What’s it like living with the biggest, most advanced, most powerful and most expensive ute on sale in Australia?
- Loads of luxury and space inside
- Can tow up to 4500kg
- Easy to drive for its size
- Size can be a drawback on Aussie roads
- It’s thirsty work moving a truck this big
- No integrated sat-nav
You’re familiar with the term ‘earworm’, right? Whenever I hear the name Silverado, I immediately think of the Canyonero advertising jingle from the The Simpsons.
Can you name the truck with four-wheel drive, smells like a steak and seats thirty-five.
Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down, It’s the country-fried truck endorsed by a clown!
12 yards long, 2 lanes wide, 65 tons of American Pride!
She blinds everybody with her super high beams, she’s a squirrel crushing, deer smacking, driving machine!
Thank me later. For now, let me assure you that while the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Premium I’m testing here is bigger than our typical dual-cab fare from Ford, Toyota, Isuzu, Mitsubishi and others, it’s not as big as the fictional Canyonero – nor as infamously anti-establishment.
The Chevrolet Silverado is what Americans call a ‘full-size’ pick-up truck. For reference, pick-ups popular with Australians like the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max are considered mid-size pick-ups. Also, we call them utilities or utes, not pick-ups, although Chevrolet has been building trayback utility vehicles since the 1920s, so we probably should have followed its naming convention.
In America, there are at least 10 Silverado and Silverado Heavy Duty variants with half a dozen engine options and three different transmissions. That level of variety is justified because the Silverado was the third-best-selling new vehicle in the USA in 2021 – the best if you include sales of its GMC Sierra mechanical twin.
In Australia, two Silverado variants are imported by General Motors Special Vehicles, the spiritual successor to Holden Special Vehicles: the LT Trail Boss ($106,990) and the LTZ Premium ($114,990). Both prices are before on-road costs. They also don’t include $1250 for paint if you choose any colour but Summit White.
Both variants are based on the Silverado crew cab, which means they have four doors and seats for five inside. The LT and LTZ are 5931mm long and 2063mm wide – 606mm longer and 208mm wider than the Toyota HiLux SR5 dual-cab 4×4. (All figures in brackets below are compared to the HiLux.)
The LTZ Premium we’re testing is 1930mm tall at the roof line (+65mm) and rides on a 3750mm wheelbase (+665mm). It weighs 2540kg (+485kg), is rated to carry up to 760kg in the tray and cabin (-235kg), and can tow 4500kg (+1000kg) when fitted with a 70mm tow ball.
So, in short, the Silverado is for people who want a big ute/pick-up that can tow a lot. If you plan on towing something close to the Silverado’s 4500kg limit, make sure you don’t have any passengers. The Silverado’s gross combined mass rating is 7160kg, which after the 2540kg car itself leaves just 120kg for occupants and luggage.
This 4500kg towing capacity is the Silverado’s main selling proposition, outstripping most of our mid-size pick-ups’ maximums of 3500kg by a full tonne. That is also why it needs a strong 6.2-litre Ecotech V8 with outputs of 313kW and 624Nm resting behind its chrome-covered snout, and mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with a low-range transfer case.
The LTZ Premium is the more premium of the two Australian-spec Silverado variants, as the name and price suggest. Major differences include uprated shock absorbers, cargo bed camera, and a tailgate that both opens and closes at the touch of a button (the LT’s only opens electrically).
The LTZ is differentiated at the front by bright chrome crossbars (the LT’s are black). It also has chrome mirror surrounds, chrome door handles, chrome badging and brightly polished alloy wheels.
On the side, the LTZ has wheel-to-wheel side steps that make getting up into the cabin much easier, and 20-inch Bridgestone Dueler All-Terrain tyres (the LT wears 18-inch mud-terrain tyres). The Silverado LTZ comes with a tyre pressure monitoring system and 17-inch full-size spare wheel and tyre.
Australian Silverados come in Z71 spec, which includes the low-range transfer case as well as a locking rear diff, underbody protection and passive twin-tube shock absorbers. It also gives you hill descent control.
For those who tow, both variants come standard with a tow bar and electric trailer brake controller, plus a rear-view camera with hitch guidance. But only the LTZ gets a trailering app integrated into the entertainment system and trailer theft alert.
