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Chevrolet Silverado 2019 review

The Silverado 2500HD is huge compared to its local Holden Colorado dual-cab cousin.

Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.3/5

For three decades, Holden Special Vehicles’ high-performance enhancements have largely been focused on one platform; Holden’s V8 Commodore. However, with the demise of local manufacturing in 2017, the rear-wheel drive Australian-made icon went with it, leaving HSV with what appeared to be an uncertain future.

But its outlook these days is anything but gloomy, as it expands from its traditional role of vehicle enhancement to RHD re-manufacturing of a broader range of GM vehicles, which maintains its core focus on creating exciting products.

In 2018, this expansion has seen its Melbourne operations shift to an enormous new manufacturing facility at Clayton, and the Chevrolet Camaro being locally re-manufactured in RHD and sold through HSV dealerships as the logical successor to its Commodore-based ancestors.

But it has also added another new vehicle stream, in the form of America’s iconic Chevrolet Silverado pick-up. We recently spent a week in one of these US giants, to see how well suited they are to life in Australia.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

HSV offers a 2500HD Silverado range comprising the entry-level 2500HD WT or Work Truck ($114,990), mid-level LTZ ($134,990) and top-shelf LTZ Midnight Edition and LTZ Custom Sport (both $139,990). For extreme-duty requirements there is also a 3500HD LTZ with dual rear wheels and huge 2.2 tonne payload, which requires a truck licence and tops the range at $147,990. All are equipped with the same Duramax 6.6 litre turbo-diesel V8, Allison 1000 six-speed automatic, four-wheel disc brakes and heavy-duty auto locking rear differential.

Our test vehicle was the $139,990 LTZ Midnight Edition, which, as the name suggests, has unique styling and arrives in any colour you'd like as long as it’s black. This includes black 18-inch alloys with chunky Goodyear Wrangler LT275/65 R18E off-road tyres and a full-size spare, black bumpers, black grille with chrome bars, black body-side mouldings, black tubular side-steps, black door mirrors and handles, black headlight bezels, black spray-on cargo tub liner and black Chevrolet ‘bow-tie’ badging

  • In the back there's a black spray-on cargo tub liner. (image credit: Mark Oastler) In the back there's a black spray-on cargo tub liner. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
  • The LTZ Midnight Edition gets black 18-inch alloys. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The LTZ Midnight Edition gets black 18-inch alloys. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
  • Underneath the tray is a full-size spare. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Underneath the tray is a full-size spare. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

As the sinister Midnight Edition is based on the lavishly-equipped LTZ, other features including remote start, 10-way power adjustable leather-appointed front seats with heating and cooling, dual-zone climate, power-adjustable pedals and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with heating and height/reach adjustment.

There’s also Chevrolet’s 'MyLink' multimedia interface with its big 8.0-inch control screen, Bose seven-speaker sound system, voice-activation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and wireless phone charging.

Inside, There’s Chevy’s 'MyLink' multimedia interface with its big 8.0-inch control screen. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Inside, There’s Chevy’s 'MyLink' multimedia interface with its big 8.0-inch control screen. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The Midnight Edition also includes the LTZ’s Z71 off-road pack, which comprises Rancho 35mm twin-tube gas shock absorbers, 34mm front anti-sway bar, under-body transfer case shield and hill descent control. HSV also offers a multitude of factory accessories.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

HSV is approved by GM North America to import and re-manufacture the Silverado in RHD. We use the term ‘re-manufacture’ rather than ‘convert’ because this is a full-on production line process we recently inspected at the new Clayton facility.

Each body is removed from its rolling chassis and both move down parallel production lines where extensive RHD re-manufacturing takes place on each before they are reunited as a complete vehicle. This ISO-quality process requires hundreds of new components, which HSV’s Computer Aided Design (CAD) office creates in a ‘virtual’ vehicle before any hard parts exist.

Having exclusive local access to GM’s CAD software means that many parts ‘mirror’ the original LHD position, resulting in OEM appearance in the RHD location. Key challenges faced by HSV engineers were electrical system integration (again with support from GM) and mirroring of the steering system, HVAC/dashboard module, tail lights and windscreen wipers, all achieved with local tooling. Accelerated durability testing is conducted at Holden’s Lang Lang Proving Ground. The end result is OEM standard and the closest you’ll get to driving a new RHD Silverado off the Michigan assembly line. 

