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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.0

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado has a solid lineup of powerful engines, including a V8 with outstanding towing capacity and a turbodiesel that gives this Chevy some of the best fuel economy ratings in the class. Considering its size, the Silverado is easy to drive and handles surprisingly well. Ride quality is decent, but it's a bit bumpy over rough roads.

  • "The truck's handling is surprisingly agile and the brake pedal provides firm and reassuring feedback." -- Car and Driver
  • "The dirt wasn't the only place we drove the Trail Boss. Since trucks spend most of their life on pavement we wanted to see how this off-roader would handle on the highway. We're glad to report that it's just at home on the pavement as off. We found no adverse handling from the taller stance, and the interior was negligibly louder than the High Country we had been in prior." -- Truck Trend (2019)
  • "The 2.7-liter four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic combination will nevertheless be the base drivetrain for most customers. … Don't be fooled by the cylinder count. This engine generated impressive thrust during our brief test drive, and the announced SAE-certified ratings of 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque feel right on the money." -- Edmunds (2019)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Base engine: 4.3-liter V6 with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque
  • Available engines:
    • 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque
    • 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque
    • 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque (435 horsepower and 469 pound-feet of torque with the Performance package)
    • 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder with 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-, eight-, or 10-speed automatic, depending on engine and trim selection

The base V6 engine is competent, but there's really not much reason to stick with it because it pales in comparison to the available engines. The turbocharged four-cylinder is more energetic, and it moves the truck much better than you'd expect a four-banger to.

The diesel isn't that quick off the line, but it never feels short of power and doesn't struggle when pulling a trailer. The two V8s are the most potent engines in the lineup, and they deliver the best off-the-line acceleration as well as feeling the strongest at highway speeds.

The transmission varies according to engine choice and trim level, but most of the time, you're getting either an eight-speed or 10-speed automatic. Both are good transmissions and deliver smooth, timely shifts.

  • "A range of engines – including a V-6, a turbocharged four-cylinder, two V-8s, and a Duramax diesel 3.0-liter inline-six – means there's a Silverado 1500 for any job. Of the two eight-cylinder engines, the 420-hp 6.2-liter is the quickest, propelling the Silverado High Country we tested to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. For comparison, the smaller 355-hp 5.3-liter needed 6.1 seconds. The 310-hp turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder still offers decent towing capacity but needed 7.0 seconds to hit 60 mph. The diesel-powered Silverado we tested had the slowest acceleration of the bunch, but we were impressed by the engine's smooth and quiet operation. Every version of the Silverado we've driven felt smaller than its size suggests." -- Car and Driver
  • "We tested a Silverado crew cab (High Country trim) with the 5.3-liter V8, 4WD and eight-speed automatic. Acceleration and braking are average but totally sufficient for daily driving or towing. Our test truck covered 60 mph in 7 seconds from a standstill at our test track. An equivalent F-150 is a little quicker, but there's nothing wrong with the Silverado's power. Around town, the transmission shifts smoothly and makes the most of the engine's low-end torque." -- Edmunds
  • "Be sure to check the badges on the exterior of the Silverado before you drive. You may not be able to immediately identify the powertrain under the hood by sound or even unladen performance. Unless you only need the most basic of work trucks, most buyers will probably skip the base V6 engine in favor of GM's robust and well-respected 5.3-liter V8. The turbocharged 2.7-liter is also an intriguing choice. It may only be a 4-cylinder, but it's a big one, and its power output makes the Silverado feel frisky. On the other end is the 6.2-liter V8 that is a well of seamless power. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 is also a wonderful choice that has the torque of the 6.2-liter V8 and the best fuel economy of the bunch. If budget allows, the 10-speed automatic transmission, when paired with any engine, is a marvel that makes everything better." -- Kelley Blue Book

MPG Estimates

The Silverado gets unimpressive fuel economy with its base V6 engine; indeed, the numbers are slightly worse than what it earns with one of its V8s. Models with the turbo-four deliver better ratings, and it's about as fuel-efficient as any engine rivals offer. The diesel gets the best ratings in the lineup, and models with this engine get some of the best fuel economy in the full-size pickup truck class.

  • V6, RWD: 16/21 mpg city/highway
  • V6, 4WD: 15/20 mpg
  • Turbo-four, RWD: 20/23 mpg
  • Turbo-four, 4WD: 19/22 mpg
  • 5.3-liter V8, RWD: 17/23 mpg
  • 5.3-liter V8, 4WD: 16/22 mpg
  • 6.2-liter V8, 4WD: 16/21 mpg
  • Turbodiesel, RWD: 23/33 mpg
  • Turbodiesel, 4WD: 22/26 mpg

Handling and Braking

The Silverado often feels a bit smaller than it really is, which helps make it easier to drive. It feels stable and composed on winding roads, and the ride quality is good over smooth pavement. However, the ride gets noticeably harsher when the pavement quality deteriorates. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and four-wheel drive is available.

  • "We found the Silverado's ride quality impressive, and the factory 2-in lift on Trail Boss models adds compelling off-road chops." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The truck tracks straight on the highway, but the steering effort is a bit too light. Handling is secure, and body roll is held nicely in check as you drive around turns. But midcorner bumps can upset the Silverado pretty easily." -- Edmunds
  • "The truck feels surprisingly lithe on the road, building on its predecessor's solid dynamic repertoire. There is none of the jouncing and bouncing once associated with driving an unladen pickup. … Appropriately heavy for a vehicle this size, the wheel responds smoothly and accurately to inputs and feels even slightly heavier in the Silverado's new Sport driving mode." -- Car and Driver (2019)

Towing and Hauling

When properly equipped, the Silverado can tow up to 13,300 pounds and haul up to 2,280 pounds. There are also a variety of features available that make it easier to hook up and tow a trailer, such as hitch guidance, a trailer sway controller, and a multicamera trailer system.

Capacities vary pretty significantly depending on your engine, drivetrain, and cab choices, but the vast majority of Silverado models can haul upward of 2,000 pounds and tow at least 9,000 pounds.

  • "If you plan to tow a lot, the multicamera trailer system helps a lot." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With a max towing capacity of 13,300 pounds, the half-ton Silverado is a seriously capable hauler." -- Car and Driver
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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

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