Inside, the LTZ gets wireless smartphone integration, a larger 8.0-inch instrument cluster display, 360-degree HD camera with 13 camera views, a rear-view camera mirror that sees beyond cargo in the tray, head-up display, Bose sound system, wireless phone charging, a power rear window and sunroof.
The LTZ also gets leather seats, driver seat memory function and heated rear seats to match the toasty fronts.
That’s a lot of useful extras for an $8000 price difference, which more than justifies the step up over the LT Trail Boss.
|Key details||2021 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Premium|
|Price (MSRP)||$114,990 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Mosaic Black Metallic|
|Options||Metallic paint – $1250|
|Price as tested||$116,240|
First impression is that the Silverado LTZ’s cabin delivers on the $100K-plus price tag. This is a luxurious and spacious workspace that will make sure every drive – even long-distance trips – are accomplished comfortably.
Leather covers the seats, the doors, the dash, the steering wheel and pretty much everywhere else that isn’t woodgrain on burnished chrome. The front seats adjust electrically and are heated and cooled. All windows, including the sunroof and the one between the back seat and tray, open and close electrically.
There are two cupholders in every door plus more in the centre armrest (front and rear). The front armrest hides a cavernous storage bin, plus there are two gloveboxes and plenty of other places to stash life’s trinkets. There are even storage compartments accessed through the base of the two outer back seats, presumably to keep valuables or hi-vis vests out of sight.
The hardest thing to live with about the cabin is getting in because it is a big step up. In the LTZ’s case, side steps and hand-grabs make it easier. If you’re like me and you have baby seats, be prepared to lift Junior high to get him in there – maybe not as high as Rafiki lifts Simba in The Lion King, but close…
Once inside, though, there’s room for all. The Silverado’s cabin helps you understand what Americans mean by full-size truck. It doesn’t matter where you sit or what basketball team you play for, you will have enough legroom and headroom to be comfortable. And yes, you can fit three adult men across the back seat.
The Silverado LTZ’s maximum payload is 760kg, which must account for everything in the tray and everyone in the cabin. The tray is 1776mm long internally and 1286mm between the wheel arches. It comes with a durable plastic liner that makes it easier to slide loads in and out, just be careful sliding things out of reach. There are 12 tie-down points and LED bed lighting to illuminate the area in the dark.
|2021 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Premium|
Infotainment and Connectivity
Chevrolet’s infotainment system offers access to audio and climate functions, phone integration, user customisation and trailer towing enhancements. There are seven trailer profiles readily available depending on whether you’re dragging a horse, boat, cows, caravan, car or cargo. It’s also ready to handle conventional tow bars, goosenecks and fifth wheels – and if you have to ask, then this isn’t the vehicle for you.
The infotainment system is easy to use, well laid out and responsive, although the graphics are falling behind the times. There’s also no satellite navigation, which is a strange exclusion from a six-figure vehicle.
There are USB-A and USB-C ports in both rows.
Connecting smartphones by wire or wirelessly is straightforward. We didn’t encounter any problems using wires, but we did have a couple of Android Auto dropouts when connected wirelessly. We’ve experienced this with cars for a handful of brands, so suspect this is an Android issue, not a Chevrolet issue.
Safety and Technology
General Motors Specialty Vehicles is importing the Silverado in relatively low volumes, so it’s unlikely to get crash-tested by ANCAP. America’s test body, the NHTSA, awarded a left-hand-drive version of the 2021 Silverado 1500 a four-star rating overall – five stars for side impact and driver protection, and four stars for front passenger protection and rollover resistance.
Both the LT and LTZ come with six airbags, blind-spot warning, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a reversing camera, and both front and rear parking sensors. The LTZ adds forward collision alert and low-speed (8–80km/h) AEB that can also sense pedestrians. It also has high-beam assist and adaptive cruise control.
The LTZ has cameras all over its body providing all-round vision to make driving, parking, towing and off-roading less stressful. It also has a camera display built into the rear-view mirror so you can see behind you when there’s a tall load in the tray.
