Mon­ster Truck

If you’re look­ing to haul a lot of weight and have tray space to spare, the newly re­leased Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado pro­vides se­ri­ous power with plenty of style. Fraser Stronach takes it out to see what it can do

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Fraser Stronach gets be­hind the wheel of a Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado

To­day’s pop­u­lar dual-cab utes are far big­ger and can carry and tow much more than ever be­fore, but even the big­gest and brawni­est of them look de­cid­edly small and puny com­pared to the newly re­leased Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado. This is a ute from an­other and al­to­gether dif­fer­ent world.

The Sil­ver­ado comes to Aus­tralia cour­tesy of Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles (HSV), the of­fi­cial per­for­mance-ve­hi­cle part­ner of Holden. Not that the mon­ster-sized Chev ute is a per­for­mance ve­hi­cle in the mould of the tweaked Com­modore V8s more com­monly as­so­ci­ated with HSV, but it nev­er­the­less has a set of num­bers that make a very big state­ment. How does 1,234Nm of torque sound? Or a tow­ing ca­pac­ity close to 6,000kg? CLIMB ABOARD

As you walk up to the Sil­ver­ado you can’t help but be im­pressed its sheer size. At over six me­tres long and nearly two me­tres high it dwarfs even the big­gest of to­day’s main­stream dual-cabs. A mea­sure of its size can be seen with its 3,886mm wheel­base, which is 666mm longer than that of the Ranger/BT50 twins that share the long­est wheel­base amongst to­day’s pop­u­lar utes.

De­spite also rid­ing very high (with 250mm of ground clear­ance), the side­steps and a con­ve­niently lo­cated as­sist-han­dle make it dead easy to climb aboard and once there you find your­self in a no­tably wide and tall cabin. A very plush and com­fort­able driver’s seat too al­though at this en­try-level spec there isn’t any height ad­just­ment for the seat (which shorter driv­ers would ap­pre­ci­ate) nor does the steer­ing wheel ad­just for reach.

This ‘Work Truck’ (WT) model seats three across the front thanks to a fixed third seat (with a lap-only belt) above the trans­mis­sion tun­nel. When not in use the back­rest of the cen­tre seat folds down to be­come a cen­tre con­sole com­plete with three drinks hold­ers. The gen­eral fit and fin­ish is also good given much of the right hand drive (RHD) con­ver­sion is fac­tory done.

Plenty of room too in the back seat for three six-foot­plus adults even when the front seats are set back to also ac­com­mo­date an over-six foot driver or front-seat pas­sen­ger.

One glitch is there’s no rear-seat cen­tre head­rest al­though all three rear-seat pas­sen­gers do get lap-sash seat belts. ON THE ROAD

Fire up the big 6.6-litre diesel V8 and while it sounds like a diesel, and a very big one at that, there’s noth­ing too truck­like here. It’s cer­tainly more sub­dued that the 4.5-litre diesel V8 in a Toy­ota LandCruiser 79-Se­ries ute, if you wish to draw a com­par­i­son to a pop­u­lar and in some ways sim­i­lar ve­hi­cle.

The Al­li­son six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is op­er­ated via shifter on the left side of the steer­ing col­umn, which feels a bit odd at first if you’re more used to right-side col­umn-shift au­to­mat­ics, but is easy enough to get used to.

Once un­der­way the big V8 is ef­fort­less al­most be­yond de­scrip­tion, even if it does have 3,500kg of un­laden weight to deal with. With barely a touch on the throt­tle the Sil­ver­ado dis­penses with any driv­ing du­ties, hills in­cluded. In fact, in the Sil­ver­ado you wouldn’t know what hills are.

At 110km/h the engine is tick­ing over at around 1,500rpm in top gear and is quiet and sur­pris­ingly re­fined. Nice re­fine­ment from the gear­box too, not that it needs to shift much given it moves out of the low gears early and holds the tall gears

seem­ingly for­ever.

Pedal to the metal high­way-speed over­tak­ing is also im­pres­sive and such is the ease of what the engine does and the gen­eral lack of road noise it’s very de­cep­tive of high­way speed. When you look down at the speedo you’re al­ways go­ing faster than you thought…

The price you pay for all this is rea­son­ably high but still not un­rea­son­able fuel con­sump­tion. Over the 1,000km road-test kilo­me­tres of mixed driv­ing the Sil­ver­ado used 17.7 litres/100km. The up­side is the 136-litre tank still gives you a de­cent range.

In gen­eral driv­ing you don’t feel the Sil­ver­ado’s size as much as you may think. The steer­ing is also sur­pris­ingly light (per­haps a lit­tle too light) and the gen­eral han­dling is sta­ble and pred­i­ca­ble on most roads even if there is some bump-steer from the rear axle on pot­holed un­sealed roads when the ve­hi­cle is un­laden. Other­wise the ride qual­ity when un­laden, of­ten a ute prob­lem, is good.


