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Chevrolet Silverado 2020 review: 1500 GVM test

This is the most compact variant of the Silverado line-up, but mighty large alongside traditional dual-cab utes.

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Encouraged by booming local sales of the RAM 1500 through Ateco Automotive/American Special Vehicles, the Walkinshaw Automotive Group (WAG) has expanded its local RHD re-manufacturing capacity to include the similar-sized Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Unlike the RAM, the Silverado is sold exclusively through WAG's HSV dealerships, but offers the same prized 4.5 tonne towing capacity and lots more.

We recently spent a week in North America’s latest addition to HSV showrooms to see if it has what it takes to steal some market share from its RAM 1500 rival (which ironically Walkinshaw also swaps to RHD) in a burgeoning Australian battleground for US pick-ups that it’s also been pivotal in creating.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our test vehicle is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium Edition, which with 6.2 litre petrol V8 engine and 10-speed torque converter automatic transmission has a list price of $113,990. Any colour other than Summit White (like our Black example) adds another $1250.  

Unlike the RAM 1500, which is offered in both entry-level and top-shelf trims, HSV has chosen the richly-equipped Premium Edition as the Silverado 1500’s primary launch variant. It includes the Z71 off-road suspension package with Rancho shocks, under-body skid plates and unique badging.

This luxurious leviathan glitters on big 20-inch polished alloy wheels with 275/60R 20SL all-terrain tyres with a full-size spare. There’s also ample chrome on the grille, side-steps, front and rear bumpers, door handles and heated door mirrors. The dual-outlet exhaust system also has polished outlets.

The 1500 LTZ Premium Edition features 20-inch alloy wheels. The 1500 LTZ Premium Edition features 20-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, there’s heaps of high-end features you’d find in prestige cars, starting with the leather-appointed seats. The fronts feature 10-way power adjustment including lumbar support, heating and cooling, while the rear outer seating positions are also heated.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel is also heated plus there’s lavish instrumentation including a six-gauge instrument cluster, multi-page driver info display and premium infotainment system, with Bose seven-speaker sound and multiple connectivity including four USB ports, wireless phone charging and 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with Apple Car Play/Android Auto.

Inside, there’s heaps of high-end features you’d find in prestige cars,. Inside, there’s heaps of high-end features you’d find in prestige cars,.

There’s also keyless entry/remote start, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate, power sunroof, power sliding rear window with defogger, adaptive cruise control and an advanced towing package with integrated trailer brake controller, reversing camera with hitch guidance and more. Heck, you can even lower and raise the power tailgate from the driver’s seat! HSV also offers performance upgrades and OEM accessories.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

Although this is the most compact variant of the Silverado line-up, it’s still mighty large alongside Australia’s more mainstream dual-cab ute offerings. For example, compared to a 4x4 Ford Ranger dual-cab ute, the Silverado is 496mm longer, 213mm wider, 67mm taller and 524mm longer in wheelbase.

Even so, it can still comfortably clear the low ceiling heights found in underground and shopping centre carparks and, given its near 6.0-metre length, has a reasonable 14.1-metre turning circle. Off-road credentials include 235mm of ground clearance plus 20 degrees approach/break-over angles and 23 degrees departure angle. Even so, Cape York might be a stretch.

It has a longer wheelbase and more cargo volume than the previous generation yet is up to 205kg lighter by use of aluminium in the doors, bonnet and tailgate. The fully-boxed ladder-frame chassis is also lighter than its predecessor’s yet has 10 per cent greater torsional rigidity. Suspension is independent/coil-spring at the front with a leaf-spring live rear axle, plus there's four-wheel disc brakes and electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering.

The Silverado is 496mm longer, 213mm wider, 67mm taller and 524mm longer in wheelbase. The Silverado is 496mm longer, 213mm wider, 67mm taller and 524mm longer in wheelbase.

HSV’s peerless OEM-grade engineering in the RHD process is evident throughout, particularly the extensive use of sound-deadening materials beneath the carpets required under local ADRs which create such a quiet cabin environment.

There are big grab handles on both A and B pillars and the rear seating is palatial, with a wide entry pathway between the B pillar and seat base cushion. Head and shoulder room is spacious for large adults, while the leg room - even in the centre position - feels like you’re in a corporate lounge.

Our only gripe is the centre headrest. It’s great that the head cushion is narrower than the outer ones to improve the driver’s rear vision. However, when raised to a higher position there’s no notch to lock it there.

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

GM's all-aluminium EcoTec3 6.2-litre V8 is well suited to this application, with common rail direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, automatic cylinder deactivation, remote oil cooler and auto stop-start to optimise efficiency and economy. It produces 313kW at 5600rpm and a 624Nm mountain of torque which peaks at a relatively high 4100rpm on regular unleaded.

The 10-speed torque converter automatic with remote oil cooler has impressive refinement and near-seamless shifting, with overdrive on the three tallest ratios ensuring economical highway cruising. There’s also sequential manual-shifting available, using a toggle switch on the column shifter. Switchable drive modes include Normal, Sport, Off-Road and Tow/Haul.

The 6.2-litre V8 produces 313kW/624Nm. The 6.2-litre V8 produces 313kW/624Nm.

The 4x4 transmission is part-time, dual-range with a 2.72:1 transfer case low-range reduction, which combined with the 4.696:1 first gear and 3.23:1 final drive has a 41:1 crawler gear. There’s also a heavy-duty locking rear differential.

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

HSV quotes an official combined figure of 12.3L/100km and the dash readout was pretty close to that at 13L/100km. Our own figure, based on fuel bowser and tripmeter readings, was only slightly higher at 13.6, after 426km of testing which included use of the auto stop-start function and more than 100km under maximum payload.

