8.0

Safety, value and features

Things we like

  • Loveable petrol 6.2-litre V8
  • Incredible overall versatility
  • Massive towing ability

Not so much

  • Feels like it should cost $75K
  • Ride quality over corrugations
  • Impractically large for city use

Most people will purchase the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ to tow horse floats the size of train carriages but you could make the case for buying it even if you’ve got nothing to haul at all.

That’s almost entirely down to the beguiling 6.2-litre atmo V8 under the bonnet, inserted to provide that unrivalled 4.5-tonne braked towing capacity courtesy of 313kW and 624Nm of twist. But it’s also one that – provided aforementioned equestrian train carriage is not on the hitch – makes this Yankee Doodle pick-up Australia’s quickest ‘dual-cab ute’.

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In our own drag strip testing we’ve recorded the Silverado 1500 LTZ snarling from 0-100km/h in a respectable (for a 2540kg behemoth) 6.4 seconds, on to a 0-400m time of 14.5 seconds. To 100km/h from rest, this American brute is a staggering 4.1 seconds quicker than Ford’s supposedly performance-focused Ranger Raptor (which we’ve recorded at a very lazy 10.54sec).

The Ranger Raptor and every other dual-cab ute in Australia are lucky the Silverado didn’t cop even more power again as part of a 2021 model year update now available in Australia.

Chevrolet has taken very much an ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach to its Silverado refresh as it holds off the bulk of changes – and a high-tech total interior overhaul – for the 2022 model.

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In the United States, the 2021 model year changes centre mostly around other Silverado variants, meaning the 1500 LTZ we get in Australia gets newly wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a new rearward distance alert in the blind spot camera view when changing lanes with a trailer.

There are other very minor changes to the camera views – newly overlaid reversing lines, for example – and a new trailer Jack-Knife Alert but that’s about it.

In Australia the LTZ continues to sit atop a two-tier model range with the LT Trail Boss kicking off at $106,990 before on-road costs. A new Silverado 2500 HD is imminent, packing a 6.6-litre turbo-diesel V8 with as much torque as 1234Nm for those who’ve always dreamed of owning a tugboat on wheels. It will cost a slightly eye-watering $144,990 excluding on-road costs.

The LTZ Premium we’re testing today remains $114,990 + ORC, which is very expensive by Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux standards, but buys you what would be a very highly optioned Silverado in the States.

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Nestled within the high, slab-shaped front end is that aforementioned 6.2-litre L87 V8 from the beloved LS family of engines that powered hot Holden Commodores for a generation. While it continues to spurn dual cams for pushrods, GM says it doesn’t need them and has instead equipped direct injection and cylinder deactivation, in a somewhat quaint attempt to improve economy and reduce emissions.

The big bore, naturally aspirated V8 sends its old-school grunt through a 10-speed torque converter automatic and a two-speed transfer case providing high and low all-wheel drive; and high rear-wheel drive. Left in its default automatic drivetrain mode the Silverado is effectively rear-drive, bringing in the front axle as traction requires.

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Australian Silverado LTZs get the off-road Z71 pack that’s optional in the States, which bolts on trick Rancho dampers, that transfer case, a heavy-duty locking rear diff, underbody bash plating, off-road tyres and Hill Descent Control.

Packed to the gills, Aussie-delivered 1500 LTZs also get 20-inch wheels, an electric tailgate and a spray-on bed liner. Hard and soft tonneau covers are offered as options to cover a generous-sized tray with 12 standard tie-down points and a 760kg maximum payload.

To 100km/h from rest, this American brute is a staggering 4.1 seconds quicker than Ford’s supposedly performance-focused Ranger Raptor.

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Inside, the smorgasbord of standard equipment continues. There’s leather-appointed, heated and cooled, 10-way power-adjustable front seats; heated steering wheel; sunroof; head-up display; seven-speaker Bose audio; adaptive cruise; low-speed Autonomous Emergency Braking; trailer brake controller; video rear vision mirror and a lot more.

