Things were already hot in the American pickup world, but they’re about to get even spicier.
Imported to Australia by GM Specialty Vehicles (GMSV), remanufactured to right-hand drive by Walkinshaw in Dandenong, and distributed through a network of 56 dealers, the Chevrolet Silverado has been fighting the latest Ram 1500 with one hand tied behind its back.
It’s not short on pulling power, as we found out in our recent mega test drag race, but the cabin has always felt old-hat alongside the Ram with its oversized touchscreen.
The off-road ready Trail Boss was missing safety equipment that really should be standard on a $100,000 pickup, and was more of an LTZ in rugged clothes than a properly capable go-anywhere, do-anything flagship.
The updated range, which has been on sale in the USA since late 2021, is designed to address those problems.
Opening the range is the ZR2, which combines a suite of tougher exterior parts with a range of hardware upgrades designed to take the Silverado deeper into the wilderness.
Headlining the inclusions are a set of sophisticated DSSV dampers from Multimatic, and locking differentials on both axles.
As for the LTZ Premium? It’s gained a new, more luxurious interior featuring a touchscreen to rival that in the Ram 1500, but it still undercuts its biggest rival on sticker price.
On paper, the new Silverado has all the tools to take on the DT Ram 1500, along with the incoming Ford F-150. We spent some time behind the wheel to find out if that’s how it plays out in the real world.
The Silverado shapes as solid value.
The entry-level LTZ Premium is generously equipped, but aligns with the mid-spec Ram 1500 Laramie, and opting for the range-topping ZR2 off-roader adds $5000 to the sticker price.
The equation gets better again when you consider the Ford F-150 Lariat LWB, which has the equivalent spec to the LTZ Premium, has a sticker price above $140,000 before on-roads.
2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pricing:
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium: $128,000
- Chevrolet Silverado ZR2: $133,000
Prices exclude on-road costs
UPDATE, 16/03/2023 8:00pm – This story was initially published with launch pricing, rather than current order pricing. It’s been updated to reflect the correct numbers.
That’s better! The last Silverado felt old behind the wheel, the update brings it into line with its big American rivals.
For starters, the new 13.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system looks and feels modern enough to give the vertically-oriented display in the Ram 1500 some sleepless nights.
Wireless Apple CarPlay looks great, although it doesn’t take up the full screen, and the way it responds to inputs is nice and slick. Also slick is the new digital instrument binnacle, which offers a nice blend of customisation and readability on the move.
It’s not all technology sizzle, either. The quality of all the buttons and trim pieces has improved, and it’s much nicer to look at than before. Yes, gloss black trim gets dusty and dirty, but there’s no doubt the new look is more fitting for a truck with a $120,000 sticker price.
Thankfully, the clunky old column shifter has been given the boot as well.
It’s still massive. Up front, it feels like you’re sitting in a different postcode to your passenger, and it’s possible to sit three adults in the back with acres of legroom, headroom, and space between the seats.
The only downside is the fact you can’t punish the apprentice by sitting them in the awkward middle seat, such is the space.
The driving position is downright excellent. The view over other road users is commanding, and there’s so much room to get comfortable that, even at 6’7, there was more room to slide the driver’s seat. It’s a winner if you’re whiling away hours on the road.
Visibility out is decent from the oversized mirrors, and the camera-based rear-view mirror in the LTZ Premium makes it much easier to know exactly what’s behind you given the amount of tray protruding from the cab. Both the LTZ and ZR2 feature an excellent suite of camera views as well, making it easier to place what are big utes off-road.
There are plenty of other neat touches buried in the infotainment system.
You’re able to have the car cycle through the indicators and lights for your trailer checks, and there’s a checklist for nervous towers to make sure they’ve plugged in, attached, and secured all the right things.
Once hooked up, you’re able to use the tech to make your trailer “transparent”. It’s very clever, and even seasoned caravaners can benefit.
Also useful is a function that will warn you if you’re approaching your maximum GCM.
Rear seat space in the Silverado is excellent. You can fit three adults across the bench, and legroom is palatial compared to what we’re used to in utes such as a Ranger or HiLux. Air vents features, as do two USB ports.
New for 2023 is a more scalloped rear bench for the ZR2, designed to hold the kids in place during vigorous off-roading.
The tray feature a spray-in liner, and on the LTZ measures up at 1780mm long (1400mm from roller shutter), 1490mm wide (1280mm between arches), and 590mm deep.
Power in the Chevrolet Silverado comes from a 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine making 313kW of power, and 624Nm of torque.
It’s mated with a 10-speed torque converter automatic transmission, along with a four-wheel drive system with 2H, 4A, 4H, and 4L modes.
4A allows owners to drive with four-wheel drive traction on sealed surfaces, handy for wet roads when you’re piloting a 2500kg truck running on off-road tyres.
Claimed fuel economy is 12.2 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, and the Silverado has a 91-litre fuel tank.
Ground clearance in the off-road oriented ZR2 is 296mm, and you get 9.0 inches of suspension travel up front and 10.0 inches at the rear.
|Braked tow (50mm ball)||3500kg||3500kg|
|Braked tow (70mm ball)||4500kg||4200kg|
|Downball (50mm ball)||350kg||350kg|
|Downball (70mm ball)||422kg||400kg|
Before its recent update, the Silverado had a distinct personality. The latest car has two, thanks to the inclusion of the ZR2.