That’s impressive economy for a vehicle weighing more than 2.5 tonnes with pick-up truck aerodynamics. So, based on our figures, you could expect a realistic driving range of around 670km from its 91-litre tank.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

With its hefty 2588kg kerb weight and 3300kg GVM, the Silverado 1500 has a relatively modest 712kg payload rating, so it’s far from being a genuine one-tonner. However, on the bright side it’s also rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer on a 50mm ball and up to 4500kg on a 70mm ball. Even so, its sizeable 7160kg GCM (or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) requires a bit of thought before you hook up.

For example, if you deduct the 4500kg towing weight and 2588kg kerb weight from the 7160kg GCM, you’re left with a legal payload limit of only 72kg which is barely enough to cater for the weight of a driver (and a pretty trim one at that). So, although it can legally tow up to 4500kg, the remaining payload is impractical.

Alternatively, if you want to preserve the Silverado’s maximum 712kg payload and therefore its 3300kg GVM, you can tow up to 3500kg on a 50mm ball, or up to 3860kg on a 70mm ball without exceeding the 7160kg GCM. And that's still pretty sizeable towing with a full payload.

The cargo tub is protected by a tough spray-on liner and features overhead/inner-wall lighting plus 12 load anchorage points. The load floor is 1776mm long and with 1286mm between the wheel housings will easily take either a standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallet or two 1200 x 800mm Euro pallets.

The cargo tub measures in at 1776mm long and with 1286mm between the wheel housings. The cargo tub measures in at 1776mm long and with 1286mm between the wheel housings.

Cabin storage is generous as you’d expect with big storage bins and bottle holders in each front door, plus upper and lower gloveboxes and a huge centre console with wireless phone charging dock and small bin at the front, a triple cup/small-bottle holder in the centre and an enormous box with padded lid at the back.

Those in the rear seat are also well catered for, particularly if you like a drink, with a large-bottle holder and storage bin in each door plus a storage pouch on each front seat backrest. There’s also a triple cup/small-bottle holder in the fold-down centre armrest, plus two more cup/small-bottle holders on the rear of the centre console.

Head and shoulder room is spacious for large adults, while the leg room - even in the centre position - feels like you’re in a corporate lounge. Head and shoulder room is spacious for large adults, while the leg room - even in the centre position - feels like you’re in a corporate lounge.

Each outer rear seating position also houses a clever storage feature. The upper backrest cushion doubles as a hinged door, which with the pull of a soft tab swings open 90 degrees to reveal a small hidden storage bin ideal for small items.

The rear seat’s base cushions, which are split 60/40, can also swing up through 90 degrees and lock in a vertical position. This is handy when more internal cargo space is required or when accessing another hidden full-width storage bin underneath.

What’s it like as a daily driver?

There’s a rich scent of leather each time you open the cabin and the driving position is more like a big muscle car than a truck, with the chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel, snug-fitting leather-appointed seats, impressive dashboard layout and well-placed left footrest.

HSV’s local RHD re-manufacturing process results in outstanding suppression of drivetrain and tyre noise. However, it does lack the pulsating V8 burble that gives the Hemi-powered RAM 1500 a more engaging soundtrack.

Ride quality when empty or lightly loaded is supple without being overly bouncy or ponderous through turns. In fact, it sits surprisingly flat during cornering, with body roll well controlled. We couldn’t fault the weight and feel of the electric power steering nor the braking response.

The 6.2 litre V8 flexes plenty of muscle when you bury the throttle, with 313kW thrusting the Silverado forward as quickly as you could expect for a 2.5-tonne truck. However, it’s also a torque giant, proving that this desirable attribute is not exclusive to turbo-diesels. For example, there’s more than 475Nm on tap from only 1250rpm and 540Nm at 2500rpm; ample pulling power from well below its 624Nm peak at 4100rpm.

This explains why it rarely tops 2000rpm at typical city and suburban driving speeds and is equally effortless and fuel efficient on the highway, with only 1300rpm at 100km/h and 1500rpm at 110km/h. However, we did notice some wind whistle around the big door mirrors at these higher speeds.

All-round vision is pretty good too. With its large truck-style door mirrors, reversing camera and numerous driver aids, it’s actually a lot easier to live with as a daily driver than you might think - provided tight city parking stations aren’t a regular encounter.

What’s it like for tradie use?

We loaded 565kg into the cargo tub, which with driver equalled a 675kg payload that was less than 40kg under its 712kg rating. The rear leaf springs compressed 50mm with ample bump-stop clearance while the nose only rose 8mm in response.

The big Chevy excelled with this relatively modest payload, particularly its engine-braking in a manually-selected second gear on long steep descents, which assisted by the transmission’s auto grade-braking logic never required use of the brake pedal.

We loaded 565kg into the cargo tub. We loaded 565kg into the cargo tub.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

No ANCAP rating as yet but it meets ADR crash safety standards and its safety menu is extensive, including dual-stage front airbags and seat-mounted side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger plus head-curtain airbags for front and rear outboard seating positions. Also top-tether child seat restraints on rear seat.

There’s also plenty of active safety features including low-speed AEB and heavy towing is made easy with tow/haul mode, hill-start assist, auto grade-braking, trailer sway control, hitch guidance with hitch view, integrated brake trailer controller, trailer theft alert and more.

Ownership – What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

If you need to tow heavy things and $113,000-plus seems like a lot for a pick-up truck, even when it’s a premium offering, it’s sobering to consider that a local towing legend like the Land Cruiser 200 Series wagon in top-shelf Sahara trim costs $123,000. And the Toyota can’t match the Chevy’s 4.5-tonne tow rating, load volume or sheer in-ya-face presence. For the right buyer, who ‘just wants one’ in HSV speak, it will be money well spent.


Based on new car retail price


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Based on new car retail price