Behind the Wheel

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD Review: Midgrade is best for this shockingly competent road tripper

The Chevrolet Silverado HD was redesigned for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

It already proved capable at hauling and towing on long stretches of road up, on, and around Mt. Bachelor in Oregon. That was a confined test, however, designed by Chevy to show off the redesigned Silverado HD's best qualities. When tested, unrestricted, on the rural roads, historic city streets, and highways of the East Coast, the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD proved even more impressive.

The Silverado HD is huge. The 2500 that was delivered sat in the driveway towering over the Explorer parked next to it. The truck looks imposing too, especially with the large grille that faces a hood that is taller than this driver.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD The grille of the Silverado HD is quite large.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Thankfully there are grab handles and side steps to aid in getting in the truck. Without the steps, it's quite the pull-up to get into the 2500. Getting in the bed was also easy thanks to a sidestep and the bumper steps.

The Chevrolet Silverado HD just isn't as nicely appointed as the Ram HD. There's no getting around that. However, in its midgrade trim level, the interior appointment choices of the 2500 make good sense for its price point and likely utilitarian lifestyle.

That doesn't mean that it's not well-appointed. Its surfaces aren't plush like what you'll get in the Ram, but they're pleasant enough to look at and inoffensive to the fingertips.

The truck's seats are comfortable, even for 600 miles at a time, which is about the range of the 2500 when equipped with the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 engine.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD The Silverado HD is surprisingly well-mannered on the highway.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

On the road, the Silverado HD is much more impressive. Despite its enormous size, the truck is easy to keep between the lanes, even without the modern driver assistance technology you'll find on some regular-duty trucks. Driving the model on the highway isn't tiring.

Though it does feel its size when you're behind the wheel, the truck is reasonably nimble and easy to maneuver. That's helpful on small, historic streets of places like Charlottesville, Virginia, where the size of the lanes and availability of parking spaces will make you wish there was a "HD trucks" setting in the navigation system. At around 78 inches tall as delivered, the Silverado HD is too tall to fit in most of the parking garages in historic areas.

That being said, the truck's numerous camera angles and wide mirrors made it easy to back into a spot and parallel park when necessary.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD Mid-grade Silverado HDs, including this LTZ trim model, are the best balance of capability and value.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Silverado HD is tremendously more stable on the road and it soaks up most of the imperfections. It doesn't have nearly the amount of body lean when cornering that the Ram HD does.

The engine is just as competent as the handling. Despite being plenty beefy and brawny for the task at hand, the diesel delivered around 22 mpg in mixed traffic situations, including some stretches pushing the upper limits of allowable speed on the highway and idling in traffic several times in bottlenecks. That number makes the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 about 50 percent more fuel efficient than the 2020 Toyota Tundra in similar driving situations.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD The interior of the Silverado isn't as nice as the Ram HD, but it's good enough.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Silverado HD LTZ came with standard with an 8-inch infotainment system. It worked as advertised with the latest operating system running in the background, which isn't too much of a departure from the previous one resulting in a very shallow learning curve.

The Silverado 2500 made a lasting impression during a week of road tripping. Its comfortable seats and fuel efficiency were the biggest surprises and the only true disappointment was that its height made it incompatible with parking garages.

With the capability and appointments considered, its $70,000 sticker price seemed appropriate.

Chevy may not have hit it out of the park with the Silverado HD redesign, but they hit a solid double that keeps them in the game.

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is an off-road ready family hauler.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Pathfinder is the company's three-row crossover, sitting below the Armada and above the Rogue in the company's lineup. It's a rival to the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot. Check out the Nissan's most compelling features by scrolling down.

Every Pathfinder comes loaded with safety technology.

The Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of safety and driver assist technology comes standard on the Rogue. It includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, land departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking.

Additionally, the company's Intelligent Driver Alertness and Rear Door Alert technologies are standard.

ProPilot Assist takes the wheel.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan's ProPilot Assist technology doesn't allow for hands-free driving and it's not self-driving, but it does fuse together many functionalities that make daily drive functions easier, especially when your children are doing their best to distract you.

ProPILOT Assist combines steering assist and Intelligent Cruise Control to help control acceleration. It can be used in heavy traffic and on open highways.

For 2021, ProPilot Assist has been enhanced. It has next-generation radar and camera technology that is designed to allow for smoother braking, better steering assist, and improved detection performance when vehicles cut into the lane.

There's a removable second-row center console.

Between the second-row captain's chairs in the seven-passenger Pathfinder, there's a thin center console (enough storage space for two cupholders and some small items) that is removable without using any tools. Removing this console allows for easier access in/out of the third-row for small children and adults. With the console in place, the seats can still be tipped and moved forward for quick ingress/egress to/from the third row.

The second row is spacious.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Sitting in the second-row captain's chairs is very much like sitting in those that you'd find in a full-size SUV. Adults will find that hip-room is plenty big enough while children will relish the opportunity to feel like they're being treated to upscale accommodations.

Three people fit across the back seat.

