THE NEW Chevrolet Silverado 1500 in Australia has spent barely any time on HSV (could soon be GMSV) dealer floors, but we were itching to jump into one and give it a good test both on and off the road. Read on for our full on-road and off-road assessment.

IN A NUTSHELL: It might be bigger than Texas but the Silverado 1500 has plenty of southern charm, with a lovely drivetrain, personable and well-presented cabin plus enough towing performance, room and storage for any kind of trip.

THE GOOD: Impressive specification, great interior packaging, cracking drivetrain, born to tow.

THE BAD: Payload is sub-par when comparing to most dual-cab utes, more affordable entry-grade would be attractive, it feels big on Aussie roads (and car parks).

What is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500?

HSV has swiftly transitioned from local-built vehicles enhancer to importer-converter and it’s done a terrific job. Its new facility in Clayton, Victoria where both Chevrolet (Camaro and Silverado) and RAM products are converted employs skilled talent and uses local suppliers to develop and build new parts required to switch a steering wheel from the left to right-hand side.

In the case of this 1500, there are hundreds of new parts – such as the dash and wiring loom – which are all verified and registered so that like any factory LHD car these parts are accessible to service centres for repairs and possible recalls.

And this isn’t anything like a backyard cut shop job; HSV/Walkinshaw(/GMSV) has full access to original General Motors CAD designs it can reference. One look and feel of the final product proves that it’s every bit as good (and perhaps more) than the original.

Looking specifically at this newest model to be converted by Walkinshaw under the HSV banner (until the likely GMSV brand is finalised) the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is the first of the latest-generation of full-size pickup trucks to be officially offered in Australia. If comparing this smaller 1500 to the likes of the larger/longer Silverado 2500 and 3500 already sold here, you’ll find that this truck is a different beast. Underpinned by GM’s newest T1 ladder-frame chassis which replaces the old K2 platform, it brings a swathe of new tech and features.

What does the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 cost and what do you get?

At first glance, it’s not cheap. Priced at $113,990 plus on-roads it certainly looks steep – you can get into a RAM 1500 Laramie from $104,950 plus on-roads. But this is the latest generation truck, with a nicer interior, better technology and it’s packed full of gear. Seriously, there’s more in this truck than some premium sedans.

Only one model grade is available right now, the Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium crew cab with a short bed tray, which brings premium features such as a full leather interior, two-way heated and ventilated electric front seats, heated rear seats, sunroof, wireless phone charging, remote start, 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a powered tailgate.

It also consists of a standard-equipment off-road pack, which brings a two-speed transfer case, underbody protection, Rancho off-road twin-tube shock absorbers, locking rear differential, and hill descent control. There’s also an off-road mode in the drive controls that adjusts some of the system parameters that are suited to off-roading.

And then it also comes with a heap of safety assist technology that is head and shoulders above other utes like AEB, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and rear-cross traffic alert.

Did we mention it packs a 6.2-litre V8 petrol engine that’ll help the rig tow up to 4500kg?

If all of that doesn’t sound good enough, there’s more. You can option the 1500 from a long list of accessories, and we had a few of these items on our test car. That included black 20-inch alloy wheels (you can go up to 22s), a ‘sailplane’ rear sports bar, bonnet protector and, harking back to HSV’s performance roots somewhat, a cold air intake system with cat-back exhaust (good for an additional 9kW, 10Nm, and a great noise).

What’s the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 interior like?

It’s easy to appreciate just how good a job HSV has done converting this car as parts like the dash, seatbelt buckles and some switchgear – which were all pulled out for conversion reasons – feel rock solid and untouched from the factory. Parts like the dashboard are also quite nicely finished and many of the materials feel premium, with a tasteful grey and black palette in play.

But perhaps one drawback from the sheer size of the cabin – which we’ll cover below – is that the normally large-sounding 8.0-inch infotainment screen looks almost a touch too small in the wide dash. Still, after a couple of days you don’t notice, and the good size means it’s easy to read – including via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity – and its inset position protects from glare. Talking of which, the sun visors are huge and did a brilliant job when driving into the autumn sun.

