Chevy Silverado 2500 Z71 — Making a bold statement photo

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

This is the golden age for heavy duty pickup trucks. The big three — Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra, Ram and Ford F-Series — all have new and enticing vehicles. And all come with prodigious amounts of towing and hauling capability together with all the modern comforts and technology found in luxury vehicles. While there are slight differences in maximum towing capability, engine sizes, safety technology, interior design and features, and overall ride and handling — the preference for a new heavy duty truck probably depends more on loyalty.

We drove the all-new Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Heavy Duty in two crew cab trim levels for 2020 and 2021 and discovered the Chevy has a winning combination of capability and comfort. If you are a Chevrolet loyalist then we think you will be very happy making the Silverado HD your next new truck. photo

The all-new truck is the strongest, most capable Silverado HD ever, offering a max towing capability of 36,000 pounds for 2021 — a 500-pound increase from 2020 —  along with class-leading technologies and an expanded range of customer choices.

Updates come in the form of a new powertrain, longer wheelbase and Chevy's newest towing technology, including an available towing camera system with up to 15 views. The all-new Silverado is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor, with a wheelbase that’s been stretched 5.2 inches on Crew Cab models.

Under the hood, the Silverado gets a 6.6-liter V8 as its standard engine. It has more power and torque than last year's engine, which increases payload and towing capacity. The optional Duramax turbodiesel — which will add $9,890 to the bottom line — hasn't changed, but it's now paired with a 10-speed automatic that takes over from the previous six-speed. photo

The Silverado HD comes in five trim levels — Work Truck, Custom, LT, LTZ and High Country — with the 6.6-liter making 401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque standard across the lineup mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. And all trim levels can be outfitted with the optional 6.6-liter diesel making 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque.

New for 2021 are a Carhartt Special Edition available on LTZ Crew Cab featuring exterior appearance trim and Jet Black/Carhartt Brown interior; an LTZ Premium Texas Edition; Midnight Edition; Z71 Sport Edition; and Z71 Chrome Sport Edition.

Base pricing is only a suggestion because there are dozens upon dozens of options available at all trim levels ranging from a few bucks to thousands of dollars. The most expensive option is the Duramax Turbo Diesel V-8. For 2021 we drove the very well-equipped LTZ Crew with the diesel engine and Z71 Sport Edition in "Red Hot" paint and with black trim and grille and black 18-inch aluminum wheels.

We were delighted to find that the big Chevy has commendable on-road manners — an easy driver down a long stretch of Interstate highway with plenty of grunt from the big diesel engine, which has been measured in the high seven seconds from 0-to-60 in all-wheel drive. The transmission smoothly shifts into the correct gear and downshifts with dispatch when necessary. After 200 miles on the streets and highways in the V-8 gas engine and another 150 miles in the diesel Z71 that it is a very comfortable truck on the road with a good ride and a quiet interior.

The Silverado is comfortable and spacious, with the truck's increased size contributing to significantly increased passenger space. The stretch-out room in the second-row seats was particularly impressive. Chevrolet has maintained what we consider a traditional pickup truck look inside.

The Silverado's switchgear looks much like the outgoing truck with big knobs and buttons including large knobs for radio volume and tuning. It's a layout that is simple and intuitive and we think just right for a working truck. The center console is huge with considerable storage, and a dual glovebox also aids in storing stuff.

Every Silverado HD comes with a touchscreen that features Chevy's Infotainment 3 software, which includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It includes a useful volume and tuning knob as well as some physical buttons and voice commands that supplement the touch-sensitive display. A larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with a seven-speaker Bose audio system, additional power points, SiriusXM satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and wireless charging is available. Its infotainment system also allows users to store different trailer profiles to monitor maintenance and even control trailer functions via a smartphone app.

The interior has been criticized as having a dated look. Maybe we are out of step, but we like the "dated look." Some critics say the new Ram truck with its big tablet infotainment center trumps the other trucks for interior supremacy, but we disagree.

Our LTZ Crew Cab Sport Edition Z71 carried a bottom line of $71,110 including the $1,595 destination charge. Options were many totaling $16,315 including the Duramax 6.6-liter diesel for $9,890. The Z71 Sport Package added $1,470 and is worth the cash if for no other reason you want to turn heads. A Gooseneck/5th Wheel package added another $1,340.

2021 Chevy Silverado 2500 Diesel


Base price: $36,295; as driven, $71,110
Engine: 6.6-liter diesel V-8
Horsepower: 445 @ 2,800 rpm
Torque: 910 pound-feet @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive: four wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 158.9 inches
Length: 250 inches
Curb weight: 7,721 pounds
Turning circle: NA
Towing capacity: 36,000 pounds
Payload capacity: 3,563 pounds
Fuel capacity: 36 gallons (diesel)
EPA rating: not tested
0-60: high 7-second range (observed)
Also consider: Ford F250 Super Duty , Ram 2500, GMC 2500 HD

The Good
• Prodigious towing capacity
• Roomy cabin
• 15-view camera to help towing

The Bad
• Dated-looking interior

The Ugly
• Difficult maneuverability in parking lots