Size matters with new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 by HSV
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The new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 from transitioning Australian brand, HSV, is smaller than the gargantuan 2500 model that preceded it.
But struth, Bruce, it still makes the Ford Ranger and its ilk look like “Davids" when compared to its Goliath-ness. If bigger equals better, then this new Chevy is the third-best pickup truck on the market after the aforementioned Silverado 2500 and the Dodge Ram.
At the Special Vehicles facility in Clayton, Melbourne, the Silverado and the Ram undergo an extensive rebuild on two parallel production lines.
Their cabs are decapitated, their front ends dismembered, so that new locally developed right-hand-drive components can replace the original left-hook ones.
Then the whole lot is put back together again, and each vehicle is given a road test to ensure that everything works as expected.
You could say that these trucks are built twice: once in the US, then again in Victoria, Australia.
For the new Silverado 1500, development of the right-hand-drive version began 18 months ago, and the process required the design, making, and testing of 500 new parts.
The rack gets a new main body, mounts, and bushes, and is then rotated 180 degrees so that the steering column can then occupy the space vacated by the heating and ventilation systems, which are now mounted on the opposite side of the engine bay.
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The new dashboard took 10 months to develop – half for the design, half for the tooling – and features an entirely new main frame, a new HVAC blower and outer ducts.
Indeed, the Australasian Silverado 1500 probably drives better than the US-market version. I suspect that the driver ergonomics are better tailored, especially the location of the left footrest (often placed too high on US vehicles), and the electronically assisted steering enjoys some of the software developed by the Walkinshaw Group for its Camaro conversions.
Otherwise, this is pretty much a 2020 Silverado 1500 how Chevrolet originally intended, the only noticeable difference being that the driver is now sited on the right side.
There’s selectable 4WD, a high/low ratio transfer case, and an automatic-locking rear differential. Driving modes tailor the powertrain for Normal, Sports, Off-road, and Tow/Haul scenarios, while the stability control system has roll avoidance, traction control, trailer sway stabilisation, hill descent control, and hill start assist. All are keys to the impressive capabilities of the new Chevy truck.
For a petrol-powered eight-cylinder vehicle weighing 2588kg when empty, the 12.3 litres/100km average fuel consumption claim is some achievement. The gross vehicle mass limit of 3300kg allows the cartage of 712kg of combined human and material payload, and you can wack a 4500kg braked trailer on the tow ball straight from the showroom floor as the Silverado is fully equipped for pulling large loads. An Integrated Brake Balance controller is standard equipment along with the towbar and a 12-pin trailer plug.
There’s also a trailer app available if you have a collection that saves the brake setup for each and monitors their maintenance. It’s perfect if you own a large caravan/boat, a light motorcycle trailer and anything in between. And there’s little hassle when hooking said trailers up, as there’s a "hitch guidance" camera view available on the Silverado’s central 8-inch touch screen.
The Silverado 1500 Z71 is dressed to impress with 275/60 Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tyres mounted on 20-inch alloy wheels. Shiny chrome coatings abound with the grille, bumpers, door handles, mirrors, and side steps all having the potential to attract inquisitive magpies. Final touches include LED lights all round, two heated seats front and rear, 10-way power adjustment of the perforated leather front seats, auto-dipping headlights, a sliding back window, and a sunroof.
The powertrain performance is quick to rise to any occasion, whether it’s flattening steep hills, accelerating into a gap, or trucking a load. Putting a load in the spray-on protected tray makes the Chevy ride with more composure, to the point where owners will always be tempted to place something in back to soften the stock spring rates.
However, there are a few practical limitations to the Silverado. Clearance angles are more restricted than those of many utes, potentially leading to more underbody contact with the ground when driving off-road. Then there’s New Zealand’s tighter roads in terms of their narrow-ness in rural areas and tight urban parking spaces.
Perhaps these restrictions have limited sales of the 2500 on this side of the Tasman to 70 so far. Which makes the 1500 seem a step in the right direction given that it sits between the usual strong sellers (like Ranger, Hilux) and the Ram and 2500 in size. For some willing to spend the sum, the capability versus practicality compromise will be spot-on, especially those who desire lots of comfy rear seat space and exceptional tow-ability.