The Silverado has undergone a few changes for MY 2023, mainly in the cabin. We climb aboard the 1500 LTZ Premium Z71.
In a time when the world is in climate crisis and electrification is rampant, it’s kind of odd that full-sized double-cab utes are more popular than ever. And we’re not talking Ranger or Hilux but Ram and Silverado.
In Australia there’s also F-150 and Tundra coming. Ford NZ has said its full-sized pick-up won’t be sold here, for the time being. It’s evidently a matter of the right powertrain being available (hybrid) and likely a supply issue.
And on the topic of big Fords, that’s the only full-sized rig I’ve ever driven; the company brought in the F-250 a decade or so ago. Actually, it was 20 years ago, time flies and all.
Well, that situation has all changed for me now that the big rig Silverado 1500 is parked outside my front door. It certainly takes up more real estate on our street than anything else I’ve ever brought home.
That said, the likes of Ranger/Amarok are hardly tiny. A perusal of the spec sheet makes things clearer for overall length of the 1500 is quoted at 5931mm while body width is 2086mm and height is 1930mm.
Ranger by comparison is 5380mm long, but width and height of 2028mm and 1926mm aren’t dissimilar. Still, the Chev is a whopper. That’s especially apparent in the back seat area which is limo-like.
And the ascent to the driver’s seat is aided by steps and grab handles. It’s the same round the back where there are steps formed in the bumper edges to simplify loading and unloading. And on that, the LTZ comes with a powered tail gate, along with an electric sunroof and front seats. The latter are both heated and ventilated, and covered in real leather.
What’s new for 2023?
New for this particular model year are a cabin revamp and exterior mods. On the outside there’s a redesigned front fascia and daytime running lights. Inside, there’s evidently a new instrument panel and a 13.4 inch colour touchscreen which are said to impart a more premium feel.
We did note a noisy AC system (not the fan) so didn’t bother with that, given the recent chilly weather. Also new is an electronic transmission shift control in the centre console. Previously it was a column shifter.
I guess the overall advantage of owning one of these is that you’re not buying a Ranger for your tow needs. But the cost of going your own way is, er, the cost of going your own way, to the tune of $144k (along with a $6900 Clean Car fee).
Hence, they’re rarer than Rangers, but during our tenure we saw a few others, all out around the extra urban/semi rural area, one with a horse float attached.
One of the reasons you pay a fair wedge for Silverado 1500 is that it has to be converted from left- to right-hand drive. The change facility in Dandenong Victoria has evidently converted 5000 units to date.
But RAM has been doing this for longer and commands around 70 per cent of the US ute market in Australia. However, things may change when Ford and Toyota join the fray.
Full-sized pick-ups are obviously big business across the Tasman but there’s a small market for them here too. Being in the big boys club is also part of the allure. For some a 3.5 tonne braked towing figure might not be enough – the LTZ Premium can haul 4.5 tonnes – while for others who may be of an XXL body type, they might need a bigger truck to match.
And then there are the V8 heads and good ol’ boys who want one just because they’re American iron.
And as to what’s under the hood? The pair of 6.2 badges on the bonnet are a hint. To be precise, it’s GM’s EcoTech3 V8. It pokes out 313kW of power at 5600rpm and 624Nm of torque from 4100rpm.
It doesn’t have much of a V8 burble this, even when pushed but on the upside it is one seriously hushed pick-up, with a maximum in-cabin SPL reading of just 65.5dB.
The engine features stop/start tech and Dynamic Fuel Management (a more active form of displacement on demand). The output is channeled through a silky 10-speed auto that seeks to keep upshifts in the lower part of the rev range for the most part, thereby eking out the best fuel economy from its 91L tank.
There’s an L Drive mode optimised for towing. The rig is a four-wheel drive unit which we left in Auto most of the time but can be switched to 4H and to 4L when need be.
Out the back there’s a truly humongous wellside, though it doesn’t have quite the payload (757kg) of some of the one-tonne utes. There are 12 tiedown points and a powered tailgate, raising and lowering at the touch of a button.
A tow hitch comes as part of the package, and there’s trailer sway control incorporated into the electronic stability control system. Fourteen cameras also have you covered with four hitch views, six driving views, including a ‘transparent’ trailer, and four parking views.
These are part of the tech pack, along with head-up display, cargo bed camera and assist steps.
Safety is more car-like than ever, with low speed AEB, RCTA, BSM and Forward Collision Alert, along with adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.
There’s also a head-up display but on our vehicle the image was slightly blurred, perhaps the result of left to RHD conversion.
How’s it go?
To drive, this is large and in charge. Those living in town might find it a bit big but it is manageable providing you keep a close eye on those either side of you. We’d imagine it’s better on the city fringes, naturally.
This loafs along, and with 100km/h showing in the head-up display, the rev counter reads 1300rpm. On the motorway you might see fuel use figures around 10L/100km. Downhill, you’ll sneak into the nines.
Tickle the throttle some and high teens is more typical. Rightcar suggests an overall figure of 14.7L/100km (342g/km) which seems about right. It’s pretty quick under the pump, getting to 100 in 6.35sec, while 80-120 overtaking demands precisely 4sec.
Stops varied a bit depending on surface but we achieved a best of 36.5m, not bad for a truck that weighs almost 2.6 tonnes and rides on dual purpose rubber.And not bad is how it handles too; it feels to be reasonably well balanced front to rear, the V8 hard up against the firewall helping its cause.
At the point where the All-Terrain tyres start to lose grip and understeer might rear its head, the ESP chimes in. Steering isn’t that quick but with a wheelbase of 3744mm you don’t expect it to turn like a sportster.
What impresses more is the ride quality; no regular ute is anything like as plush. Helping are Rancho monotube shocks on the coil sprung rear. Rear seat passengers won’t credit the leg and head room, and a bonus is seat heating for winter. Shame for the central passenger who misses out but they still get good stretch room.
Need more off-road goodies? You get that with the $149k Silverado ZR2 which comes with lifted suspension and Multimatic DSSV dampers, and front and rear E-Locking diffs, bigger wheels and underbody skid plates.
So if tow needs, practicality and space take precedence a full-sized pick-up might well do the trick…at a price.
|Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium Z71
|Clean Car Discount
|Fee – $6,900
|6162cc, V8, DI
|10-speed auto / Switchable 4×4
|AEB, ACC, BSM, LDW,
RCTA, ALK, AHB
|Not yet rated