The Sil­ver­ado might be a bit flash to drive around the pad­dock, but if you do so wish it has clear­ance aplenty and ro­bust ‘Light Truck’ con­struc­tion tyres with a mild all-ter­rain pat­tern. En­gag­ing high-range 4WD on the run is also easy and while you have to stop to en­gage low-range 4WD (as is the norm) the elec­tro­mag­netic shifter rarely baulks ei­ther go­ing in or out of low range. Plenty of trac­tive abil­ity too thanks to an auto-en­gag­ing (me­chan­i­cal) rear diff lock. Best of all the elec­tronic trac­tion con­trol stays ac­tive on the front axle when the locker en­gages.

All that doesn’t make the Sil­ver­ado use­ful on off-road trails as it’s sim­ply too big and it lacks the wheel travel to ne­go­ti­ate lumpy ground and is lim­ited by its ap­proach and ramp-over an­gles.


The Sil­ver­ado is built to tow and with a pin­tle cou­pling can tow up to 5,890kg, al­though at the time of writ­ing this was pend­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. With a 70mm ball it’s good for 4,500kg, or with a stan­dard 50mm ball it can tow 3,500kg. Even the 4,500kg rat­ing puts it in a league of its own com­pared to main­stream utes.

The Sil­ver­ado also comes with an in-built trailer-brake bias con­troller, a tow-mode for the trans­mis­sion and ex­haust brakes. With its 1,234Nm of torque and ex­tra long wheel­base it should make an ef­fort­less and sta­ble heavy-duty tow tug, some­thing that we can hope­fully test once the 5,890kg cer­ti­fi­ca­tion comes through.

Sur­pris­ingly the Sil­ver­ado’s pay­load is un­der 1,000kg but the up­side is a mon­ster tray that’s over half a me­tre longer and a lit­tle wider than the big­gest tray you’ll get on one of the pop­u­lar dual cabs.


While the Sil­ver­ado’s right-hand-drive (RHD) con­ver­sion is done lo­cally by HSV, much of the prepa­ra­tion work for Aus­tralia is ex-fac­tory. Given HSV’s con­nec­tion to GM in the USA, items such as the AM/FM ra­dio, kilo­me­tre speedo and dash are fac­tory-fit RHD. Even the RHD steer­ing sys­tem is made by the same sup­plier that pro­duces the LHD steer­ing sys­tem, all pos­i­tives from an own­er­ship point of view. The

Sil­ver­ado will be sold through selected Holden deal­ers and all HSV deal­ers and is of­fered with a three-year/100,000km war­ranty.


There’s not much not to love about the Sil­ver­ado pro­vided you don’t need to park it in the lo­cal Woolies carpark! In gen­eral driv­ing you quickly get used to its size but park­ing it in con­fined spa­ces is never easy. It’s also sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able and re­fined for what is in­escapably more truck than ute.


The Sil­ver­ado model range starts with the 2,500HD WT, which gets you seat­ing for six, leather seats, car­pet, eight air-bags, a seven-inch touch screen, a rear-view cam­era, a six-speaker au­dio sys­tem with two USB ports and a aux­il­iary in­put, and 18-inch steel wheels wear­ing Light Truck des­ig­na­tion all­ter­rain tyres. The next model up is the 2500HD LTZ, which seats five via two front bucket seats with elec­tric seat ad­just­ment. The LTZ also adds power ad­justable ped­als, steer­ing-wheel reach and two-po­si­tion mem­ory for the driver.

Ad­di­tional LTZ fea­tures in­cludes push-but­ton start, a big­ger eight-inch touch screen, Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto con­nec­tiv­ity, and a seven-speaker BOSE au­dio sys­tem.

Safety ad­di­tions in­clude for­ward col­li­sion and lanede­par­ture warn­ings.

Me­chan­i­cal changes in­clude 35mm twin-tube gas-charged sus­pen­sion dampers, a thicker front sta­biliser bar, trans­fer­case pro­tec­tion and 18-inch al­loys.

From there the ‘Mid­night Edi­tion’ is ef­fec­tively a LTZ in black and with black-fin­ish for the wheels, side­steps, grille, bumpers and other ex­te­rior items.

The ‘Cus­tom Sport Edi­tion’ is also based on the LTZ, but is white themed and rides on 20-inch wheels. The top-of-the-range 3500HD has dual rear wheels and a longer tub.

1. The steer­ing is sur­pris­ingly light and itholds the tall gears for­ever2. De­tail of the back end3. In­side the cab, it’s very plush andcom­fort­able4. Gen­eral han­dling is sta­ble andpre­dictable5. The front cen­tre seat folds down to forma con­sole6. The 6.6-litre V8 turbo diesel engine

7. Even the 4,500kg tow­ing rat­ing puts it in a league of its own com­pared to main­stream utes8. Rear sus­pen­sion is live axle/leaf springs 9. At 110km/h the engine is tick­ing over ataround 1,500rpm in top gear

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