In addition to the 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, the Silverado LTZ has another 8.0-inch display in the driver’s instrument cluster, plus a 15-inch head-up display in the windscreen. Like all head-up displays, it is hard to see if you wear polarised sunglasses.
|2021 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Premium|
|ANCAP rating||Not tested|
|Safety report||Link to US NHTSA report|
Value for Money
All General Motors Specialty Vehicles come with a three-year, 100,000km warranty that includes three years’ roadside assist. This warranty does not cover the bedliner, however.
Owners will need to get their Silverado serviced every 12 months or 12,000km, whichever comes first. Chevrolet does not offer capped price servicing, nor do they have a pricing schedule, so we are unable to give you any indication of servicing costs. We highly recommend asking your dealer before you buy so you avoid any shocks later on.
|At a glance||2021 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Premium|
|Warranty||Three years / 100,000km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 12,000km|
Chevrolet claims a fuel economy rating of 12.3L/100km for the Silverado. We averaged 16.4L/100km during test, and that did not include any load carrying or towing. Luckily the Silverado has a 91L fuel tank and only requires 91-octane regular unleaded.
Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||12.3L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||16.4L/100km|
|Fuel type||91-octane regular unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||91L|
We know the Silverado can tow, so I didn’t bother testing that this time. Instead, I wanted to see how this big vehicle slotted into a more mundane lifestyle that is more representative of everyday use.
Let’s cut to the chase: I love it.
The Silverado may be ubiquitous in North America, but in Australia it is such a unique vehicle that every drive feels special, and feels like an occasion. It’s big and brash and requires a bit more care piloting on our narrower roads, but it travels those roads with a regal disdain that’s empowering and addictive.
Yes, driving a vehicle of this size does give your ego a boost – how can it not! You sit above everything short of a prime mover (you even see eye to eye with bus drivers) and can see forever down the road. Potholes hardly ruffle its demeanour, and hills are insignificant as the 313kW V8 propels the mighty truck inexorably to the peak.
The engine delivers plenty of grunt to get things moving and has some finesse to the throttle, which is important when towing and off-roading. It pairs well with the Ford-GM co-developed 10-speed auto that changes gears smoothly and doesn’t get flustered shuffling quickly on kickdown.
Yes, the Silverado is big. We all know that, and I’ll leave it to you whether you care. But that size does come with some downsides, especially when driving in a city like Melbourne. For starters, forget about those parking spots in the middle of some of Melbourne CBD’s streets. The Silverado’s 5.93m length (plus tow bar) means it hangs out at the front and the back, and that towbar is likely to be hit by less observant passing traffic.
As for Melbourne’s famous laneways… You can drive down them, sure, just don’t expect to open your door.
Then there are the ubiquitous speed humps that plague Australian roads. There’s something about the standard width of a speed hump and the Silverado’s long wheelbase that makes this a particularly reactive and uncomfortable combination. The Silverado’s soft and floaty suspension tune means it doesn’t dampen oscillations as quickly as most mid-size utes do.
About the only other thing the Silverado fears are small car parks. A long body and long wheelbase mean a wide 14.1m turning circle, so plan your parking well in advance and get swinging on that tiller. Luckily the steering is light enough to make light work of tight turns.
|Key details||2021 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Premium|
|Engine||6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 petrol|
|Power||313kW @ 5600rpm|
|Torque||624Nm @ 4100rpm|
|Drive type||Part-time four-wheel drive, with low-range transfer case|
|Transmission||10-speed torque convertor automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||123.2kW/t|
|Tow rating||4500kg braked, 750kg unbraked|
About the only aspect of this vehicle we haven’t addressed is the right-hand-drive conversion that’s carried out in Melbourne by General Motors Specialty Vehicles. We’ve seen some quick and dirty conversions in our time, but this isn’t one of them. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Silverado LTZ came from the North American factory in right-hand drive, if it weren’t for a couple of small telltales like the missing 110V socket in the cabin (but the switch is still there).
If you need a ute that’s bigger, more powerful and able to tow more than the ones from Toyota, Ford, Nissan and others that Australians are buying in their thousands, and you’ve got $120K to spend, then your choices are limited in Australia. Sometimes, a lack of choice and a lack of competition can lead to substandard products. Not here. The Chevrolet Silverado LTZ is as impressive as it is big.
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