 12-foot-tall stacks of hay. All the rest of the diesels are status symbols (former coal rollers, in most cases.) The rest are all gasoline powered. So… for me the diesels are irrelevant and remain so since I have no need for diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      At retail maybe GM will be #3 in HD pickups but most fleets don’t do FCA products anymore so I bet overall GM will still come out ahead of Ram.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    Better this than the bland blobs that were the 1st generation traverse and current Cruze.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      And the current Equinox Malibu Trax and Spark and the cartoon caricatures that are the Camaro, Corvette, and Blazer.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        But a Peterbilt 579 is even more distinctive. And I mention that because there’s probably as much cross-shopping between this new HD Silverado and a Peterbilt 579 as there is between the Silverado HD and a Chevy Trax.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “That deserves some kudos”

    No it doesn’t, their styling has sucked for a decade.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “That deserves some kudos”

    No it doesn’t, their styling has sucked for a decade.

  • avatar
    RS

    Looks like Chevy got their design inspiration from the Family Truckster in the Chevy Chase Vacation movie.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    The front quarter view is very modern and angular, but head-on its a giant gaping mouth. Not a fan, but I’m sure people will remove that crossbar for a giant opening or it will fall off as many early Equinox seem to have happened. Or paint it black or there will be an aftermarket to make it black.

  • avatar
    TR4

    So how is this different from what Dodge did in 1994? They gambled with a dramatic new grille style and it was a rousing success, with sales more than doubling over the previous year. Time will tell if it works for Chevy or not.

  • avatar

    Is this the return of the Aztec?

    It is hard to predict how the reaction will be. I believe it will either be embraced or completely rejected.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    It’s the worst front-end design to come out of GM since the full-size 1968 Pontiac.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    It gives me flashbacks of the Chrysler M-Body, when Chrysler made a “fancier face” simply by flipping the Dodge Diplomats upside down.

    People have every right and should criticize this, and all of modern car styling. Alot of its just tasteless ego trips by overpaid stylists.

    One of my favorite things about older trucks is that they were just “tool chests”, they didnt have faces or feelings. Im not interested in huge delicate grilles or the ever popular tiny blinker over headlight look everything has now.

  • avatar
    scott25

    I just enjoy how the front end is so polarizing it’s distracting 90% of people from the fact the rest of the truck looks far better than the 1500.

    Really though, how many current GM vehicles are successful designs? I’d say the Bolt, Colorado, Regal, Enclave, Lacrosse, Traverse and Acadia. The Sonic hatch wasn’t bad before its facelift, and the Encore is probably the best looking subcompact CUV (which is barely a compliment). Other than that everything is bland, derivative, cartoonish, or ugly.

  • avatar

    Gack! How are the grills of these Detroit trucks (and Toyotas) not the styling brethren of the 1957-60 tail-finned big cars?

  • avatar
    MeJ

    I have mixed feelings about it.
    From a 3/4 view it looks kind of cool but from directly in front it looks as though it’s ten feet high from hood to bumper.
    I’d have to see one up close and walk around it to decide.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    The new Silverado being incomprehensibly hideous doesn’t make the new Ram good looking. There’s enough room for them to both be overgrown mistakes.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    The Chevy looks like the had the clay model too close to the garage door when it went down and they didn’t have time to fix it. They just pasted stuff back on the flat face wherever they could.

    If it weren’t so flat I don’t think it would look as bad. Then again, I don’t see how it could look worse.

  • avatar
    Splorg McGillicuddy

    I live on the coast and that means I’ll never see one of these Chevys in person and that’s a good thing. This is an abortion of design.

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