Think Tank

It might present all the aesthetic subtleness of a blunt weapon, but the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 tough truck range has more tech tricks up its shiny sleeve than you might be expecting.

Words Cameron Officer Photos Simeon Patience


If you don’t consider yourself a fan, then you’ll have your preconceived notions about the giant slab of metal and chrome before you on these pages.

I’m here to convince you otherwise. Spending a week with this latest iteration of Chevrolet Silverado 1500 – particularly in LTZ Premium guise – revealed a full-sized truck that also sports a full-sized load of techno trickery designed to make it easy to live with and endlessly practical.

There are three states of dress for the New Zealand market Silverado 1500. The Silverado LT Trail Boss gets things rolling with – arguably – the most ‘Kiwi-appropriate’ hardware, namely all-terrain tyres and no-nonsense bodywork. The truck on these pages – the LTZ Premium – sits next in the line-up, with the ruggedised HD LTZ Premium (which swaps out the chrome for black-out accenting but retains the full leather trim) sits at the top of the tree.

The Trail Boss and LTZ Premium rely on the 313kW/624Nm power and torque spread of a 6.2-litre V8 petrol EcoTech3 engine under their broad bonnets, while the HD LTZ Premium swaps to manufacturer General Motors’ 6.6-litre Duramax turbodiesel V8. There’s plenty of power on tap here, but then you probably guessed that already.

A useful illustration of the way GM steps up through the Silverado range is to, literally, look at each iteration’s ride height. The LTZ Premium is the lowest-slung at 1933mm tall, while the Trail Boss with those chunky Mud-Terrain Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tyres sits at 1963mm. The HD LTZ Premium wears 20” Goodyear all-terrains and rides highest at 2039mm.

So yes, these are all big vehicles across the board. There’s no getting away from that. But that’s all the better for what many buyers will use them for – towing stuff.

A huge amount of attention has been given to ensuring the Silverado 1500s are absolutely fit-for-purpose with something hanging off the towball. This is reflected in the amount of safety and convenience spec given over to the art of haulin’.

The Silverado 1500 range arrives with two maximum braked tow ratings, depending upon what sized towball is fitted (a tow bar is standard, the towball is an optional extra). With a 50mm ball fitted, max capacity tops out at 3.5-tonne, although with the larger 70mm ball in-situ, braked towing capacity rises to 4.5-tonne for the LTZ Premium spec trucks, or a shade over 4.2-tonne for the Trail Boss. The LTZ Premium offers the biggest maximum payload by a slim margin at 760kg, with its load bed accessed by a sturdy electronically opening and closing tailgate.

With the potential for plenty of weight out beyond the rear axle, GM gives the Silverado LTZ Premium driver a suite of safety aids to help get the boat, car trailer, mini digger or whatever else from A to B in a reassuringly controlled fashion.

These include a Trailer Brake Controller system to prevent sway, and a Hitch Guidance System as part of the Silverado’s 360° Camera View package (which offers up to 15 different views around the vehicle), making lining up on the towball a doddle. Then before you head off, the LTZ Premium spec trucks also feature an in-cab trailering app which helps with everything from pre-departure checklists to diagnostics for tyre pressure and lighting.

The Silverado LTZ Premium also has a port for a trailer mounted accessory camera in its rear bumper which can effectively render big boxy tow-alongs like caravans or horse floats ‘see-through’. This transparent camera view works by lining up the image from the camera attached to the back of the trailer and the camera at the back of the truck. It then detects the edges of whatever is being towed and outlines it, but also shows the view behind the trailer, giving the Silverado driver a handy view of what’s following, beyond what the large wing mirrors show.

It’s all rather clever stuff, although the Silverado LTZ Premium’s tech spread doesn’t end with towing assist features. Yes, the truck might represent a broad slab of beef, but inside the cabin, driver and passengers alike can access plenty of premium petit fours.

Highlights include a seven-speaker Bose Premium sound system through which Apple Carplay or Android Auto help access music, podcasts and contact info from the driver’s smartphone. That smartphone can be charged wirelessly, while fully powered heated and ventilated seats, a powered sunroof and dual-zone auto A/C are also part of the picture. The Silverado LTZ Premium’s safety spec is similarly comprehensive, with Adaptive Cruise Control, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning all present as part of a wider suite of driver aids.

The Chevy Silverado 1500 range is a bundle of fun and full of practical technology and convenience features. It’s so big it’s actually useful (in a way that many ‘standard’ sized double cab utes reveal themselves not to be in some situations), with all the solidity and comfort its oversized footprint implies.

If you live in a central city suburb or have to negotiate a parking building as part of your daily routine, then the Silverado possibly isn’t for you. If, however, you have the luxury of space and a toy shed big enough to house it (alongside all the things you need it to tow), then you’ll never outgrow a Silverado. It’ll be a sturdy, clever companion for work and play. Convinced?

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