2021 Chevrolet Silverado HD

By January 13, 2021

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado HD is a heavy-duty pickup truck offered as a 2500 or 3500 with available dual rear wheels. It’s designed to carry the heaviest loads, with its big gas or diesel V-8 engines, the largest beds in the class, and regular, extended, or six-seat crew cabs. Rear-wheel drive is standard but four-wheel drive is more common.

It was redesigned in 2020, made bigger and bolder, so for 2021 the changes are limited to five appearance packages, including the Z71 Sport, Z71 Chrome Sport, Midnight Edition, Texas, and Carhartt special edition.

The Silverado HD can come with either a gas 6.6-liter V-8 with a 6-speed automatic transmission that is capable of towing 14,500 pounds, or a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8 with an Allison 10-speed automatic that can tow 35,500 pounds when equipped as a dually.

The EPA doesn’t test heavy-duty trucks for fuel economy, but we can report that a Silverado HD with the gas engine and 6-speed automatic gets about 15 mpg on the highway, while the turbodiesel with the 10-speed does better. A 36-gallon tank with crew cab models at least stretches out the distance between gas station stops. The 2500 and 3500 with single rear wheels feature active aero shutters in the big grille to improve efficiency.

The 2500 and 3500 exceed a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds, so the NHTSA does not crash-test them. Automatic emergency braking isn’t standard on all models; however there is an optional safety package for the lower two models. More available safety equipment includes front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, active lane control, automatic high beams, and advanced towing features, with up to 15 camera views including tow-hitch guidance to help hook up a fifth-wheel trailer.

Model Lineup

The 2021 Silverado 2500HD is available in WT (Work Truck), Custom, LT, LTZ, or High Country trims. It starts under $40,000 in regular cab and rear-wheel drive with the gas engine. In High Country trim with a crew cab, long bed, diesel engine, four-wheel drive, and dual rear wheels, it reaches $75,000.

The 3500HD is about $1,500 more than the 2500HD, although it doesn’t come in Custom trim. Four-wheel drive adds $2,800 to all models. Dual rear wheels on the 3500 are $1,200.

The 2500HD WT starts under $40,000 for the regular cab with long bed, and not much more for the crew cab with a regular bed, so take your pick. Standard equipment includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB ports, power doors and locks.

The LT for about $44,000 has more equipment.

For about $53,000, the LTZ offers more towing capability and creature comforts, adding keyless start, power tailgate, power trailering mirrors, 10-way power adjustable front seats, heated front leather outboard seats, heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, 120-volt power outlet, low-speed transfer case, and a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen.

The High Country, with the turbodiesel engine, crew cab, long bed with bedliner, four-wheel drive, 20-inch wheels, Bose sound system, cooled front seats, and running boards starts at more than $73,000. Even with all that, astonishingly, it doesn’t come with advanced safety features. That would require the Deluxe package, and tip it over $75,000. Figure about $80,000 for a 3500 High Country diesel dually.

Five appearance packages bundle some popular options in the name of simplicity. The Z71 Sport Edition available on LT and LTZ models blacks out the grille inserts, skid plates and hood vents, and comes with 18-inch aluminum wheels and body-color bumpers.

The Z71 Chrome Sport Edition does pretty much the same thing but with chrome, and comes with a spray-on bedliner and black running boards.

Midnight Edition has the Chrome Sport equipment but painted black.

The Carhartt Special Edition mixes the black and chrome, and adds 20-inch aluminum wheels, Carhartt badging, interior trim accents and all-weather floor liners.

Then there’s the Texas Edition available only on the LTZ trim and sold only in Texas and surrounding states. It bundles convenience and safety packages for a High Country feel but with Texas badging.

Exterior

The Silverado HD has a very big grille and a wide front end; it’s almost locomotive in look and feel. The stacked vertical headlights, connected by a chrome bar, look like a heavyweight barbell. The sheet metal along the sides is flat, while square-ish wheel arches house 17-inch to 20-inch wheels.

It’s also very tall. You might need a stepladder to check the oil. There are steps on the sides and rear bumper, to see into the bed.

Interior

The cabin’s simplicity allows easy function. The large knobs and buttons are easy to use with gloves. A small 7.0-inch touchscreen is standard, but most models have the 8.0-inch screen. The front seat is a three-person bench on all but the High Country, split 40/20/20; on the LTZ the center seat can become an armrest with storage.

There’s a step to make it easier to climb into the roomy rear seat of the crew cab. There are also steps to climb to the bed, one on the rear bumper to climb into the bed, and another just forward of the rear wheel to reach into the bed and secure a load using the tie-down hooks. An optional power tailgate makes it all easier. The standard 6-foot-10 bed has 69.9 cubic feet of space, while the 8-foot-2 long bed has 83.5 cubic feet of space.

In gas models, the 2500HD has a payload capacity of 3,800 pounds in the crew cab long bed, while the 3500HD dually reaches 6,894 pounds.

Driving Impressions

The 6.6-liter V-8 gas engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission makes 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. It can tow 14,500 lb in most configurations, but can haul up to 17,370 lb with a gooseneck or fifth-wheel mount in the bed. Pulling a load from a stop is no problem, even on freeway onramps, but the 6-speed transmission could use a couple more gears to stay lower in the rev range.

The 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8 with an Allison 10-speed automatic transmission makes 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm. It’s a beast. Acceleration is impressive for a vehicle weighing from 6,100 to more than 8,000 pounds, depending on how it’s equipped.

The HD’s independent front suspension and relatively rigid chassis smooths out some big truck bounce, but with an empty bed, the rear can hop around. Still, the Silverado HD feels lighter on its feet than it might, thanks to good suspension tuning.

Final Word

The Silverado HD is a towing and hauling vehicle, plain and simple. The version you want will depend on the weight of your trailer. You might not need the additional towing capacity of the turbodiesel, but you might want it for the 10-speed automatic transmission.

 

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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