HSV is approved by GM North America to import and re-manufacture the Silverado in RHD. (image credit: Mark Oastler) HSV is approved by GM North America to import and re-manufacture the Silverado in RHD. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Needless to say, the Silverado 2500HD is huge compared to its local Holden Colorado dual-cab cousin. It uses conventional body-on-frame construction with coil spring independent front suspension and a leaf-spring live rear axle. Off-road credentials include a 22.3-degree approach angle, 22.4-degree departure angle and 21-degree breakover angle with 250mm of ground clearance.

Its 15.68-metre turning circle is almost 3.0 metres wider, its vast 3886mm wheelbase is 790mm longer, its 6085mm length is 738mm larger, its 2388mm width is 506mm wider and its 1985mm height is 205mm taller. And the Midnight Edition’s massive kerb weight of 3616kg makes it 1495kg (or 1.5 tonnes) heavier!

However, the payback for this overdose of growth hormone is a spacious and luxurious leather-appointed cabin that offers an excellent driving position with fantastic instrumentation. Big grab handles on the A and B pillars, combined with the side-steps and large door openings, make for easy entry and exit. Rear passengers have ample leg, shoulder and headroom, with the most comfortable central seating position of any ute we’ve tested. There’s also a Navara-style sliding centre rear window, which looks and works better in this larger size and is something your pooch will no doubt appreciate.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Duramax 6.6-litre V8 turbo-diesel is a monster motor, as you’d expect, produced in Ohio by the DMAX joint venture between GM Powertrain and Isuzu. The latest L5P specification pumps out 332kW at 2800rpm and a staggering 1234Nm of torque at 1600rpm. It’s also equipped with dual batteries, external oil cooler, a very effective exhaust brake, and it breathes through a functional bonnet scoop and high air-box arrangement which looks to have excellent deep-water-wading ability.

The Duramax 6.6-litre V8 turbo-diesel produces 332kW/1234Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The Duramax 6.6-litre V8 turbo-diesel produces 332kW/1234Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

It’s matched with a heavy-duty Allison 1000 six-speed torque converter automatic with over-driven fifth and sixth gears, a dedicated tow/haul mode and external oil cooler. The 4x4 transmission is part-time, dual-range with an electronically controlled transfer case, plus there’s a locking rear differential which automatically engages if any wheel spin is detected.

How much fuel does it consume?

HSV does not quote any official combined figures, but after our 420km test, which included towing a caravan for a good portion of it, the instrument display was showing 17.9L/100km. That wasn’t far off our own figures, crunched from trip meter and fuel bowser readings, of 18.6L. Sounds like a lot of fuel (and it is - refilling only half a tank cost almost $130), but with the Silverado’s huge 136-litre fuel capacity you could expect a realistic driving range of around 730km.

How practical is the space inside?

The 875kg payload rating might sound conservative on its own, but the Silverado’s massive 9801kg GCM means that on a 50mm ball it can tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer with a full payload, and on a 70mm ball, up to 4500kg with a full payload. 

With a pintle hook you can tow up to 5310kg with a full payload, and, if required, up to a massive 5890kg (with a corresponding 575kg payload reduction). Whichever way you look at it, this is seriously heavy-duty towing that dwarfs all one-tonne dual cabs.

With a pintle hook you can tow up to 5310kg with a full payload, and, if required, up to a massive 5890kg. (image credit: Mark Oastler) With a pintle hook you can tow up to 5310kg with a full payload, and, if required, up to a massive 5890kg. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Generous cabin storage options include two bins and a bottle holder in each front door, plus an overhead glasses holder and twin-lid glove box. The centre console has two USB ports and two 12-volt plugs in a large open storage bin up front, plus two bottle holders in the centre and a huge lidded storage box at the rear with more 12-volt/USB plugs and a padded lid (complete with wireless phone charging dock) that doubles as an arm rest.