Second-row captain's chairs are being offered for the first time on Pathfinder with this new model. Nissan has added rear seating flexibility with the ability to fit three across the back seat. While three adults are a tight fit in the third row, children, tweens, and some teens that don't have long legs won't likely have a problem with it.

Pathfinder's drive modes are designed to inspire confidence.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan has made the Rogue available with all-wheel drive. Those models also get five drive modes: Off-road, Snow, Standard, Eco, and Sport. The modes are engaged using the drive-mode selector mounted on the center console. The all-wheel drive system uses new technology that is designed to respond quicker when slippage is detected.

It has a 6,000-pound towing capability.

Nissan boasts that the 2022 Pathfinder has best-in-lass available 6,000-pound maximum towing capacity. That's enough to allow boats, ATVs, camp tents, or trailers to be connected out back. Trailer Sway Control is standard on the Pathfinder and allows for more towing confidence, especially when winds pick up.

Moving the second-row seat is as easy as the push of one button.

Nissan has equipped the second-row bench seat in the Pathfinder with EZ-Flex one-touch mechanics. It takes just one press of a button to activate fold and slide functionalities for the second-row seats. The button can be reached from both the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle for ease.

The cargo area is plenty spacious.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America


Behind the SUV's third-row seats Pathfinder can fit a 120-quart cooler or four golf bags - all with the third row full of occupants. The interior can also accommodate 4x8-foot plywood sheets.

The ride is sublimely quiet.

Nissan has equipped the Pathfinder with acoustic laminated front glass, thicker second-row glass, increased door and floor isolation, and a 60-percent increase in engine noise absorption materials. The result is a vehicle that provides a quieter ride, meaning less likelihood parents will have to should to be heard by third-row passengers.

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The Kia Sorento Hybrid offers a lot to like for families looking to save on fuel.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The redesigned Kia Sorento looks good. Kia has given the three-row SUV new life, not as a substitute for the Telluride SUV but instead as its own crossover, with plenty of differences to give them their own identity.

The 2021 Sorento comes in two variants, the Sorento and Sorento Hybrid. Each is offered in its own set of trim levels. The Sorento base model is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine that delivers 191 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. Higher grades get a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is rated at 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque.

Sorento Hybrid comes in two trim leaves, S and EX. Both are powered by the company's turbocharged 1.6-liter hybrid powertrain that offers up 177 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The SUV prioritizes fuel efficiency over performance, an important distinction that sets the Sorento Hybrid apart from other hybrid variants, including the Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid that delivers an energetic boost to the RAV4 lineup.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid The Sorento Hybrid is the type of vehicle that can get you to a trailhead, but isn't built to go beyond that.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The power output is fine if you plan on sticking to in-town driving and aren't looking to load up the Sorento Hybrid for a long road trip. In the default Eco drive mode, the car responds to the throttle the most comfortably. Under traditional and harder acceleration, the Sorento Hyrbid's powertrain is noisy and ill-mannered. It's almost like the SUV is telling you, "I'm built for efficiency, not speed". Message received.

Kia's done a good job making the Sorento agile and it drives nicely and makes for a pleasant daily runaround. Unlike what Toyota has done with the Highlander, all-wheel drive is not available on the Sorento Hybrid.

The 2021 Sorento Hybrid comes standard as a six-seater with captain's chairs in the second row. The seats, leatherette in the upmarket trim level, are comfortable enough. There's a decent amount of cargo space with the third row erect or stowed.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid The cabin of the Sorento Hybrid is plush enough for its price point.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The well-thought out cabin design delvers exactly what customers need and in the EX trim level, the car's appointments are near-premium. The SUV has the usual list of standard and available features, but nothing is too fancy: Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice recognition, satellite radio, push button start, keyless entry, a rearview camera, wireless smartphone charger. Nothing looks, feels, or operates like it's cutting edge, but it doesn't have to - this isn't a luxury vehicle.

There is one very nice design touch in the cabin. On either side of the infotainment touch screen are vents that service the front row of the auto. Their output is divided into two each with the bottom vent able to serve the midsection of front passengers' bodies while the upper part goes higher. More automakers should design vents this way.

The Hybrid EX model that was delivered for testing had its lane keeping and centering system not as honed in on lane lines as is optimal, which resulted in crossing over the lines without any alert going off or corrective action being taken by the vehicle's computer.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid Cargo space is always tight in three-row SUVs, but Kia has given the Sorento a good balance between cargo space and third-row legroom.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid starts at $33,590. That's a thousand-and-a-half over the starting price of the Telluride and $4,000 more than the traditional 2021 Sorento.

There are currently only two other three-row hybrid SUVs on the market, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the Ford Expedition Hybrid. The three models and their varied price tags and third-row layouts service very different customers but they generally all get lumped together. The Sorento Hybrid is, by far, the lowest priced model of the three, and it feels like it when you're inside. There's nothing wrong with that. Dodge sold a lot of Journeys despite the fact that it wasn't the best or most expensive SUV out there.

Think of the Kia Sorento Hybrid as the Dodge Journey of three-row hybrid crossovers and you won't be disappointed.

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