The steering wheel is a nice size – it’s not too big – though the column-mounted gear selector feels a bit old fashioned. There is, however, up and downshift buttons there which can be used when towing. And with tilt and reach adjustment it helps find a really good driving position, which sits up high – as you’d expect – with a good view throughout the glasshouse.

Onto the lower reaches of the dash, we find an array of switches for things like the two-zone heated seats (they get really hot on max) also with ventilation, two of the six USB-A and -C ports available throughout the cabin, and a defunct 110v power outlet which we really wished could have been converted to a local 240v three-pin socket. Under all of this is a wireless phone charging pad that sits inside an oversized holder for phablets as well as normal phones.

The leather on both the front and rear seats is nice and soft, and the seats themselves comfortable, if a touch flat. That’s not much concern, as pointing around corners with speed isn’t going to happen. In the rear, you also have vented air control and more USB ports but don’t quite sit underneath the sunroof.

How much space is there in the Chevrolet Silverado 1500?

It’s absolutely cavernous inside. We happened to hop between this and a new Nissan Patrol four-wheel drive during our test and the Silverado feels much wider, much higher… much bigger. It dwarfs just about anything on the road and so inside there’s an air of isolation. (Too soon?)

Upfront, you could put a picnic spread between the two seats, such is the width and size of the centre console, and it’s deep enough to hold one. Pity that it’s not refrigerated. But there’s also two gloveboxes and massive door pockets for fitting anything else you need into.

Headspace is tall, and shoulder room is great. You can fit three adults in the back without worry, and kids will have room to flay arms about. In fact, the lack of a transmission tunnel on the floor makes for an easy walk through, with a good 50cm space between the edge of the rear seat and the back of the front seats in normal positions. Those back seats can also fold down (60:40 split) to access further hidey holes and storage.

Moving to the exterior tray, we have an electric-opening tailgate that neatly folds down to provide access to the tub with a spray-in liner (we had the optional tub liner). It measures 1776mm long and 1286mm wide, so you can fit a full-size Australian pallet in the back, and more.

What engine is in the Chevrolet Silverado 1500?

Up front is a 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 ‘L87’ petrol engine mated to a 10-speed torque converter automatic transmission, which happens to be the largest swept-capacity General Motors EcoTec3 engine available. It has technology such as multiple cylinder deactivation and dual-equal camshaft phasing to help keep economy reasonable. But on to the numbers that count.

The output is 313kW of power at 5600rpm and 624Nm of torque at 4100rpm, with a 6000rpm redline. It hauls.

We had the optional air intake and cat-back exhaust and wouldn’t want it any other way. It sounds terrific – not overdone, mind – with a gutsy V8 rumble on idle (the remote start is great for walking up and getting it going to enjoy the ignition firing up). When you get up it with the accelerator, it goes hard, and the 2588kg kerb weight is laughable to the torque on tap. You can overtake comfortably, and it boogies quickly from the lights if need be.

The problem is managing fuel consumption, which you can squeeze close to the 12.3L/100km claim when cruising but it will quickly get away from you with liberal use of the right foot.

Is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 good to drive?

Again, it’s big. Australian-spec models don’t get the 360-degree cameras so parking in tight spaces isn’t fun at first, but your spatial awareness adjusts quick enough – dimensions are 5885mm long and 2063mm wide – about half a metre longer than some dual-cab utes. On our first parking adventure at a shopping centre, the bum was sticking out a considerable amount, and after getting the nose tight to the next space, it was still just over the line. And this is only the short-tray model.