Up front there's a bottle holder in door. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Up front there's a bottle holder in door. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Rear-seat passengers get three storage bins and a bottle holder in each door, plus flexible storage pockets on the rear of both front seats. The rear of the console has two more storage pockets for small items and another 12V plug. There’s also a fold down centre armrest with two more cup/bottle holders, and, exclusive to Midnight Edition and Custom Sport grades, there's another large storage area beneath the rear seat accessed via the fold-up base cushions.

In the back, there's large storage area beneath the rear seat accessed via the fold-up base cushions. (image credit: Mark Oastler) In the back, there's large storage area beneath the rear seat accessed via the fold-up base cushions. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The remote-locking ‘E-Z lift and lower’ tailgate accesses a huge cargo tub with a load floor that’s more than two metres long. And with 1296mm between the wheelarches, it can easily accommodate a standard Aussie pallet. There’s also a tough spray-on tub liner, four tie-down points and a combination high brake light/work light.

What's it like to drive?

It has a great driving position with plenty of adjustment available and a left footrest positioned by HSV in just the right spot. Handling and ride quality, particularly the RHD steering with minimal play off-centre, is commendable, with less of the ponderous feeling inherent in these US giants. This may be attributed to the Z71 option with its big Rancho gas shocks and thick front anti-sway bar. Either way, it rides and handles well for such a large vehicle and starts to shrink around you the more you drive it.

Acceleration is rapid when you give the big Duramax V8 a boot full from a standing start. It fairly leaps away and surges rapidly towards triple digits, with a guttural V8 induction roar and crisp up-shifts that sound and feel more like a hairy-chested US muscle car. That said, the NVH levels are low, with cabin noise at highway speeds comparable to any of the latest one-tonne dual cabs, even considering the subdued howl of the chunky Goodyear Wranglers at highway speeds.

 With its integrated electric trailer brake controller, tow/haul mode and exhaust brake all activated, the Silverado hardly noticed the Blue Diamond 23 caravan behind it. (image credit: Mark Oastler) With its integrated electric trailer brake controller, tow/haul mode and exhaust brake all activated, the Silverado hardly noticed the Blue Diamond 23 caravan behind it. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

To test its towing ability, New Age Caravans lined up a superb dual-axle Blue Diamond 23, which, with a tare weight of 3160kg, was an ideal match for the Silverado’s 3500kg braked tow rating on a 50mm ball. With its integrated electric trailer brake controller, tow/haul mode and exhaust brake all activated, the Silverado hardly noticed the 23-footer following smoothly behind it. With barely 1750rpm at 100km/h, it was as effortless a tow as you could ask for, and an ideal tow vehicle/trailer combo.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

There’s no ANCAP rating, as you would expect for such a low volume vehicle, but HSV has performed a barrier crash to verify airbag deployment and ensure compliance with all applicable ADRs. There are front and thorax (side-impact) airbags for driver and front passenger and full-length curtain airbags.

You'll also find proactive roll avoidance, traction control, trailer sway control, hill start assist, hill descent control, lane departure warning and forward collision alert, which, like the front and rear park assist, noisily vibrates the driver’s seat. There’s also a rear-view camera (very handy for lining up a tow hitch) but no AEB.

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

The warranty runs three years or 100,000km, whichever occurs first, and includes roadside assist. There's a complimentary service inspection one month after delivery, then scheduled servicing every 12,000km or nine months, whichever occurs first.

There's no capped price servicing available, but HSV is soon to publish scheduled servicing costs based on metro and regional dealer input. Servicing can be performed by Holden dealers, but given the specific training and unique/specialist tools issued to HSV dealers, it is advised that any servicing be done in strict accordance with HSV procedures.

There’s a feel-good factor that comes with ownership of an imported GM vehicle that’s been ‘Australianised’ by a company boasting a three-decade OEM partnership with Holden and the blessing of North America.

Fact is, it’s not often we’re reluctant to hand back a vehicle after a week of testing, but HSV’s Silverado 2500HD LTZ Midnight Edition is one of them. As an extreme-duty tow vehicle with awesome street presence that’s also reasonably easy to live with in urban environments, it sets the benchmark for RHD heavy-duty US pick-ups in this country.

Is the Chevrolet Silverado the ideal choice for those with something really heavy to tow? Let us know what you think in the comments.

$139,990

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.3/5
Price Guide

$139,990

Based on new car retail price