With sophisticated tech, quality inclusions, and a revised platform underneath, the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium Edition is currently the most up to date US truck on sale on Australia. There’s the new Ram 1500 not too far away to take the fight right up to it, but at the time of testing, the Silverado is as good as it gets in Australia.
We do quite a lot of towing at CarAdvice, both for testing purposes but also in our spare time. It’s the consequence of owning so many old cars between us, many of which aren’t running at any given time. As you can see in the photos, we’ve moved a Hillman Imp shell (and a Vespa) with the Silverado this time, but that’s a mate’s customer car, not mine – thankfully.
Interestingly, that mate of mine, who is a panel beater/fabricator, and also does a lot of towing, still prefers the Ram 1500. Not far apart, we spent some time with the 1500 Laramie – from just under $105,000 before on-road costs – and then the Silverado 1500 and while I thought the Silverado was the better truck (it’s newer so it should be), he said he’d still prefer the Ram.
Goes to show that it’s not all about tech then, which is another reason (along with the sharper price) the Ram still sells as well it does both here and in the States.
Re-engineered to right-hand drive in Melbourne, like the Ram 1500, the Silverado is as good as it gets in terms of RHD full-size trucks in Australia. We’ve never had access to such high quality, factory-backed, extensively engineered conversions in this country before. The good news is, if you want a RHD truck, there’s never been a better time than now.
Interestingly, unlike the Ram, which uses a gear selector dial, the Silverado goes with the more traditional column mounted, shifter. It remains mounted on the right side of the wheel and is effectively the only visual cue that this was ever a LHD vehicle, such is the quality of the conversion.
Pricing for the Chevrolet starts from $113,990 before on-road costs, so it sits a fair chunk beyond the starting price for the older Ram 1500 Laramie. That almost 10-grand gap is something to consider for those of you trying to upsize on a budget. We expect the new-generation Ram to be priced similarly though, so then the shootout gets a little harder to decide.
Safety tech is where the Silverado LTZ punches the hardest in the segment, with low speed AEB, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, front pedestrian detection, proactive roll avoidance, stability control, traction control, hill start assist and hill descent control all included.
LTZ Premium Edition specification – the sole model in the line-up at the time of testing – brings with it plenty of standard kit too. The quality of the trim, the fit and finish, general cabin ambience and comfort are all top notch. As you’d expect of course, from what is effectively America’s default family vehicle. It’s beyond doubt that they know how to build trucks in the States, and they get them right, given the time they have had over the years to finesse the segment.
There are six USB ports, more storage than you could find gear for, wireless charging, heated and cooled front seats with electric adjustment, heated rear seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a quality MyLink infotainment and audio system (but no integrated navigation), sunroof, power operated tailgate and a spray in tub liner. You also get six airbags, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera (clear and broad it is too), and LED headlights.
The Silverado is powered by a 6.2-litre petrol V8 that pumps out 313kW and 624Nm, mated to a 10-speed automatic. It’s a conventional torque converter auto too, which is good news for hard work. The engine has idle-stop tech as well as Chev’s Dynamic Fuel Management system, which incredibly can deactivate up to six cylinders when you’re in low load driving situations.
The official fuel claim is 12.3L/100km and we averaged between 13.8 and 14.4L/100km on our city drive loop. Heavier traffic resulted in the 14.4 figure, while an easier cruise with less stopping and starting, showed up at 13.8L/100km.
Out on the open road, even when you’re towing, it will drop significantly lower than that. We saw the live readout as low as 10L/100km on the freeway at 100km/h for example. In short though, it’s nowhere near as thirsty as you might have expected, even in traffic around town. A 205kg weight reduction from the previous model – along with the extensive use of aluminium – have helped here.
We make this point every time we test one of these trucks, but you’re not buying this if you live in town, or in areas where parking is sparse. Most buyers are on the city fringe and if you need to tow regularly (up to 4500kg) or lug large items round in the tray (712kg payload), this is the style of truck you should be looking at. Keep in mind you can’t max those two numbers out together in Australia, and you need a larger, 70mm tow ball for the larger towing capacity.
There is acres of room in the cabin. Spend any time inside the more traditionally-sized favourites of this segment and you realise how compromised even the biggest dual cabs are, This is especially the case in the second row. Not so here, though, where you can fit three adults easily across, and the flat floor adds to the feeling of comfort and space. It’s a family road trip dual cab if ever there was one.
You sit high as expected and visibility – especially forward – is commanding. It’s another factor that makes longer drives more pleasurable. The quality of the cabin and the insulation are impressive. It’s quiet and comfortable on a relaxed cruise.
Until you nail the throttle that is. There’s an optional performance exhaust system, which is a box I would certainly tick, but the bellow of the big V8 and the pace off the mark is surprising. The Silverado is quick – genuinely quick. It gets off the line with an impressive shove and the engine keeps spinning eagerly to redline if you ask it to. We didn’t sense the 10-speed doing anything annoying either, despite the fact that it could be shifting through ratios willy-nilly. When it does shift, it’s smooth enough that you don’t even notice it happening most of the time.
Equally impressive is the way the Silverado, thanks in part to the long wheelbase, irons out poor road surfaces. It’s comfortable in the cabin unless you’re on repeated corrugations. Unladen, it’s ride is as good, if not better, than the best of the conventional dual cab brigade. You also never really get a sense that you’re captaining a behemoth either. Obviously, you are aware that the Chev is physically big, but it doesn’t feel that way through the steering, the chassis, or the brake pedal. It actually feels quite nimble and fleet-footed despite the heft.
Towing with the Silverado is effortless and as we keep stating, if we had to tow anywhere near even 3000kg regularly, this is the platform we’d be recommending. It’s safe, balanced and unaffected by the weight behind it. Features like the integrated electric brakes, top down camera view, the tow/haul mode that modifies the throttle and transmission inputs, all make towing safer and easier than any conventional dual cab.
Hitching and un-hitching the trailer is easy, the exterior side mirrors are broad enough to keep an eye on what’s going on behind, and the chassis is unaffected by the weight on the tow ball. If you tow over long distances, there’s nothing worse than being shunted around in a vehicle that isn’t quite up to the task or feeling like the steering and front end are compromised by the weight on the tow ball. There’s none of that with the Silverado.
There’s a three-year, 100,000km warranty provided by HSV to cover the Silverado, along with roadside assistance for the duration.
The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 isn’t for everyone, but that’s no surprise. A BMW i3 isn’t for everyone either. Nor is a Toyota Corolla. Horses for courses, means that if you need a vehicle to work, and do that work effortlessly, this is what you should be looking at. You need to be able to afford to buy it in the first place and you need room to park it, but with those boxes ticked, the Silverado 1500 is a fantastic, and comfortable workhorse.