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Chevrolet Silverado 2011 Review

Towing and carrying is the Silverado's forte.

Faith based on fear is never complete faith.

So fear not this Chevrolet beast. Have faith that it will go, turn and stop with all the balance and road etiquette needed for a six-metre long, two-metre wide, five-seater ute with huge tub out back.

TECHNOLOGY

A 6.6 litre, turbocharged V8 diesel — with better than 1000Nm of torque plus 296kW of power — is a good start for the 2011 Silverado. A six-speed Allison transmission to help deliver all this is just right. And, once sitting high at the wheel and on down the road a bit, the steering feels right. Initially it seems a touch light at the straight ahead but it's understood this 2.6 tonne ute — what we'd call a full-size, big-boned pick-up — will not be thrown around quite like a Holden Colorado.

There's four-wheel disc brakes with ABS (plus exhaust brake), stability control and switchable four-wheel drive to keep the Silverado safe and sure.

PRICE AND FIT-OUT

It needs to be big and tough for this is a $115,000, four-wheel drive, dual cab machine able to carry three tonne and tow close on ten tonne.

It is an American utility vehicle, converted to right-hand drive by Queensland-based Performax International; a long-established crowd adept at swapping steering wheels on Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, Chev and GMC trucks — with others soon on the menu. Customers for big utes range from intrepid travellers to mining executives to equine lovers.

The Silverado here was the 2500HD in LTZ trim, leather and lashings of wood grain panelling, dual control air conditioning, trip computer plus big stereo, Blue Tooth and USB plugs. Of pluses in this huge cabin is the excellent fit and finish of the Queensland-made, right-hand drive dashboard which, of course, retains driver and passenger airbags. On the downside, the dial for the lights could be confused with the nearby dial for four-wheel drive high and low.

DRIVING

The Duramax diesel V8 fires with a low growl. (It can be started with the key fob from up to 50 metres, allowing the engine to warm up and air conditioning to kick in.) Snick the steering column-mounted gear shift into D and move off in a gentle, don't-argue manner.

Down the highway there is faith in this big Chev to sit sweet and secure on its optional 20-inch wheels. It has the ride comfort and power (unladen here) to more than match it with highway traffic, has the bulk to see further on up the road and the road manners, plus ever-smooth transmission, to slot into traffic gaps (often helped here by others allowing respectable amounts of space).

There's a 135 litre fuel tank which would get a bloke a fair way when consumption is running around a claimed 12 litres per 100km mark for light use; that runs up to early 20s when towing. Some dramas arrive when trying to find a park in the local shopping centre; the cabin may fit but then there's that 1.9m x 1.5m tray to accommodate; rear parking sensors are a boon.

Yet for the most part this is an easy, comfortable machine to drive. Off the bitumen some of that ride comfort may disappear. It is fine on a good dirt or gravel road but the suspension becomes a bit lumpy and jumpy when the track deteriorates.

Best here to slow the show down and, in some cases, engage four-wheel drive high for a little less skittishness. (There is an optional off-road kit though here the Chev's bulk could become an issue, driver and truck will prefer the wide open spaces.) And really it's the towing and the carrying that is the Silverado's forte; the extra differential is a handy piece of kit for muddy paddocks, sandy tracts and the like. The Chevrolet Silverado is a high, wide and handsome piece of kit best approached as a big tough workhorse, an American light truck with a tidy conversion to right-hand drive.

CHEVROLET SILVERADO 2500HD

Price: $115,000
Engine: turbocharged 6.6 litre V8 diesel
Power/torque: 296kW/1037Nm
Transmission: Six-speed auto + four-wheel drive
Body: Four-door ute
Dimensions: 6090mm (l) 2032mm (w)1905mm (h)
Payload: 3010kg
Towing: 9843kg
Warranty: 4 year/120,000km, 4 year roadside assist

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