2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The 2021 Chevy Silverado is a full-size pickup truck that seats six, and comes in eight trim levels, seven powertrains, three cab sizes, three bed sizes, and more standard and optional features than we can list. It’s a blocky truck with a workmanlike interior. For 2021 its towing capability improves with its smaller engines, and GM’s innovative 6-way tailgate is added as an option.
The Silverado’s smallest engines are a 2.7-liter turbo-4 and 3.0-liter turbodiesel-6. The base engine is a 4.3-liter V-6, while the most popular engine is a 5.3-liter V-8 that can be had with a 6-speed, 8-speed, or 10-speed automatic transmission. At the top of the line, there’s a 6.2-liter V-8 capable of towing 11,900 pounds.
The turbodiesel gets the best mileage, with an EPA-rated 23 mpg city, 33 highway, 27 combined. The 2.7-liter turbo-4 gets 20/23/21 mpg with rear-wheel drive, and 19/22/20 mpg with four-wheel drive. The 5.3-liter V-8 in four-wheel drive with the 10-speed gets 16/22/19 mpg, which is 1 mpg better than with the 8-speed. The 6.2-liter V-8 gets 16/20/17 mpg with its standard 4WD and 10-speed automatic.
Safety-wise, the Silverado earns four stars overall from the NHTSA, while the IIHS calls it “Marginal” in a head-on crash, with “Poor” standard headlights. Automatic emergency braking is available, but does not come standard.
The Silverado comes in eight trim levels, ranging from just over $30,000 in the base Work Truck (WT) to nearly $70,000 in the tony High Country. They are WT, Custom, LT, RST, Custom Trail Boss, LTZ, LT Trail Boss, and High Country.
The WT comes with a standard cab and a long bed in rear-wheel drive. With a crew cab the price rises to about $37,000. Standard features include a 7.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility and 17-inch wheels. It’s mainly sold to fleets.
The LT with the 2.7-liter turbo-4 engine with the crew cab and short bed might be the best value, at about $42,000. It comes with chrome bumpers and accents, LED headlights, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen, with an optional wi-fi hotspot. The 5.3-liter V-8 is available in the LT for $1,400 more.
For about $51,000, the LTZ comes standard with the 5.3-liter V-8, with the 10-speed automatic transmission optional. It comes with an external engine cooler, integrated trailer brake, an advanced trailering system, and two 120-volt outlets: one in the bed and the other in the cab. Also an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility, heated power-adjustable front seats, six USB ports, keyless entry and more.
The High Country, with the 5.3-liter V-8, in rear-wheel drive with a crew cab and standard bed, starts at about $59,000. It adds a power tailgate, LED headlights, 20-inch wheels, tow package, 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster, seven-speaker Bose sound system, navigation, heated rear outboard seats trimmed in leather, cooled front seats, a power rear window, front and rear park assist, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts.
Upgrade to the 6.2-liter V-8 with 10-speed automatic in four-wheel drive, add a package or two, and it jumps to $70,000.
Available creature comforts for the Silverado include 10-way power adjustable front seats that are heated and trimmed with leather, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8.0-inch touchscreen, six USB ports, HD rearview camera with parking lines and hitch guidance, keyless start, remote start, wireless smartphone compatibility, and more available safety features.
In a word, the Silverado is blocky. Designers have doubled down on its truckiness, making it tall, broad, and square in the front and rear. The only rounded elements are the wheel arches—but you get the feeling that if Chevy could have made the wheels square, they would have. Wheel sizes range from 17-inch steel wheels to 22-inchers in black, chrome, or a metallic finish.
The Silverado cabin places big, easy-to-use controls across a dash with big vertical vents, large dials and buttons for audio and climate controls, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and a two-tiered glovebox. Higher trims replace vinyl or cloth with contrasting leather and wood accents.
Regular cabs can seat three across, while extended and crew cabs can fit a total of six. The crew cab has a vast 43.4 inches of rear leg room. Flip-up rear seats on most models provide good hidden storage.
The Silverado’s front seats are comfortable for large people, at least in those trims above the LT, where 4-way manual seats limit things.
Bed sizes include a 5-foot-8 short box with 62.9 cubic feet of cargo space; a 6-foot-6 standard box with 71.1 cubic feet; and an 8-foot-long bed with 89.1 cubic feet. Regular cab comes with the long bed, extended cab with the standard box, and crew cabs with either the short or standard bed.
The bumper has a large integrated step up to the bed, where there are up to 12 fixed tie-down points. New for 2021 is an optional 6-way configurable power tailgate.
The 2021 Silverado offers five engines and three transmissions to combine for seven powertrains in rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.
The smallest engine is the quickest in the Silverado lineup. The 2.7-liter turbo-4 makes 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and can accelerate to 60 mph in about seven seconds. Torque comes on at low revs, providing plenty of early grunt. Chevy increased the towing capacity this year by 2,500 pounds, up to 9,600 pounds. The payload in the bed is 2,280 pounds. It’s available on WT, Custom, LT, and RST trims.
The most efficient engine is the 3.0 turbodiesel-6 that makes 277 hp and 460 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm. Using a 10-speed automatic transmission, with rear-wheel drive it can tow 9,500 pounds, and get 33 mpg on the highway, though not at the same time. It’s available on LT, RST, LTZ, and High Country trims, for $1,500 less than it cost last year.
The base engine is a 4.3-liter V-6. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and makes 285 hp and 305 lb-ft. It’s not very efficient but it can tow up to 7,900 pounds, and is available on WT and Custom models.
The 5.3-liter V-8 accounts for nearly two-thirds of Silverado sales, says Chevy. It makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft, and can tow up to 10,000 pounds. It’s available across the lineup and pairs with either a 6-speed, 8-speed, or 10-speed automatic transmission, though the 10-speed is only offered with four-wheel drive.
At the top of the lineup and capable of towing 11,900 pounds is the 6.2-liter V-8 that makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. It only comes with the 10-speed automatic in four-wheel drive, and is available on RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country trims.
The Silverado rides like a pickup truck, with a lot of bounce in the rear when there is no load in the bed, thanks in part to its leaf spring suspension. But steering feel is good, and upsized brakes keep the Silverado’s stopping power strong.
The 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 offers a huge range of utility to truck buyers, from turbodiesel power to stripped-down work trucks. Our pick? A crew cab with the muscular V-8 for good all-around capability, on pavement and off-road.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection