Plenty of people reckon the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 is a bridge too far in terms of cost. In 2500 LTZ Midnight Edition trim as tested here, it rings the till at $139,990 before on-road costs. I kept hearing it every time someone asked me what it cost during my week with it. “Geez, it’s an awesome truck, but that’s not cheap is it?”
It wasn’t that long ago the idea of an almost $80K Ford Ranger wasn’t even conceivable, though, not to mention an Amarok costing the same kind of money, or the mere existence of a dual-cab with a Mercedes-Benz badge on the snout.
Times in the commercial world are changing apace.
Why do you buy a Silverado then? Simple, really, for mine. Because you’re going to tow, and tow heavy and regularly. While the Silverado possesses the necessary mechanical hardware to go off-road, I don’t think too many people are spending $150K to go bush bashing, and to be honest, the sheer size of the thing limits it for anything beyond normal, light-duty off-road work anyway. Think boats on beaches or a casual national park camping trip with the family.
Persistent inclement Sydney weather put paid to our towing aspirations, but we already know how effective these big trucks are when the going gets really tough on the tow ball. With that in mind, we decided to have a close look at the practicality of these if you live anywhere near the city. You see plenty of the 2500-size trucks out in the semi-rural and rural areas, but there’s no doubt about them being a little compromised around town.
Pricing for the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Midnight Edition starts from the aforementioned $139,990. The most affordable 2500 is the WT, which starts from $114,990, while the range-topping 3500 LTZ starts from $147,990.
Standard equipment highlights befit the range-topping nature of the big truck and include: 18-inch alloy wheels, perforated leather seats with 10-way power adjustment, heated and cooled front seats, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, leather-wrapped steering wheel with heating, 8.0-inch MyLink infotainment system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, seven-speaker Bose audio system, 33.6mm front stabiliser bar, underbody protection, hill-descent control, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and front/rear parking sensors.
Midnight Edition extras include: blacked-out exterior package for the alloy wheels, bumpers, grille, side mouldings, mirror caps, headlight bezels, spray-on bed liner and badging. Midnight Edition trucks are black only.
The engine is nothing short of a powerhouse. Peak power sits at 332kW, while peak torque is a thunderous 1234Nm. Think about that for a second – more than 1200Nm. It’s hard to get your head around, but it’s the primary reason these trucks are such amazing workhorses. It’s also why they have a surprising turn of speed when you nail the throttle. The Duramax diesel is backed by an Allison Powertrain 1000 six-speed automatic gearbox and the default drive mode is RWD.
There’s also on-demand, high-range 4WD and low-range 4WD on offer, and while we’ve tested Silverados on sand previously, I reckon that’s about the extent of the off-road work most of these primo trucks will tackle. Tow/haul mode, an exhaust braking system and trailer brakes complete the standard hardware.
While the payload is ‘only’ 975kg, these trucks are all about towing, and the 2500 HD variants can all tow a rated 5890kg on a 70mm ball with a pintle – well above the 3500kg maximum rating for the usual dual-cab crowd. A standard 50mm ball can handle 3500kg, while a 70mm ball alone can tow 4500kg.
The cabin is, as you’d no doubt expect, enormous. Up front, there’s a commanding view forward, properly comfortable seats with both heating and cooling, and more storage than you could ever need. You do need to use the expansive side step to climb up to and into the cabin – sliding in like you can on a normal dual-cab won’t work here. Once in, though, it’s supremely comfortable.
The smartphone connection worked really well for us on test, and there’s plenty of storage for those smartphones in the enormous centre console. The touchscreen itself was responsive and accurate, and the layout of the switchgear has translated nicely to RHD. It’s not all perfect, though. We’d prefer the big gear selector stalk on the steering column was on the correct (left) side of the steering wheel for RHD. You get used to it, but it’s not perfect. Aside from that, though, the conversion to RHD has worked very well.
The second row is also huge, and it doesn’t matter how tall the occupants are up front, there’s room for three adults across it. As is standard for these trucks, the seat bases fold up, but rather than a clever, flat floor arrangement like the Ram trucks have, the Silverado gets moulded plastic storage bins. They are useful, sure, but I reckon the flat floor is even better, and a smarter use of the available space if you have to move boxes, suitcases or other large valuables you don’t want sliding around the tray.
Whichever seating position you take, though, there is more than enough space, as there should be for a truck of this size. That’s even if you’re an adult sitting in the middle of the second row. It’s just as comfortable as the two outer positions.
Now, for the driving. First up, the engine makes short work of just about any situation, and you can get cranking in the Silverado with ridiculous ease. It’s not as efficient as we would have hoped, though – occasionally sneaking into the 17s around town. If you get some measure of traffic flow in the city, you can get that down to an average of 15L/100km, but it will generally sit somewhere in the 16s.
Compare that to the 5.7-litre petrol V8 Ram 1500 we tested recently (which used 15-16L/100km around town), and unless you’re going super heavy duty, you might find it hard to argue the case for the diesel Silverado. By contrast, on the highway that average figure drops down to 11.3L/100km over a 200km run with the Silverado cruising along effortlessly.
The punch of the engine is surprising for something so big and heavy, and the way the engine works with the automatic gearbox is excellent, too. Even when you’re working the big diesel hard, the shifts are smooth and precise. You need a bit of weight on the brake pedal to bring the whole shooting match to a stop – especially from speed – but the brakes do work once you factor in the weight you need to apply.
We liked the ride, too. There’s something about these big trucks – could be wheelbase or damping – that sees them effortlessly deal with poor road surfaces in a way the conventional dual-cab brigade can’t hope to match. The Silverado irons those surfaces out nicely, the cabin never disrupted, and it doesn’t have that tendency to skip around that some dual-cabs have. It doesn’t want to be driven hard into corners, mind you, but if you’re driving a Silverado like that, you’ve bought the wrong vehicle.
Our only gripe, in a driving sense, is the electrically assisted power steering, which can transition through a range of strange sensations depending on the load and the angle of input. It can go light, feel like it weights and unweights without warning, and isn’t as precise or accurate as we’d like. We’ve experienced it more than once now, and our gut feel is that it is something to do with the angle of the steering shaft – or the joints required – to facilitate the switch to RHD.
Now, is it big? Yes. Too big? Depends on where you live and how often you head into the CBD really. Believe it or not, I ran into the city a few times and even managed to snag a spot on the street in Sydney in front of Parliament House on a Friday night. The 2500 is too big for some of those inner-city laneways and one-way streets, but so too is a 200 Series really, so you can counter that argument if you need to. If you live within a 20km ring of the city as I do, you can certainly live with the 2500 without having to park a 10km walk from everything.
Manoeuvring it is easy enough once you account for the longer wheelbase, but the length of the truck will obviously impact how easy it is to sneak into a reverse-parking spot. On the move, we only had a few occasions when the lane width was a bit tight for the 2500, and most of the time it’s no harder to drive than a big 4WD.
Overall, then, there is much to love about the full-size Chevrolet Silverado 2500 tested here in Midnight Edition trim. It’s a big, brash, typically American statement from another era in many ways, but if you need a workhorse, few will do the job easier or better.