A panoply of parking cameras are a game-changer once you’ve clambered aboard the towering Silverado. We counted seven cameras offering no fewer than 15 different views including a trick, birds-eye 360-degree perspective, but also forward and rear views for parking. There’s kerb cam for front and rear wheels on both sides, a camera offering a top-down view of the tow ball (perfect for solo trailer hitching) and a tray camera. There are additional provisions for trailer cameras if you have those installed, too.

Without these cameras, the Silverado would be a very different beast to own and drive given – and it’s a bit of a broken-record theme with this vehicle – it’s so large. Approximately 60mm taller and 35mm wider than a dual-cab Ford Ranger Raptor, it’s the length that makes all the difference, at roughly half-a-metre longer in wheelbase and length.

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In the inner city – or, to be fair, any Australian supermarket car park – the Silverado is almost impractically proportioned, feeling as wide as a three-seat sofa and always asking you to consider its length in some way. The front of it hangs out of a standard Australian car park space by a humorous distance. Fortunately, those excellent parking cameras and surprising manoeuvrability make the Silverado much easier than you’d expect – almost fun – to park.

Across the Pacific, this is just how they scale their dual-cabs but the roads, car parks and gas stations must all be another dimension larger than little old Australia. Fortunately, on country roads – where you can stretch the big Chevy’s legs – size concerns fade as you discover what is a comfortable long-distance cruiser.

Towing notwithstanding, this is where the Silverado excels, offering all the effortlessness you could ask for, beginning with American-sized seats that flatter the average-sized Australian into thinking maybe they didn’t put on as much COVID lockdown paunch as they first feared.

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Ride comfort, general refinement and road noise are also good, although it’s possible to find yourself on a classically poor stretch of Australian country road that manages to upset the Silverado’s suspension in just the right way, making it annoyingly busy over bumps. This could possibly be countered with a bit of weight in the tray or, to be fair, a caravan the size of a small apartment.

While it’s tempting to pre-judge the Silverado as just a simple-minded contraption for towing, on its own it makes you feel like the king of the road with its sheer Hilux-emasculating dimensions and, again, that very likeable V8.

So likeable is that L87 engine, the Silverado would appeal a whole lot less with anything else. Plant your foot and the LTZ momentarily forgets its size as the V8 bellows a polite but crisp and perfectly audible induction note – we almost forgot what a good induction note sounded like. And you’ll absolutely be Googling aftermarket Silverado exhausts.

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The V8 and the 10-speed auto are well-matched, delivering beautifully smooth everyday operation, the auto also offering pleasingly well-spaced ratios that more than a bit account for that energetic acceleration.

Approach a corner and decently direct steering, strong brakes and sorted suspension encourage you to get stuck in. The excellent V8 feels straight out of a sports car; the Silverado almost thinks it’s a Maloo. However, while it’s pretty good up to about six or seven tenths, ultimately it starts wilting dynamically if you push any harder.

A ladder chassis, live rear axle, leaf springs and near four-metre wheelbase can only do so much. But it certainly handles better than it needs to, and a lot of that has to do with its relatively light 2540kg weight. It’s also quite fun on dirt in rear-drive mode, although the ESC can only be turned off at speeds up to 60km/h.

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Of course, the big Silverado is not without its flaws, the biggest of which has to do with the interior ambience for the $115K price. While Walkinshaw has done a faultless job of converting the Silverado to right-hand drive here in Australia – it might even be better built the second time around – the interior feels like that of a $75K car itself based on a $30K car. To use a Commodore analogy, a Calais is itself a tarted-up Evoke. The Silverado is like a Calais that costs $115K.

Anyone coming from your standard fare dual-cab ute will likely be very happy with the Silverado’s interior but if you own anything with a German badge on the front of it – and at $115K for the Chevy, you very well might – you’ll find the Silverado’s interior at best ‘nice enough’ and at worst, averagely built and cheaply appointed.

At $115K you’ll find the Silverado’s interior at best ‘nice enough’ and at worst, averagely built and cheaply appointed.

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While the engineering talent feels to run deep in the Silverado, surface-level refinement – again for the price – is merely satisfactory. Call us nitpickers but the air-conditioning compressor could be heard whirring away at lower speeds like a bearing was going.