But as we’ve discussed, the energy from the engine upfront disguises its heft on the run, and the long wheelbase (3745mm) makes for a comfortable ride without much detriment to handling. Sure, it doesn’t point into corners sharply and doesn’t feel comfortable braking on short notice…but this is a full-size pickup. What you do get is a fairly soft (compliant) ride that’s quiet and calm on most surfaces. It’s great for cruising and soaking up kays, and the distance of separation and plenty of stuffing likely helps quiet down road noise. The leaf-sprung rear is a touch too soft and benefits from some load, but it’s not so soft that it wallows over bumps.

There are different drive modes, with normal, sport, off-road and tow settings. Sport mode changes throttle and automatic transmission mapping and the drivetrain reacts quicker to input from both, while off-road and tow optimise traction control and stability to suit those uses.

Is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 good off-road?

With our optional black alloys measuring 20-inches large the hoops remain friendly for some off-road work, equipped with Goodyear Wrangler TrailRunner AT 275/60 rubber. It also comes standard with the Z71 pack which equips it with skid plates, a mechanically locking (G80) rear differential and hill descent control.

It needs that baseplate too because the long body will scrub on bumps and rocks despite a reasonable 235mm of ground clearance. But with the 21-degree approach, 23-degree departure, and 20-degree rampover angles it isn’t going to crawl down gnarly little trails like Suzuki Jimny would (for reference, that 4WD has 37-degree approach, 49-degree departure and 28-degree rampover).

But we insisted on venturing offroad and found that the two-speed electronic Autotrac transfer case was seamless to switch between 2H, 4H and 4L, with off-road mode helping to gain traction in some of the wet, muddy conditions we encountered. Four-high makes good use of the torque generated by the V8. It also crawled across a couple water crossings about 300mm deep with no hesitation – traction was very good on the exit, though you’ll need some herbs for steep sections that work the TRC unit.

As a rig for getting away into the bush, it’s a solid choice and performs well with some light four-wheel driving, just mind the clearance on rocky stuff.

Is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 good to tow with?

We haven’t properly towed with it yet and aim to deliver a comprehensive tow test review soon.

On to the specs, it claims 4500kg braked towing capacity on a 70mm towball or 3500kg braked when using a 50mm ball. It can haul 750kg unbraked.

The payload is not as exemplary, touting 712kg maximum capacity – normal for a US pickup, actually, but far from the usual one-tonne rating a dual-cab ute has here.

HSV Chevrolet claims a Gross Combined Mass (GCM) of 7160kg. The 1500’s kerb mass is 2588kg and so if towing at the full 4500kg capacity you’re left with only 72kg for a driver and any other gear. Sure, it works in a pinch for picking up some machinery, but for towing a caravan you’ll want to keep the towed mass at around 3.5-tonnes which leaves you with over one tonne for passengers and equipment. So it’s a great choice for towing a big caravan in terms of meeting legal load requirements.

There’s also a 12-pin plug and hitch guidance (via the camera) – we’ll go through this comprehensively in a proper tow test.

How safe is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500?

There’s no ANCAP rating and don’t expect one. It does, however, have six airbags and come with plenty of active safety assist systems that other dual-cabs would be jealous of, including AEB (from 8-80km/h) with forward collision warning and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist, park assist, and automatic high beams.

What are the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 alternatives?

We could list some expensive dual-cab utes here but they just don’t compete for size and engine performance. Instead, the other alternative that comes close is the RAM 1500, though this new generation Silverado 1500 is ultimately nicer.


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2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pricing and specifications

Price From $113,990 plus ORCs Warranty 3 years/unlimited km Engine 6.2L petrol V8 Power 313kW at 5600rpm Torque 624Nm at 4100rpm Transmission 10-speed automatic Drive part-time four-wheel drive Body 5885mm (l); 2063mm (w); 3745mm (wb) Kerb weight 12588kg Seats 5 Thirst 12.3L/100km Fuel tank 91L Spare Full-size spare


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Alex Rae

Alex Rae brings almost two decades’ experience, previously working at publications including Wheels, WhichCar, Drive/Fairfax,, AMC, Just Cars, and more.

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