The biggest change to the ZR2 are the dampers. Using tech derived from the world of high-speed desert racing, they’re designed with an external oil reservoir to deal with the heat stress that comes with sustained off-road running at pace.
They’re able to vary their response based on the input, so they perform differently when you tip into a sweeping bend compared to when you smash into a pothole, or thump into a muddy rut on a trail. Essentially, they’re designed to broaden the range of things the ZR2 can do relative to the old Trail Boss while still feeling comfortable.
It feels more surefooted off-road than before. Rather than clumsily falling into ruts or bouncing up bumpy trails, the new dampers make for a more controlled truck, and one that’s more comfortable behind the wheel.
The amount of wheel travel on offer is impressive in offset moguls, with the big Chevrolet able to maintain contact with the ground even with two of its chunky mud terrain tyres tucked right up into the arch. If you do get stuck, the ZR2 has an advantage over the LTZ in the form of selectable front and rear differential locks.
In our recent off-road test the automatic locking rear differential in the outgoing Silverado was crude but effective; the electronic locking front and rear differentials in the ZR2 give the driver more control, allowing you to crawl out of tight spots rather than building up some throttle and waiting for the differential to clunk into action.
The new bodywork also pays dividends. The plastic aero spoiler at the base of the bumper on the LTZ turned it into a bulldozer in our recent off-road testing, the aggressive setup at the front of the ZR2 solves that problem.
The trade-off is missing out on parking sensors, which do come in handy in tight supermarket carparks given the size of the Silverado. Covering for that loss is the excellent array of cameras, which are as helpful on tight trails as they are in town.
As for the LTZ Premium? It hasn’t really changed on the road, which is to say it’s a comfortable, capable cruiser.
The 6.2-litre V8 engine is old-fashioned in the best way, with bags of torque low in the rev range and a bassy bark when you put your foot down.
Based on previous experience, the 10-speed automatic doesn’t feel the need to try every gear all the time, and flicking it into tow mode – which it’ll prompt you to do if a trailer is hooked up – forces the engine to hold gears a bit longer.
A drive with the trailer pictured above (around 3500kg) proved the Silverado has plenty of grunt on tap, and our recent ute mega test showed it’s up there with the Ram 1500 as one of the best pickups for towing. With the introduction of the new ZR2 model, the LTZ is being positioned as a touring special.
It’s well tailored to that role.
As for the ZR2? It feels more planted and purposeful on the road, settling quickly over bumps that have the looser LTZ feeling a bit floaty.
It’s incredibly quiet for a car on mud-terrain tyres, and ride quality felt good on secondary Queensland highways. There was a constant patter at 110km/h on concrete freeways though that was quite noticeable, as if the car wasn’t quite able to settle when the bumps were at a certain frequency.
It’ll be interesting to see how the ZR2 shapes up with more time behind the wheel in our regular conditions.
Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium highlights:
- Surround-view cameras
- Adaptive cruise control
- Head-up display
- LED headlights
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Rear camera mirror
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Spray-in bed liner
- Powered up/down tailgate
- 20-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tyres
- Keyless entry and start
- Wireless phone charger
- 13.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- 12.3-inch driver instrument binnacle
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 7-speaker Bose sound system
- Dual-zone climate control
- 10-way powered front seats
- Power sliding rear window
- Black leather seat trim
- Heated, cooled front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Powered steering column
- Trailer camera views
- Tow bar and 12-pin wiring harness
- Electric trailer brake controller
- Automatic trailer lighting test
- GCM alert
Silverado ZR2 removes the following:
- Interior rear-view camera
- Adaptive cruise control (replaced with regular cruise)
- Head-up display
- Front parking assist
- Bose sound system (replaced with 6-speaker system)
- Powered steering column (replaced with manual column)
Silverado ZR2 adds:
- Enhanced two-speed transfer case
- Electric locking front and rear differentials
- Multimatic DSSV dampers
- Special ZR2 skid plates
- Front recovery hooks
The Chevrolet Silverado hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
There’s more active safety kit across the range for 2023. Where previously the Trail Boss missed out on autonomous emergency braking, the ZR2 now features it standard.
Standard equipment across the range includes:
- 6 airbags
- AEB with Pedestrian detection
- Blind-spot monitoring with trailer assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
LTZ Premium adds:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Front, rear parking sensors
The Chevrolet Silverado is covered by a three-year, 100,000 kilometre warranty.
GM Specialty Vehicles doesn’t offer capped-price servicing.
The new Silverado addresses most of the biggest complaints we had about the 2022 model.
It finally looks and feels special enough inside to justify its price, with a modern infotainment system, stylish new dashboard, and nicer materials all around.
It’s always been comfortable, and now the Silverado feels luxurious as well.
Very little has changed in how the LTZ drives, based on our quick spin. That’s no bad thing, given it was capable off-road and a confident hauler in our recent ute mega test.
The new ZR2 trim is a different beast, though. Along with its tougher look, it’s benefitted from some serious hardware changes under the skin that make it meaningfully more capable.
Although it doesn’t pack extra power, the sophisticated dampers and locking differentials make for a truck you can push harder on the road, and take further into the wilderness.
It’s not cheap, but relative to a Ram 1500 TRX it shapes as pretty damn good value as well.
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