Carry a bit of speed into a corner with some mid-bend corrugations and you might encounter some nasty steering rack rattle. In the rain, water can be heard washing inside the front wheel arches with crass loudness.

To be fair to the Silverado, you don’t really buy this vehicle for the finest in luxury motoring and for what it does offer, $115K could be seen as a bit of a bargain. Especially considering in the USA, the exactly-specified Silverado would cost about A$82K. To have it shipped to Australia and converted to right-hand drive to a high standard for just $35K extra isn’t terrible. GMSV could almost have charged more.

It’s also – and perhaps this is beyond obvious – very thirsty. We measured 14.7L/100km in mixed, slightly enthusiastic driving. You’re looking at more than $150 at current petrol prices to fill its 91-litre fuel tank, although it is a nice feeling seeing 950km of available range. Obviously, this all changes again the second you use it for towing.

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One thing the Silverado also deserves credit for is offering another level of versatility again above the standard-fare Australian dual-cab ute. It’s just another scale bigger. The tray is almost large enough for a double mattress (if you squished it in there a bit). The back seat, meanwhile, is as if made for NBA players with an almost unnecessary quantity of leg and knee room. Four 180cm-plus adults would fit comfortably.

The Silverado is offered with a three-year, 100,000km warranty which includes complimentary roadside assistance. Service intervals are 12 months or 12,000km, whichever comes first. In Australia it doesn’t really have any direct competitors beside the RAM 1500.

Both come with huge V8s, are about as quick each other, the same size and offer the same 4.5-tonne braked towing ability. The Silverado is pricier but the newer generation vehicle and nicer to drive. In America the ‘big three’ pick-ups are the Silverado, RAM and Ford F-Series but the Blue Oval doesn’t offer its F150 in Australia (somewhat inexplicably, as it would surely be popular).

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In the final reckoning, the Silverado will be bought mostly by those who need to tow, and while this is not a towing test by any measure, they’ll find probably the best vehicle in Australia for such a task.

But those with a bit of cash to burn who’ve been waiting for a V8-powered Ranger Raptor, could find the big Chevy ute tiding them over – especially if they’re not averse to some aftermarket accoutrements.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ size comparison

Length Width Height Wheelbase Weight
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ 5931mm 2063mm 1933mm 3750mm 2540kg
Toyota LandCruiser 300 Sahara ZX 5015mm 1980mm 1950mm 2850mm 2610kg
Ford Ranger Raptor 5398mm 2028mm 1873mm 3220mm 2376kg
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 5591mm 1894mm 1909mm 3488mm 2242kg
RAM 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 5833mm 2080mm 1917mm 3569mm 2650kg
Mercedes-Benz G400d 4669mm 1931mm 1969mm 2890mm 2489kg
Toyota HiLux SR5 5325mm 1855mm 1815mm 3085mm 2055kg

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ specifications

Body 4-door, 5-seat utility
Drive all-wheel (AWD High, AWD Low, RWD High)
Engine 6162cc V8, OHV, 16v
Gearbox 10-speed automatic
Power 313kW at 5600rpm
Torque 623Nm at 4100rpm
0-100km/h 6.4sec (tested)
0-400m 14.5sec @ 158km/h (tested)
Fuel consumption 14.7L/100km (tested)
Top speed 183km/h (estimated)
Weight 2540kg
Power/weight 123kW/tonne
Front suspension struts, coil springs
Rear suspension solid axle, leaf springs
L/W/h 5931/2063/1933mm
Wheelbase 3750mm
Tracks 1743/1728mm
Tray length 1776mm
Tray width (arch-to-arch) 1286mm
Maximum payload 760kg
Maximum braked towing capacity 4500kg
Steering Electrically assisted rack-and-pinion
Front brakes 345mm ventilated discs
Rear brakes 360mm ventilated discs
Tyres 275/60 R20 (f/r)
Wheels 20 x 9.0-inch (f/r)
Price $114,990 + ORC

8.0

Safety, value and features

Things we like

  • Loveable petrol 6.2-litre V8
  • Incredible overall versatility
  • Massive towing ability

Not so much

  • Feels like it should cost $75K
  • Ride quality over corrugations
  • Impractically large for city use